Pathology of Lying, Accusation, and Swindling: A Study in Forensic Psychology

Author: William Healy

Case 12

Summary: An extremely interesting case showing strong development of a tendency to swindling on the part of a young man of curiously unequal mental abilities, a subnormal verbalist. Pathological lying in this case quite logically developed into swindling. The main behavior-tendencies of this individual closely follow the lines of least resistance, the paths of greatest success. As a matter of fact, the use merely of his general subnormal abilities would never have led to as much advancement as he has enjoyed. His special capabilities with language have brought him much satisfaction at times, even if they have also led him into trouble. An astonishingly long list of legal proceedings centers about this case, illustrating very well the urgent need for cooperation between courts.

Adolf von X., now just 21 years old, we, through most unusual circumstances, have had more or less under observation for a number of years. Correspondence with several public and social agencies has given us close acquaintance with his record during this time, and earlier. Our attention was first called to Adolf in New York, when he was a boy under arrest in the Tombs. A fine young lawyer, a casual acquaintance of Adolf’s through court work, asked us to study the case because he felt that perhaps grave injustice was being done. Before his arrest the boy, who seemed to be most ambitious, had been about the court rooms looking into the details of cases as a student of practical law. He had attracted attention by his energy and push; he earned money at various odd jobs and studied law at night. At this time the boy was under arrest charged with disorderly conduct; he had beaten his sister in their home.

We found a nice looking and well spoken young fellow who said he was 17. Although he had been in this country only three years from Germany, he spoke English almost without an accent and did quite well with French also. He had been brought up in Hamburg. His statement added to that previously given by the lawyer aroused in us great interest concerning the constructive possibilities of the case. It seemed as if here was an immigrant boy for whom much should be done.

"I was taking up law suits, little law suits. There was a case on before Judge O. and I wanted a new suit of clothes to wear to go to court in. My sister said I could not take my brother’s suit. He told me to take it and bring it home in good condition at night. My sister is supposed to be the plaintiff, but she did not make the complaint. The landlady came in and hit me three times in the head with a broom. My sister called her in and then she threw a piece of wood after me. Sister started crying, but she did not get hit. The landlady got hit. When I fell down I striked her with my head and hurt my head bad. I think I hit her with the left side of my head. The landlady made complaint in German to an Irish policeman. He could not understand. The officer did not do what the law tells because he took a complaint from a boy of the age of 6 years. He translated for her.

"The trouble started because I wanted to get my brother’s suit because I wanted to appear before Judge O. to protect a party in the hearing of a case. I took a few lessons over in the Y.M.C.A. class and in a law office I read books through. I have books at home, rulings of every court. I know I got a good chance to work up because I know I have a good head for the law. My father he wont believe it, that’s the trouble. I know I could stand my own expenses. I said, `Officer, wait here a minute. I’ll explain how this is.’ He began stepping on me. He threw me on the floor. I wanted to go out the back way so nobody would see me. He kicked me down the front way. There was a big crowd there. Another rough officer pinched my arm. At the station when the officer said this boy hit his sister, my sister said, `No, he did not hit me,’ but she said it in German.

"I was in court awhile ago because father thought I would not work. I was paroled. I was trying to find a position. This man that had the rehearing said, `You wont lose anything.’ He made as much as a contract with me. He said to another person in my hearing, if that fellow wins my case I will pay him $10 for it. The first case I had was in X court. I was interpreter there. I want to make something out of myself. Labor is all right, but I like office work or law work better. I tell you, doctor, if I come up before the judge I will tell him just the same story I tell you. I can remember it just that way."

This young man told us he had graduated from intermediate school in Hamburg; in this country he had attended for about a year and a half and, in spite of the language handicap, he was in sixth grade. There is a brother a little older and an older sister. Mother has been dead for 5 years. His father is an artisan and makes a fair living.

