[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
November 29, 1958


Author Affiliations

Rochester, Minn.; St. Paul

From the Section of Psychiatry, Mayo Clinic and Foundation (Drs. Duncan, Frazier, and Litin), and the University of Minnesota (Dr. Johnson). Dr. Barron is a psychologist.

JAMA. 1958;168(13):1755-1758. doi:10.1001/jama.1958.03000130021006

Among six prisoners convicted of first-degree murder, remorseless physical brutality at the hands of the parents had been a constant experience for four of them. The most striking aspect of the interviews with the parents was the remarkable aptitude of these persons for evasive shifting of blame. This was followed by transparent evasions and calculated lying manifested by most of the parents. Factors of brutality come under the scrutiny of pediatricians and family physicians. Direct inquiry into the mode of punishment and discipline should be made by physicians whose practice includes the care of children. Intervention by physicians in known sadistic family patterns may well avert a later violent crime.