Psychological and Personality Factors In Delinquency

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<ul><li><p>PAGE 22 JUVENILE COURT JUDGES JOURNAL </p><p>SECTION Juvenile Court Judges Journal </p><p>SUMMER ISSUE JUNE, 1963 </p><p>VOL. 14, No. 2 </p><p>ARTICLE SECTION - - [-LG-j Psychological and Personality </p><p>Factors In Delinquency </p><p>GEORGE SASLOW, M.D. </p><p>I. Introduction The report of the Council of Europe (1960) documents </p><p>a striking increase in delinquency in the western European countries. This increase was noted after the countries had achieved economic stability following the end of World War 11. Thus the increase in delinquency cannot be attributed to war and poverty, but seems to be a feature of relatively prosperous modern societies. The situation in the U. S. and in the U.S.S.R. is thought to be the same. We are far from understanding its causes. </p><p>Just as there is no one satisfactory casual explanation for the increase in delinquency, it has turned out that there is no one effective treatment program for delinquency. At one time or another great hope has been entertained for some one program such as training for a trade, recreational facilities for socially acceptable outlets of aggression, indi- vidual counseling, group counseling. Each of these pro- grams has been thought of as a cure-all, and each has dis- appointed us as a cure-all. </p><p>We do not cure all delinquents. All delinquents are not alike. Neither are they entirely different from one another. Some kind of classification system is needed to permit more efficient decision-making about assessment of specific insti- </p><p>B y GE0RG.E SASLOW, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry University of Oregon Medical School </p><p>*This article is based on remarks delivered at 1963 Washington Juvenile Court Work Conference staged by the National Council of Juvenile Court Judges in cooperation with the Washington Superior Court Judges Asso- ciation at Yakima, Washington, March 29-30, 1963. </p><p>tutions or programs or therapy. We know that the delin- quents environment is important, that his personal history and make-up are important, and that his sociocultural back- ground is important-but at present no satisfactory classifi- cation of delinquents taking all of these factors into account exists. </p><p>11. THE DIRECTION OF RECENT RESEARCH Recent studies have compared the effects of types of </p><p>treatment on different types of delinquents. The evidence indicates that the same type of treatment, counseling or psychotherapy, has different effects on different delin- quents. It seems beneficial to some, and actually detri- mental to others. Thus it is not true that the intensive in- dividual work involved in psychotherapy is necessarily the desirable recommendation for the most severely disturbed delinquents. Delinquents who are relatively mature re- spond well to psychotherapy; delinquents who are immature are made worse by psychotherapy (in which, for example, they are encouraged to express strong aggressive feelings). Delinquents who are relatively mature are made worse by treatment which is oriented towards custody; delinquents who are less mature benefit from treatment oriented to- wards custody. </p><p>111. CLASSIFICATION OF DELINQUENTS Argyle has suggested a classification of delinquents that </p><p>implies for each class a different treatment program. For example: </p><p>Class 1. Deficient in conscience and honesty. Children who have a warm relationship with firm consistent parents adopt their standards, and these standards become their own-their conscience. A delinquent who has a major prob- lem of weakness of conscience would be expected to benefit from a treatment program in which he has intensive contact with one person in authority, or on whom he becomes de- pendent for approval. The authority must be firm and con- sistent; disapproval must be evidenced when appropriate. Probation contacts of an intensive type could achieve this goal. </p><p>Class 2. Delinquents who reject their parents and most authority but accept the leadership of delinquent friends and peers. To place such a delinquent on probation in his old neighborhood doesnt change the influences affecting him. To place him in an institution may make him worse, because he fights authority even more and gets even more satisfaction from his peer group. He could be placed with non-delinquent peers-in living groups or foster homes in suitable areas-with suitable jobs. He often does well in military service, if accepted. </p><p>Class 3. Delinquents who are poor in seIf-control, im- pulsive. Our understanding of them is poor. They are thought to mature neurologically more slowly than others, and usually also lack a stable family life when young. After age 30, this type of immaturity seems to be over. For such a delinquent continuous supervision in a supportive social setting (a special school) could be thought of. Intensive counseling seems to make him worse. </p></li><li><p>JUNE, 1963 - VOL. 14, NO. 2. PAGE 23 </p><p>Class 4. Delinquents who are poor at estimating how others