We soon found means of getting more facts concerning this case. The first point of importance was concerning his age. It appeared that he at present was lying about this, probably for the purpose of concealing his previous record in the Juvenile Court and in other connections. There had been previously much trouble with him. He had been long complained of by his father because of the bickering and quarreling which he caused in the household and on account of his not working steadily. He had shown himself tremendously able in getting employment, having had at least twenty places in the last year and a half. He was known to lie and misrepresent; on one occasion when he was trying to get certain advantages for himself he falsely stated that he was employed by a certain legal concern, and once he tried to pass himself off for an officer of a court.

The father willingly came to see us and proved to be a somewhat excitable, but intelligent man of good reputation. We obtained a very good history before studying the boy himself. Mr. von X. began by informing us that we had a pretty difficult case on our hands, and when we spoke of the boy’s ambition he became very sarcastic. He stated that up to the time when the boy left school in Hamburg he had only been able to get to the equivalent of our third grade. To be sure, it is true that Adolf had learned English quickly and much more readily than any one else in the family, and in the old country had picked up French, but "he hasn’t got sense enough to be a lawyer."

Both the older children did very well in school, and the father and mother came from intelligent families. All the children are somewhat nervous, but the two older ones are altogether different from this boy. They are quiet and saving. A grandfather was said to have been a learned man and another member of the family very well-to-do. The mother has one cousin insane and the father one cousin who is feebleminded. All the other family history from this apparently reliable source was negative. Both the father and mother were still young at the birth of this child. The mother died of pneumonia, but prior to this sickness had been healthy.

The developmental history of Adolf runs as follows: His birth was preceded by two miscarriages. The pregnancy was quite normal; confinement easy. When he was a few days old he had some inflammation of the eyes which soon subsided. Never any convulsions. His infancy was normal. He walked and talked early. At three years he had diphtheria badly with delirium for a couple of weeks and paralysis of the palate for some months. After this his parents thought the boy not quite normal. He had slight fevers occasionally. At 9 years he was very ill with scarlet fever. Following that he had some trouble with the bones in his legs. Before he left Hamburg he had an operation on one leg for this trouble which had persisted. (It was quite significant that in our first interview Adolf had told us his leg had been injured by a rock falling on it, necessitating the operation.) Up to the age of 14 this boy, although apparently in good physical condition, used to wet the bed always at night, and sometimes during the day lost control of his bladder. Also lost control of his bowels occasionally after he was 10 years old. He sleeps well, is moderate in the use of tea and coffee, and does not smoke.

When young he played much by himself. After coming to this country his chief recreation was going to nickel shows. He was fond of music as a child. He had been a truant in Hamburg. As a young child he was regarded as destructive. The general statement concerning delinquency is that Adolf is the only one of the family who has given trouble and that the father was the first to complain of the boy to the authorities. Before he reported it there had long been trouble on account of frequent changing of employment and misrepresentations. The boy had forged letters to his family and others. In the office of a certain newspaper he once represented himself to be an orphan, and there a fund was raised for him and he was outfitted. The father insists that the boy, in general, is an excessive liar.

Further inquiry brought out that other people, too, regarded Adolf as an extreme falsifier. The principal of a school thought the boy made such queer statements that he could not be right in his head. In the office of a clerk of a court he represented himself to be employed by a certain legal institution and demanded file after file for reference. Everybody there was friendly to him at first, but later they all changed their attitude on account of his unscrupulous and constant lying.

Physically we found a very well nourished boy, rather short for his age. Weight 121 lbs.; height 5 ft. 1 in. Musculature decidedly flabby; this was especially noticeable in his handshake. Attitude heavy and slouchy for a boy. Expression quite pleasant; features regular; complexion decidedly good. A North European type. Eyes differ slightly in the color of the irides. Noticeable enlargement of breasts. Well shaped head of quite normal measurements; circumference 54.5, length 18, breadth 15 cm. No sensory defect, nor was anything else of particular interest found upon examination.

The mental study, particularly the testing for special abilities, has been of very great interest. Fortunately for the scientific understandings of the problems involved we have been able to see Adolf many times at intervals and to check up previous findings. Our first statement will be of the results obtained at the earliest study of the case.

