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The Criminal Personality

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The Criminal Personality

Postby Normal? » Sun Mar 14, 2010 4:27 pm

Hey everyone

I’ve been here for a while now – browsing the forums and attempting to understand my brush with the Cluster B disordered personality. I’ve had hundreds of ‘Eureka’ moments and learnt a great deal about psychology and human behaviour in general. But although I knew that Cluster B personality disorders were often co-morbid, I still felt some confusion: - I had seen several different traits of behaviour and was frustrated to a degree that nothing seemed to fit quite as snugly as I would have liked.

But recently I was directed towards theories of the Criminal Personality, and these seem infinitely more applicable in my situation. Because Yochelson and Samenow's discovery of the "criminal personality" posits that the attributes of the criminal's personality meet most of the criteria of the Cleckley psychopath, the Kernberg psychopath, and the DSM-III-R quadruple diagnosis of antisocial, narcissistic, borderline, and histrionic personality disorder.

I just wanted to share the descriptors in case they help anyone – and also should any of you be in a position to shed any light on this kind of ‘sub-category’ of Cluster B.

Before I post the useful list of ‘behaviours’ of these personalities I just wanted to emphasise that Yochleson isn’t necessarily describing individuals who are criminals (or at least individuals who have been caught). More – he is defining the thought processes of these individuals – if that makes sense?

The rejuvenated focus of the criminal personality study aimed to see the world as the criminals viewed it. In general, the criminal saw the world in "chess-board" terms, as people were there pawns to manipulate at will for their own personal gain . The anti-social behavior developed when the offenders were young, some as young as age four. The criminal, early in life, consciously removed himself from the rules of society. The conventional activities and interests of his peers were abhorred by the fledgling criminal . Fighting, lying, and stealing were very frequent activities by the young criminal. Notably, the criminal is pro-active in his approach of rejection to others. Consequently, he is the first to establish polarity between himself and others. Additionally:
he shies away from affection(Nott,1977:*)
he is very restless, dissatisfied, and irritable(Samenow,1984:26)
he perfunctorily engages in civil communication only to prevent others from being suspicious of his behavior
he considers requests from teachers, parents, and others as impositions
he continually sets himself apart from others
he is enamored with living a life of excitement, at whatever expense
he habitually experiences anger as a way of life
he lacks empathy
he feels no obligation to anyone except his own interests
he has no understanding of responsible decision making, having prejudged situations
he has a daily struggle with "Murphy's Law". That is, when something is bound to go wrong, it probably will. Criminals cannot cope with this obstacle well

All told, fifty-two thinking patterns were distinguishable in the criminal personality. These were considered "errors" in thinking, and though not unique to criminals, they were displayed to extreme magnitudes by criminals. Though criminals may differ in the types of crime that they commit, and their modus operandi, they exhibit identifiable and classifiable paralleled errors in thinking. For example, the white collar criminal and the inner-city street drug dealer come from very different backgrounds, yet they conduct their lives very similarly according to the way that they consistently supersede their wants and desires over those of others. Importantly, the criminal act is the end product of a specific thinking process and personality characteristics. The criminal personality precedes the criminal act. But criminality goes well beyond arrestability. It pertains to the way in which a person acts, thinks, and lives his life. Because a person has a criminal personality, however, does not necessarily mean that he will have a criminal record.
This should have been a noble creature:
A goodly frame of glorious elements,
Had they been wisely mingled; as it is,
It is an awful chaos—light and darkness,
And mind and dust, and passions and pure thoughts,
Mix’d, and contending without end or order,
All dormant or destructive.
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Re: The Criminal Personality

Postby two_roads » Sun Mar 14, 2010 9:31 pm

Yes, perhaps the term isn't justified then. The word "criminal" would imply committing an actual law breach (i.e. crime)

But yes, I understand what it means though. These people are wired to go against what's good, just and right/ethical. I think it's about a flaw in their impulses more than thinking patterns, but of course that's just my personal impression and I am not an expert.
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Re: The Criminal Personality

Postby Normal? » Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:03 am

Hey Two Roads

Yes it's a bit of a misnomer isn't it. What the researchers identified is that the character traits of the criminal were clearly definable in most cases - but that these also found in non-criminals too (well criminals they don't catch to be more precise).

The first to be victimized by the criminals are their parents(Samenow,1984:25). Parents are not exempt from the habitual exploits of the criminal. The offender perceives people as being beneficial or detrimental to achieving their wants. Essentially, parents, like other people are objectified. Because the criminal does not see things from another's perspective, his emotional investment to family is minimal. Parents and family, therefore, serve a utilitarian purpose for the criminal. Though criminals are very selfish and demanding, they will often try to ensure that their parents have a least a decent concept of them, in the event that their parents' devotion can be exploited for the need of money, material wants, or even help from punishment from the law. Yet if the parents try to effect a positive change in the criminal (for example, with counseling), the criminal has little reserve from misrepresenting the parents intentions by blaming them for his problems.

