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Rothschild, L. (1933). Crimes and Criminals: By William A. White, M.D. (Farrar and Rinehart, New York, 1933. Pp. 272. Price $2.50.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 14:429-430.

(1933). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 14:429-430

Crimes and Criminals: By William A. White, M.D. (Farrar and Rinehart, New York, 1933. Pp. 272. Price $2.50.)

Review by:
Leonard Rothschild

This volume is meant for the intelligent lay person who wants to learn what modern psychology has to offer in the scientific aspects of asocial or anti-social behaviour. It has been written from the author's rich background of forty years in the practice of psychiatry and an extensive experience as an expert witness in some of the most celebrated American criminal cases. This important viewpoint is made available to lawyers and judges who still think in terms of the legalistic formulæ of another day, and also to a confused public which is taught that 'putting more teeth' in the law by legislative enactment prevents crime.

The book gives the impression of having been hastily written, with much repetition becoming apparent in the second half. It offers nothing new for the psycho-analytically schooled reader. About a hundred pages are devoted to an adequate formulation of the fundamental mental mechanisms necessary for any but the most superficial understanding of criminals and crime. The emotional rather than the intellectual basis of offences against society is emphasized. Free will with its accompanying doctrine of responsibility is labelled a metaphysical as well as a legal fiction. It is demonstrated that conduct cannot be arbitrarily divided into normal and abnormal. Abnormal conduct is postulated as conduct that has escaped the control of the individual as an action out of place in time. Each one of us is a potential criminal given the proper circumstances.

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