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Psychological Explanations of Crime. Personality Theories and Disorders. Psychoanalytic Perspective. Sigmund Freud Human Nature: Role of basic instincts in the development of personality Eros Thanatos. Psychoanalytic Perspective. Structure of Personality The id Pleasure Principle

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psychological explanations of crime

Psychological Explanations of Crime

Personality Theories and Disorders

psychoanalytic perspective
Psychoanalytic Perspective
  • Sigmund Freud

Human Nature:

Role of basic instincts in the development of personality

    • Eros
    • Thanatos
psychoanalytic perspective1
Psychoanalytic Perspective

Structure of Personality

  • The id
    • Pleasure Principle
  • The ego
    • Reality Principle
  • The superego
    • Conscience
    • Ego Ideal
psychoanalytic perspective2
Psychoanalytic Perspective

Id and superego both press the ego to satisfy their demands.


The ID


These conflicting demands produce anxiety.

psychoanalytic perspective3
Psychoanalytic Perspective

Humans are naturally “id” driven and antisocial, “criminal”.

Natural tendency toward crime is controlled by society as represented in the “superego”.

Overdeveloped “superego” may contribute to criminal activity (i.e., may commit crimes because of unconscious desire to be punished).

Repressed instincts can “break through” resulting in crime.

Crime is a product of an “imbalanced conflict” between


the big five personality features
The BIG FIVE Personality Features
  • Defining Personality types
  • Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism and Openness to Experience
  • Lots of scientific support for this model and similar models (see McCrae)
5 factor model of personality
5 Factor Model of Personality
  • Neuroticism (worrying, insecure, self-conscious, temperamental) - negative affect, negative emotionality
  • Extraversion (sociable, fun-loving, affectionate, friendly, talkative) – lively sociability
  • Openness to experience (original, imaginative, broad interests, daring) – intelligence?
5 factor model of personality1
5 Factor Model of Personality
  • Agreeableness vs antagonism (set themselves up against others, manipulative, aggressive, perfectionism, arrogant, vindictive, narcissistic)
  • Conscientiousness (hardworking, ambitious, energetic, persevering) - governed by conscience or careful
risky sport participation
Risky Sport Participation
  • Research suggests that participants who are higher in N become more aroused when faced with an emotion-inducing stimulus and prefer lower levels of arousal
  • Risky sports participants:
  • Lower N levels
  • Higher openness to experience levels
  • Less Consciousness (less thinking before they act)
  • Higher Extraversion
  • Tok, (2011) The Big Five Personality Traits and Risky Sport Participation, Social Behavior and Personality 29 (8) 1105-1112
criminal personality
Criminal Personality

The Criminal Personality (Yochelson & Samenow, 1976, 1977).

Criminality is a attribute of a person’s personality.

Study of 255 Offenders: 52 “errors of criminal thinking” that form the criminal personality


No Control Group (are they really different from normal people?)

Questionable validity of method to identify personality traits

yochelson and samenow 1976
Yochelson and Samenow (1976)

Criminal thinking patterns

Recognition of the possibility for change “our work has shown that it is possible to reach the criminal and change him” (1976:484).

52 thinking styles “ It is the direction of this pattern toward specific ends and in combination with other thought patterns that constitutes the very essence of the criminal mind (1976:252).

The violator does not consider his belief system flawed and in dire need of revision.

Something distinctive about their thinking patterns which causes them to suspend the social controls most people have to limit their behaviour.

These ideas continued with Albert Ellis and Rational Thinking Approaches

styles and errors of thinking
Styles and errors of thinking

Concrete thinking: Closed thinking not receptive to feedback from others, not self critical;

Failure to empathize with others

Lack of perspective of time – does not learn from the past, inability to delay gratification;

Does not consider consequences – positive filters

Focusing on the negative – negative filters

Lack of interest in responsible performance – responds only if there is an immediate payoff;

Victim stance views self as a victim and blames others;

Views self as a good person fails to acknowledge own destructive behavior, builds self up at others' expense;

Lack of effort unwilling to do anything perceived as boring, has an "I can't" attitude;

The fear of fear denies fear in self and attacks fear in others;

The power thrust: uses intimidation to control others;

Uniqueness: different from and better than others, rules do not apply to them; and

Ownership: perceiving all things and people as objects to possess.

thinking errors
Thinking errors

This concept continues today as a main part of how treatment functions for offenders

Thinking errors, stinking thinking, drunk thinking….

personality disorders pd
Personality Disorders (PD)

What is a personality disorder?

An enduring pattern of inner experience and behaviour that deviates markedly from normal expectations.

General characteristics

Pervasive and inflexible.

Onset in adolescence or early adulthood.

Stable over time.

Leads to distress or impairment.

p ersonality disorder pd
Personality Disorder (PD)

Behavior impacts

  • Cognition
  • Affectivity (emotional response)
  • Interpersonal functioning
  • Impulse control
  • It is inflexible!
  • Stable over time
  • Leads to distress OR impairment
personality disorders pd1
Personality Disorders (PD)

Cluster A


Paranoid Personality


Cluster B


Antisocial Personality


Cluster C




what personality disorders mean to you
What personality disorders mean to you…

What happens when you interact with someone

who has a personality disorder?

