Oedipus & the Self-fulfilling Prophecy. As usual, Freud was wrong!

Abstract

This article argues that the myth of Oedipus expresses and/or represents the Self-fulling Prophecy (exempli gratia, described by the Social Psychology). At the same time, this article states that the myth of Oedipus is not allegory and/or representation of the Freudian psychosexual development!!

The myth of Oedipus becomes an opportunity to show the kind of mis-interpretations made by psychoanalyses and psychoanalysts. The latter, in fact, tends: to create false beliefs; and, to attribute false meanings to “events”.

In accordance with a logical and epistemological reflection/analysis, psychoanalytic theories can gain only two states of truth. They can be: valid and/or invalid.

If they are invalid, they can not be applied anywhere.

If they are valid, they must be applied to psychoanalyses itself.

This, however, determines the invalidity of the psychoanalytic Paradigm, which would inevitably turn to implode on itself.

Exempli gratia, psychoanalytic theories turn out to be:
• on the one hand, the “fruit” of primary defensive processes (characterized by a state of confusion between the inside and the outside world, leading to a distorted view of reality, which is typical of psychosis) acted and/or done by the same creators and supporters of psychoanalyses. Examples of these primary defensive processes are: projection; primitive idealization; omnipotent control; etc …;
• on the other hand, the “fruit” of projective identification made by patients who, living a state of “psychic vulnerability”, identify themselves in those constructs due the high level of impressionableness / suggestibleness.

In other words, psychoanalytic theories would create ex post confirmation of themselves, creating “reality”, which would never have been if they had never existed!!

In conclusion, psychoanalytic constructs are new idols, which exist only for the faith that their “priests” place in them.

They are not idols of stone, but they are idols of void words and/or void interpretation. Idols that, however, require dogmas to survive. Dogmas that psychoanalysts have defended with the mis-use and abuse of psychiatry since the beginning of psychoanalyses with Freud.

At the end, they are only a “new form” of Superstition.

Rationale

Epis L. (2012/2015), in the book De Nova Superstitione, wrote about the “difficulties” that the Psychological Sciences have to comply with the criteria of the Scientific Paradigm.

The Psychological Sciences, in fact, are a set of disciplines: which have an heterogeneous epistemological status; and, which are characterized by a low logical-epistemological reflection and awareness (Epis L. 2012/2015). The latter takes different aspects and forms, due: how these disciplines are able to meet the criteria of the Scientific Paradigm; and, the type of biases, which characterize that particular disciplinary area.

If we consider these two criteria (that I wrote supra/above), Psychological Sciences can be divided into four main areas.

The first macro-area includes: Physiological Psychology; Cognitive Psychology; Experimental Psychology. Despite the limitations of its methodology and its own kind of biases, this area has “full citizenship” inside the Scientific Paradigm. Indeed, it is able to comply with: the experimental scientific method (pro tempore); the test of Validity (Logical Positivism); and, the principle of falsification (Popper).

The second macro-area is the Soft Psychology. This area is a “limbo” of ambiguity, confusion and uncertainty. The constructs are based on, and created with, a wide use of correlation. The latter, due the fact of the crud factor, makes these constructs be a mere social creation that, at the end, is based only on “political” choices, which have their reasons in matters of opportunity and/or interest.

Some of them are connected with the relationship that exists between Power and Knowledge. A relationship, which inside the Social Sciences, is stronger than everywhere else.

Indeed, inside this Limbo, opposite theories and constructs coexist. All of them are both never entirely refuted and never fully corroborated. So, the success and/or application of one of these theories instead of another one, depends only for “political choice” (with the widest extension of the term).

Not only. These constructs become glasses that are able to change the perception of Reality in the direction of those theories. Hence, they are able to create ex post a pseudo-corroboration, which is, nothing more and nothing less, a “conjuring trick” that is used to “deride” the gullible people.

The third macro-area is the psychopathology. This area has nothing to do with Science. Science, in fact, is a descriptive language. Science has the aim to describe the reality without telling what is “normal” and what is “abnormal”. On the contrary, psychopathology is a normative language, as well as Law and Moral Sciences. But, everything uses normative language is just a “political” manifestation and/or choice.

Every time someone approaches this discipline, indeed, he/she should remember that psychopathology is in permanent violation of Hume’s Law.

The fourth macro-area is constituted by psychoanalyses. The latter is not: either Science, as it does not use descriptive language; or Normative Discipline, as it does not use normative language.

Psychoanalyses is only a set of “confabulations” that are expressed with expressive language. Therefore, psychoanalyses has nothing to do with: truth and/or validity.

All its theories and constructs are only the “fruit” of the projections that are made by the psychoanalysts. These projections, then, are transformed by psychoanalysts, due the fact of their own delirium of omnipotence, in “universal” constructs and theories that pretend to explain the thoughts of others !!!!!!

In other words, psychoanalyses is the product of the primary processes and primary defences of the psychoanalysts. Psychoanalyses is the psychotic side of Psychology.

An evidence of this is given by the interpretation, which was made by Freud, of the Oedipus myth.

The myth of Oedipus and the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

The physical laws rule the structure of the universe and everything happens inside it. The psycho-social laws rule the structure and dynamics of the groups of any kind and formation.

The “social beings” follow the psycho-social laws as the atoms and/or “celestial bodies” fallow the laws of physics.

The ancients people knew this Truth. They illustrated it with the language of myth.

One of these laws establishes that:
• Every society is based on an Order that is ruled by an Authority;
• every Social Order and every Authority are doomed to change over time;
• “the changement” is generated by the same actions, which the pro tempore Authority does for attempting to: preserve the status quo and its Power; prevent the “changement”; prevent the prophecy from becoming truth.

The Greek myths repeat this law countless times.

The Kingdom of Uranus is overturned by the Kingdom of Cronus. The Kingdom of Cronus is overflowed by the Kingdom of Zeus. Prometheus, then, prophesies that the Kingdom of Zeus will be overturned by a New Order.

Zeus himself will prepare his own adversary … … so Zeus will learn that one thing is to serve and another thing is to reign … … … … . By Zeus, I care less than nothing. He can rule this kingdom as he wishes. His reign is not long” (Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound).

This concept is illustrated for the macro-cosmos with the stories of gods. For the micro-social-cosmos, the same concept is illustrated with the legends of cultural heroes. Exempli gratia: Perseus and Oedipus.

Acrisius (king of Corinth) received a prophecy. He would be killed by his nephew. So, he tried to prevent the realization of the prophecy. But, this made the prophecy become truth.

In the myth of Oedipus, this concept is repeated twice. The first time, Laius (king of Thebes; Oedipus natural father) received the prophecy that his son would have killed him. To prevent the prophecy from becoming true, Laius made several actions. Subsequently, Oedipus received the prophecy that he would have killed his father (which he thought to be the king of Corinth). To prevent the prophecy from becoming true, Oedipus made several actions. Well, at the end, the sum of all those actions, which were made by Laius and Oedipus to prevent their prophecies from becoming true, made their prophecies become true.

In other words, the myth of Oedipus (far and far away … from representing the phallic stage of the psychosexual development of Freud) is, more than anyone else, the representation of the self-fulfilling prophecy, which is the king of all the psycho-social mechanisms and underlie the social structure and dynamics of every kind of groups.

The concept, which the Greek myth expresses, is the inability and impossibility of men and gods to fights and to rebel against Fate. Once, Fate decides the destiny of men and gods, nothing can prevent it.

On the contrary, everything is done to prevent the prophecy from becoming true will inevitably lead the prophecy at its realization.

This concept was repeated from the Greek myth to our days.

Tolkien, for example, makes Galadriel say about her mirror: “Remember that the Mirror shows many things, and not all have yet come to pass. Some never come to be, the unless those that behold the visions turn aside from their path to prevent them” (Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings).

Before him, William Shakespeare represents this concept in most of his works. Exempli gratia, Macbeth is a tragedy based entirely on self-fulfilling prophecy. The tragedy starts with a prophecy that three witches give to the protagonist. According to this prophecy, Macbeth will become king, but he will need to be careful to Macduff. So, it is only due the prophecy that Macbeth: kills the king to replace him; and, wipe out the family of Macduff. The latter fact caused the revenge of Macduff , which doomed Macbeth to die.

Also the children-literature illustrates this concept.

The saga of Harry Potter is an example. The whole saga, indeed, is based on a self-fulfilling prophecy. The prophecy was not made to the protagonist, but to the anti-hero: Voldemort. The latter, in attempting to prevent the prophecy from becoming true, makes the prophecy become true.

Kung Fu Panda is another example. The first movie starts with a vision that is received by Master Oogway. Master Oogway sees that Tai Lung escapes from the prison where he is detained. Shipo, to prevent the vision from becoming true, starts all the coincidences that will make the vision be true. A concept that was summed up by Master Oogway: “sometimes certain events are caused with the actions that are done to prevent them“.

The same protagonist of the story, the bumbling panda Po, who was not good at kung-fu more than everyone else, is a result of the self-fulfilling prophecy. He becomes the Legendary Dragon Warrior only due the fact that Master Oogway made this “prophecy”.