When we first saw Adolf, although he talked so intelligently, we asked him to give us some evidence of his educational ability, and to our tremendous surprise he failed to be able to multiply simple numbers or even to do addition correctly. There was no evidence of emotional upset, but we waited for further testing until we had seen the father, that we might be sure of the school history. As mentioned above, we found that the boy had entirely misled us.

We then entered upon a systematic study of the boy’s abilities and found some strange contrasts. Perceptions of form and color were normal. Given a very simple test which required some apperceptive ability, he did fairly well. Given simple "Construction Tests" which required the planful handling of concrete material, Adolf proceeded unintelligently. He showed no foresight, was rather slow, but by following out a trial and error procedure and with some repetition of irrational placing of the pieces he finally succeeded. Moderate ability to profit by trial and error was shown, but for his age the performance on this type of test was poor. On our "Puzzle-Box," which calls for the analysis of a concrete situation, a test that is done by boys of his age nearly always in four minutes or less, Adolf failed in ten minutes. He began in his typically aggressive fashion, but kept trying to solve the difficulty by the repetition of obviously futile movements. On a "Learning Test," where numerals are associated in meaningless relation with symbols, Adolf did the work promptly and with much self-confidence, but made a thoroughly irrational error, inasmuch as he associated the same numeral with two different symbols—and did not see his error. His ability to mentally represent and analyze a simple situation visually presented in our "Cross Line Tests" was very poor. In this he failed to analyze out the simple parts of a figure which he could well draw from memory. This seemed significant, for the test is practically always done correctly by normal individuals, at least on the second trial, by the time they are 10 or 12 years of age. A simple test for visual memory of form also brought poor results.

As an extreme contrast to the above results, the tests that had to do with language were remarkably well done. A visual verbal memory passage was given with unusual accuracy, also an auditory verbal passage was rendered almost perfectly. Considering that the former has 20 items and the latter 12 details, this performance was exceptionally good. Also, the so-called Antonym Test, where one is asked to give as quickly as possible the opposite to a word, the result, considering his foreign education, was decidedly good. Three out of twenty opposites were not given, apparently on account of the lack of knowledge. The average time was 2.3 seconds. If two of the other time-reactions were left out, which were probably slow from lack of knowledge, the average time would be 1.6 seconds for 15 opposites. This shows evidence of some good mental control on the language side. Motor control was fair. He was able to tap 75 of our squares with 2 errors in 30 seconds, just a medium performance. A letter written on this date contains quite a few mis-spelled short words: "My father Send me to This Court for The troubels I had with my sister," etc.

While awaiting trial Adolf, stating that he was desirous of doing so, was given ample opportunity to study arithmetic. After a few days he told us unhesitatingly that he now could do long division, but he utterly failed, and, indeed, made many errors in a sum in addition. He had acquired part of the multiplication table.

Study of his range of information brought out some curious points. He told of some comparative merits of law schools, had some books on home-taught law, and was a great reader of the newspapers. In the latter he chiefly perused reports of court cases. He was quite familiar with the names of various attorneys and judges. He could give the names in contemporary politics, and knew about sporting items. His knowledge of the history of this country was absolutely deficient, but he does not hesitate to give such statements as the following: "The Fourth of July is to remember a great battle between President Lincoln and the English country." Again he makes a bluff to give scientific items, although he has the shallowest information. When it comes to athletics, much to our surprise, we hear that our flabby boy is a champion. Of course, he knows some of the rulers in Europe and by what route he came to New York, but he informs us that Paris is the largest country in Europe.

Adolf says he plays a very good game of checkers, that he had played much, but on trial he shows a very poor game, once moving backwards. When purposely given chances to take men he did not perceive the opportunities.

We asked him to analyze out for us a couple of moral situations, one being about a man who stole to give to a starving family. He tells us in one way the man did right and in another way wrong. It never is right to steal, because if caught he would be sent to the penitentiary and would have to pay more than the things are worth, and, then, if he was not caught, a thief would never get along in the world. The other was the story of Indians surrounding a settlement who asked the captain of a village to give up a man. Adolf thought if he were a chief he would say to give battle if the man had done no wrong, but on further consideration states that he would rather give up one man than risk the lives of many, and if he were a captain he would surely rather give this man up than put his own life in it. He thinks certainly this is the way the question should be answered.

