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Significance of Psychoanalytic approach pertaining to causation of crime

Significance of Psychoanalytic approach pertaining to causation of crime:
An analysis
Theme of the conference- Criminal Behaviour Regulation and Control
Sub-theme- Criminal psychology and crime control
Prof. (Dr.) Priya Sepaha1
The Criminal Law and Criminology endeavour to attempt and understand the demands of
knowledge across a wide range of disciplines. The causes of crime are one of the important
segments of the crime problem that require more discussion, investigation and research and
thereby call for more social, government and judicial action. Writers and researchers from
anthropology, economics, jurisprudence, medicine, philosophy, psychology and sociology have
contributed to the study of crime which encompasses an integrated approach towards it, in which
the elements of other disciplines are used to develop theories and explanations for the
phenomenon of crime.
To establish criminal liability it is necessary to understand elements of crime. Crimes can be
broken down into elements, which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
Criminal elements are set forth in criminal statutes or cases in jurisdictions that allow for
common-law crimes. Mens rea plays a significant role to understand the causation of crime.
Essentiality of mens rea
Mens Rea is an essential element in every crime. There may be no crime of any nature without
an evil mind. There must be a mind at fault to constitute a criminal act. The concurrence of act
and guilty mind constitutes a crime2. Lord Diplock in the case of Swet v. Parsley3 said, ‘An act
does not make a person guilty of a crime unless his mind is so guilty’.
Principal, School of Law, Oriental University, Indore, M.P.
Srivastava. O.P., Principles of Criminal Law, 4th ed., 2005 at p. 228.
1970 AC 132.
The cardinal principle of criminal law is ‘mens rea’- “actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea”. It
is in this context that one needs to articulate or identify those kinds of criminal acts committed
by persons with a total absence of mens rea. Mens rea is a technical term, generally taken to
mean some blameworthy mental condition, whether constituted by intention or knowledge or
otherwise, the absence of which on any particular occasion, negatives the contention of a crime 4.
Mens rea varies from one offence to another but generally, for the more serious offences, it
comprises intention or recklessness with the intention being reserved for the most serious
Criminal Behaviour
Our understanding of criminal behaviour and its causes has been damaged by the failure to
integrate fully the emotional, psychological, social and cultural influences on people and their
behavioural pattern. Law in our society is defined by social and legal institutions.6 Therefore
determining what constitutes criminal behavior can envelope a wide variety of activities and for
that reason, one should focus on the wider context of antisocial behavior. Authors 7, who have
investigated the genetic influences on criminal behavior, point out three different ways to define
antisocial behavior.
Firstly, it is by equating it with criminality and delinquency, which both involve engaging in
criminal acts. Criminality can lead to arrest, conviction or incarceration for adults, while
delinquency is related to juveniles committing unlawful acts. Information can be collected using
the court and criminal records, as well as self-report surveys to analyze the influences that were
Stephen James, History of Criminal Law of England, Vol. II, 1883, p.94-95 as cited in Gaur K.D. , Criminal Law
& Criminology, Deep & Deep Publications Pvt. Ltd., 2003,p.23.
Pillai Chandrashekharan K.N., General principles of Criminal Law, Eastern Book Company, Lucknow, 2003, p.
Megargee, E. I. & Bohn, M. J., Jr. Classifying criminal offenders: A new system based on the MMPI. Bevely Hills,
CA: Sage. 1979.
Mc Burnett, K. & Lahey, B. B. (1994) Psychophysiological and neuroendocrine correlates of conduct disorder and
antisocial behaviour in children and adolescents. In Progress in Experimental Personality & Psychopathology
Research (eds D. C Fowles, P. Sutker & S. Goodman), p.199–231. New York: Springer.
Secondly, they advise individuals to define antisocial behavior through criteria used to diagnose
certain personality disorders. More specifically, they mean those personality disorders, such as
Antisocial Personality Disorder, which is associated with an increased risk in criminal activity.
And finally, the measure suggested for defining antisocial behavior is by examining personality
traits that may be influential in the criminal behavior of individuals. Traits such as
aggressiveness and impulsiveness are two traits that have been investigated the most8.
With regard to determining the effects the environment plays in criminal behavior there are
fewer resources available. Observational studies and reports submitted by parents are two
sources, but not everyone agrees on the validity of information collected from these sources.
Three additional sources that most researchers cite when gathering information about both
genetic and environmental influences are a twin, family, and adoption studies9.
Psychology has a great impact on Criminal behaviour of and that only differ one criminal from
the other. To understand behavior it is necessary to understand other concepts which play a vital
role in the life of a criminal.
Causation of crime
The causes of crime are one of the important phases of the crime problem. The factors which
influence criminal behaviour can be divided into physical, mental, regional, social and economic.
To explain the causation of criminal behaviour, criminologists have propounded various theories
time to time.10
In every theory, some special object has been considered as a main cause or motive of a crime.
Each theory consists of the very genuine reason to stress upon that rational thought, for instance:1. Pre-Classical School
During the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries, the dominance of religion in State activities
was quite prominent. In the political sphere, thinkers like Hobbes and Locke concentrated on
Supra nt. 6.
Thompson, R. A. (1998). Nurturing an endangered generation: Empowering youth with critical, social, emotional,
and cognitive skills. P. 32-47, Washington, C.: Accelerated Development.
