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One of the different aspects that are considered when determining the nature, cause and pattern of crime is criminal psychology. According to Blackburn, 1993, this has been an area that has been explored by criminologists in a bid to help uncover the mystery thinking behind criminal’s actions be it murder, rape or even robbery among many others. The study of these underlying mental states or disorders is what entails criminal psychology. It can therefore be said to be the study that examines the motivation, intentions and thoughts of those people that defy the law on a habitual pattern. The need to deviate from the norm plays a very big role as a motivator and psychological make-up of a criminal. This is why it is very important to have it studied. This behavior as would be seen is either hereditary or caused by environmental factors affecting the individual.
There are various factors that play a big role as to why people commit crimes. One of these is the natural urges in man or we can say the animalistic instincts in man. These are those that inherent in people for the preservation or survival of them as species. They vary from a person to another and also depending on the situation at hand for one. Some of these urges include hunger and thirst and they could become so intense and cause some people to cause crimes. An example is someone that has a very strong urge to get food hungry might steal food or money in a bid to satisfy himself or herself.
The three urges that can be found in people include the nutritive urge which refers to a person’s need for food. If it is not satisfied, it may lead to theft. There is also the sexual urge which naturally develops due to the need to procreate. There however may be deviations in this and it has mostly led to people committing rape, homosexuality or even prostitution in some cases. This is especially common in people with a low social relationship with others and cannot easily communicate there feelings to the opposite sex and therefore have to resort to rape and other sorts of vices.
There is also a factor about association that has a linkage to crime in society today. This is the herd or gregarious instinct which refers to the urge to be in groups or cohabiting in various social settings be it schools, families or even as a country. When a person feels ostracized or alienated from any of these settings, they may turn to gangs or ‘hippies’ in a bid to satisfy this urge and in the process engage in criminal activity.
Another reason why people may find themselves in crime is due to the activity urge in human beings. If in case people do not involve themselves in meaningful activities during a given period, they are more likely to commit crime than if they were busy. This is because in they may in this way be able to derive labor and active leisure by doing so be it a criminal activity or otherwise. This is very common in teenagers who can sometimes become delinquent if they stay idle for a long time.
There are also cases in certain societies where it is common to go against established routines or norms. This is because it is widespread and done by many especially in juveniles. Therefore many, especially the youths have a frame of mind in which the society and the self are always at odds. This makes defiance to authorities a norm and the individuals become inclined to committing criminal activities. In addition to this, it is also common to find these individuals with aggression and impulsive behaviors which make them more predisposed to be abusive and violent to others. This usually happens only during adolescence in many individuals but can spill out into later stages of someone’s life incase it is not checked in time.
Self assertion can also sometimes be attributed to some criminal activities that take place. Most people have a feeling of self-satisfaction when they achieve various goals in life. It may be driven by egoistic feelings but generally it would be in a bid to attract attention so that others may notice them. It is again very common in youthful offenders who play truant in order to ‘look cool’ amongst their peers. Some of the incidents that may stem out of this include stealing of cars as well as use of narcotics.
In general, although it is easy to distinguish between all these urges, it is very difficult however to separate them. There is a unique mutual interaction between all these urges that would in turn shape someone’s personality and also their behavior in general. Almost every human being experiences all these urges but how they are controlled and how their energies are focused that would determine whether they will be in crime or not.
Temperament, which refers to all the aspects that constitute someone’s personality do also shape whether they are likely to be involved in crime or not. They are often inherent and not learnt such as introversion or extroversion. This would therefore greatly influence how people’s spiritual energy would be put into use in any individual. This is what essentially forms someone’s character and behavior. Some people would be impulsive while others would becalm. Therefore temperament would be revealed in how people would conduct themselves. Temperament and attitude also go together and in the end would very much contribute to someone’s likelihood to commit crimes. An example is violent or short-tempered people are very likely to be involved in fights than those who are not. Sometimes these fights could lead to even murder whether deliberate or not.
We also have feelings and emotions which mostly are triggered by the things around us such as what we see, hear or think about. The feelings could really vary from one person to the other and of different intensities. These may include rage, jealousy or hate while others may be pleasant such as love or kindness. The end result of some of the unpleasant feelings or emotions are likely to trigger actions that could be considered criminal. An example is a person that is highly enraged can cause harm to others in the form of murder or assaults. This therefore shows that there is a direct causation of antisocial behavior due to the kind of feelings present in people at given times.