Plenty of movies, then, expresses with concept.

The Secret Kingdom is one of them.

The saga of Star Wars is another one.
Star Wars’ saga is entirely based on self-fulfilling prophecies.

The prophecies are visions that the protagonists are able to get through the Force.

Anakin becomes a Jedi in the first episode (The Phantom Menace) only due a prophecy. Padme dies in the third episode (The Revenge of Siths) only due a prophecy.

Anakin chooses to pass to the dark side of the Force (in the third episode) only due the actions that are done by his Jedi-Masters. The Jedi-Masters, indeed, attempt to prevent “their fears” from becoming true. So, “their fears” become a “new prophecy” about Anakin, a prophecy that takes the place of the previous one. At the end, the actions, which are done by the Jedi-Masters to prevent their fears from becoming true, make their fears become true.

In the six episode, Anakin (now, Lord Vader) kills the Emperor and the kingdom of the Siths (as the first prophecy told) only because the Emperor attempted to prevent: that prophecy from becoming true; and, the loss of his Power.

Etc … Etc … .

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

So, what is the self-fulfilling prophecy?

The self-fulfilling prophecy is the king of all psycho-social mechanisms. There are no psychosocial dynamics that do not express it.

The self-fulling prophecy rules: the role played by individuals within groups; the social identity formation.

It is a “belief” that makes itself be true, due the fact that it is believed.

In other words, there is a recursive dialogical relationship between a “belief” and its “realization“. One creates the other one and vice versa.

To give you a pictorial image, you can think to the painting of Escher: “drawing hands”.

This recursive dialogical relationship exists: both, at the level of “beliefs”; and, at the level of “actions”.

In other words, the events are created by the actions, which are made to prevent “those events” from becoming true. Instead of preventing the events from becoming true, those actions will evocate them.

This is an aspect of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Why?

The answer is simple. This is just an application of the Lex Naturalis. It is the third law of motion that is applyed to social life. If a body A acts with a force F on a body B, then the body B will act towards the body A with a force F of equal intensity and direction, but of opposite direction.

In Philosophy and History of Religions, this concept has been represented, exempli gratia, with the Tao / Dao.

On the contrary, inside the academic literature of Social Sciences, this construct was expressed in 1948 with Merton. According to the author: “… a prophecy … for the sole reason of having been pronounced, manufactures the alleged incident, expected or predicted, confirming thus its veracity“. Beliefs determinate Actions; Actions create ex post “confirmation” of initial Beliefs (even if they are false). There is no separation between the “dimension of the actions” and the “dimension of beliefs”. They are linked in a strong: bond; connection; union; … and/or, as I prefer to say, dialogical recursive relationship. So according to Merton: “The self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true. This specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error. For the prophet will cite the actual course of events as proof that he was right from the very beginning” (Merton R. K., 1948, The Self Fulfilling Prophecy, in Antioch Review, Vol. 8, No. 2, pp. 193 – 210).

Merton took his inspiration from the Thomas’ Theorem which states: “If men define certain situations as real, they are real in their consequences“.

In fact, Beliefs determine Attitudes. Attitudes produce Behaviors. Behaviors cause Responses (confirmation bias). Responses lead ex post “pseudo-corroboration” to the initial belief, creating an infinitevicious cycle“.

The self-fulfilling prophecy, therefore, is the “genetic sub-layer” of any phenomena of the Psychological and Social Sciences. Nothing happens, unless there is a self-fulling prophecy.

The Labeling Theory recognizes it inside the Social Sciences, since the Labeling Theory expresses, at the end, nothing more than the self-fulling prophecy.

Popper, on the contrary, recognized it inside the Philosophy of Sciences and/or Epistemology. According to Popper, self-fulling prophecy is the criterium (criterion) that is able to make a distinction between Social Sciences and Natural Sciences.

You will not believe Me, if I tell you that Popper called the self-fulling prophecy the Oedipus effect.

Exempli gratia, Popper wrote: “One of the ideas I had discussed in  The Poverty of Historicism was the influence of a prediction upon the event predicted. I had called this the “Oedipus effect“, because the oracle played a most important role in the sequence of events which led to the fulfilment of its prophecy. … For a time I thought that the existence of the Oedipus effect distinguished the social from the natural sciences. But in biology, too—even in molecular biology—expectations often play a role in bringing about what has been expected” (Popper, Unended Quest: An Intellectual Autobiography).

Why was Freud wrong?

The mistake of Freud is self-evident. The myth of Oedipus does not express any stage of the psychosexual development.

So, why does Freud see in the myth of Oedipus the most important representation of the phallic stage?

After the death of his father (1896), Freud (who was self-analyzing his dreams) came to the conclusion that: he wished sexually his mother; and he considered his father like a dangerous rival. This happened in the absence of real seduction episodes.

In other words, Freud was a victim of its primary processes and its primary defenses. He projected his retrospective interpretations (which he made self-analyzing his own dreams) in the outside world. So, he came to see them everywhere: in the stories of his patients; in Greek myths; etc … .

Once, his own (mis)interpretations were projected to the outside world, due his own delirium of omnipotence, Freud argued his theories were able to explain the “normal development” of all human beings!!

So, it is clear that psychoanalyses, at the end, is nothing more and nothing less that a set of psychotic delusions that are made by psychoanalysts.

Psychoanalytic theories say nothing about: the World; and, the Human Thought. They speak only about the psychiatric problems of the psychoanalysts who created them.

The deception of psychoanalyses

Psychoanalyses is only a Discursive Practice that is based on retrospective interpretations a là Weik, which are created with interpretative games.

These interpretations have nothing to do with truth and the knowledge of the Self.

The meanings are induced by: the same psychoanalytic theories, which become glasses that are able to deform the whole Reality; and, the same expectations of psychoanalysts, who push to create confirmation of their beliefs.

In other words, psychoanalyses becomes a sort of “brainwashing” that is done on people, who are in a “vulnerable psychic” state.

The patients internalize: theories; psychoanalytic models; expectations of their psychoanalysts; etc…. At the end, they play those internalized roles for projective identification.

In other words, psychoanalyses itself does nothing. It is a way to deride people. If something happens, it is only for the action of the psychosocial mechanism of self-fulling prophecy.

Unfortunately, the prophecies that are done by psychoanalyses do not lead to anything good. Like the witches of Macbeth, they push people into a Shakespearean tragedy.

Those people, who “save” themselves, are “characters” of a self-fulfilling prophecy that was made by “someone else”, who (surely) was not a psychoanalysts.

You can read also: Epis L., De Nova Supertstitione. Unfortunately, the book (at the present tense) is only published in Italian. Link to e-book: De Nova Superstitione – Saggio

Edipo & la Profezia che si autoavvera. Come al solito, Freud aveva torto!

Vedere la versione in Inglese.

Link pagina Web: http://www.lukae.it/?p=1207

Link all’articolo in PDF: Oedipus & the Self-fulfilling Prophecy – Article

Chi vuole approfondire l’argomento può leggere: Epis L., De Nova Supertstitione. Link all’e-book: De Nova Superstitione – Saggio

A Critical Study on How the Psychopathological Construct of Antisocial Personality and Psychopathy Has Imploded. An Alternative Empirical Theory Overthrows the Psychopathological Explanation.

COMMUNICATION

The First Part of this Post have been published in PDF like an Article with Index, Bibliography, etc… . You can get a copy (only for personal use): either on the page “Law & Criminology“; or on the page “Psychology & Epistemology“. The title is: “A Critical Study on How the Psychopathological Construct of Antisocial Personality and Psychopathy Has Imploded. The Implosion of the Construct“.

Alternatively, you have a link here: A Critical Study on How the Psychopathological Construct of Antisocial Personality and Psychopathy Has Imploded – The Implosion of the Construct – Article

The Second Part of this Post (about “the Alternative Empirical Theory that Overthrows the Psychopathological Explanation“) will be published with delay, due the reasons that I illustrated in the “Communication” of the 24 Dicember 2015 (see: “Comunicati stampa – Press Release“).

However, a very brief and partial idea about the content of the Second Part could be get (incidentally) from the De Nova Superstitione (that I have already published in Italian both like Post and like book in PDF on this website). In particular, you can see: De Nova Superstitione, Chapter III, “L’Inganno del Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc“, paragraph: “La Pervasività dell’Influenza Sociale“.

You can translate it in English, even if some people have already told Me that the translations (that have been done by the computers) are NOT good.

 

PREVIEW

Many persons asked Me to translate the De Nova Superstitione in English. Most of the people, indeed, cannot read Italian. Moreover, the translations, which are done by computers, are not good. They can translate efficiently basic statements, but not structured discourses.

The De Nova Superstitione has “captured” and caught a lot of interest for two reasons.

The first one is about the main topic and aim of the Book: a Critical Study about the Epistemological Status of Psychology, Psychopathology and Psychoanalysis. In particular, the discourse about the Law of Hume and Psychopathology was much appreciated. It has been, indeed, a quite neglected topic, so long so far, in Psychology.

