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Deutsch, H. (1955). The Impostor—Contribution to Ego Psychology of a Type of Psychopath. Psychoanal Q., 24:483-505.

(1955). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 24:483-505

The Impostor—Contribution to Ego Psychology of a Type of Psychopath

Helene Deutsch, M.D.

For psychoanalytic research in the field of psychopathy, the year 1925 constitutes a historical milestone, as it was then that Aichhorn published his book, Wayward Youth (2), and Abraham his paper, The History of a Swindler (1). Whereas Aichhorn drew his knowledge from many years of observation and from the therapy of numerous cases, Abraham based his psychoanalytic findings on the study of one psychopath of a certain type. Abraham's paper has remained one of the classics of psychoanalytic literature. Following his example, I consider it especially valuable to single out from the many varieties of psychopathic personality one particular type and to attempt to understand him. The type I have chosen is the impostor. I will restrict myself to the undramatic kind of impostor and leave the others—more fascinating ones—to a later publication.

About twenty years ago, the head of a large agency for the treatment of juvenile delinquents persuaded me to interest myself in a fourteen-year-old boy and, if possible, to lead him into analysis. The boy came from an exceedingly respectable family. His father, a business magnate, was a well-known philanthropist to whom the agency was indebted for major financial assistance. A typical American business man, he was entirely committed to the financial aspects of life. His sincerity and altruism gave him a dignity which everyone respected.

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