feel, who are cruel and aggressive. Their earlier history shows parental cruelty and neglect. Procedures for increasing their sensitiveness to others are in their infancy, but could possibly be devised. They would probably require close living experience with a group of peers like them- selves, as in group and similar therapy. IV. Family Treatment </p><p>In addition to such complexities and uncertainties, one must add that delinquents generally commit more than one antisocial act. They commit many that are undetected; they often belong to families which are disorganized, dependeht or ill; these families continuously evoke the disturbances in the delinquent that lead to his antisocial behavior. Direct therapy with the entire family is often a powerful treatment program. It is too rarely used, because the skill is not widely enough available. V. Summary </p><p>In summary: Juvenile courts need information not sup- plied in the professional schools. Much of the needed infor- mation is not on hand anywhere but will come only from systematically planned study. The sooner the courts them- selves take a hand in setting aside part of their budget to support such studies and related diagnostic facilities and personnel, the sooner will the present uncertainties be re- duced and the courts be more satisfied with their decisions. The courts need to help our society look at the problems that underlie delinquency-just giving service is humani- tarian but negative. </p><p>Excerpts from Argyle, A New Approach to the Classification of Delinquents with Implications for Treatment (research paper produced with Ford Foundation assistance through the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California). (Note-In this paper, referred to in Dr. Saslows article, the author reviews current research on personality differences between delinquents and non-delinquents, suggesting that there are four main areas in which such differences are regularly found. These are, stated in terms of the delin- quent type: </p><p>(1) Inadequate Super-Ego as evidenced by differ- ences from non-delinquent controls in tests of cheating (delinquents score higher), moral values (delinquents score lower) and primitive attitudes (delinquents score higher). (2) Deviant Identification as evidenced by poor rela- tions with parents and rejection of fathers as models for imitation, an unfavorable attitude toward authority, and over-identification with peer groups. (3) Weak Ego Control as evidenced by various re- search studies indicating a greater need for immediate satisfaction, less self-control and greater impulsiveness, lower levels of perseverance, consistency, endurance and motor control, and lower levels of social and emo- tional maturity than non-delinquents and (4) Lack of Sympathy as evidenced by higher scores in tests measuring cruelty and aggressiveness, lower scores in tests measuring abilities to distinguish social approval and disapproval and estimate feelings of others. </p><p>Set forth below is that portion of Dr. Argyles paper dealing with the implications for treatment of delinquent behavior stemming from these four different personality dimensions). </p><p>IMPLICATIONS FOR REFORM O F THE FOUR TYPES It is now fairly widely accepted that all delinquents are not best treated in the same way, i.e., that there is interaction between type of delinquent and type of treatment in relation to outcome. The problem is to discover the most useful </p><p>classification into types, and to find the best kind of treat- ment for each. . . . It remains to discuss the implications for treatment. We shall suggest a psychological interpretation for each type, which is consistent with the evidence brought forward above, and deduce the treatment methods which would be the most likely to work. Inadequate Super-ego Research by the author confirms the idea that the super-ego is a product of introjection of the demands, standards, and exhortations of people in authority. As shown above, this takes place when there is a warm, non-punitive relationship with parents, and when firm standards are enforced. Other evidence has shown the importance of psychological or withdrawal-of-love discipline, though this is only effective when there is also an affectionate relationship. It is also necessary for the person acquiring the super-ego to be de- pendent on the person in authority, i.e., to need their love or approval (61). How could super-ego strength be increased in those who are weak in this dimension? Clearly there should be intensive contact with at least one person in authority, with whom a close relation is established, and on whom the subject be- comes dependent for approval. Secondly, the authority must make firm demands, and withdraw his approval if these are not complied with. These conditions are met to some extent by probation officers, though probably the frequency of contact is insufficient. Perhaps this kind of relationship occurs more often in some Approved Schools and Borstals where definite efforts are made to establish this kind of relationship. The McCords found that aggres- sive children were