Criminals think of themselves as "good people"

Discussion in 'Lounge' started by lklawson, Apr 28, 2015.

  1. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    http://www.secondcalldefense.org/se...-think-themselves-good-people?affiliate=20007

    Criminals think of themselves as "good people"

    Recently we discussed how criminals don't think the way ordinary people do. According to Stanton E. Samenow Ph.D., criminals think in stark, black and white terms that leave no room for reason, negotiation, empathy for victims.

    To follow up on this idea, here's another somewhat startling observation: many criminals actually view themselves as good people despite their bad actions.

    Here's another excerpt from PsychologyToday.com:

    Perhaps the most surprising discovery in my early years of trying to understand the criminal mind was that, without exception, offenders regard themselves as good human beings. No matter how long their trail of carnage, no matter what suffering they caused others, every one of them retained the view that he is a good person.

    How does a one man walking crime wave retain the view that he is good at heart? There are many components to this perception. Some point to their daily activities of going to school or working as evidence. Others cite their religious practices: reading the Bible, attending church, wearing a religious symbol. Because of their talents, they are "good people." Some are artistic, play musical instruments, fashion quality products in a wood shop, and so forth. When others commend them for their creativity, their sense of being a good person is enhanced.

    Another component in the offender's view of his own decency is that, no matter how tough he is, there exists within him a deep well of sentiment. I recalled a murderer who would not step on a bug because he could not bring himself to kill a living thing.

    Nearly all affirm that there are others who do terrible things they would never do. Those people are the criminals. "Anyone who knocks a little old lady down on the street and steals her purse should be hung," declared one teenager. Yet this same youth invaded a home while the owner was present, terrorized her, and cleared out some of her most valuable belongings. But that was acceptable because, as he pointed out, he did not physically hurt her. "Anyone who messes with little kids should be put to death," remarked another offender who had committed a brutal rape.

    The capacity to experience remorse supports this view of inner goodness. I recall a man who broke into a woman's home and made off with jewelry and priceless heirlooms. When he learned the victim was suffering from a terminal illness, he returned everything he stole. The remorse he felt in this one situation bolstered his view of how compassionate a person he was. It did not deter him from other breakins.​


    Does this surprise you?

    It's difficult to understand how differently some people's minds work. We all tend to assume that the way we think is the way other people think.

    If you or I broke into someone's home, stole their property, and hurt or terrorized people, we would know we'd done something wrong. But a criminal won't necessarily think that way. They may see nothing abnormal about their actions.

    Not everyone who commits criminal acts thinks differently. But some do, generally those who are hardened criminals with a long history of wrongdoing and an unfortunate upbringing.

    However, it's important to understand how truly different some people are so you can be prepared to react appropriately and legally to life-threatening situations. Being caught off-guard by what you view as "irrational" actions can cause panic and lead to poor decision-making on your part.

    In other words, as trite as it might sound, when faced with a criminal, expect the unexpected.​

    Doesn't surprise me. The human psyche needs to think of itself as inherently "good."

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  2. Think1st

    Think1st Supporting Member

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    Unless the criminals are clinically sociopathic or psychopathic, they have to come up with some sort of a mechanism to live with themselves. It's either that, or they have a broad distribution of narcicism throughout their population.
     

  3. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Honestly, I think it's both.

    There's been a recent series of studies which seem to indicate that there is a disproportionate concentration among criminals (particularly violent criminals) of people with underdeveloped or otherwise malfunctioning prefrontal cortex; the part of the brain responsible for, among other things, processing the ideas of "action and consequence." Many of them simply are incapable, to one degree or another, of "learning" that doing X means "bad consequence" Y. The rest of their brain still (usually) functions more or less normally and so they have to come up with a reason to explain their results. It can't be because of something they've done, so, therefore they must be "good people." :(

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  4. The "recent studies" just validated criminals being good people by giving them a physiological reason for acting the way they do. A properly developed person would not act that way, so the quality of "good" is imputed to those who are not properly developed.
     
  5. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Umm... No.

    The studies indicate that a statistically significant percentage of them have brain abnormalities. This in no way is an excuse. And "recent" meaning "within the last decade to decade and half and replicated by multiple researchers."

    https://www.google.com/search?q=prefrontal+cortex+criminal+behavior&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  6. SteveC

    SteveC Member

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    The brain studies are valid (in the sense of being well conducted and replicated) but also subtle. They show that as a group those persons with a history of criminal behavior have differences in the brain that are statistically significant - that is, the difference is not likely due to chance. They do not establish that persons with a criminal history have unique abnormalities that do not appear in people who have no history of criminal acts. They do not establish a causal link. At this point, they only suggest that frontal lobe anomalies may be one of multiple factors determining whether or not a person engages in criminal behavior.
     
  7. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Exactly!

    :)

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  8. Bull

    Bull Just a Man Supporting Member


    My guess is that common factors, if ever studied and listed, would involve broken homes/ missing parents, lack of formal education, adolescent drug use, and zero work ethic.
     
  9. MaryB

    MaryB Supporting Member

    Also the victim mentality that a certain political party has been feeding them for 50 years. They use it as a crutch to justify bad behavior.
     
