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Mental Illness/health and crime

Discussion in 'Speaker's Corner' started by conundrum, 23 Jan 2006.

  1. conundrum

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    Is mental illness, conditions or anything else mind related to blame for nearly all crime. Bad diet causes poor and erroneous brain activity that underlies mind, brains are often low or high in certain chemicals that cause mind disorders and/or a area of the brain is impaired in some way. All of this consitutues (in my mind at least) that crime is most likely caused by errors in the brain.

    Anyone agree, disagree with me ?
     
  2. @if ®afiq

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    In the majority of cases it is human nature that is to blame.
     
  3. conundrum

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    I reckon Huntley and Hindley were mentally ill in some way personally and not operating under normal human nature means.
     
  4. anarchist

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    Yes but human nature should, in theory, be adjusted by the parents and the peers of the child as it grows up, and by the society it grows up in, so I would say that most of the blame has to lie with those things.
     
  5. conundrum

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    hard easy to bring up a mentally disabled child is it or to make them a well rounded member of society when they have a hidden hard wired issue. They reckon for instance that up 10% of people (businessmen) mainly show psycopathic traits (lack of emotion etc) so remember that when you boss shows no empathy or emotion towards the staff and seems to like bullying.

    Mental illness and/or disability is more common that thought I reckon.
     
  6. cleanbluesky

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    Given that crime is socially constructed, blaming physiology as the root cause of 'crime' holds no value outside of the construction itself
     
  7. semi-pro waster

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    Just because someone shows psychopathic traits does not make them a psychopath or indeed even mentally unstable, it is just a definition showing that they share some traits with those who have been classified as psychopaths.

    No I wouldn't agree that mental problems are to blame for nearly all crime, unless you define all crime as being deviant and therefore anyone who commits a crime as being mentally unstable because of their deviant behaviour. In which case your definition allows no other outcome.

    I'd personally say there are too many factors to why people commit crime to allow it to be rationalised down to a simple single factor. Mental instability is just one aspect that could cause people to commit crime but most criminals when examined by psychiatrists are within normal ranges for emotions, when studied within normal ranges for intelligence etc etc.
     
  8. Borris

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    Surely there are some activities that could be considered beyond the bounds of a social construct - Murder being the most obvious.

    Although I do see your point, if we compare the human animal to the animal, where there is no concept of crime.

    Philisophically, it could make for a good discussion, but I don't think that you even need to go that far to fault the OP's premise that mental health issues are to chiefly to blame for crime.

    So, to the OP.

    You're making causal links where they don't necessarily exist, even though there may be a correlation, backing them up with, at best, supposition.

    By defining crime as being commited by those with mental illness, you are creating a circular, self-reinforcing arguement that is fallacious on two counts:

    1. Crime is not, by definition, onl committed by the mentally ill.

    2. Mental illness does not necessarily lead to criminal activity.
     
  9. cleanbluesky

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    Nothing you can express in words remains unconstructed... social construction is not merely something for discussion - it is discussion
     
  10. anarchist

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    Yes crime is socially constructed - we decide what is criminal and what isn't - but that doesn't mean that people's physiology doesn't lead them to commit "crimes" (by our definiton).

    As for how many crimes are committed because of people's mental state, well, all of them basically, since the person committing the crime has a brain in a particular state that leads them to commit that crime. As for how many have "hard-wired" problems, well, "hard-wired" is a bit difficult to describe really, since our brains are a massively complex product of our genes and our upbringing.
     
  11. cleanbluesky

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    Any behaviour could be explained in this abstract and reductionist viewpoint, not merely 'criminal' behaviour
     
  12. The Running Man

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    no lets get this right,

    the majority of criminals know exactly what they are upto, and exactly how the law works.

    they also know that we have a weak legal system and will claim they are an addict, mentally ill, and anything else that is advised. the number of ill criminals is fatally skewed because of the number of convicts claiming illness to get a reduction on their sentance (mitigatinc circumstance) .
     
  13. cleanbluesky

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    I dont think that criminals are as forward thinking as you have portrayed here - I'd imagine that you think this way, but you are likely not a criminal so if most crims thought like you they wouldn't committ any more crime.

    I think basic reasons for crime can be broken into two catagories...

    1) Crimes I personally think are 'wrong'

    2) Crimes I don't think are 'wrong'

    By 'wrong' I mean that these values are not merely the law of the land, but they are personal judgements as well, external rules that have been internalised.