improved by milieu therapy when it was reported by a counselor that a warm relationship had been established. Deviant Identifications The etiological evidence showed that members of this group are psychologically normal, but through parental neglect and bad neighborhood influences have identified with the wrong group. Research by the author and others shows that A identifies with B when B is similar to A, when B is some- what more successful or of higher status than A, and when A has a need to succeed in that direction. While identifica- tion can take place without social contact, it is more likely when a relation of rapport exists between the two. One possible treatment approach would be to modify motiva- tions so that identifications occurred with members of re- spectable society rather than of delinquent gangs. It is easier to alter the social pressures and the nature of the status hierarchy which are acting on the person. Placing a gang member living in a delinquency area on probation scarcely changes the situation. Placing him in an institution would merely make matters worse-he has more unsatisfy- ing relations with people in authority and satisfying ones with the delinquent peer group, so that his deviant identi- fications are strengthened. The treatment indicated is to separate this kind of delin- quent from his peer group and re-establish him in a pri- marily non-delinquent environment, where he is likely to identify with non-delinquent models. Reiss found that 45 per cent of probationers from delinquency areas failed, com- pared with 31 per cent from non-delinquent areas. It is interesting that the Gluecks report that this type of delin- quent behaved well while in the Army or Navy, but behaved badly in prison. Other possibilities would be foster-homes or probation hostels in suitable areas and with suitable jobs. </p><p>Weak Ego-control The etiology of this type suggests that neurological imma- turity is partly responsible, together with lack of a stable </p><p>(Please Turn to Page 26) </p></li><li><p>PAGE 26 JUVENILE COURT JUDGES JOURNAL </p><p>erence only when the judge sits, as he frequently does, as a judge of some other court? Do they treat the judge as having deserted the law when he becomes a Juvenile Court judge? The values and preferences of this group are apt to have a profound effect on how the judge sees his job. Does the judge become more lawyer-like in order to ef- fectively remain a member of his professional group? Does he change his Juvenile Court procedure when there are lawyers present? From a longer range view, does the judge ignore the unrewarding juvenile portion of his job in order that he might advance to a higher general court with more prestige? </p><p>6 . The Community as a Whole: What do they expect of the judge? Here the values expressed to the court may range widely. Do some of the community delegate the total responsibility for delinquency to the court, expecting the judge to eliminate delinquency from the community by act- ing as an omniscient social agency? Do other members ex- pect him to exercise greater control in order to protect society? How do these larger pressures affect the judges view of his job, particularly in the situation where the right to continue in the position (and perhaps other judicial posi- tions as well) depends upon the communitys vote? </p><p>The above list of pressures illustrates some of the wide and divergent values held by those with whom the judge must work. Not only does the legal system and the judges own values present inherent dilemmas, but various groups with which the judge, of necessity, comes into contact also push and pull the judge in several directions. These con- flicting pressures point up the fact that the judge is faced with the almost impossible task of defining his proper role as the Juvenile Court judge. </p><p>Although many have written helpful, and sometimes con- flicting, essays telling the judge what he ought and ought not to do,9 the proper answer remains elusive. This is not to say that a dTefinition is impossible for a particular judge at a particular time and place. Many Juvenile Court judges have been remarkably successful in working out their own definition. But all judges could probably improve. Im- provement could come, but it will not, from a change in the legal system or from a community consensus as to the role of the judge. Improvement can come from the judge in- creasing his understanding of the basic conflict of roles in- herent in his job; from an increased insight into his own conscious or unconscious values; and from an increased ability to understand and work with others. </p><p>The National Council of Juvenile Court Judges in their Regional Institutes are attempting to offer an opportunity to attending judges to improve these skills. The Council has chosen a proper avenue for improving the operation of the nations Juvenile Courts. </p><p>FOOTNOTES </p><p>This article is based on a lecture presentation delivered by the author at the National Council of Juvenile Court Judg...</p></li></ul>


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