The mind or intellect can sometimes act as a motivator for people to engage in criminal activities. People with superior intelligence to the common people can at times execute every intricate and well planned crime so as to exercise their unique abilities. These crimes are usually very difficult for the authorities to unravel and this is what sometimes acts as a motivator as it reaffirms the criminals’ quest for superiority gratification. It should however also be noted that most of the criminal activities are carried out with people wit
A low intelligence capacity and are therefore not people with good educational backgrounds. These people in turn do not end up in good jobs therefore making some of them to turn to crime to raise money for their livelihoods. The crime is usually marred with great clumsiness and is therefore more likely to discover by the authorities easily.
It should however be noted that criminal minds are not created equal. This is according to a study conducted by Adrian Raine, a professor of psychology at the University of Southern California. In the recent past, evidence has shown that the prefrontal cortex (one involved in planning, judgment and decision making) is actually different in criminals.
It was reported from the study that the prefrontal cortex of antisocial, violent men was lesser than that of controls. The responses by the brain-wave to a memory task were more potent in the prefrontal cortex of teens without disorder than in the prefrontal cortex of teens with disorder in conduct.
Particular parts of criminals’ brains may function in a way that interferes with the information processing ability. Criminals may have defects in conceptual thinking, capacities for deliberation, awareness of choices, and options that are familiar with non-criminals, who carry themselves out with self-restraint and responsibly. This kind of defect is evident in the criminals’ brains to a hyperactive amygdala. This interferes with the way other cortical areas operate, cortical areas that are essential for change, choice and deliberation.
Fear is a major characteristic deeply rooted in criminals’ personality and is a perpetual underlying presence. This fear is a product of their thoughts or signals, brain data generated internally, with reduced contact or none at all with the outside world. Criminals always deny their state of fearfulness and try to create a picture to others that they are not fearful.
Therefore it is possible to clearly link the presence of certain neuro-chemicals in the brain to criminal or antisocial behavior in humans. As illustrated in Brunner et al,some of the chemicals that have been singled out include epinephrine, monoamine oxidase(MAO), serotonin and dopamine. Deficiency of MAO for example could predispose an individual to certain antisocial and aggressive behavior. Serotonin on the other hand is directly linked to the kind of personality traits that one may possess ranging from anxiety, depression and bi-polar disorder (Larsen & Buss, 2005). It is also key during brain development and any disorder could lead to increased aggressiveness and impulsivity. As Lowenstein once discovered, serotonin is the most important neuro-transmitter that is responsible for impulsive aggression. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that chemicals that promote aggressive behavior can also be associated with criminal behavior in individuals.
There are also personal traits that have been used in the recent past in trying to assess people with criminal or antisocial behavior. These can be identified in the earlier lives of criminals and therefore better discussed when they first appear. Some of these include Conduct Disorder (CD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD). All these have been shown to affect the behavior of individuals in adult ages. An example is that of ODD, which is characterized mainly by irritability, obstinacy as well as a tendency to argue every time. As a child gets older, these characteristics also get worse and graduate into aggression, vandalism as well as telling lies. This condition may lead to CD if it is sustained for a long time (Morley & Hall, 2003).
ADHD has always been associated with restlessness and hyperactivity. When an individual is hyperactive and suffers from inattention, they are likely to be predisposed to the development of various antisocial behaviors such as vandalism and assaults. This usually continues well into the adult stages of an individual and hence can be interlinked with criminal activities carried out by these individuals.
There has also been a number of interesting and often controversial studies that have been carried out regarding presence of injuries to the head having a relationship with the behaviors of people. These would in turn lead to a give pattern of psychological behaviors in people especially in serial killers. Furthermore, it has been argued that violent offenders do not seem to view punishment as something that should deter them from committing their action and these give them a fascination with police procedures as well as seeking attention in the public domain. Therefore, with this predisposition, these individuals commit the crimes deliberately hoping that the chase by authorities would benefit them with the limelight that their egos seek very much. It is however important to note that despite the presence of any of these traits does not necessarily imply criminal behavior in the latter stages of the lives of the individuals who possess them.
In most cases, many of these people with antisocial behaviors or criminals would not seek any therapy to avert their conditions. This therefore means that many therapeutic interventions have to be ordered by courts in order to reduce the chance of them committing these crimes. The main aim of this therapy focuses on modifying their behaviors so as to reinforce only the acceptable mannerisms in the individual. Sometimes this approach also tends to make the individual more understanding on how they should relate their thinking processes with their feelings.
In conclusion, we can behavioral psychology does indeed go a long way in providing data that can be effective in identifying criminal motives in individuals. Although many argue that profilers are often more successful than clinical psychologists, there have been a number of crimes that have been successfully handled by the use criminal psychology procedures such as the apprehension of Frank Fuchs, who once bombed a building in Austria.