On our "Aussage" or Testimony Test Adolf gave volubly many details, dramatically expressing himself and putting in interpretations that were not warranted by the picture. Indeed, he made the characters actually say things. On the other hand, he did not recall at all one of the three persons present in the picture. He accepted three out of six suggestions and was quite willing to fill in imaginary details, besides perverting some of the facts. This was unusually unreliable testimony.

Our impressions as dictated at this time state that we had to do with a young man in good general physical condition, of unusually flabby musculature, who showed a couple of signs that might possibly be regarded as stigmata of inferiority. Mentally, the main showing was irregularity of abilities; in some things he was distinctly subnormal, in others mediocre, but in language ability he was surprisingly good. No evidence of mental aberration was discovered. The diagnosis could be made, in short, that the boy was a subnormal verbalist. His character traits might be enumerated in part by saying that he was aggressive, unscrupulous, boastful, ambitious, and a continual and excessive liar. In the exercise of these he was strikingly lacking in foresight. This latter characteristic also was shown in his test work. The abilities in which he was overbalanced gave him special feelings of the possibility of his being a success and led him to become a pathological liar. From the family history the main suggestion of the causation of the mental abnormality is in illness during developmental life, but neither ante-natal nor hereditary conditions are quite free from suspicion.

At the time of this first trial Adolf maintained a very smart attitude and tried to show off. He had succeeded in having two witnesses subpoenaed in order to prove that he did not hit his sister, but on the stand it came out that one of them was not there at all, and the other, who was a little girl, stated that she saw Adolf hit some one. Just why the boy had these witnesses brought in was difficult to explain. Perhaps he had the idea that some one ought to be called in every case, or perhaps he thought they would be willing to tell an untruth for him. His statement in court did not agree with what he had told us and was utterly different from what his sister stated. It came out that he had struck her on a number of previous occasions. It was shown clearly that the boy was a tremendous liar. The case was transferred to the Juvenile Court and from there the boy was sent away to an institution for a few months. After the trial his father said in broken English, "To me he never told the truth."

Just after his release the family moved to Chicago and Adolf soon put himself in touch with certain social agencies. He found out where I was and came to see me, bright, smiling, and well. He had gained eight pounds during his incarceration. He wanted to tell all about his life in the institution and because we were busy said he would come the next day. He did not do this, but a few months later came running up to me on the street with a package in his hands, saying he was already at work in a downtown office and was doing well and going to night school. Five years more would see him quite through his law course. A few months after this he applied at a certain agency for work as an interpreter and there, strangely enough, some one who knew him in New York recognized him. He, however, denied ever having been in court and produced a list of twenty or twenty-five places where he worked and gave them as references. It is to be remembered that at this time he had already been brought up in court at least three times, that he had been on probation, and been sent away to an institution.

During the last four years we have received much information concerning the career of Adolf, although his activities have carried him to Milwaukee, Cleveland, St. Louis, and other towns, in several of which he has been in trouble. He has very repeatedly been to see us and we have had many opportunities of gauging his mental as well as his social development.

His family continued to live in one of the most populous suburbs of Chicago and Adolf maintains that his residence is there, an important point for his political activities which are mentioned later.

What we discovered in our further studies of Adolf’s mental condition can be told in short. We have retested him over and over. (When he has been hard up we have given him money to induce him to do his very best.) There are no contradictions in our findings at different times. Once, in another city, in connection with his appearance in court, Adolf was seen by a psychiatrist who suggested that he was a case of dementia precox, but nothing in our long observation of him warrants us in such an opinion. His mental conditions and qualities seem quite unchanged in type during all the time we have known him, and instead of any deterioration there has been gradual betterment in capacities, certainly along the line of adjustment to environment. His wonderful ability to get out of trouble is evidence of these powers of adjustment, as is also, perhaps, his keen sensing of the utility of the shadier sides of politics and criminal procedure.

