Oh Criminal! What you do think?
There is always this strange question that keeps running in our minds - Why can’t we live in a world with no crime at all? Or why does anyone chooses to become a criminal in the first place? There are no certain answers to such questions, but there are psychological theories that create a link between criminal activities and brain function. Experimental and elaborative studies on human behavior and their reactions to certain stimuli show signs of criminal instincts as an outcome. The behavioral changes that a person feels prior to or during the time of committing a crime highlights the psychological aspects of a criminal mind. Criminal psychology / Criminological Psychology is a sub-field in Psychology that helps in determining criminal instincts by conducting extensive research and examining convicted persons through discussions. This field is also studied under Criminal Anthropology, for crime has its roots in man’s earliest endeavors. In fact, some mythological scriptures claim that the first crime in the history of mankind was a Murder!
As per criminal psychology, understanding human behavior is the key; Actions and emotions of the criminal for the victim before, during, and after the incident. It has been established that, it is almost impossible to pinpoint the exact reason for the crime before/after a time gap. The timing of a crime and its context helps in understanding the hidden motive. Behavioral analysis in relation to time helps in finding common patterns and criminal traits like antisocial lives, frequent violations of laws, manipulation & fraud, and aggression. Criminal behavior is strictly psychological and it can kindle its fire during early childhood. There have been so many cases of children and adolescents committing felony crimes at an early age. The numbers are extensive and hence, there is a legal term in the court of law for such personalities i.e. Delinquents. Further classified, criminals between 16-18 years of age are called Juvenile Delinquents. As defined by the Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Act: “A delinquent child is one who has violated any law of the Commonwealth or ordinance of the city; a child who by reason of being wayward or habitually disobedient, is controlled by his parents, guardian, custodian, or legal representative; a child who is habitually truant from school or home; or a child who habitually so deports himself as to injure or endanger the morals or health of himself or others”.
The court of law recognizes age and our brain. Beyond the generic traits, there are specific factors that outline criminal minds to a greater extent and each factor has intricate details on the basis of age, sex, society, designation, economic pursuit, and numerous others. Following is a brief account of factors related to criminal activities –
Biological Factors: According to a study, it is found that genetic structure is responsible for a person to commit a crime. Example: During pregnancy, a child may absorb some criminal traits or may experience a traumatic event through his/her mother. A child can even pick up influences from movies, songs, social media content that the mother consumes. Some medication drugs are given to the mother during can also have adverse effects on the development of the child. These are environmental influences that settle in the subconscious of the child in subtle or dark ways.
Social Factors: Geography and society play a really important role. A person grown up in a colony of criminals has greater chances of becoming one. In India, Punjab being the drug capital absorbs thousands of criminals into a prolific business and devious crimes. Similar is the case with a person living among militants - to stay at bay is a difficult call. Other social issues like drug abuse, child abuse, sexual/physical assault shape the mind of a criminal slowly but deeply.
Family Disruption: Every family has some disputes which affect the personality and social behavior of children as well as adults. This slows down the growth of family members and negative emotions tend to strengthen criminal behavior.
Economic Aspect: It is often brought to our notice that poverty may lead to criminal activities. A large number of families are living below the poverty line and when aspirations and desires are not met, an individual may turn astray. Another important aspect is the lack of education and awareness in poor families, which leads to corruption and other criminal offenses.
In fine line differences, there can be hundreds of possibilities for a person to turn criminal and commit an inhumane crime. The entire weight of research in terms of criminology and criminal behavior has been done based on studying actions and reactions. Hitherto, this has served as a datum for further research until neurology gives different angle to the studies; A highly advanced examination of the physiology of the human brain to understand its link to criminal activity. The new advancement of technology has helped in determining physiological changes in the human brain that occur during different circumstances. In a study conducted by Dustin Pardini, Ph.D., University of Pittsburg (Miller, 2014), it was found that the amygdala of a 26-year-old person swells in size three times its normal size when he is aggressive or violent. The amygdala plays an important role in the human brain as it controls fear, aggression, and social interactions. But the brain is still greatly unexplored and the question of brain size with the criminal mind shall remain intact.
Criminal activity and the measure of its severity depends on many factors. There cannot be a list of solutions or a docket of policies to get rid of crime, because there is no one-stop-shop for such complexities. Progress has been made but there are so many other avenues still waiting to be explored. In today’s time of advanced technologies, it is possible to look into someone’s brain even when he/she is alive, but that is gravely risky. These are probes of scientific fields that are continuously working to understand and solve human problems. But we must practice caution and not strive to find generic solutions because the human brain is not simple and definitely not generic. On a simple note; “Not every aggressive person is criminal and not every criminal is aggressive”. The behavior of individuals depends on different situations and their circumstances.