    I would not committ a crime that I thought was wrong, regardless of whether I was going to get away with it or not. If I think murder is wrong, but think I could successfully do it I still wouldn't do it. The likelihood of me committing a crime that I don't think is wrong are based on how likely I am to get caught and whether the punishment is more undesirable than the crime is desirable. A good example of this is speeding. I speed a lot, not dangerously but I don't pay much attention to the speed limit on most roads and drive whatever speed I feel is appropriate. However, myself along with most people certainly make the effort to slow down for speed cameras because the chances of getting caught for speeding on that little stretch increase dramatically.
     
  14. The Running Man

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    thats all very good, but not very relevant. and your points dont make sense.

    criminals know what they are doing, they get advised to say they are mentally incapable, to say they are addicts (which they may or may not be) and basically anything else that that may reduce their sentance.

    young offenders, know they are not going to get sent down, will have commited numerous crimes and simpyl dont care because they know how weak our system is. and therefore will not hesitate to commit the crime.

    older crims commit crime to maintain a standard of living knowing that it is wrong, and having been through the legal system at younger ages know all thr loops and everything they have to say and do to get their penalty reduced.
     
  15. conundrum

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    Criminals know what they are doing, do they indeed ? I would question that one in some cases.

    I agree that a lot of crime can be socially constructed but mental health issues exasipate crime and even creates new crime in my opinion.

    Apparantly in 90 % of murder the assailant is known to the assailed and of the other 10 % nearly all of it is attributed to mental health issues I believe.

    Heroin and drug related issues also create a lot of crime so it cannot all be down to mental health I guess. Still think a lot of it is though as it would explain a lot of apparantly senseless crimes.
     
  16. Cueball

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    As we all know, the infamous sentence:

    "I'm sorry, mi'laud, I wasn't in control of my actions. Tempory insanity you see..." is an instant get-out-of-jail-free card.

    Personally, I believe if someone is "mentally capable", "not responsable for their own actions", "mentally deficient" (or whatever other buzzword they use) then that's even more reason to lock them away. Hopefully forever.
     
  17. conundrum

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    This is the issue you see cueball. What you have said sums it all up. They must have known what they were doing because they did it and we all want justice.

    Most people have no understanding of mental health issues in the UK I would say and still either want to hang them high or lock em up and throw away the key.
     
  18. Cueball

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    Here's a thought:

    Let's make the whole "mental health" thing invalid as an excuse. As you say, these criminals are using the mental health hooah to excuse their crime.

    IMO, if someone pleads dimished responsability, they should get a sentence twice as long.

    Personally, I would like to see the whole 'parole' and 'concecutive sentencing' go out of the window. I would also like to see a law that states that people--irregardless of thier mental state--are responsable for their own actions and thus must assume full responsability for it. No "Allah made me do it" bollox either.
     
  19. mdwh

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    Last time I looked, pleading insanity _did_ get you locked away, usually more so than pleading guilty - even if you aren't found guilty of the crime. In fact, people can get locked up for mental illnesses *even if they have not committed a crime*. So I'm not sure why pleading insanity is being paraded as some "get out of jail free card".
     
  20. Jumpingmedic

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    There seem to be two classes of mentally impaired murderers: psychotics and psychopaths.

    A psychotic is genuinely deluded, they may honestly believe (for example) that the people they kill are aliens trying to take over the world. If these beliefs were true then their crimes would actually be justifyable, even commendable. A psychopath is under no such delusions, they merely enjoy murder. In effect they have no mental illness; they were just born that way.

    That's not to say there isn't a physical cause for their crimes. There's a part of the brain that deals with empathy and emotions. Psychopaths often have their emotions wired the wrong way; eg sexual emotions caused by death or pain.

    There are different degrees of psychopathy of course. A ruthless businessman who fires staff and initiates hostile takeovers purely for profit without concern for the employees may be a psychopath. But they're not usually so far removed as to be able to tolerate murder.

    It is partly for this reason that I object to the death penalty. If a person is mentally unable to feel compassion or sympathy for people then it is unreasonable for society to expect such a person to be able to conform to it's standards. Obviously murderers and the like must be seperated from society, and if possible, cured. But I don't see any advantage in taking revenge.

    So yes I agree with you in general. I think if you boil everything down there comes a point where criminals are simply behaving in a fashion that they perceive as completely acceptable. Society has molded people into condemning crime, and in most cases it's successful, but there are always going to be some that it can't change. The problem is that psychopaths cannot be cured... their brains work in a certain way that leaves them unable to feel compassion for others. Our technology is nowhere near the stage where we might be able to rewrite a person's brain.

    There are a fair number of people on this forum who claim they would condone the torture or execution of criminals. I find it ironic that they would indulge in the same merciless actions that they condemn the criminal for. Society found a loophole, the rage and aggression of the human mind can be channeled towards those who break it's rules, and that's socially acceptable. It seems everyone has a little psychopath in them trying to get out.
     
    Last edited: 25 Jan 2006