Growth to Freedom

Miller, Derek 1964. Growth to Freedom: The Psychosocial Treatment of Delinquent Youth. London: Tavistock Publications.

He went on to explain his situation in the following terms, 'I know you meant well when you sent me to my lodgings. They're kind people there but I know nothing about living in a place like that. I've always been used to a dining-hall and a recreation room big enough to move about it. At my lodgings there's the fireplace here and the table there and the sofa and the sideboard and the piano and the chairs, all in a little space and there isn't room to move about it, not even room to swing your arms. I've already knocked the teapot off the table twice. Can't you send me to a hostel where I can sort of get settled in? or send me back to borstal? I was happy there.' (Miller 1964: xiii)
It sounds like the delinquent boy was hacing proxemic issues, he didn't have enough space.
Situational Delinquency is a type of delinquent behaviour having as its major determinant facotrs in the environment. In Western society, among high delinquency sub-cultures in the larger cities, delinquent behaviour conforms to the mores of the social system, just as in certain tribes in India antisocial behaviour is accepted as a way of life. (Miller 1964: 2)
He is basically stating that in big cities delinquency is a lifestyle.
Personality Delinquency should be diagnosed when an individual, by reason of his personality structure, attempts to relieve the psychic tension produced by conscious and unconscious conflicts by acting out his anxiety and rage on the society in which he lives. In such a human being, ego functioning or degree of personality strenght may be so poor that the pain of frustration and anxiety cannot be tolerated. Impulse release and gratification are then sought irrespective of the pain inflicted on others. This can occur in people who suffer from mental delinquency, psychosis, character disorder, or neurotic illness. In all these syndromes the demands of reality are greater than the personality can tolerate. These are relatively fixed personality problems which require treatment before the propensity to antisocial behaviour can be resolved. (Miller 1964: 4)
Very psychoanalytic and fairly familiar-sounding.
A particular additional problem that may complicate the diagnostic and therapeutic picture occurs when an individual has been 'institutionalized', which tends to produce what has been called an 'emotional deficiency disease'. It is quite certain that one of the tragedies that may follow on the breakdown of a family unit, whether by death, divorce, or separation, is the production of a number of highly disturbed children. Often they become the innocent victims of a social system, which may make an intuitive attempt to be helpful but fail to use specific psychological knowledge. (Miller 1964: 6)
When children are separated and institutionalized there's a good chance of delinquency developing.
Society, unable to be helpful, may avoid feelings of guilt by projecting its anger onto these children and labelling them 'psychopathic' or 'inadequate', terms which are often expressions either of contempt or despair. (Miller 1964: 6)
The blame game.
A way of dealing with unpleasant behaviour in another person who has control over one's destiny and whose actions can inflict psychological pain is to 'identify' with it. Thus, for example, the victims of concentration camps often became highly aggressive and sadistic in their own behaviour. If we wished the boys to become decent people, this meant that the staff had to be aware of the emotional impact that their actions might have on them. The staff would need to understand, for example, that if one shouts at an individual who feels dependent, 'You should not shout', he is likely to identify with the shouting. Similarly, if corruption is sensed by the boys in identification figures, even through the reaction-formation against it, as for example extreme hypermorality, this is the quality which is likely be taken into the personality of the individual. (Miller 1964: 12)
I'm reminded of Mauss's contention on social prestige. Identification figures seem related with reference groups. Also, hyper-morality describes one aspect of the Orwellian society.


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