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Chapter 3

PSYC39 - chapter 3.docx

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David Nussbaum

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PSYC39 – Ch.3 Theories of Crime: learning and environment Psychodynamic Theories Basic Psychodynamic Principles: the id, ego, and superego - From a psychodynamic perspective, humans are thought to be inherently antisocial, driven by pleasure-seeking and destructive impulses. - Crime generally occurs when these, often unconscious, impulses are not adequately controlled. - “..homicide usually does not originate because of a clearly defined impulse to kill, but is released by the intensity of internal conflicts’ - References to inner drives, traumatic situations, and protecting defences are commonplace in psychodynamic explanations of crime. - Problems that result in superego formation, which are generally thought to stem from a failure to identify with prosocial parental figures, are of particular interest to those attempting to develop explanations of crime. - Psychoanalysts have proposed three main sources of criminal behaviour related to the development of a harsh, weak or deviant superego - Harsh superego = neurotic criminal Harsh superego is assumed to lead to pathological levels of unconscious guilt. Criminal behaviour is meant to subconsciously invite punishment in an attempt to resolve this guilt. - Weak superego = commonly associated with the psychopathic personality. possessing a superego that fails to sufficiently regulate the primitive and instinctual needs of the id. this type of individual is typically ‘egocentric, guiltless, and unempathic’ e.g. many violent offenders including serial killers. - Deviant superego = Superego standards have developed, but those standards are thought to reflect deviant identification (identification with a deviant role model) e.g. criminal parents have a good relationship with their son and the son grows up to mirror his parents’ criminality The child’s delinquent behaviour reflects an absence of guilt, but not the abnormality of psychic structures. Psychodynamic Theories of crime - the general categories of criminal types – harsh, weak, deviant superegos – are useful, but they fail to provide adequate information about the actual causes of crime. - Consistent finding that males are more likely than females to commit crime does not fit well with th psychoanalytic assumption that girls are less likely than boys to develop a strong superego Bowlby’s Theory of Maternal Deprivation - the theory draws heavily on the psychodynamic perspective and is a popular theory for how juvenile delinquency develops - Bowlby’s view was that young children require consistent and continuous maternal care in order for them to develop normally (to resolve the many psychological conflicts encountered throughout the psychosexual development) - According to Bowlby, disruption to the mother-child relationship will have many harmful and potentially irreversible long-term effects, especially in relation to the child’s ability to establish meaningful prosocial relationships. = child will not develop the means to control his conduct, e.g. destructive impulses, and will be more likely to exhibit antisocial patterns of behaviour. - Bowlby’s empirical data – there is a significantly higher level of maternal deprivation in delinquent group compared to the non-delingquents. - However his study was challenged for: unrepresentative nature of his delinquent sample to poor control group matching - Now: maternal deprivation is not a critical factor to a child’s healthy development. Any damage caused by early deprivation is not necessarily irreversible. - The theory over-predicts juvenile delinquency given that many individuals who experience maternal deprivation do not get involved in crime Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency: The work of Glueck and Glueck (family discord in general such as a lack of parental supervision, is associated with delinquent behaviour) - less formal theory of crime, but more a summary of their empirical findings. - The primary interests of the Gluecks were discovering the causes of crime and assessing the effectiveness of correctional treatment in controlling criminal behaviour. - Cross-sectional research comparing the lives of juvenile delinquents with non-juveniles (500 delinquent boys from Massachusetts correctional system and 500 non-delinquent boys from Boston public school), longitudinal research was also included. - They took a multidisciplinary approach to examine delinquency, e.g. wealth info, social psychological and biological info, family lives, school performances and work experiences - The Gluecks attributed the differences between delinquents and non- delinquents to parenting factors, the primary source for superego development - E.g. parents of the delinquents have a great incidence of emotional disturbances, mental retardation, alcoholism, and criminality. They were also less educated, less likely to stay together and less ambitious. Showed greater carelessness in the supervision of their children and often neglectful. Greater proportion of delinquent families was found to lack cohesiveness, warmth and respect for the integrity of family members. - The Gleucks stated that “the development of a mentally hygienic and properly oriented superego (conscience) must have been greatly hampered by the kind of parental ideals, attitudes, temperaments, and behaviour found to play such a major role on the family stage of the delinquents” - Being challenged for other methodological and ideological reasons. e.g. not carefully examining issues related to causal ordering (factors they highlighted preceded or were the result of delinquency), inappropriate use of statistical techniques and procedures. Ideological reasons: not emphasizing certain explanatory variables deemed important in mainstream criminology, e.g. class of origin, and placed too much emphasis on familial (parental supervision) and biological (mesomorphy) factors. Hirschi’s Control Theories (contain important psychodynamic themes) - Original social control theory/social bond theory = the reason why people don’t violate the law is because of social controls, or ‘the bond of the individual to society’ - Four interrelated types of social bonds that are collectively thought to promote socialization and conformity: attachment, commitment, involvement, and belief. - ‘Delinquent acts result when an individual’s bond to society is weak or broken’ - Attachment = attachment and interest in others, e.g. parents, friends.. Represent ego-ideal (in psychodynamic terms) One does not commit crime partly because one does not wish to jeopardize these valued relationships. - Commitment = time, energy and effort placed in conventional behaviour People who have an investment in conventional pursuits run a heightened risk of losing that investment if they become involved in crime. - Involvement = time and energy one spends taking part in activities that are in line with the conventional interests of society Heavy involvement in conventional activities limits the time that is available to participate in criminal pursuits. - Belief – one’s conviction to the view that people should obey common rules If such beliefs are weak or totally absent, involvement in crime is assumed to be more likely (Parallels with the conscience part of the superego) - Limitations: Hirshi believed that attachment’s presence or absence was important, not whether the peers were involved in delinquent acts. In fact, interacting with antisocial peers is now considered to be one of the strongest predictors of criminal involvement Causal ordering: delinquency may precede weak attachment to school - Gottdredson and Hirschi’s General theory of crime = self-control is the primary cause of crime. - Low self-control in the presence of criminal opportunities is assumed
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