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Roos, P. (1982). Dostoyevsky's “Crime and Punishment” A description of a young man's internal crises. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 5(1):75-89.

(1982). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 5(1):75-89

Dostoyevsky's “Crime and Punishment” A description of a young man's internal crises

Pirjo Roos, Ph.D.

The one hundred year anniversary of the death of Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky falls this year. Lev Shestov, a Russian philosopher, has written extensively on Dostoyevsky and has compared him with Tolstoy and Nietzsche. Shestov believes Dostoyevsky was an evil genius; in his works, the good forces of growth and creativity and love of life are defeated by the fury and rage of his unrestrained anti-heroes. (Adrian 1981).

One of Dostoyevsky's basic ideas was indeed the irrationality of human beings. He writes (Dostoyevsky, 1864). “One could say anything of the history of the world, anything the sickest imagination could say or think, but there is one thing one cannot say – that it would be reasonable”. The remarkable thing about Dostoyevsky is that he seems to take this irrationality of human beings very seriously. In his work “Crime and Punishment” Dostoyevsky takes great responsibility for the irrational part of man, especially the cruel, distressing and shameful aspects of human life. He describes and discusses these phenomena through his heroes and tries to find a solution to them. There seems to be some basis to this approach in Dostoyevsky's own experience in life.

It is known of Dostoyevsky's personality that he suffered from difficult anxiety states, one of the causes of his anxiety being the fear of being buried alive. He was also an epileptic. His father, a physician, was brutally killed by serfs. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was 16. In 1849 he was arrested and sentenced to death for participating in the Petrashevsky circle. He was reprieved at the last moment, but sentenced to many years penal servitude in Siberia. These and many other distressing and terrifying incidents in his close family circle, his own passion for gambling and his financial worries were a great burden to him.

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