Psychological Explanation of the Causes of Crime

Psychological Explanation of the Causes of Crime Psychological pertaining to the mind or to mental phenomena as the subject matter of psychology. – To account for criminal motivation in people, criminologists have used various psychology theories that attempt to explain human intellectual and emotional development. These theories can be divided into three categories: a. Moral Development Theories describe a sequence of developmental stages that people pass through when acquiring the capacity to make moral judgments.

According to these theorists, this development process may or may not completed and people who remain unable to recognize right from wrong will be more likely to engage in inappropriate, deviant, or even criminal behavior. b. Social Learning Theories emphasize the process of learning and internalizing moral codes. Learning theorists note different patterns of rewards and sanctions that affect this process. c. Personal Theories assume a set of enduring perceptions and predisposition’s (tendencies) that each individual develops through early socialization.

These theorists propose that certain predisposition’s or personality traits, such as impulsiveness or extroversion, increase the chances of criminal behavior. -In contrast to biological and hereditary theories, there are a variety of psychological explanations for crime and emphasize the importance of personality and its role in criminal and delinquent behavior. Some psychological theories stress the importance of mental processes, childhood experiences, and unconscious thoughts. Others stress the importance of social learning or human perception. Types of Psychological Theories: a.

Psychiatric Criminology (Forensic Psychiatry) -Theories derived from the medical sciences, including neurology, and which, like other psychological theories focus on the individual as the unit of analysis. Psychiatric theories form the basis of psychiatric criminology. While forensic psychiatry is that branch of psychiatry having to do with the study of crime and criminality. -David Abrahamsen, a psychiatrist explains crime “antisocial behavior is a direct expression of an aggression or may be a direct or indirect manifestation of distorted erotic drive,” -Envisions a complex et of drives and motives operating from recesses deep within the personality to determine behavior. *Psychopath or Sociopath -A person with a personality disorder, especially one manifested in aggressively antisocial behavior, which is often said to be the result of a poorly developed superego. Hervey Cleckley described the psychopath as a “moral idiot”. Or as one who does not feel empathy with others, even though he or she may be fully cognizant of what is objectively happening around them. Characteristic of the Psychopathic Personality 1. An absence of delusions, hallucinations, or other sign of psychosis. . The inability to feel quilt or shame 3. Unreliability 4. Chronic lying 5. Superficial Charm 6. Above-average Intelligence 7. Ongoing antisocial behavior 8. Inability to learn from experience 9. Self-centeredness *Antisocial or Asocial Personality -Refers to individuals who are basically unsocialized and whose behavior brings them repeatedly into conflict with society. They are incapable of significant loyalty to individuals, groups, or social values. They are grossly selfish, callous, irresponsible, impulsive, and unable to feel guilt or to learn from experience and punishment.

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Frustration tolerance is low. They tend to blame others or offer plausible rationalization for their behavior. b. Psychoanalytic Perspective – A psychiatric approach developed by the Austrian Psychiatrist Sigmund Freud emphasizes the role of personality in human behavior and which sees deviant behavior as the result of dysfunctional personalities. According to Freud, the personality is comprised of three components: ID- is that fundamental aspect of the personality from which drives, wishes urges, and desires emanate.

The ID is direct and singular in purpose. It operates according to the pleasure principle, seeking full and immediate gratification of its needs. Individuals, however, were said to rarely be fully aware of the urges that percolate up (occasionally into awareness) from the id, because it is a largely unconscious region of the mind. -the part of the psyche, residing in the unconscious, that is the source  of instinctive impulses that seek satisfaction in accordance with the pleasure principle  and are modified by the ego and the superego before they are given overt expression

EGO- The reality-testing part of the personality; also referred to as the reality principle. More formally, it is the personality component that is conscious, more immediately controls behavior, and is most in touch with external reality. For Freud, the ego was primarily concerned with how objectives might be best accomplished. The EGO tends to effect strategies for the individual that maximize pleasure and minimize pain. It lays out the various paths of action that can lead to wish fulfillment. The EGO inherently recognizes that it may be necessary to delay gratification to achieve a more fulfilling long term-goal. the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the  outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands  of the social and physical environment. SUPEREGO- The moral aspect of the personality; much like the conscience. More formally, it is the division of the psyche that develops by the incorporation of the perceived moral standards of the community, is mainly unconscious, and includes the conscience. -the part of the personality representing the conscience,  formed in early life by internalization of the standards of parents and other models of behavior. c.

Frustration- Aggression Theory – Holds that frustration is a natural consequence of living a root cause of crime. Criminal behavior can be a form of adaptation when it results in stress reduction. *Alloplastic Adaptation- That form of adjustment which results from changes in the environment surrounding an individual. *Autoplastic Adaptation- That form of adjustment, which results from, changes with an individual. d. Behavior Theory -Behavior theory has sometimes called “stimulus-response approach to human behavior”, that is determined by environmental consequences which it produces for the individual concerned.

When an individual’s behavior results in rewards, or in receipt of feedback which the individual, for whatever reason, regards as rewarding, then it is likely that the behavior in question is said to be reinforced. Conversely, when punishment follows behavior, chances are that the frequency of that type of behavior will decrease. *Operant Behavior- behavior which affects the environment in such a way as to produce responses or further behavioral cues. *Reward- desirable behavioral likely to increase the frequency of occurrence of that behavior. Punishment- undesirable behavioral consequences likely to decrease the frequency of occurrence of that behavior. -Rewards and punishments have been divided into four conceptual categories: 1. Positive Rewards- Which increase the frequency of approved behavior by adding something desirable to the situation. 2. Negative Rewards- Which increase the frequency of approved behavior by removing something distressful from the situation. 3. Positive Punishment- which decrease the frequency of unwanted behavior by adding something undesirable to the situation. . Negative Punishment- Which decreases the frequency of unwanted behavior by removing something desirable from the situation. e. Psychology of crime -talking about the behavior of a person who commit crime. 1. Self Concept The self-concept has been identified as a very important aspect in human life: a person must be able to have respect for himself; to be “his own best friend”. This is how a person sees himself. If a person believes that he is worthless, and that society does not care what happens to him, this attitude (self-perception) may well lead to crime. . Stress Stress can lead to irrational conduct, even to crime. If a person labors under severe emotional distress, that person may feel compelled to act in socially unacceptable manners. Stress has become a major problem in modern life, leading to broken families and deviant behavior. 3. Aggression Aggression and violence often go together. Aggression can be defined as any form of behavior aimed at the partial or total, literal or figurative, destruction of an object or person. The word “violence” is used to describe acts of aggression. 4. Depression

Depression can be a psychosis and also a neurosis. A psychosis is a severe mental illness in which insight was lost. Persons with psychotic depression might believe that the sins of the world are upon them, and that they are a burden to society. In the case of a neurotic depression, insight will be retained. A person suffering from depression may believe that life is pointless, so that he might as well “escape” to criminality. 5. Mental Aberrations The most important mental aberrations are the psychoses, which are severe mental illnesses; notably paranoia and schizophrenia.

There are also the neuroses; anxiety states, obsessional compulsive states, hysterical neuroses, dissociative states and neurotic depressions. There are also organic psychoses; where the mental illness flows from an organic defect in the body of the patient. It is not difficult to see that any of these conditions could lead to deviant behavior. 6. Personality disorders Psychopathy, addictions and deviances can be listed under personality disorders. Once there is a disintegration of personality, deviant behavior can be expected. Many serious crimes are committed by persons whose personalities do not conform with the norms accepted by society.

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