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Williams, A.H. (1971). The Mentally Abnormal Offender: A Ciba Foundation Symposium: Edited by A. V. S. de Reuck and Ruth Porter. London: Churchill. 1968. Pp. 260.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 52:199-200.

(1971). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 52:199-200

The Mentally Abnormal Offender: A Ciba Foundation Symposium: Edited by A. V. S. de Reuck and Ruth Porter. London: Churchill. 1968. Pp. 260.

Review by:
A. Hyatt Williams

This is the report of a Ciba Foundation Symposium held from 3 to 6 July 1967 with Sir Charles Cunningham as Chairman. The conference was interdisciplinary, including psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists and penologists. It was a distinguished group of workers in the field of delinquency. The problems discussed were varied, but roughly the papers were classified into three groupings: anti-social behaviour and its treatment and care, social problems, and legal problems.

For a psychoanalyst working in criminology there is much that is highly informative and essentially of interest. However, it may be felt that too much time was spent on wrestling with definitions and nosological entities such as that of schizophrenia, while no emphasis on psychopathology was made at all, except possibly in negative terms by Dr P. G. McGrath, Medical Director of Broadmoor, who said of a man who had decapitated his mother and cooked her head, 'I do not think that a Kleinan interpretation of this matricide would impress a Home Secretary'. In an otherwise vivid and essentially relevant paper Dr McGrath, I think, is mistaken and does justice neither to the contribution which can be made by psychoanalysis with its depth study of psychopathology in the understanding of criminal behaviour and of the criminal himself, nor does he do justice to the intelligent grasp of technical material (if well presented) which can be made by a Home Secretary. Both contributions are underrated and I think that this statement, in what was certainly one of the most interesting contributions, underlines the limitation of usefulness of the report of the Symposium to psychoanalysts working in the field of criminology.

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