The second one is about an incidental argument, which I used like example to prove the weakness and misuses of the Psychopathological Constructs. This argument focuses on the construct of antisocial personality and behaviors. It was proved (with: empirical studies; and, logic arguments) how this construct imploded. Furthermore, an alternative Empirical Theory (which is able to explain those phenomena) was presented.

As, at the present tense, I do not have time to translate in English the De Nova Superstitione, I decided to write a brief Post to allow people to read about how psychopathological constructs are weak and misused.

This is a very actual topic, nowadays.

This Post reports studies and original ideas that have been done, written and presented (by the writer), since 2005/2006.  Actually, this critical study has been well known (… worldwide …) by several criminologists and psychologists since 2005/2006. On the contrary, it was not accessible and reachable for every other person. Outside the niche, it was not easy to get it, at all.

It happened for different reasons. But, one of them was that clinical psychologists do not like that people know how much weak their “constructs” are!! They tend: to “hide” all these critical studies; and, to “dissuade” and to “hinder” this kind of research in University.

So, unless you are not already famous and important, your critical studies have few chances to reach the general public. In particular, it happens when they do not support the monopolies of knowledge (a là Innis), which (… inside each discipline …) conserve the relationship of power among the members.

This is why, you can read about them ten years later their development and presentation.

 

ABSTRACT

This article shows how the psychopathological construct of antisocial personality and behaviours has imploded. Furthermore, a New Empirical Theory, which is able to explain those phenomena, is presented. This theory was developed in 2005/2006 by the writer. Then, it has been presented to several criminologists and psychologists (… worldwide …) since 2005/2006. Now, this article allows everyone to know about this critical study.

 

Rationale – Background

Introduction

The Paradigm of Antisocial Personality and Behaviour has always been a very weak and misused construct since the beginning. It is a good example of how the psychopathological constructs became a “modern scientific” form / manifestation of the Human Superstition. Ordronaux (1873) was the first author, who became aware about this. Indeed, he stated that this concept is “… an attempt to return to belief in demon possession of the Middle Ages and a revision to superstition”[1]. From that time, the number of the researchers, who criticized this construct and “how” it is used, increased.

Exempli gratia, Kinberg (1946) said that the concept of psychopath “should be abrogated as theoretically unsatisfactory, practically misleading and destructive to scientific thinking”. Karpman (1948) stated that it is “a myth … a nonexistent entity”.  Vaillant regarded this construct to be a misleading stereotype.

Blackburn (1988) affirmed: “it must be concluded that the current concept of psychopathic or antisocial personality remains «a mythical entity» …”[2].

Calvaldino (1998) suggested that this construct is nothing more than “a moralism masquerading as medical science”. He updated both the Blackburn’s critics and the Ordronaux’s critics. The former, indeed, admitted that: “such a concept is little more than a moral judgment masquerading as clinical diagnosis”. The latter argued[3] that: “the only disease to which the moral nature is subject is sin”.

Toch (1998) observed that the term was a form of negative counter-transference.

Shadish et al. (1999) underlined how the process of validation of the psychopathological construct has never been completed.

Cooke, Michie and Hat (2006), reported how this construct is quite controversial in the academic literature. In the same year, the present writer presented and illustrated “how” the construct: imploded on itself; was lacking in any scientific criteria; and, could be explained with a more Empirical Theory that was able to abandon these modern forms of Superstitions.

Although all these critics were well proved and based, they were neglected and refuted by the establishment. The latter, according to the Kuhn’s theory (1962; 1970), was committed to defend the Paradigm. The critical views were: denied; ridiculed; not taught. The researchers, who dared to show interest in them, were actively: dissuaded; discouraged; isolated. Their studies and works were hindered. They were also attacked with argumenta ad personam. The latter is a strategy that is largely used by psychologists to defend their inconsistent constructs (Epis, 2011/2015).

So, the establishment, instead of considering those critics and improving its constructs, has weakened and weakened them, meantime.

For instance, Hill, Murray and Thorley (1986) warned their colleagues that: “… psychopathic personality is an intriguing tale of confusion and inconsistency”.

Blackburn (1988) made the same critics with “softer” and “more indirect” words. He advised clearly that the construct had a very weak point. According to him, “the taxonomic error of confounding different universes of discourse” was present in the construct. This error leaded to create “a diagnostic category that embraces a variety of deviant personalities. Such a category is not a meaningful focus for theory and research, nor can it facilitate clinical communication and prediction”.

Nevertheless, as I told supra (above), the establishment refused to consider all those warnings. Instead of working for decreasing the heterogeneity of the construct, they increased it as much as they could!! At the end, the construct became so heterogeneous to include two opposite and contradictory types in the same set: the criminal psychopath; and, the non-criminal psychopath.

In other words, several psychologists put into the same set: serial killers (such as Jack the Ripper) committed to criminal activities; and, people (such as Mather Teresa of Calcutta) who, on the contrary, were committed to pro-social behaviours!! Some criminologists attempted to reduce all the violations of the Criminal Law like a manifestation of psychopathy!!

Please, do not think that they were joking. I have also thought it (in first instance), but they were not joking at all. They were strongly “devoted” and convinced in what they were saying. All their career and social prestige came from that!!

So, the present writer had to recognize the self-evident implosion of the psychopathological construct for the reasons that you can read infra (below).

 

Antisocial Personality’s Construct: Birth, Development and Implosion

Before explaining the reasons of the implosion of the construct, a brief résumé (about the “lifespan” of the antisocial personality’s paradigm) is given.  It will be very useful to understand: both, the biases that work in the creation and in the confirmation of the psychopathological paradigms; and, how superstitions can even appear “scientific beliefs”, once they are masked to psychopathological constructs!!

 

Birth and Development

The first label, which described the antisocial personality and behaviours, was: “manie sans delire” (Pinel, 1801). Then, this construct was called: “moral derangement” or “derangement in the moral faculties” (Rush, 1812); “moral insanity” (Pritchard, 1835). At the end, the label has become: antisocial personality disorder (e.g., DSM IV – R); psychopathy (e.g., Lange-Eichbaum, 1931; Henderson, 1939; English Mental Health Act, 1983; Cleckley, 1976; Hare, 1980); sociopathic personality disorder or asocial personality disorder (e.g., Gelder M., Gath D. and Mayou R., 1983); dissocial personality disorder (e.g., ICD-1O[4], F 60.2); and so on.

If you want, you can invent another name!! We need it!!

This construct is a good example of how the psychopathological discourse is completely dominated by: plenty of biases; a lot of fallacies; trickeries such as that one of nominalism; and, an absent epistemological awareness and reflection (Epis, 2011/2015).

The first label, which described the antisocial personality and behaviours, was: “manie sans delire” (Pinel, 1801). Pinel wanted to explain the behaviour of some people who were: violent and social dangerous; committed to criminal activities; cruel and callous; inclined to kill the others. As he could not explain this phenomenum, he used the ancient trickery of the nominalism. He gave a name to something that he was not able to understand (at all). So, he created the illusion to have explained and understood something that he did not!! Bateson (1972) called this trickery: explanatory principle. Actually, psychopathology (… most of the times …) is nothing more and nothing less than: an explanatory principle; and/or, the ancient trickery of nominalism.

This point is pretty important to understand: both, one of the intellectual dishonesties (a là Lakantos) that belong to the clinical psychologists; and, how Psychopathology became a new set for gathering different forms of the modern Superstitions.

So …, I will give you a brief example, … before proceeding with our discourse.

Do you know Treponema Pallidum? It is a micro-organism that causes an infection to the Central Nervous System. Well …, it happened that the human beings (before discovering this microbe) considered “mental ill” the people who were suffering from this infection!! This micro-organism (alone) was the responsible of the 15% of all the psychiatric population. This is how, superstation works. A physical concrete problem (the real cause) is neglected and transferred to an inexistence dimension: a “thought’s illness” (a false and fabricated cause)[5]!?!? There is not any difference from believing in psychopathology to believing in demons’ possession. The psychosocial mechanisms, which underlie and lead those phenomena, are exactly the same. They are used to explain whatever human beings are not able to explain, using the trickery of the nominalism!! So, nowadays, instead of calling a Shaman and/or a Priest, people call a more “modern and fashionable” psychologist!!!! But, there is no change, except (… maybe …) that Shamans and Priests were better than Psychologists!!

Oh God …, save us from psychologists!

So …, now you know “what” psychopathology is and “how” psychopathology works and explains the phenomena. Therefore, we can proceed in our speech.

Although Pinel used psychopathology, like an explanatory principle, for explaining the violent and cruel behaviour, soon this construct moved away from the objective facts (the criminal activities; the social dangerousness; and the cruel behaviours) to landing at “ghostly and eerie traits” that allows any kind of abuse, misuse and interpretation.

Indeed, this construct was re-baptized: moral derangement (Rush, 1812); moral insanity (Pritchard, 1835); … and it ended to include whoever acted in a different manner from the others. It was immediately declined to wide abuses and misuses.

