The Task of Psychology in relation to Criminal Law

The Task of Psychology in relation to Criminal Law

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We must learn to recognise in criminal law the symptoms of the emotional attitude of man to the criminal, which is an understanding from which we are still very far removed. No one can describe the history of the criminal law as an attempt to counter crime with reasonable measures. No one can say of the opposition to suitable recommendation (which have not been wanting) that if that opposition in unable to be justified on the grounds of reason and the needs of the time then it cannot have been caussed by these factors. Without the acceptance of unconscious drivers and of their determining influence the history of the criminal law must remain incomprehensible.

A further consideration arises from this: criminal law and criminality presuppose one another. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, when terrible punishments were in force in England, every twenty-second man was a criminal. A change for the better took place when Sir Robert Peel in 1829 laid the foundation for a more reasonable criminal law. The abolition or the less frequent use of the death sentence was followed by a decrease in the number of murders, not by an increase. we can draw conclussion respecting the criminal law of a society not alone from the crime, from which it protects itself, but also from the criminal which it needs in order to abreact its own unconscious emotion.

We need a psychology of the society which inflicts the punishment.

Its aim is to lessen and modify the emotion which society experience in punishment, in order to clear the path for a reasonable treatment of the asocial person (the re-structuring of affective patterns is the ugly technical expression employed).

Its method is by way of psycho-analysis, the only psychology which is requisite to the understanding of the unconscious : psycho-analysis seeks to bring the unconscius emotion and conflicts, which find their expresion in punishment, into the conscious and so to make them capable of control. The same holds good for the analysis of society as for that of the individual. "Psycho-analysis is no aimless intellectual investigation but a therapeutic conception; it will in itself prove nothing but will bring about some kind of change".

Its chief hallmark is the importance and the effect of punishment in the estimoation of those inflicting it and not of those who are punished. It is only by changing the attitude of the society which inflicts the punishment that a real alternation in criminality can be expected.

The law, from which unconscious feelings of revenge and power have been eliminated, will contain other more effective measures than the sections of those statutes  which, with difficulty, conceal emotional reaction beneath dogmatic formulae.

The decision, the emotional content of which has become apparenr to the judge, can no longer have the same content as a decision which contains the projecrion of unconscius urges againts the asocial person.

The infliction of punishment which is free from unconscious aggression will no longer be an infliction of punishment.

The witty, but nevertheless vapid opinion, which was expressed in a debate of the French chamber in connection with the abolition of the death sentence (many ascribe it to Talleyrand) : "que Messieurs ies assassins commencent" will not be repeated by those who konow how distinguished educationalists have handled apparently hopeless cases. And thay have succeeded not only with individuals but with groups. Aichhorn and his assistants- and they are not alone- have made social human beings (who have proved this fact by resuts) out of wayward aggressive children who resembled savages. First, however, before they mastered the emotion of their pupils, without compulsion and force, but with insight and reason alone, they learnt to control their own reaction. Adult murderers are not wayward young person, and the same measures cannot be applied to both. However, society can, with the help of psycho-analysis, release these unconscious emotion and, in any case, can repress their unbridled domination of its institutions. Society must learn the secret of all education: to give treatment instead of reacting emotionally.

According to an ancient belief the spirits of those who fell in war continued to battle in the air. Intruth, there is in progress a subterraneann battle, a fight with the spirit of the unconscious, a silent battle, which should be continued on another plane and concluded in the light of the conscious.

Book of criminal law that use in this reference :

-Paul Reiwald, SOCIETY and its CRIMINALS. Internasional Universities: Amerika.
criminal law reference
criminal law reference