To my complete surprise my blog post on Alice Miller received tremendous attention. Thank you for your interest in my blog and in the topic which is of the utmost relevance to today’s societies. If you have not read the blog yet, here is the link.
The earth-shaking message of psychoanalysis was that there are no “bad eggs”. Criminals of all kinds, it was found, were victims of their own upbringing as much as they were perpetrators. This lead to two major developments in western societies:
- Abandonment of capital punishment (a.k.a. the death penalty). When we are able to look at criminals not as rotten eggs which you can only toss away but as misguided individuals, then all of a sudden there is a chance of reintegrating them to society. This was and is a hotly debated issue, especially when it comes to sex offenders.
- Dominance of the victimization aspect when pursuing crime. In a number of countries, mostly European, there was often as much empathy with a criminal than there was for the victim. Paired with a notorious shortage of funds, this lead to very mild or no punishment for criminals who were released back into the streets too soon. While the discussion was necessary the frustrating effect on crime victims, a feeling of paralysis and of being abandoned by the people in charge of protecting them were the results.
Looking at the above pic, and remembering investigations in the United States showing that a large number of innocent people are killed by mistake each year, I am firmly convinced that the first development is an important step in the evolution of mankind. We just don’t kill each other. Period.
The latter one was and is reason for debate, and the debates have always been polarized. Are the assumptions really true? Isn’t there reason to assume that a sex offender will always be a sex offender – is it an addiction? But if we release them and force them to put signs in front of their doors, do we really give them a chance to reintegrate into society? Should we accept that there will be errors? “Errors” meaning perhaps killed or raped children?
There is of course a lot of room between those severe crimes and other people who are sent to jail for theft and such. Not many offenders make it back into society, mainly because they simply go back to the same or a worse environment than before. Which would underline that the environment DOES in fact matter, and that investing in a change of the environment would be a better investment than money spent on more prison cells.
Designing environments that will teach our children to be honest and non-violent is something that we have failed at miserably in the past. It seems to be first and foremost task to create a more peaceful world.
What are the elements of such an environment?