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Zachary, A. (1994). The Meaning of the Delinquent Act: A Link Between Asthma and Arson. Psychoanal. Psychother., 8(1):77-86.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 8(1):77-86

The Meaning of the Delinquent Act: A Link Between Asthma and Arson

Anne Zachary

This is an account of the extended assessment of a 22-year-old man who was initially sent for a court report, having been accused of setting fires. He had a history both of delinquency and, importantly, of childhood asthma. Although he proved unable to engage in psychotherapy, some management was provided, such as Winnicott advocates in cases of delinquency. This paper explores the symbolic meanings and functions of the patient's delinquent acts, drawing upon theoretical concepts from Freud, Aichhorn, and Deutsch. Of particular importance is the link between this patient's delinquency, his asthma, and the unresolved mourning for his dead mother which he carried not simply for himself but for his whole family.

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