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Individual Traits and Crime


Psychology and Crime Personality Psychological Theories * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Unconscious Majority of what we experience in our lives, the underlying ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Individual Traits and Crime

Individual Traits and Crime
  • Psychology and Crime
  • Personality
  • Psychological Theories

Criminal Mind
Prefrontal cortex-Provides ability to plan,
reason, concentrate, and adjust behavior Left
cerebral hemisphere-Together with right cerebral
hemisphere, controls most conscious and mental
A stalker with Huntingtons disease
  • Huntingtons disease is a hereditary disorder
    that causes neurons in certain brain areas to
  • Besides uncontrolled movements and cognitive
    problems, Huntingtons disorder can lead to
    marked personality changes, depression, apathy,
    mania, aggression, anxiety, hostility, and
    obsessive behavior

A stalker with Huntingtons disease
  • A 48-year-old woman with Huntingtons disorder
    who stalked and threatened her female therapist
  • After the second incident, doctors treated the
    woman with an antidepressant and an
    antipsychotic, and the frequency and intensity of
    her obsession with her therapist decreased

Structural brain abnormalities detected in
  • MRI scans of 18 male pedophiles and 24 healthy
    age-matched heterosexual and homosexual controls

Structural brain abnormalities detected in
  • Boris Schiffer found that compared to the
    controls, pedophiles showed reduced gray matter
    volume in
  • the orbitofrontal cortex
  • the cerebellum

Brain injury rate high for young delinquents
  • Rates of traumatic brain injury (TBI) are
    extremely high among delinquent teens
  • Brian Perron and Matthew Howard assessed the
    psychiatric symptoms and antisocial behaviors of
    720 juvenile offenders in Missouri Division of
    Youth Services facilities between March 1 and May
    31, 2003.
  • The researchers asked each participant about any
    history of a head injury severe enough to cause
    unconsciousness for more than 20 minutes.

Brain injury rate high for young delinquents
  • Perron and Howard report that nearly one in five
    of the offenders reported suffering a TBI at some
    point, with males more likely to report a TBI
    than females.
  • The researchers note that their findings are
    consistent with those of an earlier study
    (Craswell et al.) which used similar TBI criteria
    and found that 27.7 percent of delinquents had a
    history of TBI

SPECT scans reveal brain deficits in impulsive
  • Impulsive murderers have reduced blood flow to a
    region of the brain involved with planning and
    self-control, according to a new study by Daniel
    Amen and colleagues. The researchers performed
    SPECT (single photon emission computed
    tomography) scans on 11 young adult males
    convicted of impulsive murders, comparing their
    brain function to that of non-criminal control
    subjects under two conditions in a resting
    state, and engaged in a task requiring

SPECT scans reveal brain deficits in impulsive
  • The researchers report that scans of the
    impulsive murderers differed significantly from
    those of control subjects during the
    concentration task
  • They had lower perfusion in brain regions
    implicated in impulse control, self-censorship,
    planning, and future consequences

Adolescent Killers Exhibit Marked Neurological
  • A study of juveniles condemned to death reports
    compelling evidence that they exhibited serious
    neurological impairment at the time they
    committed their crimes.
  • Dorothy Otnow Lewis and colleagues evaluated 18
    males who had received the death penalty in Texas
  • All had been 17 years old at the time they
    committed murder
  • Each subject underwent neurological,
    neuropsychological, psychiatric, and educational

The researchers report that
  • Three subjects had been born prematurely (one
    weighing only 3 pounds), a fourth was delivered
    by Cesarean section because the umbilical cord
    was wrapped around his neck, and the mother of a
    fifth had attempted to abort him
  • Overall, the researchers report, "six (33) of
    the group began life with potentially compromised
    central nervous system functioning, and a seventh
    reportedly was the product of a difficult

The researchers report that
  • All but one of the subjects had a history of
    multiple head injuries, often resulting in loss
    of consciousness.
  • Neurological evaluation revealed that five of 17
    subjects exhibited one abnormal finding on
    testing of prefrontal lobe functioning
  • Three had two abnormal findings
  • Two had three abnormal findings
  • Three had four or more abnormal findings
  • "It should be noted," the researchers say, "that
    most normal individuals have no signs of frontal
    lobe impairment on neurological examination."

Brain tumor leads to pedophilia
  • An egg-sized brain tumor caused a man with no
    history of pedophilia to begin molesting children
  • The 40-year-old man, a married teacher, had never
    exhibited abnormal sexual impulses
  • When he began visiting child pornography
    websites, visiting prostitutes, and making sexual
    advances to young children, his wife left him

Brain tumor leads to pedophilia
  • Eventually he was convicted of child molestation,
    and entered a treatment program for pedophiles
  • He continued to display inappropriate sexual
    behavior, and was expelled from a rehabilitation
    program after propositioning the women attending
    the program

Brain tumor leads to pedophilia
  • At this point, doctors ordered an MRI scan that
    showed a large tumor in the right orbitofrontal
  • The tumor was removed, and the man successfully
    completed his therapy and returned home

Experts say.
  • We're dealing with the neurology of morality
    here," says Swerdlow
  • The tumor caused few physical symptoms, he says,
    "It's one of those areas where you could have a
    lot of damage and a doctor would never suspect
    something's wrong."

