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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

Reducing Crime By Battling The Unconscious

After recent horrendous murders (the Massachusetts mother who killed her three children; the killing and multiple injuries by a psychotic van driver in New York City; several mass shootings) one would hope there would be wider belief in the power of the unconscious but this is not so. Instead, legislators restrict the power of judges to jail dangerous offenders, allowing them to prey until they kill when their danger is finally taken seriously.
I long thought that the best way to increase public safety would be to increase the prevailing psychological knowledge by providing indisputable facts which psychologists have long known. These include that the development of the ego capacities enabling control of thinking and behavior, control of mood, and development of a sense of who one is (one's "sense of self"), occurs in the first three years of life, dependent on a child having experienced a "good-enough" parenting. And that substance abuse nearly always begins in a teenager who fails at mastering the critical adolescent tasks of development (separation from parents; making realistic education and career decisions; dating) and tries to feel better by self-medicating their distress with alcohol or drugs.
Would wider knowledge of these facts really reduce crime? Ultimately, if healthier childhood experiences prevail, and better evaluation was used to distinguish those criminal offenders who must be incarcerated to protect society from those who are needlessly jailed.

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