Skip to content

The Psychology Behind Criminal Excuse Making

By Dr. Michael Hurd

We’ve all heard the phrase, “blaming the victim.” Normally, this expression applies when one party blames another — the actual victim — for something he or she did not cause.

Things have become so backwards and upside down in our crazy culture that we now have a new phenomenon: People who are the actual victims of something — like crime — blaming themselves for the robbery, theft or assault inflicted upon their very selves.

From an article entitled, “When robbery victims blame — themselves” by Karol Markowicz at nypost.com 10/25/15:

Last November, Ditmas Park experienced a rash of armed robberies. What made the one at the Lark Cafe unique is that the gunman didn’t target the register. Instead, he took all the laptops of a writer’s group that was meeting there. In a long rumination on the incident, [Brooklyn writer Chaya] Babu writes that she and her writer friends “felt angry and violated, but not in a way that necessarily placed blame on the person who did it.” It seems that if they blame anyone, it’s themselves — for existing and choosing to live in Ditmas Park [Brooklyn] in the first place. In the weeks following the robbery, she and her friends worked on “finding space to take into consideration the broader social and economic circumstances surrounding the incident” and “cultivated our sense of compassion toward the robber, whom we imagined must have been acting out of dire need.”

Victims of crime who feel that their victimizers act out of desperation or “need” would do well to actually study research on the criminal personality. For example, Dr. Stanton Samenow in his book, “Inside the Criminal Mind,” documents in thorough and readable detail what makes criminals different from non-criminal personalities.

The distinguishing features of a criminal are not desperation or need so much as a particular way of thinking about themselves, reality and the world. Criminals, for example, feel a sense of entitlement to things which are not theirs, a chronic sense of victimization even though they’re not really victims, and actually turn others into their victims.

If you have something that I would like to have, I admire you for your accomplishment and figure out how I can do the same. Or, maybe I stew in resentment but never dream of doing anything to harm your life or your property. A criminal is different. A criminal feels entitled to act upon this resentment and envy, and actually experiences a sense of “ambition” or accomplishment about doing so. Power for its own sake is what motivates the criminal.

Criminal personalities are not like you and I, not according to the research. Nor are they like these naive fools who make excuses for them, even after being victimized by one.

There are plenty of impulsive, needy and desperate people who would never initiate force, theft or murder against another human being. They perhaps suffer from all sorts of emotional or behavioral problems, and in the end are generally their own worst enemies. They are not criminals, however, because however self-defeating or irrational they might otherwise be, they seek no power or domination over others. Whatever malevolence they might or might not feel towards others, they take no steps and harbor no significant desires to bring others down with them.

Neither reason nor research supports Babu’s thinking that criminals are really victims who are acting out of desperate, needy impulses of desperation, angst and pain. Yet it’s fashionable, in certain circles, to think this way — or at the very least, to be seen (amongst one’s similarly minded peers) thinking this way.

It’s nothing more than old-fashioned posing repackaged as progressive, self-conscious, pseudo-sophisticated faux enlightenment. And because of the influence it’s having on government in particular and culture more broadly, it’s becoming downright dangerous.

Babu quotes another writer who was robbed that night as saying, “I didn’t ultimately think that person posed a threat. I didn’t feel afraid of the person; I felt more just afraid of the weapon.”

And there it is. The case for gun control, once again. What euphemistic, self-conscious romanticization of violent criminal behavior would be complete without the smuggled in lecture based on the premise, “People don’t kill people; guns do”?

It seems that Babu really means it, or at least claims to mean it. She experienced a crime herself, but still excuses the criminal. It’s hard to imagine what’s worse: That she merely wants others to think she means it, or that she really means it.

The reason I call such thinking dangerous is that its dominance will ultimately lead to the banning of weapons for self-protection, at which point criminals (along with government, more often criminal itself these days) will have the ultimate power over the innocent and peace-loving individual who simply wishes to be left alone. It’s also dangerous thinking because to excuse and seek to “understand” criminals in the way Babu means is to provide such people with precisely the type of moral and psychological atmosphere which they require to survive. Babu and her enlightened progressive allies in academia and government believe they have discovered something new, but criminals have been at exploitation for a very long time.

Babu notes that “many of us in the group agreed that in some respects we identified more with our robber than with the characters we were portrayed to be” in media stories about the crime.

I’ll bet they did agree on this — in the group. That’s because rational and objective thinking rarely occurs in a group, at least not a group of idiotic pseudo-sophisticates like Babu; and rational, objective thinking never originates in a group, because there is no collective brain.

Here we have the most revealing aspect of the mindset behind criminal excuse making. It’s kind of like a woman who has a “bad boy” syndrome, where she falls in love with bad men and finds herself romantically attracted to them precisely because they are bad. In her mind and psychology, objectively bad (yes, there is such a thing) is actually good.

This is the sort of psychology and mentality to which we’re subjecting our laws about guns, our attitudes about police and ultimately our view about criminals.

It’s dangerous but also sick and sad.

Look at what’s happening here: A bad boy-loving neurotic, posing before her progressive friends in some coffee shop, claiming to understand the true plight of the criminal to the point where she can forgive his assaults on her, and perhaps (deep down) even longs for such assaults.

Do you still wonder why so much is going crazy? It’s because we’re letting out-of-touch neurotics do our thinking for us, whether it comes to gun control, crime, or just about anything else.

— Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of “Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)” and “Grow Up America!” Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

Spread the love

Voice of Capitalism

Free email weekly newsletter.

You have Successfully Subscribed!