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April 1961

Delinquency Addiction in Parents

Author Affiliations

Neuropsychiatric Institute, University of Michigan.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1961;4(4):357-362. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1961.01710100037004

In our experience with hospitalized adolescents, parentally sanctioned delinquency traits have been observed with regular frequency in some 400 such patients, most of whom had not been admitted primarily for delinquent behavior in a legal sense. From our vantage point certain characteristics of the parent who unconsciously sanctions delinquency in his child appear to be roughly analogous to those found in the drug addict.

Though admittedly there are limitations in the application of this analogy, it is clinically useful in that it emphasizes (1) the compelling intensity and chronicity of the parent's need for vicarious neurotic fulfilment, (2) the importance of unconscious determinants in creating the need, (3) the specificity of the need with respect to the substances or conditions which it demands for satisfaction, (4) the elaborate, reflexive (characterological) measures pursued to achieve satisfaction, and (5) the threat to treatment presented during "withdrawal crises," when

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