Criminal Mind Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2212 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

Criminal Mind: Fact or Fiction

There have been many times through history that the population has experienced the wrath of criminals on their daily lives- whether it be on the news, in a magazine or being pick pocketed in the subway, criminal acts are something that the population as a whole struggle to understand. When scholars discovered that criminals may in fact be different people all together, it begged the question: is there a criminal mind? As scholars grapple with both the "yes" and "no" answer, along the way there have been many research studies and conclusions drawn about the answer; but, only through careful exploration of both sides, are readers and people alike to make their decision on the matter.

"Criminal Minds": Fact or Fiction?

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Ted Bundy, Tim McVeigh, Son of Sam, David Berkowitz, among others are some of the most famed criminals that the United States has ever seen- from mass murders to raping to terrorizing, these criminals have forever etched their mark in contemporary history. The public watched and read in awe as these stories unfolded on their television sets and in magazine and newspaper articles, likely followed by the question, "How could somebody do such a thing?" Or "What is wrong with that person?" Those questions have provided the foundation for scholars, like criminologists and psychologists, to delve deeper into the world of criminals and attempt to explain their behaviors, in an attempt to answer the questions that society has about these individuals. Criminologists and psychologists study the minds of the criminals to better understand the psychological uniqueness and the associated term, the "criminal mind," and have along the way discovered evidence that credits the term "criminal mind" and also discovered information that discredits the term as well; by using this evidence in conjunction with each other a more comprehensive picture of the "criminal mind" can be explored.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Criminal Mind Assignment

Foremost, the term "criminal mind" is grounded in science and to understand the "criminal mind," one must first explore the foundational scientific elements. Science is comprised of two main components in that it is knowledge that has been reached by impartial observers and sources and second, that science is a subject that allows the world to be studied by a calculated set of steps that allows for consistency and the information to be reproduced. The term "criminal mind" is grounded in science- it is knowledge that has, more or less, been reached by impartial observers and also is something that can be reproduced by scientists. People think different and act differently- it is what makes individuals unique from one another, a defining characteristic of the human race; but, criminals have a different mind, one that allows them to commit the actions that they do and allows them to interpret situations, people and other things differently than a non-criminal. It seems that the "criminals choose to commit crimes…crimes reside within the person and is 'caused' by the he thinks & #8230;criminals think differently from 'responsible' people" (Samenow, 2004,-Page XXI).

Though, the term "criminal mind" is comprised of several components and their interactions together. Biopsychologists, psychologists that use biology to explain behavior, have through their research tried to illuminate what actually comprises the criminal mind- it seems that a part of what makes a criminal's mind different from a normal person include some genetic and neuropsychological components as it might be that there are specific genes that are contributing to the distinctive mind of a criminal, as well as influence of the social environment that the individual is fostered within (Bartol, & Bartol). The mind of a criminal is what is ultimately fueling the behaviors and illegal actions. In the scholarly community, there is much debate around the premise of the criminal mind, and if it does in fact exist.

On one hand, there is research that supports the fact that a criminal mind does exist. A prominent biopsychologist, concluded that "there is now clear evidence from twin studies, adoption studies, twins reared apart, and molecular genetic studies to support the notion that there are genetic influences on antisocial and aggressive behavior'" (Bartol, & Bartol). The twin study that is mentioned attempted to study the relationship between the genetic and environmental component of an individual and to evaluate the impact of those two factors on the development of certain antisocial behaviors. From the research it was found that the maltreatment of children contributed to antisocial behavior and coupled with the genetic predisposition to antisocial behavior, that characteristic is amplified (Bartol, & Bartol). The antisocial characteristic is an indicator of criminal behavior, which suggests that there are different influences that can mold someone into having a criminal mind. At a young age, a child's temperament can be evaluated to check for future signs of criminality, essentially, checking for the development of a criminal mind. In 1977, temperament was developed as an idea of innate readiness to react to situations and events that transpired- and how a child reacted to that event or situation was largely indicative of the type of individual that person was (Bartol, & Bartol). Being able to capture snippets of how a child will react to certain things might be telling of their eventual criminal disposition. Research was completed on three years olds, which is a tender age before an individual may be able to fully develop psychopathic or criminal tendencies; but, through that research it was found that children that were in-between the ages of seven and twelve years old that had a tendency to be fairly acerbic and unemotional in nature, were more likely to become psychopaths or exhibit criminal behavior as an adult (Moskowitz, 2011). The antisocial temperament, as expressed by MSNBC, is a condition that "characterizes many convicted criminals" (Moskowitz, 2011). The scans of the twenty-one antisocial people showed "on average an eighteen percent reduction in the volume of the brain's middle front gyrus, and a nine percent reduction in the volume of the orbital frontal gyrus -- two sections in the brain's frontal lobe" (Moskowitz, 2011). These parts of the brain are responsible for emotions and actions, and the lack of volume in these parts of the brain is indicative of the fact that criminals lack emotion and thus are able to commit criminal acts easier than people who have increased volumes in the frontal lobes. There is further evidence that there is such a thing as a criminal mind, via research done by Lewis, and focuses on the criminal minds of death row inmates. Lewis found that death row inmates had "organic brain injury" which includes, "abuse as a child and the denial of a loving, nurturing relationship with a parent or other caregiver" and came to the conclusion that the ultimate effect is that the "systems of desire, control and inhibition that keep most" individuals at bay and able to control their impulses (Goodenough, 2004). Through the twin study and the observation and exploration of the death row inmates, it seems that there is evidence that contributes to the concept of certain individuals having a criminal mind. Criminals are hardwired so to speak differently from non-criminals, and along with that, if they are fostered in a harsh environment it further contributes to their disposition and inability to exercise control in certain situations. The evidence that has been presented in favor of the criminal mind concept brings together the genetic and environmental influences- these components, and all of their intricacies, comprise the criminal mind- the mind that makes criminals act and exhibit the behavior that they do.

But, of course, on the other side of the debate surrounding the concept of the criminal mind, scholars have found evidence that the criminal mind does not exist and that they act the way that they do, simply because it is there reaction to a certain situation. For instance, the influence of drugs and alcohol can have be a potential stronghold on an individual's criminal actions. It can be concluded that having a disease, like alcoholism, could be a potential reason why inhibitions are hindered and thus, why criminal actions are taken (Tolmie, 2001). Drugs and alcohol have the potential to alter someone's personality and responses to situations; thus, discrediting the theory that there are genetic factors along with environmental issues that lead to criminal behavior, as obviously other altering substances like alcohol can be responsible for such behaviors. In addition to alcohol and drugs being a cause to criminal behavior, there is also the possibility of people learning criminal behavior over a period of time. There is the possibility that someone can be conditioned to commit a crime through three types of learning including: classical, instrumental and social learning (Bartol, & Bartol). For example, with instrumental learning or operant conditioning an individual can react a certain way to a situation and get rewarded for it, or even avoid punishment- this type of learning in controlled situations could be the foundational cause for criminal activity. It might be the case that someone is not predisposed… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Criminal Mind" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Criminal Mind.  (2011, June 26).  Retrieved October 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Criminal Mind."  26 June 2011.  Web.  26 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Criminal Mind."  June 26, 2011.  Accessed October 26, 2021.