Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Myth of the Born Criminal by Karkko Jalava, Stephanie Griffiths and Michael Maraun

In "The Myth of the Born Criminal" Jarko Jalava and the other authors implicate Norman Mailer, his essay "The White Negro" initiating a cultural trend (not without historical antecedents), when he wrote " 'One is Hip or one is Square... one is a rebel or one conforms, one is a frontiersman in the Wild West of American night life, or else a Square cell ...doomed to conform if one is to succeed' For Mailer, there is only one true moral choice. Having witnessed ' the horrors of the concentration camps and the atom bomb - both the courtesy of vast scientific and bureaucratic operations -the modern individual could either fall into a ' slow death by conformity with every creative and rebellious instinct stifled or to 'accept the terms of death, to live with death as an immediate danger, to divorce oneself from society, to exist without roots, to set out that uncharted journey into the rebellious instincts of self...'" The authors also examine the iconography of the psychopath in popular culture such as the movie "Natural Born Killers" and "Silence of the Lambs' and many others incuding many crime shows on TV, as well as (in a rather conservative vein) 'the devaluation of concerns about intrinsic or ultimate meaning' in Postmodernism. He also refers to the work of cultural critic Richard Slotkin and the American mythology that came to see violence as natural and regenerative; what was necessary for early settler survival became the founding idea of the frontier spirit, again reflected in popular entertainment. The deterioration of the Social Contract in social and economic policy during the last thirty years and the tensions which they have aroused enhances this atavistic trend manifest most clearly, as in Palestine, among youth.  

The attributes of the social construct called psychopathy consist of a very broad range of moral judgments which, they were ever applied consistently would describe at least 14 million Americans. For example, the dissimulation or 'false face' said to characterize the supposed subspecies called psychopath,is a common aspect of many social arrangements of which most people avail themselves at one time or another, though said to be 'superficial' and lacking in transparency in many situations. Indifference to the sufferings of others, cold calculation are, of course approved in some circumstances but not others, and a matter of routine in the conduct of our foreign policy.

In order to address the problem of mass shootings and the iconography of the psychopath the authors suggest a more focused attention on the individual ' nexus of motives, intentions, beliefs, choices, internal conflicts, social conflicts, regrets, meaningful coincidences and so on: the stuff, in other words, of any well-written biography' and as embodied in the psychological work of William James. In that light, the attempt to totally erase the story of the shooter in the recent Oregon case, is quite disturbing.In that respect."

"Overlooking or minimizing the role of the environment in favor of the biogenetic explanation  by researchers has profound consequences when it comes to dealing with psychopathic behaviors. Norwegian psychologist Aina Gullhaugen and her co-author, psychiatristn Jim Nottestad, point out that because we assume psychopathy is biological, and becaisepsychopaths fail to show normal emotional responses, w assume that their emotional loves never were and never will be normal. But what if we are wrong? What if, they ask, early life experiences play an important role in shaping the batten emotional life of psychopaths? Gullhaugen and Nottestad reviewed all case studies of psychopaths published in the lat thirty years, and analysed childhood experiences n each case. In a July 2012 interview, Gullhaugen stated, "Without exception, these people have been injured in the company of their caregivers ... and many of the descriptions made it clear that their ruthlessness was an attempt to redress this damage, but in an inappropriate or bad way."