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Theories in Crime: Mental Disorders and Psychological Risk

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On the basis of some criminological and psychological theories, explain how mental disorders and psychological risk factors can lead to outbreaks of criminal activity!

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Solution Summary

Mental Health and Crime are closely related. Various psychological risk factors contribute to crime --as explained by multiple theories.

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Mental Disorders and Crime
Anette K. Nance

Focusing on the individual with respect to personality development, I consider a couple of psychological characteristics to be risk factors that carried to the extreme can make a juvenile become delinquent or an adult criminal in their behavior expression towards others. The development of these psychological traits is based on an interplay of genetic and environmental conditions that altogether can impact the cognitive, emotional, and inter-personal skills (social skills) development of an individual from early childhood on. The first four to five years of childhood development are tremendously important even though to a certain extent an older person remains malleable throughout his or her entire life span, which is relevant in terms of rehabilitative considerations, based on an offender's degree of psychological capacity for change.

The impact of environment is strongest during infancy and early childhood years, when the brain and overall nervous system are heavily dependent on stimulating environmental impulses, especially sensations of touch (physical closeness to the caretaker), etc., that result in either an enriched or degraded neurological formation of brain functioning including not only mentally cognitive abilities but also emotionally and morally cognitive capabilities. Many children growing up in an impoverished environment as being neglected or even abused will suffer greatly and be impaired in all three of these socially relevant dimensions:
a) in their intellectual development - mainly due to insufficient brain ...stimulation.
b) in their physical growth potential -- mainly due to malnutrition and lack ...of adequate health care.
c) in their emotional capacity - mainly due to their parents' shortcomings of ...not being able to bring about a "secure attachment" style to foster their ...offspring's emotional stability and interpersonal skills development.

Lacking a "secure attachment", the ability to maintain stable intimate relationships, and meaningful social relationships in general, a child may be at greater risk expressing antisocial behavior traits, which in an extreme scenario may lead to criminal activities.

All these psychological factors combined can invoke mentally and emotionally dysfunctional behavior patterns, e.g. anti-social personality disorder, and diminished mental capacities (mental retardation in many forms) that are strongly predictive in terms of criminal tendencies, whereby mostly all these factors at once can be observed in form of a multi-correlational relationship complex -- whenever the socio-economic conditions of an disadvantaged family environment are present. Theoretically, social psychological models, or structure family systems theories, social learning theories, and the intergenerational transmission theories might explain the psychological formation of these risk factors. Insufficient parental behavior support makes it hard for children to acquire adequate social skills and to look up to positive role models that can influence them in their moral development and foster their successful internalization of positive cultural values. Furthermore, their parents' ...

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