Criminal Behavior

Apart from fixation at one of stages, Mary’s personality of crime is also a result of social experiences encountered during development. Harry Stack Sullivan believed that despite the fact that the experience that one has with the other people, the way one relates with those around him or her also shapes the person’s personality. According to Sullivan, mental disorders are caused by disoriented interpersonal experiences to include the inability to connect with the other people.

Interpersonal relationships shape the personality traits of the person for example, a health interpersonal relationship with parents, triggers positive or social personality and vice versa. By and large, criminal behavior exhibited by Mary illustrates the significance of psychoanalysis and the understanding of psychodynamic theory of crime. This is such that any element that hinders a child from developing in a healthy manner, whether emotionally or physically causes emotional instability in ways that in turn result of criminal behavior and other antisocial behaviors.

Criminal behaviors are a reflection of “unbalanced psychic forces, a form of neurosis expressed not through psychiatric symptoms but through overt aggressive acts, the acting out of impulses that if restrained, would result to mental illness, fulfillment of a guilt driven need for punishment and or acceptance by gang or other criminal group, a substitute form of gratification for other unsatisfied needs, or a means of compensating for repressed feelings of inadequacy” (Cassel & Bernstein, 2007, p. 84).

For that reason, it can be noted that development of personality traits in every person is dependent on diverse factors that would range from social, psychological and physical. The factors operate in normal conditions and in turn have an effect on the process of development and consequently, personality. For that reason, the environment of the person contributes to development of personality because it is the relation with others that shape the person’s behavior and thus personality (Cicchetti & Howes, 1991).

The interaction between the caregivers, the child and the environment in which the child is exposed to, brings about dynamic results through reciprocation. Environmental conditions and parental support influence how the child adapts to his or her environment which thus describes the child’s personality. Formation of attachment between the child and the parent for instance; shapes the personality of the child as the child continues to grow. Cicchetti and Howes (1991) point out that maltreatment leads to the development of fear and insecurity in a child and as a result lead to fight or flight.

Fear is what causes the child to engage in fight against those they interact with or flight. Maltreatment hence, affects how the child related with the other people because they can either avoid interacting with others or they can show aggression towards them. Mary’s case is the result of the kind of attachment that she had with her caregivers during her childhood. Aggression towards others developed in Mary because she was abused and neglected by her biological father, mother and step father.

Basically, behavior is the representation of the interaction of the person and his or her environment. Individual differences are the indications of the varied processes of interactions in varied environments. Human beings are not autonomous agents thus their motivations are actions are shaped by reciprocal causation that is amassed from interaction with one’s environment. The physical and psychosocial characteristics of the environment provide the person with cues that shape his or her behavior and the resultant behavior determines personality.

Simply, it is the psychosocial and physical environment that shapes personality because the person gets cues on how to behave according to the environmental conditions present (Pallone & Hennessy, 1992, p. 17). Family environment is the most influential environment in a child’s development process. In most cases, the influence that the family has on a child’s development process becomes preeminent during the first ten years of the child’s life after which peers and non family adults shape the child’s development.

Children who are at risk of engaging in criminal behavior are those who are in family environments where parental practices and styles are maladaptive, where the family has a history of substance abuse, mental illness, interpersonal conflict, school drop out, and teenage pregnancy, families where there is child abuse or child neglect, domestic violence, criminal behaviors and regular changes in the custody of the child. Typically, it is the kind of family environment that determines the development of personality for a child to include emotional expression together with self control.

The risk factors in the family environment can lead to involvement in criminal behavior because it is the kind of relationships that one has with those around him or her that shape the person’s personality. A family with cases of child abuse, substance abuse, criminal behavior etc is a family that makes a killer, robber and other juvenile delinquencies (Roufougar, 2007). According to Erik Erikson, personalities of individuals are shaped by the relationship that one has with the others. During early childhood development, it is the family members or the other caregivers that shape personality development.

