This is a review of Robert Lindner’s psychoanalysis of a juvenile delinquent, entitled Rebel Without a Cause. Edwin Lukas highlights the revelatory and pioneering nature of the work before him, from Lindner’s method, the rarely employed technique of “hypno-analysis,” to his Freudian analysis of his subject, “Harold.” Rebel Without a Cause is especially groundbreaking, according to Lukas, because it seeks to connect the delinquent behavior of youths, like Harold, with their mental turmoil. As others focused on the manifestations of delinquency, Lindner had successfully found its causes: in the dysfunction of Harold’s family, his homosexual inclinations, and in the impoverished environment in which he came of age. Furthermore, Harold’s ability to eventually understand why he engages in criminal and violent behaviors was seen as a sign that juvenile delinquents could be reached, and perhaps saved from themselves and society. The reviewer finds optimism in Harold’s progress, although the book does not state that Harold is “cured” of his anti-social behaviors. Lukas hopes the book will serve as an example to the callous court system which does not emphasize rehabilitation, and demonstrating the new primacy of its content, Lukas concludes that “this book is a necessity for sociologists, psychiatrists, criminologists, and others concerned with criminals.” (216)
While Robert Lindner and his most famous work offered little more than the title to the film of the same name, this review demonstrates the seriousness with which the problem of juvenile delinquency was considered. The praise and endorsement Edwin Lukas offers to Lindner on the basis of his finding a cause, rather than examining the symptoms of delinquency, are indicative of a shift in the study of problem youth as well as in attitudes towards the burgeoning field of psychology.