In our encounters with a certain number of adolescents who commit sexual abuse, we have observed the absence of feelings associated with these acts, while they show no sign of disassociation or deficit. However, this lack or remorse can be considered as a flaw in adolescent subjectivation, resulting from the omnipresence of an archaic superego figure. The primordial maternal imago constituting this figure is neither integrated, nor put into internal conflict, but projected onto the object rendered “ indifferent ” to serve as an outlet for drive excitation. The splitting of the ego is not enough to assure a minimal distinction between “ good and bad object ” and introduces a confusion which results in the criminal act. The emergence of a transferential guilt may be the consequence of restarting the associative process in the treatment.
Anxiety about guilt, as Freud showed in 1916, may be the origin of transgressive behaviors. The delinquent passage to the act, distinguished by its intrapsychical dynamic of resorting to the act, fits in with Freud’s hypothesis. Adolescence can give rise to a feeling of guilt engendered by parricidal fantasies, but also to the need for punishment as the symbolic equivalent to homosexual submission to the father, who can confer his masculinity upon the son.
Adolescence, 2013, T. 31, n°4, pp. 935-947.