psychodynamic theory

Psychodynamic theory. Sigmund Freud and Glueck’s study about Criminal behaviour

Sigmund Freud

Psychodynamic theory was developed by Sigmund Freud in the late 1800’s. Freud believed that every individual carries the residue of the most signi?cant emotional attachments of our childhood, which guides our future interpersonal relationships. The theory is a three-part structure consisting of id, ego and super ego.

The id is considered to be the underdeveloped and primitive part of our markup. It controls our need for food, sleep and other basic instinct. This part is purely focused on instant gratification. The id is controlled by the ego by setting up boundaries. The superego is the change of judging the situation through morality.

Psychodynamic theorists believe that the personality of offenders is id-dominated. This means that when they lose control of their ego, their id of instant gratification takes over. The theory of Freud believes that crime is the result of personality defects that have been affected by disruption and lack of progression in the stages of development.

Therefore, Freud said that crime is caused by a difficulty i.e. not overcome or resolved in childhood.

Glueck’s study

Glueck’s study was an attempt to know the real causes of delinquency and to discover some means for preventing the criminal but not the crime. The Glueck had repudiated the traditional preventives ideas such as the banning of comic books, radio and television shows which depict criminal episodes, the prohibition of the sale of alcoholic beverages etc. Further, Glueck rejected the traditional conception of crime as a result of poverty or decline in morality.

In Glueck’s study, 500 delinquent boys around seven to eleven years of age were matched with 500 non-delinquents living in the Boston area. Each delinquent was matched with a non-delinquent by age, family background, general intelligence, ethnic derivation, residence and neighbourhood. This alone was a long and tedious process.

Then Glueck with the help of anthropologists, psychiatrists, physicians, social workers, statisticians and other experts studied to find out, what made half of the boys delinquent and the others not.

The size and scope of the project can be appreciated from the fact that each boy was described in terms of 402 factors such as family and personal background, bodily types, health, intelligence, temperament and character. The results were published in the year 1950 in the form of a detailed report in 400 pages titled “Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency”. The results of the project have been praised by lawyers, professors, psychologists, educators and social workers as one of the most significant contributions ever made in the field of criminology.

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