Nature VS Nurture – Are Criminals Born or Made?

Topics: Criminology, Crime, Sociology Pages: 7 (2742 words) Published: March 28, 2014

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Nature VS Nurture – Are Criminals Born or Made?

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The search for causes of crime forms the basis of most criminological studies. There are numerous explanations for crime: psychological, evolutionary, genetical, sociological, economical and a mix of factors; and many have debated over the primary influence of criminal behaviour—whether criminals are born or made. Truth is, in the constitution of criminal behaviour, it is the amalgam of both nature and nurture. And this paper will present how crime behaviours can be hereditary but are influenced by the society. Nature

The first theory that will demonstrate that criminals are made is Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of crime (1961), which posits that all humans have natural basic biological needs and urges such as hunger and sex repressed in the unconscious called Id which is irrationally expressed to derive satisfaction. More importantly he also claims that all humans have criminal tendencies. Typically, we can curb these urges and tendencies and express them appropriately according to social norms through socialisation (Eysenck, 1996); where we learn to develop conscious inner controls called SuperEgo—which is our moral conscience repressing the Id and Ego— which mediates the expression of Id. However, when faced with the lack of basic need, the unconscious Id is stimulated, and the improperly socialised child who has failed to acquire and develop the Ego and SuperEgo, will then direct antisocial impulses outwardly as harmful criminalistic tendencies (Freud, 1923). Besides Freud’s Psychoanalytic Theory, the Evolutionary theory also serves to explain for the nature of a criminal. Aggression in the animal kingdom helps animals to obtain food, compete for access to a mate, and protect territory. These forms of aggressive behaviours have been favoured by a process called natural selection because they facilitate the reproduction of genes in the aggressive animals, either directly or indirectly, by aiding survival so that an animal or its close kin can reproduce later (Quinsey, 2002). According to Darwin’s evolutionary theory, we evolved from animals and aggressive tendencies humans have are considered adaptive (Darwin, 1859). In this sense extreme violence may be synonymous with melanism in the English pepper moth (Steward, 1977). Melanism, an extreme colouring variation was rare before the darkening of England’s trees by domestic soot pollution as it contrasts against the tree bark and alerts predators to prey on them but shot up during which as it became adaptive. Once the pollution was cleaned, the frequencies of melanism reversed yet again. Similarly, although extreme violence is not currently adaptive, relatively small numbers of humans may be born with gene variations leading to inefficient aggression restraint that place them at high risk for extreme violent behaviours. Last but not least, there were researchers who believed that genes were fully responsible for criminal activity. There have been numerous studies carried out on twins to determine whether genetic influences play a part in criminal behaviour. Christiansen (1977) reported on the criminality of a total population of 3,586 twin pairs from Denmark. He found that 52% of the twins were concordant for criminal behaviour for identical twin pairs, whilst 22% of the twins were concordant for fraternal twin pairs. These results suggest that identical twins carry some form of...

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