In work with numbers Adolf is still very poor. He is unable to do long division or multiplication, and cannot add together simple fractions. Addition he does much better, but even at his best he makes errors in columns where he has to add five numerals. He now can do simple subtraction such as is required in making change, but fails on such a problem as how much change he should get from $20 after buying goods costing $11.37. His memory span is only six numerals, and these he cannot get correctly every time.

After numerous attempts to mentally analyze our simple "Cross Line Test," with much urging and extreme slowness he finally succeeded at one time in getting it correctly. As stated above, this is a test that is done with ease usually by normal individuals 12 years of age. On our "Code Test," requiring much the same order of ability, but more effort, he entirely failed. For one thing, he has never known the order of the alphabet either in English, German, or French. Our "Pictorial Completion Test," which gauges simple apperceptive abilities, he failed to do correctly, making three illogical errors.

The result on the Binet tests are most interesting. From years of experience with them we ourselves have no faith in their offering sound criteria for age levels above 10 years. Adolf goes up through all of the 12-year tests (1911 series) except the first, where he shows suggestibility in his judgment of the lengths of lines. In the 15-year tests he fails on the first, but does the three following ones correctly. Two out of the adult series are done well—those where the definition of a word is required and the statement of political ideas. Two or three of his specific answers are worth noting: "Honor is when a person is very honest. It means he will never do what is wrong even if he can make money by it." "Pleasure is when everything is pleasant, when you are enjoying yourself." Adolf tells us that the king is head of a monarchy, he has not the power to veto, and he acquires his position by royal birth. In contrast to this he says the president is the presiding executive of a republic, he has the power to veto, and he gains his position by election. It is perfectly clear in this case, as in many others, that the Binet tests show very little wherein lies the nature of a special defect or ability. Adolf’s capacity for handling language has grown steadily. He has been reading law and knows by heart a great deal of its terminology. In a short conversation he talks well and is coherent. The aggressiveness which is ever with him leads him to stick to the point. He has had very little instruction, his pronunciation is often defective and he does not know the meaning of many of the longer terms with which any lawyer should be acquainted. He speaks fluently and has now long posed, among other things, as an interpreter.

Our final diagnosis after all these mental tests is, that while he could by no means be called a feebleminded person, still Adolf is essentially subnormal in many abilities—we still regard him as a subnormal verbalist. Probably what he lacks in powers of mental analysis has much relation to the lack of foresight which he continually shows in his social career. His lying and swindling have led him almost nowhere except into difficulties.

Adolf has been steadily gaining weight, although he has grown only an inch and a half in these years. He is stout and sleek-looking and as flabby as ever. He has not been seriously ill during this time. Whereas before he used to be untidy in dress he now gets himself up more carefully.

The following are examples of Adolf’s conversation and show many of his characteristics: (Soon after he came to Chicago we spoke to him of his progress.)

"The other day I met a fellow and he says, `How long have you been in this country?’ and when I says four years he says, `You’re a liar. There never was a fellow I ever heard of who got hold of the language and was doing as well as you are in four years.’ " A few months later he tells us he is selling goods on commission and descants on how much he can make: "That’s `Get-rich-quick-Wallingford’ for you. There’s Mr. A. and Congressman X., they started out from little beginnings just the same as me. I’m going along their line.

"Do you know I got sued by the Evening Star for libbel. That’s what I got for testifying in that case. I tell you what I would like and that’s vice investigation work."

At another time: "Well, doctor, I am general manager for my brother’s business now. He’s got a bottle business. There’s money in that, ain’t there? I was down in court to-day. I tell you, there was a fellow who got what was coming to him. It was a case before Judge H.—assault and battery. He was fined $10 and costs—all amounted to about $30. Well, I had a little dog and I tell you I have a heart for animals just the same as persons. He kicked the dog and I told him not to do it and he says, `You’re a liar,’ and then he ran down stairs and pushed me along the stones over there. I called the police and they did not come for about three quarters of an hour.

"I’m studying law. Taking a correspondence course. They give you an L.L.B. It’s a two years work and you get all the volumes separately," etc. "Then we have a slander suit. A neighbor called my sister dirty names. I am going to file a $5000 slander suit. I would not let that man call names like that, and then he’s got about $5000 in property.