So, as you remember, Ordronaux (1873) had to report how it was an attempt to mask superstitious ideas for science.

According to Prichard (1835), moral insanity (at the end; and, behind the usual doctrinal and technical words and jargon) was just to perform: “the common actions of life in a different way from that usually practised” by the majority. So …, singular, and/or eccentric, and/or wayward persons were all considered moral insane. Therefore, moral insanity showed clearly another aspect of the true nature of psychopathology: to be an instrument of homologation and social control a là Foucault. To be an instrument to force everyone: to be an uncritical lemming; to follow the flock like a sheep. If you do not follow uncritically the flock, … you are “insane”!!

It is exactly how it happened in the Past: the same substance with different forms. People, who do not believe in the superstitions/beliefs of the Majority, nowadays are accused to be mentally insane, whereas, in the Past, they were accused to be heretics, etc…!!

Do you remember Socrates? Actually, he is a very good example.

Oleson (1998) defines Socrates like an eccentric Sophist. Although he presented (in a very peaceful manner) original ideas, Socrates was considered “the most dangerous man in Athens” (Lindsay, 1918). He was accused of: corrupting the young people of Athens; introducing new Gods; etc… . At the end, he was executed for those false “irrelevant and untrue rumours”. If you think that he was an isolated case, you do not have any idea, how much you are wrong[6]!!

Indeed, most of the peaceful men of this World, who have dared to present a mere original and/or different idea from those that were wanted and supported by establishment, have been always persecuted. “Scientists and statesmen alike have been persecuted by established authority. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela …” as they simply stood “against the powers of established orthodoxy when they disagreed with the existing order” (Eysenck, 1995)[7].

Oleson (1998) supported the idea of Eysenck (1995) using the studies of Ellis (1927) who argued: “that society sought to imprison its great men at every opportunity”.

So…, this is how the majority of times, these constructs are used. Rarely, are they used against serial killers such as Jack the Ripper!! The latters are not as common as media attempt to make people believe!! Actually, they are pretty unusual. Those few cases are used by Power to create social panic. This is a good mean to: both, make people believe in the “rightness” of those superstitions; and, make people renounce their rights and civil liberties to “get” security (a là Bauman)!?!?

Although Milton (1981) stated that the notion of moral insanity, nowadays, has few in common with the construct of antisocial personality and psychopathy, he is right only, and only if, we compare moral insanity with the definitions that were given by: the DSM-IV-R; and, some National Acts such as the English Mental Health Acts 1983. On the contrary, he is hugely wrong if we compare it with the everyday practice that has been done by psychologists and clinicians.

Indeed, only the formers require the presence of objective criminal activities. The latters, on the contrary, have developed (in the practice; and, in the literature) a construct that is used wider and wider than Prichard’s moral insanity.

Whereas moral insanity was (… at least …) connected with an objective behaviour (to act in a different manner from majority), the construct of antisocial personality and psychopathy has lost any link with: both, objective facts; and, criminal behaviours.

Psychologists and clinicians reduced it to be a mere set of personality traits. As personality traits are also very arbitrary and weak creations, the construct came back to be an incongruent, contradictory, unfalsifiable theory. In practice, personality traits allow any kind of interpretation and misinterpretation without any limit. So …, the construct bended to any sort of abuse and misuse. It was not a case, indeed, that two opposite and incompatible types were originated by the same construct: the criminal psychopaths; and, the non-criminal psychopaths.

Whereas the formers are committed to cruel and criminal activities; the latters are normal, pro-social persons, who are well integrated in the society. Just to give an example, Mather Teresa of Calcutta was considered a non-criminal psychopath by several clinicians.

This leaded to a construct that was unable to satisfy any principle of demarcation[8].

Indeed, it was unable to satisfy both the test of validity and the principle of falsification. Any kind of behaviour (both antisocial; and pro-social) was used to confirm the diagnoses, once they were done!! So, they could not be verified and checked with any contra-factual evidence. In other words, once an arbitrary diagnosis is done by a psychologist, any behaviour is retrospectively interpreted to be a confirmation of the diagnosis itself!!

This was one of the reasons that made some researchers take critical positions on this construct, as I wrote in the introduction.

As Kanner said, at the end of the circus and pseudo-scientific jargons (which are used by psychologists to making their superstitions look like science): “a psychopath is somebody you don’t like”.

Please, note: I do not deny the existence of crimes and criminals. I believe: they must be punished. But, I fight the attempt to re-introduce a new “hunting to the witches” a là Maleus Maleficarum[9].

An evidence of how psychologists misuse this construct is given by the necessity, which most Parliaments had, to limit with law its application[10]. Nevertheless, psychologists did not care about law[11]!! So, they extended widely and widely the application of their construct. Therefore, more and more persons committed to pro-social behaviours were considered psychopaths.

This leaded to the creation of a very contradictory construct.  Some authors split the paradigm in two different constructs: the antisocial personality (which kept a connection with an objective criminal activity); and, the psychopathy (which was connected only with personality traits).

Other authors kept a unique paradigm. So, antisocial personality and psychopathy became two different degree of the same “mental illness”.

The increment of the number of the diagnostic scales increased the contradictions among the diagnoses. Most of the time, the diagnoses are made only on “sensations and feelings”, which clinicians have at the moment without using any scale.  This phenomenon was proved during the hearings of the English Mental Health Tribunal. During the contra-examination, it was proved that the diagnoses were done without considering any diagnostic scale (e.g., DSM-IV-R; PCL-R). They were made only using a vague and unclear “clinical experience”. The latter is an “elegant word”, a jargon, which clinicians use, to say that they decided without fallowing any criterion, but their feelings as they had in that moment!!!!

Most of the times, the scales are used only ex post. Before, clinicians decide if somebody is psychopath or not. Then, clinicians create, with a retrospective interpretation (a là Weick), a connection between the factual elements and the theoretical items of the construct, forcing the comparison and assessment.

Epis (2011/2015) used this construct to prove how the functional fixation, the absence of any epistemological awareness and reflection, the confirmation bias, and other fallacies, work within the psychopathological constructs.

Implosion

A very interesting example, of how the paradigm imploded, is given by Lilienfeld (1994). This is just an example. But, endless other examples can be given.

Lilienfeld (1994) arrived to formulate and to support a theory with an incoherent logical structureP AND NOT P.

The author discovered a positive correlation between persons that were diagnosed psychopaths and/or antisocial with the existing scales and the frequency of altruistic and pro-social behaviours.

Instead of inferring incoherence, and/or a contradiction, inside the Paradigm, he elaborated a “wonderful” auxiliary assumption to save it.

He concluded that “the assessment of psychopathy might need to incorporate behaviors that are heroic or altruistic (e.g. helping individual … )” as in their absence a “substantial subset of psychopaths (who) perform frequent pro social behaviors” could not be detected and they may result “false-negative”.

In other words, he suggested like diagnostic criterion for the antisocial behaviour, the pro-social behaviour!! He made an incoherent and illogical reasoning that can be synthetized with the logical model: P AND NOT P.

This is a documented case, which is a good example of how psychologists: both, think most of the times in their everyday activities; and, develop their constructs!!

Although the strong establishment’s blind effort to save this inconsistent Paradigm, the Paradigm imploded.

Interlude: It is time for a “Scientific Revolution” a là Kuhn.

So …, … nowadays …, only few defamed Rebels …:

  1. “guilty” for having reported the inconsistency of the paradigm;
  2. “guilty” for having refused to prostitute themselves to a corrupt System and its “Servants”;
  3. “guilty” for having rejected to worship the illogical and superstitious constructs / idols that psychologists sell for science;

can advance a “Bold” New Hypothesis a la’ Popper, which is able to overthrow the existing collapsing paradigm with a New Empirical One!!

This article, indeed, reports a brief résumé (6.000/7.000 words) of the ideas that Dr Luca Epis presented in his Dissertation in Criminology in 2005/2006. Those ideas and thesis became the object of a very “deep and strong disagreement” between Prof David Farrington and Dr Luca Epis.

Nevertheless, this disagreement was also the change for: making the corruption of the System be evident; proving the trickeries, illegalities and unlawfulness, that the Establishment does for “fighting” whoever dare prove its lies; and, so on.

This is the beginning of a “Scientific Revolutiona la’ Kuhn.

These are the chronicles of Bold Researchers, Bold Rebels, and their “Scientific Revolution”!!

… It is in progress to be published …

INDEX OF THE SECOND PART

A New Theory Overthrows the Psychopathological Explanation

Theoretical Backgrounds

The Ambivalent Nature of the Human Behaviour

The Pervasive Nature of the Social Influence 

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy and the Human Behaviour as a Natural Adaptation to the Environment

 The Epis’ Theory

 First Passage

 Second Passage

 Conclusion

 

[1] This quotation has also been done by McCord and McCord (1964).

[2] Blackburn’s critics were caused mainly by the heterogeneity of the construct of psychopathy.  Indeed, the latter includes a large amount of different types!

[3] Against the moral insanity, which was the antisocial personality’s name, that was used at his time.

