Criminal Minds : Nature Vs Nurture

Criminal Minds : Nature Vs Nurture

Is society more to blame for crimes than the individuals who commit them? Crime makes up an unfortunate part of our society. While not all of us are prone to committing crimes, a number of us find ourselves grappling with the question: what is right and what is not?  The understanding of right and wrong varies from person to person and society to society.  The environment one grows up in and the validations he receives for his acts, right or wrong, play a major role in driving him towards acting in a particular way with specific intent. A child who grew up seeing his mother being beaten mercilessly by his father is more prone to resorting to domestic violence in his own matrimonial household than a child who grew up in a peaceful environment. This brings us to the question, can it be said that some people are more likely to commit crimes than others?

Psychopathy is another area that suggests an individual’s personality is likely to cause criminal behavior.

The term “psychopathy” is used to describe people who display what is considered to be antisocial behavior, and this term is frequently mixed up with terms such as sociopath or antisocial personality

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Third Edition-Revised (DSM III-R) defines antisocial personality as follows:

“… Individuals, who are basically unsocialised and whose behavior patterns bring them into conflict with society. They are incapable of loyalty to individuals, groups, or social values. They are grossly selfish, callous, irresponsible, impulsive, and unable to feel guilt or to learn from experience…”

The present research is however concerned only with the societal factors that drive a person towards criminal behavior

A criminal’s world

It is believed by most of the analysts that a criminal lacks moral standards. A criminal is devoid of any consideration for emotional relations and therefore does not care about the well being of others. He makes things or physical pleasures the center of his interests and undergoes an overwhelming need for immediate satisfaction without any regard for the future. For example, a stepchild who shares no emotional bond with his stepmom but has only experienced happiness in the form of physical things like food or toys is likely to seek satisfaction in things like alcohol or promiscuous relationships in later years of his life.

Serial criminals usually have a delusional belief in their own cleverness and propensity to escape detection. They deny unpleasant facts and possibilities and impair themselves of reality. Such delusional over-valuation of the self acts as compensation for painful feelings of inferiority. A person accused of theft disclosed articles of clothing that she had stolen, confident of the fact that the initials of her name sewn on the clothes would convince others that they really belonged to her. Such denial of reality helps a person spare himself the need to become aware of frustrations and anxiety.

Criminals are as a matter of fact insecure individuals who are compelled to kill by the fear of rejection they hold within themselves. Such fear mostly arises within children who’ve been abandoned in their childhood. A serial killer who was abandoned as a child would try to avoid painful emotional relationships with other human beings as an adult, particularly with those he desires or covets. The fear of rejection he holds within himself may compel him to want to eliminate any objects of his affection or emotional vulnerability. He may make himself believe that by destroying the person he desires prior to developing an emotional bond with them, he can avoid the possibility of being abandoned, hurt or humiliated by someone he loves, as he was in childhood.

When it comes to sexual offences like rape, researchers believe that Social pressure and culture tend to have greater influence over people’s behavior than genetics or biology. Men are conditioned into believing that they’re the stronger sex and therefore can dominate and force their wishes upon women. Factors like lack of sex education and the belief that women who dress in a certain way or behave in a certain way are asking for it, contribute immensely to the increasing cases of rapes across India. A man who is a part of a peer group that accepts aggression against women is more likely to engage in aggressive behavior himself. The 2016 Delhi rape convict in an interview expressed that he and his friends raped the victim because she was roaming around the city after 8 pm and needed to be taught the lesson that girls should stay inside their homes after sunset.

Coming on to one of the most complicated of all crimes: terrorism, researchers have found out that terrorists participate in violent behavior because of the influence of their peer groups. Terrorism finds its roots in the ideological differences in society. Individuals who fail at aligning their ideology with that of the society they are a part of are more likely to join a terrorist organization. Apart from ideological differences, individuals who are unemployed or who are socially alienated show a higher tendency to indulge in terrorism. The unemployed often resort to terrorism for want of employment whereas the educated get themselves involved in such acts because of their ideological and religious convictions. However, no research has been able to gauge the exact reasons which drive a person to join a terrorist group.

Other factors

It is believed that an individual in his life is more prone to commit crimes between the age of 15 to 24. Several factors seem to account for this pattern. Firstly, peer pressure is at its peak during these years. Secondly, young people as compared to older people are more likely to lack full-time jobs and therefore more likely to need the money and thus they might commit more crimes to obtain money and other material possessions.

The crime rate also varies from one social class to another. It is believed that the poor are more likely to commit street crimes than the rich. Poverty brings with itself anger, frustration, economic needs, need for respect and with poor parenting skills and other problems, children become more likely to commit antisocial behavior when they reach adolescence and beyond. These factors combine to lead poor people to be more likely than wealthier people to commit street crime.

It is not wrong to conclude now that criminals are actually people who fail to adjust and become normal members of conventional society. Criminals are not compulsorily antisocial or psychopaths that need to be eliminated from society, but they are just a result of the circumstances they face and difficulties they fail to overcome. Thus, it is safe to say that society is as much responsible for the crimes as much as Criminals.

Leave a Reply