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Psychological Foundations of Criminal Behavior Coursework

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Updated: Sep 21st, 2022

Part 1

The question of legal insanity judging is complicated as it requires a precise definition of the mental incompetence’s degree. Suspects can be accounted guilty on condition that their mental illness is not determined as a legal insanity. Therefore, the M’Naghten Rule, according to which the crime is to be punished only in case it was performed with sense and reason, seems to be a useful standard for fair judging (Schmalleger, 2014).

Although some current researchers claim that psychopaths are able to differentiate between the right and the wrong actions, there are several psychological and psychiatric theories that offer another vision of the problem. The moral development theory, for instance, suggests that mental disorders can gravely weaken a person’s ability to make moral judgments. This means the doer of a criminal act can fail to realize its illegal character. According to cognitive information-processing theory, mentally ill people can misinterpret the information they get from the external world. As a result, the distorted reality perception provokes various acts of cruelty. Both these theories suppose that one’s crime commitment can be caused by the disability to give an appropriate assessment to the actions.

The M’Naghten Rule is intended to defend people in case they were unaware of the fact they were doing a wrong action. It should be noted that the Rule serves as a protection only in the cases where the doer could not realize neither the immoral side of the action performed nor the illegal character it had. This is an important remark as far as it excludes the possibility of using the Rule for the defense of intended crimes, where the doers were conscious of breaking the law, but they did not consider their actions morally wrong.

Part 2

Answer (question 1): all psychological and psychiatric theories are guided by the principle that criminal actions are provoked by a dysfunction of one’s mental processes. These mental disorders lead to a certain kind of reality’s misinterpretation, which prevents the doer of a crime action from acting within the norms set by the society.

Answer (question 2): the examples of the early psychological and psychiatric theories trying to explain criminality are the trait theory, the moral development theory and the cognitive information-processing theory. The theories are primarily concentrated on the two key points: personality and behaviorism.

Answer (question 5): the psychoanalytic perspective suggests that criminal behavior is a result of disability to control one’s impulses, and the doer is driven by pleasure-seeking motives. According to this perspective, crime actions can be provoked by the doers’ repressed needs or their inner wish to be punished.

Answer (question 7): criminality can be seen as an alloplastic or an autoplastic form of adaptive behavior. The first form implies a crime as a means of stress reduction through some environmental changes. The former suggests that crime helps to reduce stress via some internal changes in people, in their views and beliefs.

Answer (question 10): the social cognition theory suggests that every person is capable of a certain sort of aggression. According to this theory, an individuum learns the models of aggressive behavior mainly through observation. The activation of the obtained models can be provoked by various factors such as thwarting hopes, hindering aims, all sorts of threats and assaults. The theory also considers disengagement as a factor provoking criminal actions among people who are used to devaluing aggression.

Reference

Schmalleger, FJ. (2014). Criminology Today: An Integrative Introduction. New York, USA: Pearson Education.

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