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Which Youths Kill
Which youths kill

FREDERIC WERTHAM (1941) was the first mental health professional to take an in-depth look at adolescent parricide. When he first met 15-year-old Gino in the hospital ward, the boy was being treated for a nasty hand cut. As he observed Gino, Wertham noted that “there was something immediately likeable about the boy, something direct and simple and honest.” When Wertham asked how he had cut himself, Gino replied “without fear or bravado—or regret” that the knife had slipped while he was killing his mother.

As a psychiatrist, Wertham wanted to know why Gino had stabbed his mother 32 times. Realizing that his knowledge of matricide was confined to the story of Orestes, Wertham reported that he turned to the libraries for ...

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