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Campbell, R. (1967). Violence in Adolescence. J. Anal. Psychol., 12(2):161-173.

(1967). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 12(2):161-173

Violence in Adolescence

Ruth Campbell


This Paper is an account of an adolescent boy in whom the turmoils and stresses of adolescence were exaggerated and augmented until his aggressive feelings boiled over into violence against his parents and his home, and necessitated his committal to a mental hospital.

On his discharge his parents consulted an analyst, Dr A, for help with their son T and it was agreed that T should have an analysis, for which he was referred to me. It was also agreed that the parents would keep a regular contact with Dr A for discussion on any problems that arose, and further that they would not make any approach to me. It was hoped by this arrangement to safeguard T's analysis from any pressure of parental anxiety.

I am writing this report on T because he exhibited obsessional defences against omnipotent psychotic-like affects which focused with particular clarity on a number of problems that are characteristic of the treatment of adolescents as a whole:

1.   How to manage a negative delusional transference by using (a) flexibility in times; (b) deep interpretations.

2.   The inability of the parents to tolerate the child's increasing independence as he grows healthier.

3.   The tendency to evoke a counter transference.

4.   The need for the management of the reality situation.


T was nearly sixteen when he came along, and he made his initial appointment himself. I did not see the parents at all—the boy's history was put together from the fragments he let fall. I knew from the referring doctor that his violence and destructiveness had greatly alarmed his parents, and that he had been committed to a mental hospital a few months before.

He arrived, as he said, for one appointment only. He was an attractive, well-built boy, quiet in manner, anxious and very suspicious that I would be ‘fed a pack of lies’ by his parents.

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