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Castelnuovo-Tedesco, P. (1975). Stealing, Revenge and the Monte Cristo Complex: A Reply to the Discussion by Charles Kligerman. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 56:231-232.

(1975). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 56:231-232

Stealing, Revenge and the Monte Cristo Complex: A Reply to the Discussion by Charles Kligerman Related Papers

Pietro Castelnuovo-Tedesco

I am grateful to Dr Kligerman for his discussion (Kligerman, 1974) and for his concurrence with my comments (Castelnuovo-Tedesco, 1974), at least with those that pertain to the issue of stealing. I appreciate his confirmation of the significance of my clinical material and, more specifically, of the value of regarding theft as an act of narcissistic revenge and of justified retribution. The latter point and, especially, the understanding that stealing is an act carried out by someone who regards himself as having been, at one time, the victim of theft, goes far towards explaining why the person who steals may demonstrate little if any palpable guilt. The apparent absence of guilt might lead the observer to surmise that the superego is grossly underdeveloped, but this is not necessarily the case. It would appear that, at least in some instances, stealing is based on a kind of moral quid pro quo. Stealing then occurs with the approval of the superego and it becomes (as far as the perpetrator is concerned) a kind of moral act, even though it is based on fairly primitive ethical premises. The person who steals, rather than lacking totally in ethical sense, may, in fact, believe that two wrongs make a right or, at least, that the second compensates for the first and rectifies the balance.

As for the connexion that this may have with the Monte Cristo story, I do not share Dr Kligerman's view that it is a tenuous one and I would judge that his response was strongly influenced by the fact that Monte Cristo was, for so many of us, a hero of our youth and there is a very natural unwillingness to see our early heroes tampered with.

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