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Law and Psychiatry Lecture Notes Nov 23

Woodsworth College Courses
Course Code
John Vervaeke

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Law and Psychiatry: November 23, 2010
Topic 1: Women and Crime and the Law
Topic 2: Women in psychiatry
There has been a longstanding idea that these ideas are tangled before
you get to mentally ill offenders.
Number of criminologists that say women commit less crime then men
in terms of womens rates of offending; registered recording
convictions women commit much less crime than men. The rates of
conviction for women offender does reflect the rate in the actual
offending. Many years ago, Alison Morich in Cambridge and came out
with 2 figures that across those jurisdictions that 45% of men and 15%
of women would get a criminal conviction of some point in their life.
That is a huge difference; highly statistically significantthe kind of
things that social scientists feel the need to explain; that does not even
reflect the difference. On top of that; womens crimes tends to be less
serious than the men on averagethose women tend to be convicted of
less crime.
Some people may arguethat womens crime goes less reportedit
may be true that proportion of womens crime is less than men would
only report the fact that they report less then men.
The more serious crime---directed at family and friends.
Not a rare occurrencefrequent occurrence.
The obvious question is why do women commit less crime then men?
Alison Morrison says we have to be careful about making assumptions
about this.
She refers to some of the theories that we are going to talk about;
based on assumptions we should be suspicious of.
Couple of things we should bear in mind:
She talks about social-psychoogical studies: women can just be as
dishonest as men.
She talks about the way—she looks at other factors: social
marginalization: they can have a huge impact on these crime statistics
which suggest gender is not an overriding variable.
The overall rate of offending in the U.S for African American women
lower than afrian American women—but women rates for African
American were higher than the white men.
Overall, her model is we shouldnt think of women as non-criminal, it
doesnt really explain the difference; suspicious of explanation that
makes that simple.
Two criminologists who were working in Canada:

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1) Chunn and Gavingan: gave review of different kinds of explanations
of different rates.
First kind of explanation:
1) explanation in terms of biological and deep psychological differences:
look back to early days of criminology—Lombrosso wrote his famous
book in the late 19th century: criminal mana lot of crimes are
committed by a kind of man that is a evolutionary throwback. He also
wrote a book on criminal womenhe drew common conceptions of
what of what women were like. Why did women commit the crimes
they do.
He was focused on prostitution---and his argument was that women
commit less crime than women because less intelligent and more
Unfortunately for women who commit crime; they are more sexual
beings then men.
Women were more sexually focused and closer to nature; some women
were more overhwhelmed by sexuality. That was the explanation of
why women commit less crime.
Any attempt to link biology to crime is quite feeble.
PMScrime related to menstrual cyclesome women—commit more
crime during menstral cycle—dismiss these arguments!! (not there
Women are socialized to be less criminal than boys.
Even if you look at positive socialization for boyshe should be
assertive; take intiative; be self confident.
Girls are just more socialized than boysgirls receive more intensive
socialization in which traditions are socialized in domestic space and
boys are left to hang out with male friends by themselves.
There is a third alternative: at the time they were writing an
influential theorist: Carol Gilligan had a psychological theory which
was interesting how it developed. A guy called Coldburg who wrote a
theory of moral development; children go through the stages through
adulthoodthe highest model of developmentautonomous function
think in moral terms; able to reject moral norms; general flavour of
moral norms to respect for the rights for others.
When you employ Coldburgs model: you find on average boys get
further along the route than women do.
This is a male ethnic and not a female ethnic.
Every child has to go through a dramatic experience of recognizing the
separation from the mother.

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in the case of boys, that is a double experience of separation: learning
independent of the mother; and also learn that they are a different
kind than their mother; they focus on autonomy.
Girls- have to go through the bump, they feel they are the same as
the mother---they develop sameness, nurturing, reciprocity.
Something has to break down for the girls being breaked down to being
socialized in these gender roles in order to explain why some commit
This kind of theory taken by someone called Adler.
She argues that womens rate of crime is actually increasing because of
feminism because roles are shifting: as womens role become less
separated than menChunn and Gavingan does not think this is true.
the last kind of explanation is called structural sociological:
explanation shifts the ground entirely—what is being said here is that
women are socially controlled through different means then men.
Criminal justice system is the social control system ultimately for
males. The status quo is preserved: the powerful is imposed on those at
the bottom. IN the case of women the ones that control them is the
family—controlled by patriarchical family the men are controlling the
women. If that fails, than psychiatry controls them.
The argument goes two social control mechanisms:
1) the criminal justice system
2) psychiatric system aimed at women
psychiatry then comes this repressive apparatus that is primarily
aimed at gender boundaries.
The criminal justice system is the complete backstophavent been
successfully controlled by the family; havent been controlled by
psychiatry; but then in the end certain crimes againt the gender
boundaryprostitution in the past, the use of contraception and
One of the argument that has been emphasized; women who are
controlled by psychiatry has typically challenged gender norms: they
arenot acting the ways gender norms required.
This argumentall of these arguments are highly problematic—lot of
difficulty of role theory-why do we socialized boys and girls differently?
What is the origins of those socializtion??? Even though boys and girls
are socialized different in different parts of the worldwhen it comes
to the idea of undestanding who has power----you immediately run into
a tricky situation that if women are controlled by patriarchif whole
point is to say you dont need the criminal justice system because
psychiatry is doing the jobif patriarchy is doing the jobdoesnt
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