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Goldberg, A. (2003). Addendum to Freud's “Criminals from a Sense of Guilt”. Psychoanal Q., 72(2):465-468.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 72(2):465-468

Addendum to Freud's “Criminals from a Sense of Guilt”

Arnold Goldberg, M.D.

In his classical paper on criminals from a sense of guilt, Freud (1916) postulated that the particular misdeed of some criminals was preceded by guilt. The guilt that seemed to instigate a criminal act was thus a longing for punishment, which would in turn allow for a period of quiet and contentment. Freud felt that the origins of such guilt that initiated some criminality dated from the oedipal period and its murderous fantasies. I should like to offer an addendum to this very insightful and cogent explanation.

Ideally, I would like to present a case of criminal behavior that revealed supporting material for my thesis in an analysis. Issues of confidentiality prohibit this, so I can offer only a particularly brief version of a case that I feel is supported by a number of similar cases with similar dynamics. Suffice it to say that the case is a member of Freud's (1916) category of “theft, fraud, and even arson” (p. 332).

To begin, I shall offer a number of assumptions that are well supported in the literature. The first is that there is a biological component to many depressions. This would seem to be beyond controversy, although no single case may be proven to be representative of this fact. The second is that a variety of behaviors serve to alleviate depression. This is substantiated in both the pharmacological and psychological literature (Goldberg 2001; Kaplan and Sadock 1994).

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