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From neurotic citizen to hysteric security expert: a Lacanian reading of the perpetual demand for US cyber defence

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Within the emerging body of critical security research on expertise, most contributions have focused on reconstructing the risk governance regime that the expert professionals embody, including the anxious, neurotic subject that expert security practices reproduce. Through French psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan’s Hysteric Discourse, the article advances the study of the neurotic subject to include the security policy expert. By introducing and applying a ‘hysteric reading strategy’ to the processes through which US cyber defence experts identify as policy experts, the article suggests that the constantly changing demands for policy change produced by these experts suggest a desire not simply for new policies that promise cyber defence but for desire itself. From this, the article argues that these experts occupy a social position in which desire is perpetually sliding from one object to the next, always placing cyber defence out of reach, and hence, reproducing ‘cyber’ as an insecurity in the present. The article sees this dynamic play out both in the evolving cache of policy recommendations on cyber deterrence produced by the cyber policy experts, and in the revolving doors between government and this expert community.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Studies on Security
Volume8
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)46-58
Number of pages13
ISSN2162-4887
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020
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