Personality and Crime
  • Many criminological theories use personality
    traits to explain between individual differences
    in criminal behavior

  • Sheldon Glueck and Eleanor Glueck identified a
    number of personality traits that they believe
    characterize antisocial youth self-assertiveness,
    defiance, impulsiveness, suspicion, hostility,
    sadism, resentment, mental instability,
    extroversion, ambivalence, and destructiveness

  • Images from movies like "Silence of The Lambs"
    and characters with names like "Hannibal Lector"
  • Serial killers and people involved in ritual
    torture are rare, but psychopathic behavior is
    more common than you might think

  • Antisocial personality
  • A teen who had no sense of guilt
  • Personality of a hard-core juvenile delinquent
  • He could learn the rules, but he had no sense of
  • "People know when something is wrong because it
    feels wrong. I have to remember or be reminded
    that stealing from someone is wrong. I dont feel
    bad if I take something."

  • Children with this condition are "emotionally
  • A psychopath is not necessarily a bad person
  • But they are prone to have problems with society,
    rules, expectations and relationships
  • They may end up living a "predatory" lifestyle,
    feeling little or no regret, and having little or
    no remorse - except when they are caught or about
    to be locked up

Warning signs (Robert Hare, the leading expert on
the Psychopathic Personality)
  • superficial charm
  • self-centered self-important
  • need for stimulation prone to boredom
  • deceptive behavior lying
  • little remorse or guilt
  • shallow emotional response
  • poor self-control
  • promiscuous sexual behavior
  • early behavioral problems
  • lack of realistic long term goals
  • impulsive lifestyle
  • irresponsible behavior
  • blaming others for their actions
  • short term relationships
  • juvenile delinquency
  • breaking parole or probation
  • varied criminal activity

Biology and psychopath
  • Research using brain scanning technology has
    revealed that the brain of a psychopath functions
    and processes information differently
  • This suggests that they may be physically
    different from normal people
  • Psychopaths can remain calm looking photos of
    dead bodies in automobile accidents where as
    other people were clearly upset

Ted Bundy

The most frightening of serial killers a
handsome, educated psychopathic law student who
stalked and murdered dozens of young college
women who looked very much like a young woman who
broke off her relationship with him. Bundy was a
very adept and glib con artist who faked a broken
arm in a sling to convince young women to help
him carry his textbooks to his car. Once there,
he battered them with a baseball bat and carried
them off for ghoulish rituals

What to do with psychopath
  • So what happens to kids if they dont learn right
    from wrong?
  • Parents usually end up angry and frustrated
  • Many parents resort to punishment
  • But what these children need is intensive
    guidance, instruction, training, choices,
    consequences and supervision
  • Severe and repeated punishment alone is the worst
    thing parents can do
  • And child abuse is a sure way to create a social
    misfit or a monster.

Psychoanalytic Theory
  • All humans have criminal tendencies
  • Criminal tendencies are normal
  • The idea of personality conflict as a cause of
  • Through the process of socialization these
    tendencies are curbed by the development of inner
    controls that are learned through childhood

Freud hypothesized
  • That the most common element that contributed to
    criminal behavior was faulty identification by a
    child with her or his parents
  • The improperly socialized child may develop a
    personality disturbance that causes her or him to
    direct antisocial impulses inward or outward
  • The child who directs them outward becomes a
    criminal, and the child that directs them inward
    becomes a neurotic.

The Discovery of the Unconscious
  • The father of psychoanalysis
  • Structural Model
  • Id, ego, superego
  • We are born with our Id
  • Id is based on our pleasure principle( if it
    feels good, do it)
  • The id doesn't care about reality, about the
    needs of anyone else, only its own satisfaction

  • Within the next three years, the Ego develops 
  • The ego is based on the reality principle
  • The ego understands that other people have needs
    and that sometimes being impulsive or selfish can
    hurt us in the long run
  • The ego's job to meet the needs of the id, while
    taking into consideration the reality of the

  • By five, the Superego develops
  • This is the moral part of us and develops due to
    the moral and ethical restraints placed on us by
    our caregivers
  • Many equate the superego with the conscience as
    it dictates our belief of right and wrong

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  • Majority of what we experience in our lives, the
    underlying emotions, beliefs, feelings, and
    impulses are not available to us at a conscious
  • He believed that most of what drives us is
    buried in our unconscious  
  • Oedipus and Electra Complex are pushed down into
    the unconscious, out of our awareness due to the
    extreme anxiety they caused
  • While buried there, however, they continue to
    impact us dramatically

Electra Complex
  • According to Freud, during the phallic stage (3-5
    years) the daughter becomes attached to her
    father and more hostile towards her mother
  • This is due mostly to the idea that the girl is
    "envious" of her father's penis and wants to
    possess it so strongly that she dreams of bearing
    his children, thus the term "penis-envy
  • This leads to resentment towards her mother, who
    the girl believes caused her castration.

  • Freud also believed that everything we are aware
    of is stored in our conscious
  • Our conscious makes up a very small part of who
    we are
  • In other words, at any given time, we are only
    aware of a very small part of what makes up our
    personality most of what we are is buried and

  • This is the part of us that we can access if
    prompted, but is not in our active conscious
  • Its right below the surface, but still buried
    somewhat unless we search for it
  • Information such as our telephone number, some
    childhood memories, or the name of your best
    childhood friend is stored in the preconscious

Healthy balance
  • We can think of the id as the 'devil on our
    shoulder' and the superego as the 'angel on your
  • We don't want either one to get too strong so we
    talk to both of them, hear their perspective and
    then make a decision

Delinquent behavior
  • Is a result of defective superego
  • Inability to feel guilt, to learn from
    experience, or to feel affection to others

Delinquent Behavior
  • Is a result of overdeveloped superego
  • Represses the id so harshly that pressure builds
    up in the id and there is an explosion of
    acting-out behavior