Psychoanalytic and Phenomenological Explanations of Persistent Antisocial Criminal Behavior

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Individuals' personalities and overall quality of living are significantly influenced by several interrelated sources ranging from one's upbringing and quality of relationships to their own feelings of self-esteem and worth. Though this may seem relatively easy and un-complex, countless people today are engaged in persistent antisocial, criminal behavior, and seem unable to find an alternative, legal, means of living. While many have tried to explain such behavior through various theories, the causes of criminal activity remain to be satisfactorily clarified. Essentially, antisocial criminal activity has two aspects to it. Antisocial behavior is that in which one shuns society and others, while criminal activity is the act of performing a deed that violates an established law of the community. Obviously, such actions have serious consequences, which can range from community service and a fine to prison time. Even though there are several reasons that one may become an antisocial criminal, two theories of personality that provide reasonable explanations of this phenomenon, each in their own way, are the psychoanalytic and phenomenological theories.

Sigmund Freud is credited with the establishment of the psychoanalytic theory. At the foundation of Freud's personality theory is that people are basically an energy system through which energy is directed and released through a means of expression that faces the lease resistance. Another aspect of Freud's theory is that the majority of one's development occurs in the early years of life, up until the age of five. There are three main stages: oral, anal and phallic. These may eventually become exemplified as types of adult personalities. Additionally, people's actions are ...

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...tly that: a theory. It is based off of assumptions and abstract concepts of inherent drives and unconscious processes that are extremely difficult to comprehend, test and prove because if certain types of information are unconscious in one person, then they are most likely located in the unconscious of everyone else, including the people attempting to conduct research. The phenomenological theory, in contrast, places a greater emphasis on more concrete aspects of life such as perception of experiences, number and types of social interactions, relationships, and feelings of self-worth and self-esteem. Such concepts are easier to define, test, and manipulate into reasonable arguments regarding the causes of antisocial criminal behavior and that is why the phenomenological theory provides a better explanation of this behavior than the psychoanalytic theory does.
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