Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 54 Issue 2 (June 1981), Pages 93-201

From denial to self‐awareness: A 20 years' study of a case of childhood delinquency evolving into adult neurosis (pages 175-186)

This is a study of the evolution of delinquency into adult neurosis in a girl whose analytic psychotherapy began in pre‐puberty. With some interruptions the treatment was extended over nearly 20 years. The antisocial tendency, which was serious enough to lead to appearances in juvenile courts, continued until late adolescence when the first signs of a fully fledged neurosis made their appearance. The psychodynamics of the case are followed through from the overwhelming use of denial, splitting and omnipotence, as seen in most cases of delinquency, to the development of a sufficient degree of insight linked with self‐awareness. Considerable difficulties were experienced in view of the severity of the psychopathology and the limitations of the psychotherapy as only once‐a‐week sessions could be offered to the patient. Although the therapeutic result was short of a full recovery, the therapy provided the patient and the therapist with the opportunity of gaining a fair understanding of the origins and nature of the delinquency as well as of the later neurotic features.

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