"Some people are down on me, but I tell you I have been a leader of boys. We got the Illinois championship—you know, the boy scout examinations. There was an examination on leaves. I was their leader. I had 9 boys up and there were 117 leaves and every boy knew every leaf. Of course I told them or they would not have known. Some people are down on me for what I do for the boys, but I tell you I’ve been in court and I’ve made up my mind I will help other kids. Sometimes kids can be helped by talking to. Then there is me. I won the boxing championship this year." (At this period I enquire about his prowess and the recent encounter with the young boy who dragged him over the stones. With a blush he says he never was any good at real boxing or real fighting.) "I’m this kind of a fellow. If they let me alone I’m all right, but if they start monkeying with me something is going to happen. When you start a thing don’t start it until you can carry it through. These people that started with me were not able to do that."

Later it came out that the alleged fighting with the boy is all in Adolf’s mind. He tells us, without noticing any discrepancy, that no complaint against this boy, who he said had been already tried and fined, would be received by the police authorities, nor will they issue a warrant.

Within the last year or two there has been almost complete cessation of Adolf’s attempt to become a lawyer. At an earlier time he came to us with a speech written out in a book. He was going to recite it when a certain case came up in the Municipal Court. As a matter of fact we heard that the boy said nothing on the occasion. At various times we have heard of his getting mixed up in different ways in a number of cases. Once he succeeded in giving testimony in a notorious trial. His own account of his interest in the case is shown in the following:

"Doctor, you remember that X. boy and that Y. boy. Judge B. is going to try them. They are down in the S Station and they are going to stay there unless they sign a jury waiver and they can’t do that. They are only 15 years old—I got their ages—it cost me $1 to get their ages and I am going to be there when they are being tried." (The statement of the ages is untrue.) "It ain’t right to keep these boys down there. They look pale. They don’t give them anything but black coffee. I’m going to represent them boys. You know, doctor, I’m working in three places now—holding three jobs. Two days in the week I work for the A’s, two for Mr. B.—he ain’t exactly my boss—and then for myself. The A’s pay me $6, Mr. B. pays $3, and then I make $7 or $8 myself interpreting. I’m saving it up to go to law school. In three years I graduate. They are going to hold it up against them boys, their records, and I am going to deny it. It ain’t right. I was talking to the detective that arrested X. and I says to him, `Look here, you took the knife. What right have they got to take in one fellow without the little fellow?’ I want to represent this case myself."

Adolf has worked for law firms and aided at times as an investigator of criminal and vice situations. Occasionally he has been much worried about his own court record. He did not want it to stand against him. He thought he could get his sister to swear that he never quarreled at home. Shortly afterwards he served a short sentence for stealing from a law firm. Later he came in and said he had a job in the legal department of a large concern and that he had changed his name because he believed his old name was ruined. "I’m determined to be a lawyer. Ever since a little fellow I have wanted to be—ever since I have had an understanding of what the law means. I used to play court with the other little ones and talk about law." At this time he wanted a little loan. He had become particularly interested in philanthropic work and thought he could do something on the side about that—perhaps become a leader of boys, or help the unprotected in some way. Adolf was really employed now to investigate cases by some lawyer. About this time he had been wearing a badge, impersonating an officer of a certain philanthropic society.

For long this young man was concocting all sorts of schemes how he might work in at the edge of legal affairs, as an interpreter, a "next friend," an investigator, etc. More recent activities have taken Adolf away from the field of his first ambitions and he has tried to use his talents in all sorts of adventuresome ways. The accounts of his lying and impostures belong logically together, as follows.

