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December 1974

Delinquency and Family Disciplinary Configurations: An Elaboration of the Superego Lacunae Concept

Author Affiliations

From the Adolescent Treatment Center at the Institute of the Pennsylvania Hospital, 111 N 49th St, Philadelphia.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;31(6):795-798. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760180035004

This study has utilized the combination of observations of the total family together and an elaborate rating form to analyze disciplinary patterns in middle-class families with an antisocial offspring. Discipline was divided into three sequential dimensions: (1) policy making, (2) policing, and (3) punishing. Each dimension had specific interactional characteristics that could be compared with each other across interactional events. Dividing discipline into these sequential dimensions and making observations across interactional events revealed a disciplinary configuration quite different from the usually described patterns of "permissiveness" and "inconsistency" arrived at from more global observations of dyadic processes.

Instead this study revealed that the disciplinary configuration in these families observed with an antisocial offspring was very restrictive policy making, loose policing, and very lenient punishing. This configuration, on its own, seemed to create a powerful antisocial channel that had to be considered as an additional dynamic in the understanding of delinquent events by these antisocial offspring.

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