So, Do you think like a Criminal?
As opposed to a generic mental disorder, which may have an organic/neurological basis, thinking errors may simply be bad habits, a lazy way of temporarily putting off dealing with reality. We all make these errors from time to time, not just criminals. After all the word criminal is rather meaningless unless in a social context, yet we can make these same errors without a social context.
So as an exercise, pick 5 of the errors below that you make most frequently, pick 5 for your closest peer, pick five for the authority figures in your life, pick the five most prevalent in the general population etc and etc.
THINKING ERRORS CHARACTERISTIC OF THE CRIMINAL (from Yochelson and Samenow’s, The Criminal Personality)
Error 1. Energy- The criminal is extremely energetic. His high level of mental activity is directed to a flow of ideas as to what would make life more interesting and exciting.
Error 2. Fear - fears in the criminal are widespread, persistent, and intense; especially fears of being caught for something, fear of injury or death, or fear of a put down,
Error 3. Zero state - This is the periodic experience of oneself as being nothing “a zero", a feeling of absolute worthlessness, hopelessness, and futility.
Error 4. Anger - Anger is a basic part of the criminal's way of life. He responds angrily to anything he interprets as opposing what he wants for himself. Anger is, for the criminal, a major way of controlling people and situations.
Error 5. Pride - Criminal pride is an extreme high evaluation of oneself. It is the idea that one is better than others, even when this is clearly not the case, Criminal pride preserves his rigid self-image as a powerful totally self-determining person.
Error 6. The Power Thrust - The criminal needs control and power over others. His greatest power excitement is in doing the forbidden and getting away with it. His need for power, control, and dominance show in all areas of his life. The occasions when the criminal appears to show an interest in a responsible activity are generally opportunities for the criminal to exercise power ill1d control.
Error 7. Sentimentality - Criminals are often excessively sentimental: about their mothers, old people, invalids, animals, babies, their love attachments, plans for the future, etc.
Error 8. Religion - The criminal uses religion to support his way of thinking ill1d his criminality. His religious ideas are usually very 1iteral and concrete, Religion ( sentimentality) does not consistently deter his criminal thinking or actions but does support his self-image as a good and decent person,
Error 9, Concrete Thinking - Criminals tend to think in terms of particular
objects and events, rather than general and abstract concepts.
Error 10, Fragmentation - This is a very basic feature of the criminal personality. It refers to radical fluctuations in the criminal 's mental state that occur within relatively short periods of time. There is a pattern of starting something and then changing his mind. He wi11 make commitments with sincerity and great feeling and then break these
commitments within the hour. He may feel sentimental love for his children, and still take their money to buy drugs, His personality is a collection of distinct, isolated, illformed contradictory fragments.
Error 11. Uniqueness - The criminal emphasizes his total difference from
other people. He feels himself to be special, "one of a kind,"
Error 12, Perfectionism - The criminal has extreme standards of perfection,
although he applies these standards sporadically and inconsistently.
Error 13, Suggestibility - The criminal is (l) very suggestible with respect
to that behavior that leads to what he wants; (2) very resistant to suggestion toward responsible thinking or behavior.
Error 14, The Loner - The criminal leads a private, secretive life; one
against the world (including fellow criminals), He feels himself to be apart from others, even if outwardly he is active and gregarious.
Error 15. Sexuality - Criminals have plenty of sexual experience, but little in the way of sensual gratification or competence in performance. Conquest is essential, and a partner is regarded as a possession
Error 16. Lying - For the criminal, lying is a way of life. Lying is incorporated into his basic make up, and feeds other criminal patterns. More common than premeditated lying is habitual lying, which becomes automatic. The criminal defines reality with his lies, and so maintains control,
Error 17. The Closed Channel - In treatment, an open channel of communication requires disclosure, receptivity, and self-criticism. Instead, the unchanged criminal is secretive, has a closed, mind, and is self-righteous. If therapy for the criminal is to be effective, and open channel between the criminal and his therapist must be established.
Error 18. • I Can't - The criminal says 'I can't· to express his refusal to act responsibly. (At the same time he believes there is nothing he can't do that he wants to do.) The criminal says "I can't” to escape accountability for what he does.
Error 19, The Victim stance - When the criminal is held accountable for his irresponsible actions, he blames others and portrays himself as a victim. The world does not give him what he thinks he is entitled to, so he views himself as poorly treated and thus a victim.
Error- 20. Lack of Time Perspective - Even more than wanting what he wants when be wants it, the criminal demands immediate possession and success. He must be the best, have the best, right now. The criminal has no enduring concept of the length of a life, or of a lifetime. This is another aspect of his concrete thinking.
Error 21. Failure to Put Oneself in Another's Position - The criminal demands every consideration and every break for himself, but rarely stops to think about what other people think, feel, and expect.
Error 22. Failure to Consider Injury to Others - The criminal's life involves extensive injury to those around him. However, he does not view himself as injuring others. When held accountable, he regards himself as the innocent party.
