Italian Journal of Criminology

The official journal of the Italian Society of Criminology

by Cristiano Barbieri

In the criminology, the dynamics-relational or anthropo-phenomenological approach to the crime is a preferable way to understand presuppositions and dynamics and it is essential when the crime is attained within the couple. Through these keys of understanding we intent to cope with the problem of the crime in the “ambiguous couple”. It is necessary to point out the substantial difference between ambivalence and ambiguity: in the first, the feelings of love and hate, which can alternate in the same person, remain sufficiently different; in the second, they are not distinctly differentiated yet and so they resulted confused and interchangeable. The wording “ambiguous couple” qualifies a typology of couple in which the relationship is penetrated by confusion, perversion and inauthentic mutual emotional feelings, until to deprave the relationship and to destroy so oneself and the other person. For example we present the instance of two partners who, affected by psychical complaints before and after the marriage, during the divorce, are reciprocally accused of tried murder and personal injuries, and therefore they are arrived to the observation of the expert. The fundamental ambiguity in this couple is, beyond the psychical complaints of the patients, based on two different criminological phenomenons. This ambiguity is alternatively demonstrated or controlled by abnormal, auto /hetero offending ways (abuse of drugs in the man, with a compensatory sadomasochism sexuality; anorexic and bulimic behaviours in the woman with the intent that support and return the abnormal husband’s sexuality); or it translate in a destroyed behaviour which has, on one side, the man’s impulsive violence and the woman’s revengeful hate on the other extreme. In both situations (rage and impulsiveness/ hate and revenge), the “ punitive” matrix refers to the pathological dimension of the ambiguity, in which the connection between hate and love reflects the confusion between the “one self ” and “the other”, until that none becomes an “ authentic you”, that is a true “an other one self ”. In the psychiatric-legal field, the use of mentioned keys of understanding enable to learn the meaning of the criminal behaviours and the fundamental ambiguity that explains them. In fact, on the psyco-dinamics level it appears the substantial equivalence between the relationship that each partner entertains with the other, mainly in the sexuality, and the contact that each of them maintains with the drug and the food. In the anthropo-phenomenological field, the severe questions about the individual physicality, the life plan of the couple involve the deficit organisation of the partner’s consciousness, because in this context the attribution of a performed meaning is negatively affected by the noted distinction between the different emotional contents. The contentiousness is demonstrated in the transit from an ambiguity situation to an other situation of ambivalence, until that the crime can be considered the beginning of a itinerary of the personal and relational reorganization.


Cattedra di Psicopatologia Forense. Dipartimento di Medicina Legale e Sanità Pubblica dell’Università degli Studi di Pavia
Cristiano Barbieri

Contacts: Cristiano Barbieri, Cattedra di Psicopatologia Forense dell’Università degli Studi di Pavia, Dipartimento di Medicina Legale e Sanità Pubblica “Antonio Fornari”, Via Forlanini n. 12, 27100, Pavia - 0383.987803 - e-mail info(at)barbiericristiano.itt

From: Rassegna Italiana di Criminologia n. 1/2008



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