Augustine, Confessions 2.9
Augustine reflects on the group psychology of the teen gang with whom he infamously stole some pears.
quid erat ille affectus animi? certe enim plane turpis erat nimis, et vae mihi erat qui habebam illum. sed tamen quid erat? ‘delicta quis intellegit?’ risus erat quasi titillato corde, quod fallebamus eos qui haec a nobis fieri non putabant et vehementer nolebant. cur ergo eo me delectabat quo id non faciebam solus? an quia etiam nemo facile solus ridet? nemo quidem facile, sed tamen etiam solos et singulos homines, cum alius nemo praesens, vincit risus aliquando, si aliquid nimie ridiculum vel sensibus occurit vel animo. at ego illud solus non facerem, non facerem omnino solus.
What was that state of mind? It was, for sure, certainly and exceedingly depraved, and was woe to me who was in that state of mind. But still, what was it? ‘Who can understand his transgressions?’ [Psalm 18.13] There was laughter, as if our hearts were tickled because we were deceiving those who had no idea that we were doing these things, and who would have strongly desired that we should not do them. So why was I so delighted at that thing which I would not have done alone? Is it because no one laughs easily when they are alone? Certainly not easily, but still, even when no one else is present, sometimes laughter overtakes even people who are solitary and on their own, if something all too funny presents itself to their senses or mind. But I on my own would not have done that deed, on my own I would not have done it at all.