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Authors: Robert M. Lindner

Rebel Without a Cause

BOOK: Rebel Without a Cause
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Copyright © 1971 Mrs. Robert Lindner

First Other Press Edition 2003

E-book ISBN: 978-1-59051-720-8

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means. electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from Other Press LLC, except in the case of brief quotations in reviews for inclusion in a magazine, newspaper, or broadcast. For information write to Other Press LLC, 2 Park Avenue, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10016. Or visit our Web site:

The Library of Congress has cataloged the printed edition as follows:

Lindner, Robert Mitchell, 1914—1956.

Rebel without a cause : the story of a criminal psychopath / by Robert M. Lindner.

p. cm.

Previously published: New York: Grune & Stratton, 1944.

Includes bibliographical references.

ISBN 1-59051-024-0

1. Antisocial personality disorders—Case studies.   2. Hypnotism—Therapeutic use—Case studies.   3. Psychoanalysis—Case studies.   4. Criminal psychology—Case studies. I. Title.

RC555.L553 2002

616. 85′82—dc21












Theodore Roosevelt, on his first inspection of prisons, is said to have remarked that those fortresses of steel and stone were built to guard against the escape of but a small percentage of the inmates; and that it is absurd, cruel and wasteful to compel perhaps 80 or 90 per cent of the prison group to suffer the robotizing influences of prison incarceration because of the fear that 10 or 20 per cent might escape.

Among those likely to escape are the most puzzling and recalcitrant criminals, the group known as the “psychopathic personalities” or “constitutional psychopathic inferiors.” Studies in various prisons, reformatories and jails usually disclose that this class comprises some 15 to 20 per cent of the inmate population. They bedevil the administration for other prisoners and the directive personnel. They are among the ring-leaders in planning escapades. They resort to assaults upon guards and fellow-prisoners. They are, in a nutshell, the truly dangerous, “hard-boiled,” “wise guy” and least reformable offenders.

While the indicia of the psychopathic personality frequently overlap various “borderline” conditions of true psychotic and psychoneurotic groups, the psychopath, as a composite “type,” can be distinguished from the person sliding into or clambering out of a “true psychotic” state by the long and tough persistence of his anti-social attitude and behavior and the absence of hallucinations, delusions, manic flight of ideas, confusion, disorientation and other dramatic signs of psychoses.

Penologists and prison psychiatrists usually content themselves with demanding that psychopaths be “segregated” so that the program for the rest of the inmates may proceed more smoothly. Dr. Robert Lindner, the author of this book, is one of the first prison workers in the world to go beyond such a program of temporary convenience and probe skillfully and with illuminative insight into the psyche of the most recalcitrant among criminals.

Although we are not competent to pass a technical judgment upon the method of “hypnoanalysis,” so vividly illustrated in this book (a telescoped psychoanalytic technique employed by the author in analyzing and reconstructing the mental life of a psychopath), we
nevertheless venture to suggest that his work marks a significant milestone on the rough and failure-strewn road of Criminology; for it indicates that it is possible to bridge the crucial gap between the outer and inner life of offenders and trace the intricate process whereby the stuff of environment is selected and “introjected,” psychologically masticated and digested, and absorbed into the pre-existing dynamic system of the mind to influence future attitude and propel subsequent behavior.

Long ago, Samuel Butler wisely observed that “a life will be successful or not, according as the power of accomodation is equal or unequal to the strain of fusing and adjusting internal and external changes.” It is this delicate yet crucial process that Dr. Lindner has so convincingly delineated. In this respect he has taken a step well ahead of the great majority of contemporary criminologists. Whether attributing major causal force to environmental factors or placing most stress on hereditary disposition, or (as in the case of Lombroso) on hereditary predestination to a life of crime, they fail to describe the subtle and deep-stirring interplay of emotion and experience involved in generating antisocial attitude and behavior.

