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Psychological Criminal Behaviour Term Paper


Psychological criminal behaviour is a way to understand the reasons behind the unlawful conduct of individuals. It is imperative to have this knowledge to prevent a similar occurrence of illegal activities in the future. Many psychologists have linked criminal behaviour to an individual’s psychological state. Among them are Edwin Sutherland and Sigmund Freud. This paper will focus on analysing their theories; “Differential Association Theory” and “Psycho-Analytic Theory” respectively. These theories will assist in investigating the lives of Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow, two of the most famous outlaw couples in U.S history. The paper seeks to examine the various psychological criminal behaviours in people as well as how they acquire such antisocial behaviours.

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Bonnie Parker was born on 1st October 1910 to Emma and Charles Parker. At four years old, Parker lost her father, and her family was forced to move to an impoverished suburb where they stayed at her grandparents (Buckley 58). Throughout her studies, Bonnie had dreams of becoming an actress, and there were no signs of her following the criminal path. She loved music and performed at pageants and talent shows. She later became a criminal after meeting with Clyde, who was already in crime.

Clyde Barrow was born on 24th March 1909 in Texas as the sixth child to Henry and Cummie (Barrow 115). During his childhood, Clyde often lived with other relatives due to his family’s poverty. As he grew up, he was negatively influenced by a friend to the family as well as his older brother, and soon enough his interests turned from music to stealing.

Edwin Sutherland’s “Differential Association Theory” states that through interaction with others, individuals learn the techniques, values, attitudes, and motives for criminal behaviour (Sutherland et al. 64). This theory applies to the lives of both Clyde and Parker. Clyde’s criminal nature began through the influence of those he interacted with, his older brother and friend. The same happened to Parker, who after meeting with Clyde was influenced into crime.

Sigmund Freud’s “Psycho-Analytic Theory” argues that human behaviour is the result of the interactions among three parts of the mind: the id, ego, and superego (Gelfand et al. 94). The theory states that each of these components interacts and has a powerful influence on an individual. The unconscious psychological conflicts play a role in shaping a person’s behaviour. This theory can help in analysing the characters through the examination of how their id, ego, and superego played a role in their life of crime.

The following Objectives and Research Questions will guide this research
What are some of the primary psychological criminal behaviours people have in society today?
What causes these antisocial behaviours in these people?
How can we help the affected people to recover from such psychological disorders?
The overall Research Methodology for this research will be the application of Sigmund Freud’s “Psycho-Analytic Theory” and Edwin Sutherland’s “Differential Association Theory” to help identify and explain the criminal psychological behaviours in people.

The study assumes that its readers already know who Bonnie Parker & Clyde Barrow are and how their life decisions brought long-lasting repercussions such as an untimely end to their lucrative career. Additionally, it also assumes that the readers know who Sigmund Freud and Edwin Sutherland were, and recognises their contributions to the field of psychology through theories such “Psycho-Analytic Theory” and “Differential Association Theory” respectively.

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Works Cited
Barrow, Blanche Caldwell. My Life with Bonnie and Clyde. University of Oklahoma Press, 2012.
Buckley, James. Bonnie and Clyde. Simon and Schuster, 2018.
Gelfand, Toby, and John Kerr, eds. Freud and the History of Psychoanalysis. Routledge, 2013.
Sutherland, Edwin H., F. P. Williams, and M. D. McShane. “Differential association.” Edwin Sutherland: On Analyzing Crime (2015).

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