Are Criminals Born or Made

Topics: Psychology, Crime, Carl Jung Pages: 6 (1796 words) Published: May 17, 2013
Are criminals born or made?
Nature vs Nurture

Does an “evil gene” exist, a hereditary disorder that causes crime? There are numerous debates about what causes crime. Some people assume that criminal behavior is due to a person’s upbringing and life experiences (“nurture”). Others suggest that criminal behavior is more complex and involves a person’s genetic makeup (“nature”). Are people just born that way? Is criminal behavior pre-determined at some point in people’s lives? This paper will present how crime behaviors can be hereditary but most criminals are shaped by their environment factors instead. As the theories of genetic influences in crimes are undeniable; it should only be seen as an inclination of crime rather then the cause of crime (Raine, A. 1993 pg50). Hence, a criminal can be born but shaped and influenced by the society to cultivate the criminal traits in them.

Social scientists have argued the nature-nurture debate for many years, both in the popular press and professional literature. Nature proponents argue that biological factors and genetic composition explain much of human behavior. Nurture proponents contend that environmental factors, such as family, school, church and community, are paramount in the development of behavior patterns. Besides, some traits, such as human intelligence, depend upon a complex combination of both hereditary and environmental influences. According to Pollak, that there is a new way of looking at these different experiences that turn different genes on or off (Pollak S. 2002). New research reveals that life experiences can alter the biochemistry of many genes- our moral development later in life changes our genes and is this could be hereditary.

Cesare Lombroso, a 19th century Italian physician, reminded students that nurture, not nature, is responsible for criminal behavior. In contrast, Freudian psychoanalysis and the depth psychologies of Alfred Adler, Erik Erikson, Erich Fromm, Karen Horney, Carl Jung, Melanie Klein, Otto Rank and Harry Stack Sullivan focused on the dynamic unconscious (the natural instinct of a human), theorizing that the depths of human psyche integrates with the conscious mind to produce a healthy human personality.

Nevertheless, many researchers show that criminal behaviors can be hereditary. Human genes carry many personality traits inherited from their ancestors and even from their parents. Lombroso, regarded by many as the father of criminology, is convinced that people are born criminals as it is in an individual’s nature to commit crime. Criminals have been found to carry a few certain features and personality traits. According to Darwin and him, we evolved from animals. In this theory, genes mutate and get passed on to each descendant, concluding that some people are predisposed to criminality and they are not the same species as humans (, 2005).

According to Sigmund Freud, all humans have criminal tendencies. However, the process of socialization curbs these tendencies by the developing of inner controls that are learned through childhood experience. Freud hypothesized that the most common element that contributed to criminal behavior was faulty identification by children with their parents. Improperly socialized children may develop personality disturbances that causes them to direct antisocial impulses inward or outward. The child who directs them outward becomes a criminal, and the child that directs them inward becomes a neurotic. In Freud’s theory of the Defense Mechanisms, he finds the cause of individual behavior in the unconscious mind (Freud, S. 1930). Sociobiology attributes “genetics as the only factor of behavior”. The mankind uses each one of them in everyday life. One clear example of man being biological is that at sometimes man can have animal drives and desires. This drive is driven by the idea and of free will that is taken for granted.

Another theory Freud developed included the Id, Ego,...
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