Harold Shipman Social Control Theory

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Harold Shipman is known as one of Britain’s worst serial killers. Over twenty-five years it is suspected he killed 251 individuals while working as a medical doctor (“Harold Shipman”, n.d., para 1). Shipman had been injecting fatal amounts of poison into their bodies (para. 1). Shipman’s actions and why he acted in this manner can be explained from the sociological perspective and psychological perspective. The sociological perspective examines factors including social setting, level of education and positive or negative role models in a person’s life (Pozzulo, Bennell & Forth, 2015, p.338-341). The psychological perspective examines colorations between an individual’s mental process, their behaviour, their learning process and traits an individual…show more content…
12). According to Hirshi’s social control theory when an individual lacks developmental relationships or when they lack role models in their lives (as cited in Parent, 2009, p.3). Social control theory states that each bond individuals forms in divided into four elements. Three elements can be applied to the relationship Shipman had developed with Vera over the years. This theory can help demonstrate the importance on positive social bonds in ones life. It is highly likely that Shipman poising his patients due to a lack of love and support in his life after his mother’s death. The first element in the social control theory is attachment (Siegel, Brown & Hoffman, 2013, p. 144). According to Hirsh attachment with a parent is the most important bond a person should form in his or her life (p.144). For the case of Shipman he had a bond with his mother at a young age, Shipman and his mother got along with each other extremely well. The second element in the social control theory is commitment (p.144). From a young age Shipman was committed, first he was committed to the relationship with his mother. When suffered from the side effects from cancer he took care of her on a daily basis. Once she passed away he made a commitment to go to medical school and become a doctor so he could people. The third element in Hirshi’s theory is involvement (p.144). “Heavy involvement in conventional activities leaves little or no time for illegal behaviour” (Siegel, Brown & Hoffman, 2013, p. 144). After Shipman’s mothers death he entered a downwards spiral. He had no one else he had formed a special, unique bond with. In 1975 Shipman became addicted to a painkiller (pethidine). The lack of “conventional activities” in Shipman’s life left room for “illegal behaviour”, in his case it was the abuse of painkillers

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