We do not know whether hypnoanalysis will develop sufficiently to take its place on an equal plane with the now scientifically “respectable,” but until recently much-maligned, technique of psychoanalysis. If it does, it will be a great boon in reducing the time and expense required for the exploration of the tangled webs of the psyche and the hygienic reorientation of the personality. Nor do we know whether, in the majority of the cases in which it is applied, it will go beyond diagnostic dissection to permanent reconstruction of the personality. But we cannot help being impressed with the rich potentialities of the technique so graphically described by Dr. Lindner, as an instrument for getting below the surface of much puzzling criminalistic behavior.

Starting as a pioneer scientific experiment subject to the critical scrutiny of other investigators, Dr. Lindner’s work will, we hope, stimulate further and more varied experimentation; so that in the years to come, Penology may have the same creative spurt that Psychiatry has only recently experienced through the vitalizing infiltration of Psychoanalysis, the shock therapies, and psychosomatic medicine. Assuredly, any process of diagnosing and treating offenders
that is more promising than the almost bankrupt procedures now employed by society is to be given full encouragement.

If hypnoanalysis should be applied more generally in the study and treatment of offenders, it might make an even more significant contribution to the philosophy and techniques of the Criminal Law than to the rehabilitation of numbers of offenders. For it discloses with dramatic clarity the superficiality of an ancient system of symbols and rituals based upon such outworn notions as “guilt,” “criminal intent,” “knowledge of right and wrong,” and the other paraphernalia developed long before the dawn of Biology, Psychiatry and Psychology and but little in advance of primitive law.

The history book of Criminology and Penology is blotted with wreckage of oversimplified conceptions of criminalistic behavior and “cures” for crime. Perhaps Dr. Lindner’s work will turn up a brighter page. At all events, he is to be congratulated upon a courageous and ingenious pioneer endeavor.

His book is not intended for the layman. The psychiatrist and psychologist of any school of thought or therapy, the alert judge of a juvenile or adult criminal court, the thoughtful clergyman, the criminologist of inquiring mind, the penologist who conceives his job in higher terms than as keeper of a zoo for human derelicts, and the educator of vision should find this work instructive and provocative. It is especially to be prescribed as sobering medicine for both the physical anthropologist and the sociologist concerned with criminals.


Cambridge, Mass.

February, 1944

The psychopathic personality most nearly approaches the “born criminal type” described so minutely by Lombroso.


This writer’s concern both with hypnoanalysis and psychopathic personality goes back at least five years to the time when he was first called upon to learn about—and do something about—psychopaths and psychopathic personality. It was in this effort to understand that peculiar variety of behavior that the first experiments with hypnoanalysis were undertaken. Therefore it is fitting that this puzzling disorder should form the vehicle to expound and illustrate a technique which seems to offer certain advantages in the exploration and treatment of psychogenic and behavior disorders.

In preparing the material for publication, the writer was torn between two desires which apparently exerted almost equal weight. He was anxious to offer for discussion and experiment a psychotherapeutic technique of promise especially at a time when it could be used to such advantage in the armed services and on the home front where the strains of living in a period of chaos are reflected in mental casualties. At the same time, he earnestly desired to present the findings of research with a type of personality disorder that is responsible for much of crime and has broad social and even political implications. If this book does both, it will have realized such intentions.

The dedication acknowledges only a fraction of the author’s indebtedness. Many of those persons who worked long and hard to bring to fruition what lies between these covers must remain nameless, although some have borne and bear now identifying numbers. Foremost among those who can be named are Prof. Sheldon Glueck and Dr. Eleanor Glueck, Dr. Bernard Glueck, Dr. Hervey Cleckley, Dr. Milton H. Erickson and Professor Philip L. Harriman—all of whom have been sources of inspiration and encouragement. To the United States Public Health Service which has the vision and daring to encourage research in human behavior is due an obligation that can never be repaid.

BOOK: Rebel Without a Cause
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