Error 23. Failure to Assume Obligation - The concept of obligation is foreign to the criminal's thinking, Obligations interfere with what he wants to do. Obligation is viewed as a position of weakness and vulnerability to others' control, obligations are irritating to the criminal, and if pressed, he will respond with resentment and anger.
Error 24. Failure to Assume Responsible Initiatives - The criminal declines to take responsible initiatives because (a) responsible initiatives fail to provide the excitement and power thrust of forbidden activities, (b) they do not provide a guarantee of success and triumph, and c he is often afraid that accepting responsible tasks will expose his lack of knowledge and ineptness.
Error 25. Ownership - When a criminal wants something that belongs to someone else, it is as good as his. Belonging is established in his mind, in the sense that he feels perfectly justified in getting his way, The criminal considers himself a decent person with the right to do whatever suits his purposes and views the world as his oyster. He views people as pawns or checkers, waiting to be dealt with as he wishes. This thinking is habitual and without malice.
Error 26. Fear of Fear - The criminal is fearful of fear and contemptuous of fear, when he discerns fear in others, he points it out, scorns it, and exploits it. When fear occurs in himself it is a put-down, destroying his self-esteem. degrees of fear these in himself. This applies also to the many states that denote doubt, concern, apprehension, anxiety. He denies When they occur in others, the criminal is ready to pounce.
Error 27. Lack of Trust - Although the criminal does not trust others, he demands that others trust him. There are times when his trust of others is sincere, but this is only one of many fragments of his personality. It does not last.
Error 28. Refusal to Be Dependent - Like anyone else, the criminal is dependent on other people for some things in life. However, he does not see himself this way, He fails to believe that a degree of interdependence is a necessary part of existence. To him, dependence is a weakness; it would render him vulnerable.
Error 29. Lack of Interest in Responsible Performance - The criminal is not interested in responsible tasks that don't offer immediate excitement. He finds responsibility boring. When he does become interested in a responsible project, his interest is short lived, unless he feels the excitement of being a conspicuous success.
Error 30. Pretentiousness - criminals do little to achieve, but carry tremendously inflated ideas about their capacities. They are or will be the best (never that they will do their best). They are right all others are wrong - -When I know something is right and someone tells me it's wrong, I usually get mad ... If I hear somebody say anything wrong, I usually try to set them right: When confined, he regards himself as more knowledgeable than the staff and seizes every opportunity to teach others.
Error 31, Failure to Make an Effort or Endure Adversity - "Effort" refers to
doing things that are contrary to what one prefers to do, In this sense the criminal expends little effort, though he may expend tremendous energy dong what he wants to do, He refuses to endure the adversity of responsibility . The challenge of making an effort to the criminal is failure to control, failure to be a big shot, Adversity is anything that is not going his way. The criminal escapes from that adversity.
Error 32. Poor Decision-Making for Responsible Living - In important personal decisions there is no sound reasoning, fact finding, consideration of costs or options. He is reluctant to ask a question about non-criminal activities, because he views it as a putdown to reveal his ignorance. If his pretensions and expectations are opposed by the facts, he does not want to hear them.
Error 33. Corrosion and Cutoff - A criminal may be deterred from criminal activity by a sense of conscience, a sincere wish to change, and by sentimental, religious, or humanitarian feelings", as well as by the fear of getting caught. The criminal overcomes these deterrents to his criminality by the processes of corrosion and cutoff.
Corrosion is a mental process in which deterrents are slowly eliminated until the desire to commit a criminal act outweighs the deterrent factors. This is criminal scheming, in this process the criminal's sentiments and ideals and fears gradually give way to the desire for a criminal activity.
Cutoff is the mental process that eliminates deterrents from consideration completely and instantaneously. The gradual process of corrosion is completed by the final cutoff of fear and other deterrents to crime. Cutoff is a mental process that produces fragmentation (Number 10). The criminal moves instantaneously from one mental state to another, radically different state.
Error 34. Building Up the Opinion of Oneself As A Good Person - The criminal
believes that he is a good and decent person, He rejects the thought that he is a criminal. Performing kind or sentimental acts towards others enhances the criminal 's view of himself as good. The image of himself as a good person gives him, in turn, a license for more crime, and postpones the recurrence of the zero state.
Error 35. Deferent - The criminal defers or 'puts things off' in three distinct areas. (1) He carries with him the idea of an ultimate crime, the -big score", but defers enacting it. (2) He has the idea that one day he will quit crime, go straight and settle down, but that day is constantly deferred. (3) He had a habit of deferring the minor and routine responsibilities of life--paying a bill, writing a letter, filing a tax return etc.
Error 36. Superoptimism - The criminal 's mind works in such a way that a
possibility or an assumptions is an accomplished fact; an idea is a reality. If someone tells him 'maybe' he regards it as a promise. Anything that he decides to do is as good as done. The criminal uses cutoff to eliminate fear and doubt, The result is that as he approaches a criminal activity, he reaches a state of absolute confidence. superoptimistic, there is not a doubt in his mind. Similarly, if he does decide to become a responsible person, he is superoptimistic of his success. Once he decides, he will believe that the change had already occurred.