I consider myself an amateur when it comes to current affairs and understanding of life but in the capacity of a student of psychology and an emotional wellness volunteer, I can see what most of us are missing; in the storm of ranting, blaming and sobbing.
This piece of writing is my perspective and no one needs to agree or disagree with it. I repeat, I am no expert but I do—like others—have a voice and freedom to express it.
Many people have their own theories on what makes a criminal. Some of these theories are based on first-hand knowledge or experience, some, unfortunately, may be based on racism or prejudice, and some on scientifically investigated studies.
And there are several psychological theories of crime, most of which have been shown to have a sound scientific basis. However, it’s widely accepted that the reasons for crime are seldom one cause or the other, but rather a combination of some—genetics, hormones, brain chemistry, social conditioning.
The part of the brain associated with our emotions is called the amygdala. It’s believed that damage to this part can have an effect on criminal behavior. This may be because the person concerned would have a limited fear and conditioning response, thus fear of punishment would not deter them from committing a crime.
The hippocampus is where we store our memories. Damage to this area could mean we do not remember being punished for our crimes, and so would commit them again and again.
I got the opportunity to see life l closely while on my 4-year-long sabbatical. I had a lot of time on me and I spent it wisely for volunteering with humans who are not so fortunate as me, who are marginalized, suppressed, economically background and jilted by the society. Underline the word society here because it’s the same society that we all have created together.
I used to volunteer a lot with police and inmates in different prisons of India. I spent considerable time with criminals. One important lesson that I learned with them is not no one is a born criminal; minus certain exceptions. Most of the inmates in the jail were forced into crime by situations created by the society; whether it was poverty or revenge. They committed a crime because the society deprived them of something. That something, many times, was food, clothing, and shelter.
The criminals are victims themselves.
Now, that doesn’t give anyone the permit to kill or rape others. Nope, not justified but if we really want to understand the essence and psychology of a crime or criminal, we have to look at all the elements that surround him—family, friends, education, belief systems etc. Most of the crimes, let us take rape, happen due to an ill mentality that is passed on by the family.
Rape is not a tool to satisfy the lust of these monstrous men. It never was. Even if you read ancient scriptures and listen to folklore, you can understand that rape is a vulgar-display-of-power game.
These men, or young boys, are mistreated and jilted all their life by their family and society, and hence they have an urge to do something to show to the world their strength. And as per their understanding of life—created by the society—the simplest way is to show their power on someone who can’t rebel much in front of them and society. Rape then becomes the easiest and simplest way out.
Most of the convicted rapists I met in prisons are living in guilt now and the punishment hasn’t changed anything in them. They have become more frustrated and are vulnerable to commit more crimes in the future.
Behind every single criminal master mind is a heart deprived of love. Just like darkness is nothing but absence of light, criminals become what they are in the absence of love.
To define it further, human beings subjected to intolerable hunger has been reported to, as last resort to feed on their own feces. Just like that, when human beings are deprived of happy emotions like the love they will start feeding on hatred, jealousy, anger and similar negative emotions which would, over time, manipulate their attitude and behavior in a really bad way. Leading to a criminal and evil mindset and what we need to stop this is not punishment alone.
The idea is not to punish but reform them.
No one—except some—is a born criminal but rather they develop this mindset due to their experiences and circumstances. Due to losing control of the mind on the spur of the moment, one has to bear the consequences as per the law of the land; and that is usually a punishment in jail.
The criminals are victims themselves.
So, explaining why people become criminals depends on the point of view of the observer. There is no universal agreement on the causes of crime, or whether we should blame the criminal or society more. One thing that everyone agrees on is that prison tends to cramp the style of career criminals, whose activities are stunted while within the walls of our prisons.