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August 1963

Control Problems in Runaway Children

Author Affiliations

Chief Psychologist, Worcester Youth Guidance Center; Assistant Professor (Affiliate), Clark University.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1963;9(2):122-128. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1963.01720140018003

Despite the fact that running away in children is prevalent and appears to be associated with psychopathological conditions, it has received relatively little scientific attention.3 In the older literature, concepts which have little explanatory value, such as "nomadic instinct," are used, or external causes such as "broken homes" are cited. More recently there are reports based on limited numbers of cases in which different psychodynamic interpretations are presented; however, these studies suffer from methodological weaknesses, as well as from a lack of concurrence between investigators.5,6

In our clinical research with children who run away from home, the focus has been in the area of self-regard, vis-à-vis control. We have postulated that there is, at some level of awareness, a self-estimate as to how well the self can master nonego forces. We have labeled "control" that image of the self in which the individual sees himself as able