Psychological Perspective On Criminality Essay

1777 words - 7 pages

The role of a criminal psychologist is to try to understand, explain and predict criminal behaviour. This is accomplished through the development of personality and learning theories. Psychologists believe that criminal behaviour is the outcome of various psychological and social factors (Cox, Roesch & Zapf, 2000). There are five psychological theories of crime that I will be discussing in this essay: Psychoanalytic Theory, Moral Development Theory, Eysenck¡¦s Theory of Crime and Personality, Social Learning Theory and Operant Conditioning Theory.Unfortunately, psychological theories make assumptions about human nature that cannot be tested (Shoham & Seis, 1993). Nevertheless, psychologists do presume that there is something psychologically wrong with criminals. There are high levels of mental disturbance among inmates and many offenders who are caught and arrested have a lower IQ than non-offenders (Pallone & Hennessy, 1992). However, there are many criminals who have very high IQ¡¦s and do not get caught.Although every criminal is unique, many offenders do share similar histories. Often they grew up in homes lacking parental affection and discipline, in families that were poor and large. As young children, they were often dishonest, irresponsible and felt little guilt or remorse. As a result of this, by the time these children turn 18 many of them have already been convicted of minor crimes, and have drinking or drug problems (Pallone & Hennessy, 1992).Freud¡¦s psychoanalytic theory proposes that criminal behaviour occurs when our moral controls are unable to curtail our basic instincts (Cox et al., 2000). Our internal structure consists of the id (the pleasure seeking, aggressive portion), the ego (the reality check), and the superego (the morality principle). Freud believed that in order to understand any one situation, one must understand how the ego manages the external circumstance, with the demands of the id and the superego (Andrews & Bonta, 1994). Individuals are always in conflict with society as they are forced to repress their base desires. Psychoanalysts claim that criminal behaviour is the result of the individual¡¦s inability to progress properly through the early stages of development (Cox et al., 2000); as a result, the superego or the moral conscience remains underdeveloped and the repression of the instinctual drive has not occurred. This is unfortunate as the inhibited desires are what make society possible (Shoham & Seis, 1993).Psychoanalytic theory focuses on the importance of early development as a predictor of later behaviour. Parental deprivation and a lack of affection cause a lack of superego (Cox et al., 2000). When the superego is underdeveloped, the id is not repressed thereby no feelings of guilt are created. Guilt prevents people from committing certain actions (Shoham & Seis, 1993).Freud believed that human nature is inherently...

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