During all our acquaintance with Adolf we have known his word to be absolutely untrustworthy. Many times he has descended upon his friends with quite unnecessary stories, leading to nothing but a lowering of their opinion of him. Repeatedly his concoctions have been without ascertainable purpose. His prevaricating nearly always centers about himself as some sort of a hero and represents him to be a particularly good-hearted and even definitely philanthropic person—one who loves all creatures and does much for others. Pages might be taken in recounting his falsehoods. Most of them, even when long drawn out, were fairly coherent. I remember one instance as showing how particularly uncalled for his prevarications were. After hearing one of his tales, we started downtown together, but missed a car. Adolf walked to the middle of the street and said he could see one coming just a few blocks away. Being doubtful, I a minute later went to look and no car even yet was in sight. Adolf sheepishly stared in a shop window. He never took any pleasure in his record of misdeeds. He was never boastful about them and indeed seemed to have quite normal moral feeling. But so far, none of his perceptions or apperceptions has led him to see the astonishing futility of his own lying and other misrepresentations.

Already this young man’s court experiences we know to be very numerous and possibly we are not acquainted with all of them. Early we knew of his forging letters and telegrams and engaging in minor misrepresentations which were really swindling operations. Later his transactions have been spread about in different cities, as we have already stated. The young man borrowed small sums frequently on false pretenses. He has found the outskirts of legal practice a fruitful field for misrepresentations galore. For instance, at one time he stood outside the door of a concern which deals with small legal business and represented to the prospective patrons that he as a student of the law could transact their business with more individual care and for a less sum. He really succeeded in getting hold of the beginnings of a number of legal actions in this way. In one city he posed as the officer of a certain protective agency and posted himself where he would be likely to meet people who knew of this organization, in order to obtain petty business from them. We have heard that he has been a witness in a number of legal cases and has earned fees thereby. In Cleveland Adolf succeeded in starting a secret service agency and obtained contracts, among them the detective work for a newly started store of considerable size. This was a great tribute to his push and energy, but his agency soon failed. In St. Louis, where he stayed long enough to become acquainted with not a few members of the legal fraternity, he forged a legal document. A great deal was made of the case by the papers because of its flagrancy and amusing details. It seems Adolf had become enamored of a certain woman who was not living with her husband. The account runs that he urged his suit, but she refused because she was not legally free. Adolf replied that he would make that all right and in a week or two produced papers of divorce. These were made out in legal form, but it seems that he over-stepped the mark. The alleged decree stated that the fair divorcee must be remarried inside of a week. This seems to have aroused her suspicion, as had also some violence which Adolf had prematurely displayed. The young man was duly sentenced for the fraud.

Concerning punishments we can say that in the five years since he left New York he has served at least four terms in penal institutions and has been held to trial on one other occasion. This latter event concerned itself with Adolf’s impersonating a federal officer. He made his way into a home under these conditions, just why we do not know. The case was difficult to adjust and was dismissed because no statute exactly covered it.

Perhaps nothing in his remarkable history shows Adolf’s aggressiveness and peculiar tendencies any more than his political career. He had been voting long before he was of age and had even succeeded in getting a nomination for a certain party position during his minority, polling a considerable vote at the primaries. Following his defeat at election, which was at the time when the new party showed marked weakness, Adolf told us that he, after all, was only in the Progressive Party to wreck it. He felt that the leaders belonged back in the Republican ranks, and he thought he could help to get them there.

--------------------------------------------------------------- Mentality: Subnormal verbalist type. Case 12.
Man, 21 years.
Developmental: Early illness with
involvement of nervous
system. Delinquencies: Lying excessive. Swindling. Stealing. ---------------------------------------------------------------


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Chicago: William Healy, "Case 12," Pathology of Lying, Accusation, and Swindling: A Study in Forensic Psychology, trans. Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron, 1800-1859 in Pathology of Lying, Accusation, and Swindling: A Study in Forensic Psychology (London: Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1831), Original Sources, accessed October 3, 2023,

MLA: Healy, William. "Case 12." Pathology of Lying, Accusation, and Swindling: A Study in Forensic Psychology, translted by Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron, 1800-1859, in Pathology of Lying, Accusation, and Swindling: A Study in Forensic Psychology, London, Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1831, Original Sources. 3 Oct. 2023.

Harvard: Healy, W, 'Case 12' in Pathology of Lying, Accusation, and Swindling: A Study in Forensic Psychology, trans. . cited in 1831, Pathology of Lying, Accusation, and Swindling: A Study in Forensic Psychology, Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, London. Original Sources, retrieved 3 October 2023, from