Theft in childhood

Theft in childhood
Theft in childhood

Donald Winnicott, in Deprivation and Delinquency, describes the psychic process that children with go through disruptive behaviors.

From the psychoanalytic view, many of these frames are configured as base ofaddictive behaviors.


Developmentally Winnicott describes what he calls Deprivation. This implies loss of the people that the Infans or child loved.

This does not necessarily imply the physical loss of that significant subject, but rather refers to losing something good in that child's experience thus far in the link with that other.

The Deprivation is distinguished from the Deprivation, in which the Infanscould not be a good experience with that mother or caretaker figure.

In the Deprivation what is described is the loss of something thatyes it had been installed at first, but for some reason it was lost.

This circumstance may be due to some illness or depressive state of the mother, or to some situation that prevents the development of that link properly and just likeit had been holding up until then.

Some of these cases may later develop into a impulse from the child tosteal.

Through this act, always referring to cases with this subjective development, the one who steals does not look for the object as such, but that link you've lost.

This impulse to steal develops as a compulsion, and it is observed that the one who perpetuates it does not enjoy what has been stolen, he only limits himself to the very act ofsubtract it from the other.

Seeking not just any object, but something that is really precious to that other.

In these disruptive acts, the individual considers that that belongs to him,therefore there is no development of guilt.

The individual demands his environment to return what he have taken out.

And this is because initially, in that mother-baby relationship, the infans has the illusion of being thecreator of the maternal breast. This is because at this early stage, the infans doesn't have awareness of otherness, the me-not me differentiation.

During breastfeeding, which is the situation where the connection and bond par excellence between mother and baby would be possible, the infant perceivesthat those experiences of satisfaction are created by him, and the mother must be available to support initiallythis illusion.

This is how the process should unfold he althily:

a first moment of illusion,where the baby creates the breast and the mother herself and extracts objects from that mother.

And a second moment, of disappointment,where the mother must gradually withdraw, allowing the baby to perceive and learn from the frustration.

This last process should be done gradually and not abruptly.

The good enough mother, as Winnicott puts it,must do it in a round trip: being present and keeping the bra, but at the same time, allowing a relative frustration that enables the child to become his difference and gradually tolerate the wait.

In the cases we are mentioning here, there has been a abrupt interruption of the stage of Illusion described above.

And for this very reason, the child develops psychically with the feeling of having suffereda deprivation: the theft of something precious to him.

This will attempt to recover through his own criminal conduct.

Theft is one of them, but the behaviors can also encompass any type of vandalism and/or perpetuated harm to others.

Thus, the deprived child is constantly testing: the family, the community, the institutions.

Search through these behaviors show whathas happened to him.

It is important to recognize these criminal behaviors in childhood in order to work on them, consult with a professional and avoid from intensifying in adolescence or adulthood, bringing with it, as mentioned above, possible addictive behaviors that complicate the picture.

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