Criminals see the world in "chess-board" terms. People are viewed as their puppets and pawns. This is perhaps the defining trait of the criminal. The world is seen by him as a forum for his coercion, scheming, and manipulation. As the criminal is walking down the street or through stores he is always scheming; thinking that no one knows what he is up to and that he can take advantage of them whenever he wants. Not surprisingly, spouses and companions are to serve a subservient role for the criminal. They are to serve a utilitarian purpose, like parents, for the criminal. Incidentally, criminals do not feel love like non-criminals can, for they lack the feelings of empathy necessary for love. People that serve functional roles in the lives of the criminals are seen as property, and criminals have an acute vision for detecting those that can serve their wants and needs. Because their lifestyle is conformed around the idea of taking rather than giving, few exceptions exist. The most notable one is when criminals "give" in order to impress someone of their importance and stature. (Goble,1978:2).

The criminal's capacity and desire for manipulation extends beyond the realm of personal abuse. Work, for example, provides an avenue for the criminal's exploits, and it is often perceived as serving that role by the criminal. Ironically, although the criminal may very well have the means to make a lot of money legitimately, he willingly selects illegitimate means for honest work means little. The reason for this is generally two-fold. First, the criminal is appalled at being told what to do and how to conduct himself. He feels as though he should only pledge allegiance to his own standards and rules. Second, the criminal is easily bored with following established protocols that serve the function of anyone or anything other than himself. Excitement is the fuel that sustains life for the criminal, and eschewing the rules of work will often provide this fuel. Yet, because the criminal protects himself from feelings of accountability, he is quick to provide excuses when he is dismissed from a job or unable to find one. Claiming that there are no decent jobs available or that his previous job was "below" him are frequent excuses employed by the criminal to justify his aversion to work. Of course there are some criminals that are frequent contributors to the work force, and even hold positions of relatively high esteem within their field of work. But the prevailing purpose of work is to exploit it for there own gain; one that might very well be material. White-collar criminals, for instance, are those that pointedly use the arena of work as a grounds for selfish improprieties

Like work, school is generally a place to be disliked by the criminal. There is a belief that when schools fail to meet the needs of children, they eject kids from the mainstream. In other words, delinquency is a result of blocked goal attainment. Actually, Samenow contends, it is the children who reject school long before school rejects them. The criminal rejects the school environment because he doesn't, as with work, accept being subjugated to others. Some delinquents will fail in school based upon this reasoning, not because they are incapable of performing well academically. Yet, there are others who do fairly well in school. The motivation for these criminals, however, is not to succeed in academics, but to provide an appearance of them abiding by the rules while they continue to behave in criminal ways. This keeps their parents and teachers from entangling with their criminal ventures.

Despite such rancorous behavior, the criminal has a decent self-concept. He has his own set of morals, for traditional ones do not significantly apply. Although callous and daring, he can be warm and friendly, though this behavior is somewhat limited. He feels as though he is basically a decent person, despite a plethora of crimes and injustices to others he may have committed. Yet, he is inherently hypocritical as he doesn't see other criminals in such a positive way as he sees himself. For example, a thief may view property crimes as being innocuous. However, if another thief steals from his family's home, he feels as though that crime should be punished to a high magnitude.
Last edited by Normal? on Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
This should have been a noble creature:
A goodly frame of glorious elements,
Had they been wisely mingled; as it is,
It is an awful chaos—light and darkness,
And mind and dust, and passions and pure thoughts,
Mix’d, and contending without end or order,
All dormant or destructive.
Normal?
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Re: The Criminal Personality

Postby caro81VA » Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:10 am

I recently learned that my ex has been involved in some criminal activity (allegedly, i guess.) Although my ex's official diagnosis is HPD and he fits it very well, his new (?) activities have made me start thinking in the direction of antisocial PD in addition to the HPD. Consequently, this post makes great sense.

In addition to what you've highlighted, I'd add that the part on the way the criminal interacts with the parents can apply to his spouse as well, especially when that spouse is in a caretaking role.

Course, these are all only labels. But it does help with understanding what I've seen, and what I continue to have to deal with.
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Re: The Criminal Personality

Postby Normal? » Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:38 pm

Thanks Caro.
This should have been a noble creature:
A goodly frame of glorious elements,
Had they been wisely mingled; as it is,
It is an awful chaos—light and darkness,
And mind and dust, and passions and pure thoughts,
Mix’d, and contending without end or order,
All dormant or destructive.
Normal?
Consumer 6
Consumer 6
 
Posts: 1218
Joined: Thu Jun 18, 2009 12:59 pm
Local time: Fri Oct 31, 2014 6:13 am
Blog: View Blog (0)


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