Erikson believed that, in the process of development, there are eight stages that an individual passes through and in each stage; there is a psychosocial crisis that need to be resolved so that the person’s personality is positively shaped. Failure or the success of resolving the crisis in each stage is significantly important for personality development because it shapes the person’s behavior (Jones, 2008). From the case study, it can be noted that, the family environment in which Mary developed in was the determinant of her behavior as a teenager.

Since it is the family environment (parents or other caregivers) that shape personality development in children especially during the first ten years, it can be concluded that Mary’s family environment played a vital role in shaping Mary’s personality and behavior. Just as Erikson asserted, the relationship that one has with others during his or her early life is important in resolving the crisis in each psychosocial stage of development, so does the relationship that Mary had with her caregivers during her early stages of development facilitated for resolving developmental crisis at each stage of development.

The environment that the child is exposed to influences emotional regulation explaining emotional deficits in maltreated children. It becomes difficult for a maltreated child to regulate and organize his or her emotions because they are paralyzed by emotional deficits that result from anxiety, feelings of helplessness and depression. The socialization process of the child is interfered with due to the reason that the child is not able to express him or herself effectively. A maltreated child is not able to use emotional language to express his or her none verbal thoughts hence not able to regulate emotions.

Therefore, the child’s coping skills tend to be aggressive and hyper vigilant so that they can cope in the environment in which they are maltreated (Cicchetti & Howes, 1991). Mary’s childhood environment was that exposed to maltreatment hence she was not in a position to regulate her emotions when relating with people. As a coping strategy she had to be hyper vigilant so as to defend herself from any external attacks hence leading to development of aggression towards surrounding stimuli. In addition to the home environment, other social environment also contributes to the emotional and social environment.

Maltreated children usually adapt positively to society if they have friendships and peer relationships. The social world of peers influences emotion development and according to research studies, adverse friendships and peer relationships have augmented juvenile delinquency and various other types of behavioral disorders. Abused children exhibit aggression in the process of their interaction with peers both physically and verbally while in some cases they show withdrawal from peer relations (Cicchetti & Howes, 1991).

Mary’s abuse resulted to formation of peer relationship with an 18 year old female accomplice and engaged in aggressive behaviors including murder and robbery. Mary’s social world therefore, revolved around relationship with her accomplice and in turn enhanced the development of behavioral disorders especially criminal behaviors. In general, childhood development is facilitated for through moral development which in itself is achieved through moral development.

The level of moral development determines behavior or personality. Psychoanalytic theories show that there is a link between parental styles and personality development because the kind of interaction that a parent and a child have influence the child’s personality in the long term. Failed socialization process is augmented by factors such as “social disadvantage, relatively unskilled parents, inadequate resources (both human and economic)”, and the difficulties of socializing from birth to adulthood.

As a result, it is the childhood environment that shape childhood adaptation to environmental conditions and predict criminal behaviors as indicated by early stealing, aggression, lying etc (Feldman, 1993, p. 436). The poor parental styles of Mary’s caregivers formed a foundation from which Mary’s personality was shaped. Failed process of socialization during childhood made it difficult for her to experience adequate moral development hence she engaged in criminal behaviors.

Conclusion Moral development in children is shaped by a number of factors but the most influential factor is the family environment. Family influences personality especially during the first ten years of growth and into adulthood. Diverse psychoanalytic theories developed by theorists such as Freud, Erikson, Sullivan and others indicate that, parenting styles are important during childhood because they influence personality development in the present and consequently the future.

Poor parental skills, lead to failed socialization process and personality disorders to include criminal behavior. Mary’s family background shows that she experienced poor socialization process that caused her to be aggressive and in turn engaged in criminal behaviors. Maltreatment or abuse and negligence during childhood by primary caregivers triggered aggression that influenced her behavior into adolescence. Works Cited Cassel, E. & Bernstein, D. a. (2007).

Criminal Behavior. New York: Routledge Publishers Cicchetti, D. & Howes, P. W. (1991). Developmental Psychopathology in the Context of the Family: Illustrations from the Study of Child Maltreatment. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science. Vol. 23 (3), pp. 257-281 Corey, G. (2008). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy. New York: Cengage Learning EMEA Feldman, M. P. (1993). The Psychology of Crime: A Social Science Textbook. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.