[4] The aim of the International Classification Diseases (ICD) is to promote an international uniformity in the classification of the ailments. Its origin was in the work of Jacques Bertillon, who produced the Bertillon Classification of Causes of Death at the International Statistical Institute in Chicago. The latter became the Manual of International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Injuries and Causes of Death (ICD). In the 1948, the World Health Organization (WHO / OMS) assumed the responsibility for revising the ICD every 10 years.

[5] This happens also when the real cause is social.

[6] Other very famous similar cases are: Giordano Bruno; Thomas More; etc… .

[7] “Research funds are suddenly cut off, even though promised. Irrelevant and untrue rumours are spread to impugn the offender. He may lose his job, or at least fail to be promoted. He may be barred from the library and other facilities; privileges of all kinds may be withdrawn. In extreme cases, he may be suffering bodily attacks, his family may be threatened, bombs may be planted under his car, he may be burnt at the stake – it is difficult to list all the sanctions orthodoxy can muster to assert its right to be regarded as guardian of truth” (Eysenck, 1995).

[8] The problem of demarcation focuses on the method of scientific investigation. In particular, it refers to the criterion that is used to mark the boundary between what science is and what science is not. Exempli gratia, this criterion was: the induction for the Empiricism; the test of validity per the Logical Positivism; and the principle of falsification for Popper.

[9] The Malleus Maleficarum was the book, which was published by two Dominican Monks (Kraemer and Sprenger) in 1487 for “diagnosing” the “witches”. It was the “precursor” of DSM!!

[10] Some Nations (such as England) request an objective criminal activity. Other Nations (such as Scotland) deny the existence of this “mental illness”.

[11] There are plenty of examples that support this.

Morality and Crime

ABSTRACT

Nowadays, Wikstrom’s Action Theory of Crime Causation is a good criminological construct for the understanding of criminal behaviours. Wikstrom P. O. et al. (2012) gave good empirical evidences to the theory.

This paper offers a flashback of what the present writer wrote in 2005/2006 about: the “blooming” Situational Action Theory of Crime Causation presented by Wikstrom (2004; 2006a; 2006b; 2006c); and the relationship between Crime and Morality. The Paper repots the writing done in 2005/2006.

Writer’s ideas and beliefs could be changed meanwhile.

“Moral sense shape human behaviour and the judgements people make of the behaviour of others”

James Q. Wilson, The Moral Sense

Introduction

This paper investigates the role of morality in crime’s explanation.

First of all, morality is considered by different criminological theories an important factor in the crime explanation. Then, the “blooming” Situational Action Theory of Crime Causation presented by Wikstrom (2004; 2006a; 2006b; 2006c) seems to be a promising theory. Indeed, despite of other theories, Wikstrom defines a clear mechanism (Bunge, 1999) able to explain how moral norms and moral judgements take part in criminal behaviours’ development or avoidance.

Although the present writer considers Situational Action Theory of Crime Causation a good description on how morality may explain criminal behaviours, he suggests that morality and moral norms could be defined more empirically.

The present writer advices to define morality (customs; moral norms) like social norms. This definition allows: on one side, to overcome most of the critics that could be done by post-modernistic approaches; and, on the other side, to clarify those social and psychosocial mechanisms which make people “comply or not comply” with those norms. Further, the dialogic recursive relationship (between social and individual dimensions) can be improved using the research findings of the social psychology.

Thus, the present writer, at the end, agrees with Dewey (1992): “For practical proposes morals mean customs”.

Theories of Crime and Morality

According to Hirschi (1971), most of the existing criminological theories have considered morality in their theoretical assumptions.

In answering to the Hobbesian’s question: “why do men obey the rules of society?”, Strain, Control, and Cultural Deviance Theories have connected human behaviors with moral norms.

Whereas the Control Theory assumes human beings to be amoral animals, the Strait Theory postulates human beings to be moral animals.

Strait Theory

According to the Strait Theory, people desire to reach some “moral” goals. For doing this, they wish to use the “moral” means indicated by society. The crime is a consequence of “adversative” and “unfortunate” circumstances that do not allow people satisfy their legitimate desires (social goals), using the legal (moral) means (Burke, 2005).

Control Theory

The Control Theory assumes human beings to be amoral. Hence, people are naturally inclined to commit criminal behaviours unless they are educated and forced to avoid criminal conducts by a strong social control (Burke, 2005). The Social Control Theory disagrees entirely with Peters’ view (1958). Indeed, whereas Peters argues man to be “a rule-following animal”[1], the former postulates human beings not to be rule-following animals as their behaviours are determined mainly by selfish desires.

Cultural Deviance Theory

The Cultural Deviance Theory challenged the Control Theory’s assumptions. According to Cultural Deviance Theory, human beings are unable of perform “pure deviant behaviours” as they can merely follow some social rules (Peters, 1958). Behaviours could be: both, deviant inside some cultural or social contexts and /or groups; and, conventional inside other cultural or social contexts and/or groups. In other words, any behaviour (deviant or conventional) is always expression of some social norms. This is proved by the research findings of social psychology[2]. Any behaviour is always: conventional inside a social group; and deviant inside another. What is considered conventional or deviant is just a matter of Power. It is part of the “fighting for Significance and Power” among the different social groups and people, which determinates the dominant and subordinate groups[3]. Nevertheless, Hirschi (1971) rejects both the above mentioned theories. He stressed, inside the Control Theory’s theoretical background, his Bond Theory.

The Bond Theory

According to Hirschi (1971), the Control Theories “embrace two highly complex concepts, the bond of the individual to society”.

Hirschi (1971) argues that: although the control theories have attempted to explain “the elements of the bond to conventional society”, they failed to give a fulfilled explanation of how “each of these elements is related to delinquent behaviour”. Hirschi (1971) attempts to resolve this lack of explanation. According to Hirschi (1971), the social bond theory considers four elements “related to delinquent behaviour”: attachment; commitment; involvement; belief.

The Bond Theory, like the Control Theory, assumes human beings born amoral. Hence, they have “to learn” to conform to social norms.

The weaknesses of Hirschi’s theory (1971) are the following. His theory implodes. This happens when the criminal behaviours are made by people who have developed: strong social bonds; and a good internalization of moral norms. Indeed, also these people can commit criminal behaviours (Taft, 1956). This is because Hirschi (like Control Theory) makes a huge mistake in the assumptions. People are not born amoral, but THEY are BORN FREE and GOOD!!!! By Nature, people tend to people and empathic behaviours. There is trickery behind ideas that affirm “the people’s need” to be “conformed” to social norms! These statements and beliefs hide a “dark side”! They could be polite fashionable manners to support “blind obedience” to any arbitrary Power. Social norms are always created by Power. Social norms are manifestations of Power. Social norms follow and defend the interests of Power.

Thus, also good people with good social bonds can act criminal behaviours, exempli gratia, against a Power that could be more “criminal” than those people are.

At the end, Hirschi’s theory (1971) is not a good construct. The assumptions are wrong; the evidences do not support the theory but present plenty of contrary facts; important social mechanisms (involved in criminal explanation) are not considered.

Reintegrative Shaming Theory

Another theory that deals with morality is the Reintegrative Shaming Theory of Braithwaite (1989).

Braithwaite (1989) agues the relation between criminal law and morality: “… criminal law is a powerfully dominant majoritarian morality compared with the minority subculture …”.

Her theory is an attempt to gather together most of the existing criminological theories (Labelling Theory; Sub-cultural Theory; Control Theory; Opportunity Theory; Learning Theory) around a simple key concept: shaming.

According to Braithwaite (1989), shaming can be used in two different ways: like stigmatisation; and like reintegrative shaming. The former increases the future criminal activities of the offenders, pushing them inside deviant sub-cultural groups; the later decreases the future criminal activities of the offenders, attempting to reintegrate them inside the society (dominant group).

Whereas the theory of reintegrative shaming assumes a relation between criminal law and moral norms, it lacks to explain those mechanisms that make an individual “break moral rules defined as crime in law” (Wikstrom, 2006a) the first time.

The whole theory focuses on the social reaction that follows at the “initial deviance”, and how the two different social reactions (stigmatisation and reintegrative shaming) affect the future criminal behaviour of the offender. Hence, although the Reintegrative Shaming Theory presents the merit to attempt to harmonize most of the existing criminological theories, it falls inside a theoretical chaos.

Braithwaite (1989) is unable to resolve the existing conflict among the opposite theoretical assumptions. Exempli gratia, the relationship between morality and crime that has been postulated by the different criminological theories, which she attempted to integrate. Braithwaite (1989) is also unable to explain the first manifestation of the criminal behavior as I wrote supra.

Situational Action Theory of Crime Causation

At the present tense, there is only a theory that: can be worth to be considered; and, is able to explain “why” and “how” people “break moral rules defined as crime in law” (Wikstrom, 2006a), even if these people are “good” and have “internalized” moral norms.

