Cruelty, violence and murder : understanding the criminal by Arthur Hyatt-Williams

By Arthur Hyatt-Williams

The road that separates those that kill from those that in basic terms give it some thought, and from those that injure themselves, is frequently thinner than we think. Convicted murderers serving life-sentences in England are one of the topics of this in-depth mental research of what makes humans kill. 350 pages.

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This was later shown to be so. It illustrated how con- 44 CRUELTY, VIOLENCE, AND MURDER cretely states of mind were experienced by those who had at one time resorted to actions that had killed another person. Perhaps it was an inability to work through a murderous state of mind in fantasy life, without resort to action, that lay at the core of the original psychic indigestibility as well as subsequent psychosomatic versions. I noted that though psychosomatic symptoms tended to be associated with a favorable prognosis, hypochondriacal symptoms were the reverse.

An increasing capacity to treat others as one would wish to be treated can occur, but only insofar as the depressive position is achieved. Worse for a person than living by the talion principle is domination by paranoid delusions. In action, this is seen in the way in which, because of their mounting suspicion and fear of an attack, some violent criminals forestall it by attacking first. Bion, in Elements o f Psychoanalysis (1963) and Attention and Interpretation (1970), states how and why he uses an alimentary model of the mind.

P. " Among these are: SO CRUELTY, VIOLENCE, AND MURDER 1. Predominance of hatred over love 2. Strong endowment of primal envy 3. , good enough mother) 4. , to internalize and sustain the image of the containing person inside the self) 5. Lack of good early figures or an inability to use such figures 6. , one of my patients was a battered baby who grew up to be a murderer) 7. Prolonged painful illness 8. Early and repeated witnessing of cruelty and death (see, for ex~ jeux interditsn) ample, the French film of the 1 9 4 0 ~"Les 9.

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