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Kligerman, C. (1974). A Discussion of the Paper by Pietro Castelnuovo-Tedesco on 'Stealing, Revenge and the Monte Cristo Complex'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 55:179-181.

(1974). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 55:179-181

A Discussion of the Paper by Pietro Castelnuovo-Tedesco on 'Stealing, Revenge and the Monte Cristo Complex' Related Papers

Charles Kligerman

I would like to say that this intriguing presentation by Dr Castelnuovo-Tedesco (this issue) is a skilful synthesis of a major plot and a subplot. But it really consists of two papers: one a cogent essay on pathological stealing as an expression of narcissistic revenge, the other a study in applied analysis of a work of art, The Count of Monte Cristo. Since I feel the connexion between these two is tenuous at best, I shall deal with the two parts as separate issues.

The major effort, the explication of pathological stealing, is most convincingly documented with relevant clinical material, particularly in the case of the man who was analysed. Dr Castelnuovo-Tedesco makes an important point in showing that the distinction between ordinary stealing and symbolic kleptomania is largely spurious. At a time when analysts were almost exclusively concerned with structural conflict and the vicissitudes of the Oedipus complex, neurotic stealing was considered a form of compulsive symptomatic acting out of a very specific and circumscribed nature, and indeed there do exist such pure types, though they are not often seen clinically. Yet it was always recognized that something else was amiss in addition to the obsessive-compulsive mechanism, some failure of the superegoego-ideal system and especially a structural defect of the ego in the area of impulse control.

Without quibbling too much, I do think there is a variety of ordinary stealing that is not necessarily psychopathological—whole cultures and subcultures consider this a normative mode of behaviour.

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