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Ruotolo, A.K. (1975). Neurotic Pride and Homicide. Am. J. Psychoanal., 35(1):1-16.

(1975). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 35(1):1-16

Neurotic Pride and Homicide

Andrew K. Ruotolo, M.D.

This is a report on three confessed and convicted male murderers and one unconfessed but convicted male murderer. They were all seen in pretrial examinations for periods of time ranging between nine and fifteen hours. Two of them committed homicides in the course of felonies, the other two committed suddenly conceived “crimes of passion.”

Although, in the opinion of psychiatrists, three of them were obviously psychotic at the time of the homicides and one was on the brink of psychosis, none was adjudged legally insane by a jury of his peers. However, none received the death penalty, though it was legally permissible at the time.

The act of homicide and the circumstances and emotional responses surrounding it reveal the character structure of the murderer far more than it is generally revealed in other crimes. The murderer's essential “location,” his secret, inner-most ring of psychic defenses, that corner of himself he has backed himself into and from which he can emerge only in sudden homicidal rage, can usually be exposed in a careful exploration of the causes, fantasies, and sequela of his crime. That characterological exposure, following the crime, may be understandable to the psychiatrist but is usually bewildering and shattering to the murderer. Most are changed in their own eyes forever.

In analysis it is often said that truth lies in a mistake. The mistake, in the case of the murderer, is often the objective observer's preconception that the taking of another's life will be of transcendent importance to the murderer.

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