  10. SteveC

    SteveC Member

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    Those factors have indeed been studied, and you are right that they are all related to criminality. There is a substantial research literature on these things. An antisocial family environment/family history is one of the strongest predictors of antisocial behavior and antisocial personality disorder diagnosis. When it comes to education, the jails are surely not full of college graduates, lol. Few of the criminal defendants I evaluate in my forensic practice graduated from high school. Substance abuse is widely prevalent in criminal populations. These things are interactive as well. Families that have substance abuse issues tend to be broken families, there is a genetic component to substance abuse so that will run in families as well, and so on.

    Again, though, none of these things is directly and specifically causal. They make criminal behavior more likely, but that is at the group level. None of these factors can predict outcomes for individual persons. Even among people who have these kinds of problems in their backgrounds, the majority do NOT become criminals. There is still room for personal responsibility and choices.
     
  11. lklawson

    lklawson Staff Member

    Would it surprise anyone that many studies have found that these sort of environmental factors in youth are also strongly linked to changes in brain development? And not just among convicted criminals either.

    It's continually being demonstrated how the brain has a strange duality. On the one hand, certain sex hormones predispose the brain to develop in certain ways, commonly associated with either male or female gender stereotype behaviors (such as competitiveness in males and group-bonding in females) but that also any number of environmental factors tend to skew brain development in odd ways. Everything from whether or not the home was "loving and nurturing" to whether or not it was violent or if the developing brain didn't "feel safe," all the way to how much TV and/or Video Games (and what types) are engaged in.

    And then there's the differences in stages brain development and at what age. Lots of weird stuff there too, such as the propensity for teens to have a skewed sleep schedule, tending to be more awake in the evenings and sleepy in the mornings (no, it's not just social pressures and cultural programming). Or how teens teen to take more risks when they believe their peer group is observing them but tend to be more risk-adverse when in isolation.

    All of these effects are pretty well documented by now and there's a massive case of chicken-and-egg, guessing which ones interact with which others (if at all) and in what order and magnitude.

    This stuff is a millions times more complex than was believed even into the late 20th Century. A million times a million!

    What we thought we knew about how the brain works as we were developing the "Modern Justice System" (staring in the early 20th Century and going up through, let's say, the '80s) turns out to be, literally, on the tinker-toys level of understanding.

    It's like how we thought, in the 1950's and 60's, that Cells were comparatively simple machines. Now we know that they have machines within machines, down to molecular walking machines, that traverse nucleotides, scaffolds, cranes, and all kinds of things that we would have never believed.

    Peace favor your sword,
    Kirk
     
  12. It is George W Bush's fault, seriously it is. We are a society that blames others when we screw up or do something illegal. It is not just violent criminals that do it. IMO I put the blame on myself as well as all of society for the lack of personal responsibility this country has. If anybody makes a personal choice that is wrong, or stupid, it is up to them to admit it.

    Criminals are not alone on this. Public officials do it, companies do it, it is in every facet of our society.
     
  13. Rerun

    Rerun Supporting Member

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    Actually, it's George H. W. Bush's fault.

    He helped produce George, W. Bush.

    eldar
     
  14. TRWXXA

    TRWXXA Member

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    Then, by extension, shouldn't we be blaming God?
     
  15. Rerun

    Rerun Supporting Member

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    OOOooooo!!!

    This thread is headed to the Dark Rooms!

    Way to go, TRWXXA!

    ;)

    eldar
     
  16. Something to think about...

    There was a study two decade long study done that ended about 2007. It found that in EVERY case where a subject had at least one year in high school of Trig AND Calc, that the subject's brain showed extremely similar wiring. In EVERY case where the subject did not have the education, those pathways/wiring did not exist. Even where the same education was administered at any time after high school.

    The secondary results also showed that all of the subjects with that high school period education showed significant increase in analytical reasoning over the others.

    Even before I went through four years of college classes to get my Teaching Licensure, it was obvious to me that everything the brain experiences affects the minor and overall functionality of it.

    But I guess some people have to get beyond the "well DUH! Everyone knows that" stage.
     
  17. Rerun

    Rerun Supporting Member

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    Kirk,

    The links You've provided for us to ponder is very true.

    I have, over the course of 5 years, employed folk with 'tainted' backgrounds (criminal) as handymen for periods of up to two years in length, and found that they are very knowledgeable when it comes to mechanical things.

    As we have spent time together repairing garage doors, we have talked about a multitude of things that have impacted our lives.

    Now, I have never asked these folk what crimes they've committed (it might scare me too much to hire them) and they generally don't tell me.

    But, they are pretty good folk with 'odd' behaviors.

    They have all felt that they did the right things for the right reasons and society has been wrong to penalize them for the paths they had taken.

    And, nothing I had to say will ever change their minds.

    eldar
     
  18. bscar

    bscar Supporting Member

    Well, two of Obama's sons were all good, sweet, innocent angels, they just hit a rough patch in their lives where they felt the need to lash out at society. You could tell by their grade school pictures they were good kids; until the police showed us more recent pictures taken, by them, after their 30th arrest for a violent crime they committed this month.
    That civilian didn't need to shoot Obama's kid, he should have just let the innocent angel beat his head into the pavement a few more times so he could vent his frustrations. That cop shouldn't have shot the guy lunging at him, he should have just let the poor thing beat him up for a little bit so he could go back to his daily routine of beating old people up for convenience store food.
    Why can't you see these people just wanted attention, they didn't mean to hurt anyone, it just happened, they didn't deserve to die. It's not their fault.

    -every race baiting piece of human filth