According to Wikstrom (2006a), “crimes are acts of moral rule breaking. To explain crime is to explain why individuals break moral rules defined as crime in law”. This does not mean that Crime and Morality overlap completely as: “not all moral rules are criminal laws” Wikstrom (2006c); and “a theory of crime causation … does not imply any acceptance of existing laws as necessarily legitimate or morally justified based on higher order moral principles” (Wikstrom 2006a).

The importance of the link between moral rules and criminal law according to the Situational Action Theory of Crime Causation seems to be double.

First of all, both moral norms and criminal law share common structures, languages and functions: “Moral rules prescribe what is right and wrong to do (or not to do) in a particular circumstance. Criminal law is essentially a set of moral rules” (Wikstrom, 2006a).

The present writer underlines that this happens because: on one hand, both of them are normative language; on the other hand, both of them are part of the bigger set of Social Norm. Moral and Legal Norms are two different type of Social Norms.

Second of all, the mechanisms (Bunge, 1999), which operate when people break both moral norms and criminal law, seem to be the same.

This latter point is well described by Wikstom. “To explain why individuals obey the law, or why they commit acts of crime, is to explain why they follow or break moral rules defined in law. To explain why individuals commit crime is, in principle, the same as explaining why they break any moral rule (i.e., the basic casual mechanisms are the same)” (Wikstrom 2006c).

For these reasons, the Situational Action Theory of Crime Causation defines crime “as an act of breaking a moral rule defined in criminal law” (Wikstrom, 2006a).

According to Wikstrom (2006a), the “moral rule guidance plays an essential rule in what moves an individual to act (or not act) in a particular way”. This happens inside the interaction between the “individual moral engagement with the moral context of a particular setting” (Wikstrom, 2006a).

This interaction is described by the Situational Action Theory of Crime Causation with a five steps’ mechanism: individual morality (moral values and emotions); moral perception; either moral judgment or moral habit; moral choice; moral action.

The individual morality represents: the different moral values that individuals can have; the “different moral threshold … for breaking particular moral rules” (Wikstrom, 2006a); and the set of moral categories used by people for interpreting contexts.

The moral perceptions are interpretations of the moral settings through the “filter” of people’s particular moral values. The “ identification of the action alternatives and their moral qualities in response to particular motivations in a particular setting” (Wikstrom, 2006a) is determined by the moral perception.

In the moral judgments and moral habits stage, people evaluate both the moral qualities of the perceived contexts and the potential appropriate alternative actions. Moral judgments happen when people deliberate “over the moral qualities of the perceived action alternatives” (Wikstrom, 2006a). This happens in particular in unfamiliar settings. Moral habits (on the other side) do not involve any deliberation. They are “automatic” responses that have grown out from repeated experiences[4].

In the moral choice stage, people decide how to perform their actions.

Finally, moral actions are the overt outcome of the covert mechanisms described supra.

The importance of these mechanisms is to provide a good explanation of the nature and causes of crime. This is useful for elaborating an effective crime prevention program (Wikstrom, 2006b).

Re-defining Morality

Although the Situational Action Theory of Crime Causation is: both, the best account on Crime and Morality at the present time; and a good example of “the multiform status of … criminology” like “a mixture of data on science, law … and morality” (Wolfgang and Ferracuti, 1982); it could be improved.

The present writer believes the social psychology able to increase the understanding of: both, the criminological phenomena; and, the relationship between criminal law and moral norms.

This could happen in two ways. First of all, it is possible to apply the existing research findings on the moral development (exempli gratia, Piaget, 1932; Kohlberg, 1964; etc…) to the criminological theories. Second, it is possible to improve the definition of moral norm like social norm. Consequently, it is possible to apply the research findings of the latter to the former.

The present writer strongly advises this second method. In other word, I believe to be very important and useful to improve the definition of moral norm like social norm.

This is needed as, when people speak about morality (and moral norms), they usually refer to a set of eternal, immutable, universal law that are based on a either divine or natural ground, which is innately rooted inside the conscience of human beings (Stephen, 1991). People are “good” if they recognize, and comply with, these “self-evident” moral values. People are “bad” if they are not able to identify those “self-evident” values.

Recently, a “self-evidence” based view of Moral Norms was re-presented inside the Natural Law’s Theory of Finnis (1980). This theory re-presents some Aquinas’ ideas (without having the theoretical background that was used by Aquinas!). Moreover, as Ancient Greeks already observed, what is self-evident for someone is not self-evident for someone else, and vice versa.  How can moral codes be self-evident, when “moral codes accepted at different times and places have been … different” (Stephen, 1882)?

Moreover, post-modernistic literature has largely demonstrated the impossibility to justify empirically or logically moral values.

The present writer argues that morality like self-evidence norm is based on the fundamental attribution error. The latter is the “innate tendency for the observers to underestimate situational influences and overestimate dispositional influences upon others’ behaviour” (Myers, 1999). In other words, the fundamental attribution error represents the tendency to under-estimate sociological factors that determined the individual’s behaviors.  Moreover, people tend to assume them and their society / social groups to be “absolute good” (!!), so if someone does not act as they want, he/she should be: “evil”; “ill”; “crasy”; “ugly”; “smelly”; “immoral”; “criminal”; “felonious”;  … unable to understand their absolute right and just “self-evidence” dogmas!!!!!!  They cannot think something wrong could be inside them and their social group!!

Exempli gratia, the fundamental attribution error biases in part the theory of Kohlberg (1964, 1976). According to Kohlberg’s theory, criminals break Law as they “suffer from what is, in essence, an arrested level of moral development” (Haney, 1983). Kohlberg (1964, 1976) argues: both, pro a universal and eternal definition of moral law[5]; and, pro an overestimation of individual dispositional factors. One of these Kohlberg’s Beliefs is that: criminal behaviors are the outcome of the individual inability to progress at higher moral stages[6]!! But, behind the appearance of a pleasant discourse, at the end, these “higher moral stages” mean only to obey to the pro tempore Power’s Will!! Who obeys to the Power is always: “good”; “clever”; “nice”; “good-looking”; “moral”; “sane”; “equilibrate”; “fragrant of roses”; and so on … .  That’s all Folks!!

The present writer argues that Kohlberg does not keep in account a realistic developmental prospective. He neglects important developmental aspects such as non-normative factors (Baltes, 1987), which can affect deeply the human development

The only empirical approach for studying moral norms is to recognize them simply for what they are: social/group norms (customs). The very fact that they are different among people (even if when they are members of the same group) is due the different life experiences. This is not a negative factor. It is a necessary part of the human evolution. What is negative and dis-adaptive is: homologation; standardization; normalization; etc… .

This definition is supported by Dewey (1922) and Stephen (1991).

The former states: “morals means customs” as “everywhere customs supply the standards for personal activities. ” … “Customs (not only)… constitute moral standards”, but “customs (also) make law”. The later argues that law can only be “simply a particular case of custom” as no social organization can last long on coercion since “a bond which rested solely upon fear would give, not an organic compound, but a temporary association, ready to collapse at every instant”.

The present writer agrees with them.

Most people respect criminal law without having any idea of the articles of criminal codes. They do not offend even if they do not know the different interpretations given by Courts.

All in all, moral norms like social norms (customs) seem to be a realistic approach able to enhance the understanding of: both, the relationship between morality and crime; and, our comprehension of the Nature of Crime.

How Social Psychology may help the Situational Action Theory of Crime Causation

I think the Situational Action Theory of Crime Causation could be integrated with some research findings developed inside the Social Psychology, Cognitive Psychology and Social Cognition.

For instance, the research findings on conformity, compliance, acceptance, norm formation (Sherif 1935, 1937), group pressure (Asch, 1955) and authority obedience (Milgram, 1965, 1974) could be integrate in its framework.

People, indeed, could behave in opposite manners respect their: moral values and beliefs; moral perceptions; moral judgments; moral habits. This could happen simply for: group pressure; de-individualization (Freedman, Sears and Carlsmith 1978); compliance to Authority; or, conforming to social roles. Exempli gratia, does somebody still remember the Sanford Prison Experiment (Zimbardo, 1972)?

Conclusion

I believe the Situational Action Theory of Criminal Causation a good construct to enhance the understanding of the relationship between Morality and Crime.

Nevertheless, I argue that this framework may be improved with the research findings of the social psychology.

Indeed, at the present tense, the Situational Action Theory of Criminal Causation seems unable to explain clearly the hypothesis in which: people, who recognize their actions like “wrong”, decide to perform them.

Constructs like social pressure, obedience to authority, norm formation,   etc…, should be integrated to resolve these possible contradictions.

[1] This quotation of Peters (1958) has been also used by Wright (1971).

[2] Exempli gratia, one of the assumptions of the Social Psychology is the Pervasive Nature of the Social Influence (e.g., Smith E. and Mackie D. 2004). Who does not consider this element, does NOT understand a lot in Psychology!!

[3] That’s all. Evidences are given every day. Actions (done by members of differ groups) are evaluated in very dissimilar manners. On one hand, some behaviours (done by some people) are considered “evil”. Media are “forced” to describe them worst and bigger they are. On the other hand, the same (or worst) behaviours (done by others) are considered “good”!! Media: either, cannot speak about them; or, can speak very briefly avoiding any “unpleasant” word!! If this is not a matter of Social Power!?!?

