The Psychology of Theft and Loss
Stolen and Fleeced
Routledge – 2014 – 186 pages
Why do we steal?
This question has confounded everyone from parents to judges, teachers to psychologists, economists to more than a few moral thinkers. Stealing can be a result of deprivation, of envy, or of a desire for power and influence. An act of theft can also bring forth someone’s hidden traits – paradoxically proving beneficial to their personal development.
Robert Tyminski explores the many dimensions of stealing, and in particular how they relate to a subtle balance of loss versus gain that operates in all of us. Our natural aversion to loss can lead to extreme actions as a means to acquire what we may not be able to obtain through time, work or money. Tyminski uses the myth of Jason, Medea and the Golden Fleece to explore the dilemmas involved in such situations and demonstrate the timelessness of theft as fundamentally human. The Psychology of Theft and Loss incorporates Jungian and psychoanalytic theories as well as more recent cognitive research findings to deepen our appreciation for the complexity of human motivations when it comes to stealing, culminating in consideration of the idea of a perpetually present ‘inner thief’.
Combining case studies, Jungian theory and analysis of many different types of stealing including robbery, kidnapping, plagiarism and technotheft, The Psychology of Theft and Loss is a fascinating study which will appeal to psychoanalysts, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, family therapists and students.
"We are fortunate to have Dr. Robert Tyminski's first book. A gifted clinician, theoretician and story-teller, Dr. Tyminski holds an analytic mirror up to shadow aspects of human behavior in a way that reveals much of the deep background to such acts; it is not simply a psychology of culprits. His understanding of the potential purpose and value of theft goes beyond even Winnicott, especially when integrating an individuation perspective. The reader is challenged to a fruitful encounter with his or her own darkness by an excellent guide; a book to be re-read."
—Joe Cambray, Past President of the International Association for Analytical Psychology (IAAP) and author of Synchronicity: Nature and Psyche in an Interconnected World
"Perusing this insight-studded book about the many faces theft presents to clinical practice, I realized the degree to which depth psychology has ripped us all off by not dealing with this subject so fully before. It is hard not to envy Robert Tyminski—the Jason whose beautiful prose and muscular ability to do the theoretical heavy lifting combine here to gather up the well-guarded Golden Fleece. Unlike Jason, however, he remains faithful to the insistent voice of Medea in the psyche, which guides him to what our culture has avoided facing about this theme. Recognizing the importance of the robber to the child in the adult, Dr. Tyminski can tell us what is coveted later by the person who early loses access to parental love and concern. He summons an unsentimental view of stealing, one of the most resolute syndromes of the shadow, to earn his way to a compassionate understanding of the soul’s efforts to survive through theft. Tyminski demonstrates that a patient’s desire to take what has seemed to belong only to other people can be transformed into a deeper valuing of the self’s ambition to be protected from moral compromise."
—John Beebe, author of Integrity in Depth
1. Aspects of Theft 2. The Tale of the Golden Fleece and its Aftermath 3. Theoretical Considerations 4. How Classics Scholars View the Myth 5. Children Who Steal 6. Kidnapping 7. Shoplifting 8. Snatching a Prize 9. Techno-Theft 10. Some Instances of Stealing in the Consulting Room 11. Is Stealing Necessary for Economic Reasons? 12. Our Internal Thieves: For Better and For Worse.
Robert Tyminski is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco. A Jungian analyst, he teaches in the analytic training program of the C. G. Jung Institute of San Francisco, where he is incoming president. He is a frequent contributor to clinical journals and has a private practice working with children, adolescents and adults.