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Hartogs, R. (1954). Reiwald, Paul. Society and its criminals. [New York: International Universities Press, Inc. 1950. 315 Pp. $4.50.]. Psychoanal. Rev., 41(1):95-96.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Review, 41(1):95-96

Reiwald, Paul. Society and its criminals. [New York: International Universities Press, Inc. 1950. 315 Pp. $4.50.]

Review by:
Renatus Hartogs

Paul Reiwald is a well-known international lawyer and criminologist. At present, he is lecturer in criminology at the University of Geneva. In this book the attempt is made to understand crime and the criminal, the emotional attitude of society to crime and especially juvenile delinquency in the light of psychoanalytical knowledge.

Society has become increasingly aware of the fact that socio-economic conditions, leading to more or less deep-seated disturbances of personality, are primary causative elements in the genesis of crime and the asocial individual, formerly called the “criminal.” Society therefore shares the responsibility for criminal behavior of its members, but through its criminal laws of the past and the present denied violently any implication with the criminal person and imposed punishment with the same or a similar passionate eagerness as the anal-sadistic neurotic. Reiwald comes to the conclusion that the reactions of society to crime and the asocial person have nothing to do with the safeguarding of society against crime and often enough are not related to the concept of sin and atonement. Our criminal law is charged with unconscious emotion and has therefore to be modified.

On the basis of these assumptions, Reiwald demands that society should become aware of the abreactive nature and origin of its criminal laws and in this way find reasonable, objective ways for the treatment of the asocial person rather than for his punishment. Only if the unconscious emotions, motivations and conflicts of the asocial person are fully understood, a restructurization of defective behavioral and reactive patterns can be made possible and an actual modification of criminality can be expected.

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