Compare and contrast theories of crime

“Compare and contrast theories of personality and evaluate their usefulness at explaining criminal behaviour” Introduction During this report I will be looking at cases of true crime whereby the criminals are considered to be showing different types of personality which where considered reasons for criminality.  I will be demonstrating how some trait theories may understand the reasons for the individuals committing such crimes and contrasting theories and evaluating their usefulness in their explanation of criminal behaviour.

What is criminal personality? When using the term personality we are using it to define and describe an individual’s temperamental and emotional attributes, (S. Jones 2006) these are the ones that are deemed consistent as these will influence behaviour so that a person is compelled to behave in this way almost daily.  Therefore is would be fair to say the term criminal personality means a person who is of the nature to commit crime due to their temperament, characteristics pattern of thinking, feeling and acting.  During this report there will be examples of types of criminal personality.

Two Theories of Criminal Personality

The theories being reviewed will be Freud’s Psychodynamic theory which is made up of 3 components: the I.D, Ego and Superego.  Freud believed that if a person has unresolved conflicts between the I.D and the Superego, this could later lead to crime.  He believed this was because of the lack of emotional stability, disturbing childhood events and or lack of emotional development.  

The second psychodynamic theory to be reviewed will be John Bowlby’s theory on maternal deprivation his belief being that children that have not bonded would show a lack of empathy for others, isolation and anti social behaviour. The second criminal theory being evaluated will be Hans J. Eysenck’s trait theory of Extroversion and Introversion and The Big five, both of them breaking down types of personality.

image00.png1.a Freud’s Psychoanalytic explanation relating to crime.

Freud believed peoples mental functions stem from the unconscious mind, this may be repressed experiences and would denote the submerged part of the iceberg.  This could be described as mental inner conflict between the subconscious and the conscious mind the conscience the angel like image and the other instinct for victory overriding the conscience, acting the devil, which if not controlled would lead to socially unacceptable behaviour.  Freud split the personality into 3 parts of the mind.

Parts of the mind The I.D The I.D is the unconscious part of the mind, which entails basic survival urges from birth from eating, drinking, sexual pleasure, to be warm and comfortable.  The I.D s sole purpose is driven by desire and pleasure and requires immediate gratification with no concept of reality.  An example of this would be a baby crying for a feed and until it gets the feed a continuous cry.  The I.D is later controlled/suppressed by the Ego and Super-ego.

The Ego is something that is learnt and is mainly conscious so as a child matures his expectation could be that if I say please (ego) I will received gratification of the chocolate whereas previously the I.D would be I am going to do this until I get that. There would be no understanding of what is happening around them it would be based on self only.  

The Ego

The Ego thinks about the outcome of giving into the I.D, such as if I take the chocolate, there will be consequences of unpleasantness therefore the ego would make a decision not to take the chocolate as it has learned the consequences of the I.D working on its own are not acceptable practise and therefore the ego develops and starts to control the I.D. Super-ego The Super-ego is developed later and provides a conscience; it is both the keeper and the go between of right and wrong.  Should the Super-ego be surpassed feelings of guilt and anxiety should be the conclusion.  

Conclusion of the three

The result of all three are, different forces lining up against each other and battling for control of the personality.  During the growth of the personality the child is the passive victim of circumstances and his/her fate is dependant on the treatment he/she receives at the hands of others.  Freud was not optimistic about individuals arriving at maturity unscathed by prior adverse experience as these functions would not have learnt to compromise between the primitive I.D impulses and the Super-ego restrictions including the outside world’s social norms.  Therefore this was seen as likely to lead individuals to having an underdeveloped Ego and Super-ego which may in turn lead to a criminal life.