The Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 31, Issue 1, pp 325–345

Psychodynamic patterns in sex offenders: A four-factor theory


  • Emanuel F. Hammer
  • Bernard C. GlueckJr.

DOI: 10.1007/BF01568731

Cite this article as:
Hammer, E.F. & Glueck, B.C. Psych Quar (1957) 31: 325. doi:10.1007/BF01568731


On the basis of approximately 200 sex offenders studied over a five-year period at Sing Sing Prison by the New York State Sex Research Project, tentative hypotheses are offered for simultaneous investigation by other individuals, while the task of assembling objective data at Sing Sing continues. The consistency in the psychological pattern of the sex offenders studied is striking in regard to four major points:

Almost every one of the subjects exhibited, on the basis of psychological examination and/or psychiatric interview: (1) as a reaction to massive Oedipal entanglements, castration fear or feelings and fear of approaching mature females psychosexually; (2) interpersonal inhibitions of schizoid to schizophrenic proportions; (3) weak ego-strength and lack of adequate control of impulses; and (4) concrete orientation and minimal capacity for sublimation.

The projective protocols of the subgroups of sex offenders appear to exhibit castration feelings in the following order of increasing intensity, men convicted of (1) rape; (2) heterosexual contact with adolescents and children; (3) homosexual actions with adolescent partners, and (4) homosexual actions with child partners. This continuum, from rapists to homosexual pedophiles, appears to represent in parallel fashion the increasing intensity of castration feelings on the one hand, and the correspondingly greater distance from the mature female as a potential sex object, on the other. Incest subjects were found to be both the most overtly psychotic and also to harbor the most intense castration feelings.

The view is presented that the sex offense represents an attempt on the part of the patient to employ substitute sex outlets for the mature female, because of the threatening potential, both psychosexually (Factor I) and psychosocially (Factor II), with which she is endowed. Secondary, specific factors, differentiating the reparative adjustment-efforts of the rapists, homosexuals, pedophiles and incest subjects, have been presented.

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© The Psychiatric Quarterly 1957