[4] Classical and Operant Conditioning.

[5] Exempli gratia, expressed in his universal valid stages.

[6] Kohlberg copies this “nice idea” from Spiritism!! Indeed, far before Kohlberg, Spiritism suggested that Spirits’ wicked behaviours were consequences: either, their lower Moral Evolution; or, their inability to evolve to higher Moral Stages.

Methodological Mistakes’ Example in Psychological and Criminological Research. Example number 1: The role played by the “attention shifting in children pro-social behavior” (Wilson B. J., 2003) and how re-doing the research with a better Methodology!

ABSTRACT

This article shows an example of “how” a lot of psychological and criminological research has been done with poor methodology. Behind an apparent “scientific” appearance, some of these studies hid plenty of vitia (methodological mistakes), which prejudice results. In this way, the research findings are biased in the direction wanted by the observers.

This article shows the methodological vitia done by Wilson B. J. (2003) in a research on the “attention shifting” in “pro social” and “antisocial” children.

After having explained the mistakes, the article illustrates how the study should (eventually) re-done with a better methodological awareness.

Rationale – Background (Wilson’s mistakes).  

This Paper shows an example of “how” a lot of psychological and criminological research has been done with poor methodology. Like sample, the study on the attention shifting made by Wilson B. J. (2003) is used. The Paper, after illustrating the methodological mistakes, explains how the study should be “re-done” with a better methodological awareness.

According to Miller, Galanter and Pribram (1960) the cognitive processes are a central aspect to understand the human behaviour. The social information-process research could be applied successfully to the understanding of the aggressive and antisocial behaviour in the human beings (Losel F. 2005).

From the basic information processing model TOTE (Test – Operate – Test – Exit), proposed by Miller G. A., Galanter E. and Pribram K. H. (1960) more accurate models have been developed. Dodge, for instance, applied a social information-processing model for understanding children’s aggressive responses (Losel F. 2005; Lewis M. and Miller S. M. 1990; Dodge K. A. and Coie J. D. 1987; Crick, N. R. and Dodge K. A. 1996; Dodge et al., 2003).

According to Lewis M. and Miller S. M. (1990), Dodge indicated five stages that are involved in producing appropriate or inappropriate response.

These stages are: encoding; interpretation; response research; response decision; enactment. Inappropriate aggressive responses can be produced by some deficits in one or more of these stages. For instance, subjects: can misunderstand situations; or have learned a range of few possible responses to those situations.

Although a relation between cognitive processes and behavioral responses seem to be proved, the research, on “how” individual elements (of the Information Processing Model) affect behavioral responses, presents several limitations.

Some of these studies, for instance, are examples of inaccurate research.

The study of Wilson B. J. (2003) on the rule played by the “attention shifting in children’s pro-social behavior” has presented different methodological mistakes.

First of all, experimental groups were only two: 27 aggressive/rejected participants; and 27 non-aggressive/popular participants. A control group was absent.

Second of all, the subdivision in two groups (aggressive/rejected and non-aggressive/popular) has been an arbitrary distribution. A better study should have considered four different groups: aggressive/rejected; aggressive/popular; non-aggressive/rejected; non-aggressive/popular. Dodge K. A. et al. (2003) have demonstrated that: peer rejection predicts growth in aggression. Thus, from the study of Wilson B. J. (2003), we do not know with “what” attention shifting correlates. We do not know the nature of subjects’ aggressive behaviors. Is this related with “endogenous” aggression (e.g. traits)? Is this related with exogenous aggression (e.g. like natural answer to others’ aggressive behaviors)? Is this related with social rejection? … Etc… . We do not know.

Moreover, we will never know social rejections’ factors that determined aggressive answers. It is true that correlation does not mean causation (Hagan F. E., 2005), but the study of Wilson B. J. (2003) is not able to show the nature of this correlation. The “apparent correlation”, which was found, is the outcome of a chain of methodological mistakes and prejudices. The aggressive behaviors of the aggressive/rejected group, instead of being linked with endogenous factors, could be a mere consequence of social factors (outside the subjects). Those factors could be, exempli gratia, the rejections made by others.  It is possible that who rejected was more aggressive of the rejected one. For instance, the former could have acted with pro-active aggression. The latter could have answered simply with a natural reactive aggression.  Usually, receivers of aggression are the social weaker people. Thus, at the end, the subdivision made by Wilson B. J. (2003) is: arbitrary; biased by social factors such as the relations of “power” existing among the members of the group. Furthermore, traits attributed to subjects could be consequence of social mechanisms such as: just a world; fundamental error of attribution; scapegoat. The “guilty one” should be: the social weaker person. It is easier! It is a “social tradition”!! Thus, the correlation (found by the researcher) was consequence of many bias’ mechanisms operating in the Social and Psychological Sciences Research. An illustration of them, it is given by Epis L. (2011/2015).

The study of Wilson B. J. (2003) itself gives evidences of what the present writer wrote above. One of these is the strong selection bias. No equivalent groups have been chosen for comparison (Hagan F. E., 2005; Bachman R. and Schutt R. K., 2003). Groups have been selected in biased ways, which have affected the result of the Null Hypothesis Test. The aggressive/rejected group had a majority of male; whereas the non-aggressive/popular group had a majority of female. As “girls, regardless of status, have less difficulty then boys (in) shifting attention from one affective state to an others” (Wilson B. J., 2003), the higher presence of girls in the non-aggressive/popular group has enhanced surely the performance of this group. In the same way, the higher presence of boys in the aggressive/rejected group has decreased certainly the performance of this group. This is proved and attested by the same research findings of Wilson B. J. (2003)!!!!! Thus, it is simply a matter of logic! But, RARERY is LOGIC used by Psychologists and in Psychological Research (Epis L., 2011/2015). In other words, the different number of male and female inside the two groups have, according to the same research findings, biased and prejudiced the performances of same groups, creating a statistical significance that would not be existed without these mistakes. But please, do not worry if you cannot understand these logic implications. Even a lecturer of the University of Cambridge (e.g. Painter Kate) was unable to understand those aspects[1]!!

Moreover, as I introduced supra, the study of Wilson B. J. (2003) do not make any distinction between pro-active and reactive aggression. Hence, at least, we do not know if the attention shifting correlate differently with these two types of aggressive behaviors.

The distinction between proactive and reactive aggression is fundamental. According to Vitaro F. and Brendgen M. (2005) the reactive aggression “has its roots in the frustration-anger theory”; whereas the pro-active aggression “is more in line with the social learning model of aggression”. These two types of aggression seem to be present differently in the children. According to Camodeca M. and Goossens F. A. (2005), the reactive aggresion is common both in bullies and victims; whereas the proactive aggression was “only characteristic of bullies”. The proactive aggression, however, is not only a characteristic of the bullies (Camodeca M. and Goossens F. A., 2005), since Dodge and Coie (1987) have found that proactive aggressive boys “were also viewed as leaders”. Moreover, Crick and Dodge (1996) suggested that proactive and reactive children processes social information differently[2].

Hence, also, these research findings prove the presence of biases and prejudiced discussed supra.

For all these reasons, the relation between aggression and attention shifting cannot be proved by the exanimated study.

Here below, I explain how the research could be done with more methodological awareness.

A New Research on the Attention Shifting: the Research Questions

The investigation should verify whether attention shifting operates differently between proactive and reactive aggressive children. Furthermore, more categories should be considered: bullies; leaders; popular and unpopular children[3]; and so on.

Exempli gratia, we will attempt to understand if there is a difference in attention shifting among: proactive bullies; proactive leaders; reactive popular children; reactive unpopular children.

Methodological Approach and Research Hypothesis

 

Methodological Approach

This investigation is a correlation study. Hence, inferential statistic will be used. The level of statistical significance will be the customarily a = 0.05 (p<0.05)[4] (Hagan F. E. 2005). The test of significance will be non-directional (two-tailed), as at the present tense, there is not enough literature (produced with good methodology) that can suggest a direction instead of another one among the considered groups.

Attention shifting will be measured with ten thematic groups of six pictures. The protagonists of each thematic groups present different combination between aggressive/hostile and non-aggressive/friendly “body language” and “expressions”. Attention shifting (between negative and positive emotions) will be measured. The importance given by subjects to opposite cues and their abilities to recognise them will be considered. The pictures will present: both/either aggressive/hostile contexts; and/or non-aggressive/friendly contexts. The pictures should be done in way that: the general population of the children (between six and seven years) recognises half of them like aggressive/hostile and half of them like non-aggressive/friendly. Validity and reliability of the thematic pictures must be checked with a precedent study[5]. A higher number of identification like aggressive/hostile behaviour will indicate more attention to the aggressive/hostile cues. A higher identification of non-aggressive/friendly behaviours will indicate more attention to the non-aggressive/friendly cues. The thematic group of six pictures will be displayed for a short time (10 seconds) on a monitor. Children will have to classify each context like: either aggressive/hostile; or non-aggressive/friendly. The short time given for observing allows researchers understanding where attention shifting focuses more.

