An Overview Of Psychological Theories Of Crime

1391 words - 6 pages

Criminal behavior has a multitude of theories attempting to explain its origins ranging form the bizarre to the mundane. These include everything from tattoos causing crime, to crime being caused by poor parenting. There are a large number of theories attempting to explain crime through empirical methods from a multitude of disciplines - sociology, biology, and the area of specificity for this paper - psychology. Psychological methods beginning in Aristotle's Nichomachean ethics all the way through modern personality theories all attempt to explain the internal motivations of crime. These theories warrant a thorough investigation and analysis.Early criminal theory was a branch of philosophy based on a theistic principle of good and evil natures. The early Greek thinkers felt that crime was caused by improper moral education. They also felt that god inspired the law and only through religious education would people be able to over come the base lack of moral knowledge to maintain the standards of the society in which they lived. The belief was further held that parental responsibility when not fulfilled caused a person of poor character or criminal nature to be created. The Romans largely followed the Greek model of criminal behavior.Medieval Theories of crime were based on an inherently catholic society's overly theistic view of society. They felt the cause of crime was poor moral training and spiritual health. The crime was committed was a sin caused by the succumbing to Satan or the possession by a demon. The methods of prevention reflected these beliefs. They felt that by causing everyone to focus on god that they could prevent socially undesirable behaviors. Thusly, the medieval preoccupation with religious activities.The first foray major foray into psychology based scientific research was by Sigmund Freud. His psychoanalytic theory was the first complete personality theory while in its treatment of sexual issues lacks in any serious basis; its treatment of general behaviors is in some cases scientifically valid. Freud believed that criminal behavior was the result of improper early childhood behavioral setting. He felt that criminal behavior was deviant behavior caused by improper socialization. His psychoanalytic theory held that criminal behavior could be altered by psychoanalytic therapy to provide the missed behavioral development.Out of Psychoanalytic theory emerges the concept of the neurotic. This type of criminal will engage in behaviors not of a violent nature but of a compulsive or ritualistic nature. They will often engage in petty thefts or crimes such as voyeurism, which cause no direct physical harm. Psychoanalytic theory holds that neuroses emerge as a coping method to avoid delinquent behavior. This explains their non-violent and often victimless nature.Also out of psychoanalytic theories emerge the idea of psychoses. Of these there are two varieties, the first being of a physical nature be it caused by organic deformities...

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