Nearly 200 London cases of juvenile delinquency, and, as a control-series, 400 normal cases, were individually investigated in parallel inquiries; and the various adverse conditions, discoverable in their family history, in their social environment, and in their physical, intellectual, and temperamental status, were ascertained and tabulated for each group. The tables show a lengthy list of contributory causes. Delinquency in the young seems assignable, generally to a wide variety, and usually to a plurality, of converging factors; so that the juvenile criminal is far from constituting a homogeneous psychological class.
To attribute crime in general to either a predominantly hereditary or a predominantly environmental origin appears impossible; in one individual the former type of factor may be paramount; in another, the latter; while, with a large assortment of cases, both seem, on an average and in the long run, to be of almost equal weight. Heredity appears to operate, not directly through the transmission of a criminal disposition as such, but rather indirectly, through such congenital conditions as dullness,
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deficiency, temperamental instability, or the excessive development of some single primitive instinct. Of environmental factors those centring in the moral character of the delinquent's home, and, most of all, in his personal relations with his parents, are of the greatest influence.
Psychological factors, whether due to heredity or to environment, are supreme both in number and strength over all the rest. Emotional conditions are more significant than intellectual; while what may be termed psycho-analytic complexes provide everywhere a ready mechanism for the direction of overpowering instincts and of repressed emotionality into open acts of crime. Complexes relating to the child's attitude towards his parents (or step-parents) were noted far more commonly than sexual complexes in the narrower sense.
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(1924). Childhood. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:214-215