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Rickman, J. (1957). VI. The Psychology Of Crime (1932). The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 52(1):45-51.

(1957). The International Psycho-Analytical Library, 52(1):45-51

VI. The Psychology Of Crime (1932) Book Information Previous Up Next

John Rickman, M.D.

The discussion has brought out three points which we commonly meet with when lawyers and other intelligent laymen consider crime: first their surprise that the criminal cannot give a reasonable explanation for his act, secondly the compulsive element in crime, and thirdly that criminals often do not in fact appear to be so aggressive as they are commonly regarded by the general public. On each of these points the psycho-pathologist is ready with an explanation, though from the nature of the case it is not very convincing to those who have not his special opportunity for investigation.

As to the first two points, they are shared with the neurotic, who also cannot explain his peculiar behaviour, which is often also compulsive; for our present purpose the centre of interest attaches to the third point; something peculiar has happened to the criminal in connection with his aggressive impulse.

If we view the criminal not in respect to his place in society but as a person with a peculiar way of dealing with his instinctual energies, he appears to us to be endeavouring by his acts to rid himself of an almost unbearable internal tension; his crimes, viewed in this way, are attempts at relief from the intolerable and because they serve this (to him) useful and apparently remedial purpose the criminal views with suspicion those who want to treat him for his criminality. The intolerable mental tension is not due to a simple increase of aggressiveness or destructiveness, but to a weakening of the controlling part of the mind and an incapacity to temper this aggressiveness by admixture of the impulse of love. The love impulse is present in every case and this gives rise to the conflict from which they suffer.

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