Difference between someone that is great at their job

and just good… ability to detect personality disorders

Your strategy NEEDS to change

You must interact differently or you lose them

You must interact differently or YOU get REALLY annoyed

You want to change the way you approach them,

(e.g. expectations for change)

personality disorders pd2
Personality Disorders (PD)

Cluster A Personality Disorder

Paranoid Personality Disorder

Pattern of distrust & suspiciousness

View self as blameless

Hypervigilant to perceived attacks by others

“King of the Hill” neighbour

Not clearly psychotic

paranoid personality disorder
Paranoid Personality Disorder
  • 1. Suspects that others are harming them
  • 2. Is preoccupied with unjustified doubts about other people’s loyalty to them
  • 3. Is reluctant to confide in others in case the information is used against them
  • 4. Reads hidden meanings into benign remarks or events
  • 5. Persistently bears grudges
  • 6. Perceives attacks to their character that are not apparent to others, quick to react angrily
  • 7. Has recurrent suspicions about fidelity of spouse
schizoid personality disorder
Schizoid Personality Disorder
  • 1. Does not desire or enjoy close relationships
  • 2. Almost always chooses solitary activities
  • 3. Has little interest in sexual experiences with others
  • 4. Takes pleasure in few activities
  • 5. Lacks close friends other than 1st degree relatives
  • 6. Appears indifferent to the praise or criticism of others
  • 7. Show emotional coldness, detachment or flattened affect
schizotypal personality disorder
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
  • 1. Ideas of reference (not delusions)
  • 2. Odd beliefs or magical thinking
  • 3. Unusual perceptual experiences (bodily illusions)
  • 4. Odd thinking or speech
  • 5. Suspiciousness or paranoid ideation
  • 6. Inappropriate affect
  • 7. Behavior that is odd, eccentric or peculiar
  • 8. Lack of close friends outside of 1st degree relatives
  • 9. Excessive social anxiety that does not decrease with familiarity = paranoid fears
cluster b personality disorder
Cluster B Personality Disorder

Antisocial Personality Disorder

A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three (or more) of the following:

  • Failure to conform to social norms
  • Deceitfulness
  • Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
  • Irritability and aggressiveness
  • Reckless disregard for safety of self or others.
  • Consistent irresponsibility
  • Lack of remorse.
antisocial personality disorder
Antisocial Personality Disorder

Relationship with criminal behaviour

A study of 451 randomly selected federal inmates of federal inmates in Quebec.

Inmates diagnosed with APD were more likely to:

  • Have a juvenile arrest record
  • Be younger the first time they were sentenced.
  • Have more total convictions.

Hodgins and Cote (1993)

conduct disorder
Conduct Disorder
  • Reminder:
  • Aggression to people and animals
  • Destruction of property
  • Deceitfulness or theft
  • Serious rule violations
Beware the Borderline client …
    • Self harm
    • Love or hate
    • Emotional jumps
    • More common in women but you can see it in men also
borderline personality disorder
Borderline Personality Disorder
  • 1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • 2. Unstable and intense interpersonal relationships (alternating idealization and devaluation)
  • 3. Identify disturbance
  • 4. Impulsivity in areas that are self-damaging
  • 5. Recurrent suicidal behavior or self-mutilation
  • 6. Affective instability (mood changes)
  • 7. Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • 8. Inappropriate anger, intense anger
  • 9. Stress-related paranoid ideation
histrionic personality disorder
Histrionic Personality Disorder
  • 1. Needs to be the center of attention
  • 2. Inappropriate sexually seductive behaviors
  • 3. Rapidly shifting and shallow expressions of emotions
  • 4. Uses physical appearance to draw attention to self
  • 5. Impressionistic style of speech
  • 6. Self-dramatization, theatrical, exaggerated expression of emotions
  • 7. Suggestible
  • 8. Considers relationships to be more intimate than they actually are
narcissistic personality disorder
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
  • 1. Grandiose self-importance
  • 2. Preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, ideal love
  • 3. Believes he is special and can only be understood or associate with other special people
  • 4. Requires excessive admiration
  • 5. Sense of entitlement
  • 6. Interpersonally exploitative
  • 7. Lacks empathy
  • 8. Envious of others and believes that others are envious of him
  • 9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
personality disorders pd3
Personality Disorders (PD)

Cluster C Personality Disorder

Dependent Personality Disorder

Pervasive and excessive need to be taken care.

Submissive and clinging behaviour.

Fears of separation.

dependent personality disorder
Dependent Personality Disorder
  • 1. Difficulty making everyday decisions
  • 2. Needs others to assume responsibility for most major areas of his life
  • 3. Has difficulty expressing disagreement for fear of loss of support
  • 4. Has difficulty initiating projects or doing things on their own
  • 5. Goes to excessive lengths to obtain nuturance or support from others
  • 6. Feels uncomfortable when alone, exaggerated fears that they cannot take care of themselves
  • 7. Urgently seeks another relationship when one ends
  • 8. Preoccupied with fears of being left to take care of himself
avoidant personality disorder
Avoidant Personality Disorder
  • 1. Avoids occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact for fear of criticism or rejection
  • 2. Unwilling to get involved with people unless certain of being liked
  • 3. Shows restraint in intimate relationships for fear of being shamed or ridiculed
  • 4. Preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in social situations
  • 5. Inhibited in new social situations due to feelings of inadequacy
  • 6. Views self as socially inept, unappealing or inferior
  • 7. Unusually reluctant to take personal risks
obsessive compulsive personality disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder
  • 1. Preoccupied with details, rules, lists, order, organization, scheduling
  • 2. Shows perfectionism that interferes with task completion
  • 3. Excessively devoted to work and productivity
  • 4. Overconscientious, scrupulous and inflexible
  • 5. Unable to discard worn out or worthless objects
  • 6. Reluctant to delegate tasks unless they submit exactly to their way of doing things
  • 7. Adopts a miserly spending style (keep for future catastrophes)
  • 8. Shows rigidity and stubbornness

Can people with personality disorders change?

  • How can you see personality disorders affecting your work?