Research Hypothesis

The research hypothesises are:

  1. there is statistical significant differences in the classification made by reactive and proactive aggressive children?;
  2. there is statistical significant differences in the classification made by reactive unpopular children and the reactive popular children?;
  3. there is statistical significant differences in the classification made by proactive bullies and the proactive leaders?

The null hypothesises, briefly, are: there is not statistical significant differences BETWEEN and AMONG groups.

Research Design and Method

Participants

Four groups (each one) composed by 40 participants (20 male; 20 female) will be used.

The children will be selected in primary schools. The age will range from six to seven. A wider age difference will be avoided as it could introduce confounding variables. The difference age can itself be a factor able to affect the reactions (Vitaro F. and Brendgen M., 2005).

The reactive and proactive children will be selected using the “teacher-rating instrument” developed by Dodge and Coie (1987). According to Poulin F. and Boivin M. (2000), this scale seems has good validity.

The subdivision of proactive aggressive children in two groups: bullies and leaders (in absence of a validated scale) will be done considering the opinion of the teachers and the opinion of their classmates. Nevertheless, this can be a bias factor. Also the subdivision of the reactive children in two groups: popular and unpopular (in absence of a validated scale) will be done considering the opinion of the teachers and the opinion of their classmates.

All these groups should have (for the reasons illustrated supra) an equal presence of male and female. Otherwise, male and female should be compared only with other male and female. This is due the fact that girls and boys perform differently in attention shift (Wilson B. J., 2003). Hence, the prevalence of male or female in a group will bias the group performance.

Procedure   

The four groups will have to classify 60 pictures. They are gathered in 10 thematic groups with 6 items each. Each thematic group is constituted by: the same protagonists; the same contexts; with different body language and expressions. The body language cues will be gradually changed from aggressive/hostile to non-aggressive/friendly. Exempli gratia, one should have 100% of aggressive/hostile body expressions; one should have a mix of aggressive (65%) and friendly (35%) expressions; two should have a mix of friendly (50%) and aggressive (50%) expressions; one should have a majority of friendly cues (65%) and a minority of aggressive (35%); one should have only friendly expressions.

The children will sit in front of a personal computer (PC).

Each thematic group will be displayed on monitors for 10 seconds. The children will have additional 10 seconds to give their choices (without the pictures). The thematic groups will be presented in different order (made at random).

The child will have to classify the situation represented by the six pictures like: either aggressive/hostile; or not-aggressive/ friendly.

A short break is done between each thematic group. During this break, the test-administrator asks to children if all is right and they are ready to proceed. It should last 30-40 seconds approximately.

The computer program will record the choices automatically.

Measures

The data will be analysed using the program SPSS.

An analysis of variance (ANOVA), correlation and regression, will be performed. The null hypothesises will be accepted or rejected according to these data. The level of statistical significance will be the customarily a = 0.05 (p<0.05).

The assumptions of: normality; homogeneity of variance; and continuity and equal intervals of measures; … are also tested. It is suggested by Kerlinger F. N. (1973).

Contribution

A study, made according to these criteria, could be a good attempt to understand if:

  1. exist a possible correlation between the attention shifting and aggressive behaviour;
  2. this correlation is different between proactive aggressive children and reactive aggressive children;
  3. this correlation is different between aggressive children with opposite social rules.

Ethics Issues

According to the code of practice (1993) of British Psychological Society, the informed consent of the parents (or those peoples who act in loco parentis) will be asked. The permission should be given after having received full information. It should be free and informed. Researchers will organise meetings with parents to explain the research study.  The study will avoid harming participants. Children (who will feel uncomfortable) will be withdrawn. Assistance will be provided if needed. Researchers will be committed to stay away from harming the participants as it happened in some experiments and studies such as, for instance, Cambridge-Summerville (1930). In that case, the boys of the treatment group have been harmed by their participation (Kimmel A. 1988; Ruane J. M. 2005).

The anonymity of the participants will be guaranteed using a number instead of their names.

Limits of the studies

It was believed that the main limitation about all these studies was about the overlap between attention and perception. This was believed as attention and perception are two different cognitive processes (Sternberg R. J. 2000).

Nevertheless, it is not. Indeed, according to Benso F. (2013) there is not perception without attention. This thesis is corroborated by plenty of recent research findings in cognitive neurosciences.

Thus, even if this question was not considered enough by Wilson B. J. (2003), nowadays it seems not to be an important issue.

After this study, further studies should be done to verify the relation between the different types of aggression and the attention[6].

Common limits for every study done with the actual customary methodological quantitative research are those described by Meehl. Exempli gratia, Meehl (1990a) argues that the: “Null hypothesis testing of correlational predictions … is subject to the influence of ten obfuscating factors whose effects are usually (1) sizeable, (2) opposed, (3) variable; (4) unknown”[7].

Meehl (1990a) suggests a possible way to reduce at least the problem of inadequate statistical power: applying at “your sample size at a power of .9 or better”. This can reduce the source of type I error (a) (risk to reject a true null hypothesis), but, on the other side, this increases the type II of error (b) of not rejecting a false null hypothesis

Different problem is the crud factor. According to Meehl (1990a; 1990b) the crud factor is that: “in social science, everything is somewhat correlated with everything (“crud factor”), so whether Ho is refuted depends solely on statistical power” (Meehl P. 1990b). The crud factor does not deal with “some source of statistical error” (Meehl P. 1990a), but when we speak about the crud factor “we are taking about real differences, real correlations, real trends and patterns for which there is, of course, some true but complicated multivariate casual theory”. Meehl (1990a) proceeds: “I am not suggesting that these correlations are fundamentally unexplainable. They would be completely explained if we had the knowledge of Omniscient Jones, which we don’t. The point is that we are in the weak situation of corroborating our particular substantive theory by showing that X and Y are “related in a non-chance manner,” up a range of admissible values that would be counted as corroborative”.

This problem cannot be resolved by statistics, but only inside an epistemological reflection (Meehl P. 1997). From this reflection, Meehl (1997) suggests “a corroboration index C*”. On the crud factor see also Epis L. (2011/2015).

The actual research, according to Meehl (1990a; 1990b; 1997), presents a weak use of significance testing. “What make this use weak, again, has nothing to do with the ratio a:b, but involves the epistemic relation between the inference H*: d > 0 and the alleged consequent confirmation of T” (Meehl P. 1997).

The risk is: when the Ho is refuted “gives powerful support to a weak theory” (Meehl P. 1997).

In other words, whereas we can decrease the problem of inadequate statistical power; at the present time it is not possible resolve completely the problem of the crud factor, unless we do not increase an epistemic and logic reflection as, also, Epis L. (2011/2015) strongly suggested.

For these reasons, further research should be done to verify possible positive outcomes.

 

[1] An evidence of how very few people (nowadays) are able to understand the logical and epistemological mistakes inside the Psychological Research and Paradigm. It shows, also, how Academia, instead of keeping a critical thinking, tends to “wear” and to “defend” the easier common “group’s thinking”. The facts happened in 2006.

[2] Pro-active aggressive children “evaluated verbally and physically aggressive acts in significantly more positive ways than did non-pro-active aggressive children”; and that pro-active aggressive “children are less likely to endorse relationship-enhancing goals during social interaction”.

[3] The rejection and social isolation is a form of aggression, where the aggression from a physical domain is applied indirectly in a social domain (Vaillancourt T. 2005).

[4] The level of significance a=0.05 is considered the more appropriate by the majority of the literature:  Lipsey M.W. (1990); Neuman W.L. and Wielgand B. (2000); Ronald J.H., Douglas G. H. and Regoli R.H. (1983). The latter suggests: an a=0.05 for samples which range from 30 to 100; and an a=0.01 for both samples that are higher then 100 and unavoidable small samples (lower then 30).

[5] The validity of the cues used in the pictures will be based on the studies of Eibl-Eibelfeldt (1993). The reliability of these pictures will be done with two validation studies: a test retest; and a split half. The customary research reliability coefficient of correlation (alpha) of 0.80 (Hagan F. E. 2005) will be substitute with an alpha of 0.90 (suggested by Meehl 1990a).

[6] Nevertheless, it is possible to develop additional studies for considering: the theory of attention “bottleneck” of Broadbent (1958); the theory of “the different allocation of the limited attentive resources” proposed by Kahneman (1973). In the same way, extra studies could be done to analyze the relation between perception and aggression. Exempli gratia, the different theories of perception (the theory of the constructive perception of Bruner and Gregory and Rock; the theory of direct perception supported by Gibson (Sternberg R. J. 2000); etc…) could be tested. This is as in “sciences” is better always verifying … and re-verifying  … everything. Nothing should be given for definitive!

[7] The ten obfuscating factors are: loose derivation chain; problematic auxiliary theories; problematic ceteris paribus clause; experimenter error; inadequate statistical power; crud factor; pilot studies; selective editorial bias; detached validation claim for psychometric instruments.