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April 1955


Author Affiliations

Rochester, Minn.
From the Section of Psychiatry, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation. (The Mayo Foundation is a part of the Graduate School of the University of Minnesota.)

AMA Am J Dis Child. 1955;89(4):472-475. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1955.02050110562010

CHILDREN from so-called good homes who recurrently steal, truant, set fires, or exhibit sexual aberrations are usually doing what their parents unconsciously wish and tell them to do.

The delinquencies under consideration are those arising in apparently "normal" families of good reputation and are not those largely determined sociologically in slums or in juvenile gangs of any economic level. This latter group often overlaps with the group I am concerned with. For years mystery enveloped the causes of such individual antisocial behavior as fire-setting, stealing, truancy, and unacceptable sexuality displayed by young delinquents or their adult counterparts, the psychopaths. As the result of 10 years of study and concomitant treatment of the parents as well as of the child involved in the antisocial behavior, it became unmistakably evident to Szurek and me that one or occasionally both parents derive unconscious and, less frequently, conscious, vicarious gratification of of their own

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