The Psychology of Theft and Loss: Stolen and Fleeced

My book is now available through Routledge or alternatively, on Amazon. It explores the question: why do we steal even when we don't have any reason to do so? Stealing is a confounding behavior that trips up many of us when used as a shortcut, an impulsive action, an expression of envy, or a denial of something we have lost. It may even be a sign of our trying to find something that feels lost inside ourselves, stolen away in the unconscious.

 

This book combines Jungian theory and case material to explore the topics of robbery, shoplifting, plagiarism, kidnapping, invasion of privacy, and cyber-theft.

Greek, red-figure vase, 5th century BCE, NY Met
Greek, red-figure vase, 5th century BCE, NY Met

 

I use the myth of Jason and the Golden Fleece as a symbolic way of understanding theft's ingrained aspects in human nature. To the left, you can see Jason stealing the Golden Fleece before escaping on his ship. A main factor in his obtaining the Fleece was his meeting Medea, a figure we know as a murderer of their children. Jason's journey to steal the Fleece is referred to in Homer, and is believed to pre-date the Trojan War. The myth may be based in part on exploration of the Black Sea region during the late Bronze Age, when gold was sifted from streams using a sheep's fleece.

Antonio & Sellaio, late 15th c. Florence
Antonio & Sellaio, late 15th c. Florence

 

Jason, left of center wearing a red cape, greets the king of Kolchis. The king's daughter, in red, stands to her father's left - she is Medea. Medea was skilled in making potions, and Jason twice relies on her in order to succeed in stealing the Fleece. This myth provides an archetypal understanding for stealing.

 

To listen to an interview about my book, click here.