Psychotherapy Off the Wall

Chapter 6
Criminality – Guilt Intolerance
Felicity would almost prefer to leave this chapter heading all by itself without further comment. It may be one of the simplest capsule phrases there is to capture a whole area of human enterprise. That’s right, most crime is motivated mainly by guilt. The trouble is that the person who is going to be a criminal feels so uncomfortable about guilt feelings that he will not tolerate them or the ‘guilt trips’ which he thinks others lay on him. Feeling guilt or being put on a guilt trip leads him to feel angry. And he may even act in such a way that others might think he ‘ought’ to feel guilty – partly to prove to himself that he has made himself impervious to feeling guilt. That’s what is meant by ‘guilt intolerance’.
It’s true that there are other motives underlying criminality. These include: inferiority or failure intolerance, disturbance or distress intolerance, sensitivity or empathy intolerance, closeness or interaction intolerance, conformity or introspection intolerance, regulation or discipline intolerance, and intolerance for internal or external controls. Subcultural values and self-enhancement needs may also underlie some crime. But if there is one basic theme subsumed in all the factors underlying crime it may be intolerance for internal or external controls, which is probably best represented by guilt intolerance.
Since Felicity has only recently started to come to grips with some of these ideas in his treatment work, he is not yet ready to tell stories to illustrate what he has not yet learned about the real factors underlying criminality in general. Some of his cases involved in particular forms of criminality have been described in the foregoing. However, in addressing criminality in general, it seems most appropriate to refer to the work of a researcher named Reynolds. Reynolds has taken the science fiction of Yokelson and Samenow’s writings on the criminal personality to heights of clarity and empirical understanding not even guessed to be possible by the original writers in this field.
Felicity is ready only to remark that the intolerance of guilt manufactures a quiet raging anger, sometimes called rebelliousness. The function of rebelliousness seems to be to deny and damn all self-depreciating guilt feelings and to generate a new more active feeling by converting the emotion felt in guilt into a destructive force against all that might induce guilt in the person. Society has tried to re-convert the anger back into the guilt from which it came. This has been attempted by demeaning criminals as people unable to feel guilt, and it has relegated them to penitentiaries where they may languish until once more they can feel (but do not) the penitence of guilt – which society (wrongly) believes impedes criminal conduct.
Having just made all this up, and not yet having had time to dream up any cases or treatment based on this clearly brilliant, correct and modern view of what crime is about, Felicity prefers not to spin any yarns about cases involved in this kind of anger – the anger bred of an intolerance of guilt. Now that’s integrity!
[Now, that is all that I have been able to find of Doug Quirk’s “Psychotherapy Off the Wall. I have enjoyed his stories, and I hope that you did, too.]

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