Coid, J. “Epidemiology, public health and the problem of personality disorder”. British Journal of Psychiatry,
182,2000, p.48.
social contract as the basis of social evolution.11 The concept of the Divine right of the King
advocating supremacy of monarch was held in great esteem.12 As scientific knowledge was
unknown, the concept of crime was vague. There was a general belief that man by nature is
simple and his actions are controlled by supernatural powers. Thus, crime is committed by a man
when he gets influenced due to some external spirit called ‘demon’ or ‘devil’.13 No attempt was
ever made to probe into the real factors that cause crime. Worships, sacrifices and ordeals were
prescribed to specify the spirit and relieve the victim from its evil influence.
2. Classical School
During the middle of the eighteenth century, Cesare Beccaria (pioneer of modern criminology)
expounded naturalistic theory and rejected the omnipotence of evil spirit.14 Beccaria’s theory of
criminal behaviour provides the foundations of the rational actor model and is based on the
concepts of free will and hedonism.15 The classical theory or classicism emphasises the notion of
individual rights, the importance of free will and the rule of law.
Beccaria was influenced by the utilitarian philosophy and proposed that human behaviour is
essentially purposive and is based on the pleasure-pain principle.16 Beccaria was a strong
supporter of ‘social contract theory’17 with its emphasis on the notion that individuals can only
be legitimately bound to the society if they have given their consent to the societal arrangements.
It is the law that provides the necessary conditions for the social contract.
The Positivist School of thought initiated scientific evidence into the foreground as a
requirement for conviction. The Positivist criminology assumes that criminal behaviour has its
own distinct set of characteristics and saw human behavior as central to the study of criminology.
Sethna MJ, Society and The criminal, Kitab Mahal, 1964, p.6.
Supra nt.2.
Kendell, R.,“The Distinction between personality disorder and mental illness”. British Journal of Psychiatry, 180,
2002, p.110-115
Roger Hopkins Burke, An Introduction to Criminological Theory, Lawman (India) Private Ltd. , 2003, p. 28.
Supra nt.2.
Roger Hopkins Burke, An Introduction to Criminological Theory, Lawman (India) Private Ltd. , 2003, p. 27.
The idea was that all people are different. Not just physically and intellectually but also in terms
of their environment and life circumstances. Their understanding of right versus wrong and
reasons for committing a crime became a barometer for punishment. It was the person that was
to be punished, not the crime18.
a. Anthropological Theory
Anthropological criminology sometimes referred to as criminal anthropology which is a field of
offender profiling based on perceived links between the nature of a crime and the personality and
physical appearance of the offender. Although similar to physiognomy and phrenology, the term
criminal anthropology is generally reserved for the works of the Italian school of criminology.
In the 19th century Cesare Lombrosso(1836-1909), Enrico Ferri(1856-1928) and Raffaele
Garofalo(1852-1934) tried to explain crime primarily in terms of factors within criminals, i.e.,
physical, biological and mental or in other words psychological traits. Later on various studies
evolved to determine the relationship between mental deficiency and criminal behaviour by
employing psychometric tests. M’Naghten’s rule on insanity and Freud’s theory of
psychodynamic approaches were additional ladders in this area of criminal behaviour19. Crime
cannot be explained solely by the psychological theory because of its correlation with
geographical, anthropological, economic and social factors. However, psychologists believe that
knowledge of psychology can contribute to the study of criminology both in terms of its
methodology and by the application of some of its own database and theories.
b. Phrenology as a pseudoscience20
Phrenology has long been dismissed as a pseudoscience, in the wake of neurological advances.
During the discipline's heyday, phrenologists including Gall committed many errors in the name
of science. In the book, The Beginner's Guide to Scientific Method by Stephen S. Carey, it is
explained that pseudoscience can be defined as "fallacious applications of the scientific method"
by today's standards. Phrenologists inferred dubious inferences between bumps in people's skulls
and their personalities, claiming that the bumps were the determinant of personality. Some of the
https://cjonline.uc.edu/resources/news/criminology-schools-of-thought/, visited on 21/12/2017.
Siddique Ahmed, Criminology, Eastern Law Company, 2006, p.58.
Supra nt. 14.
more valid assumptions of phrenology (e.g., that mental processes can be localized in the brain)
remain in modern neuro imagine techniques and modularity of mind theory. Through
advancements in modern medicine and neuroscience, the scientific community has generally
concluded that feeling conformations of the outer skull is not an accurate predictor of behavior.
c. Personology
Personology is a field of study which relies on physiognomy and facial features to analyze and
predict character traits and behavior21.
Examples of supposed personology correlations –
Coarse hair: less sensitive
Fine hair: extremely sensitive
Wide jaw: authoritative in speech and action
Square chin: can be combative
Wide-flared nose: relies automatically on self
4. Sociological Theories
Sociologists argue that criminal behaviour is learnt and is conditioned by social environment,
unlike the biological, physiological, psychiatric and psychological theoretical explanations of
causation. Sociologists have used different approaches in studying the causation of crime. The
sociological theories are rooted in functionalism and find their origins with Emile Durkheim.22
a. Anomie Theory
Durkheim identified four distinct environmental conditions that he believed to be responsible for
various patterns of high suicide rates: egoism, altruism, anomie, and fatalism.23 At this point, we
shall focus only on the best known of these four causes of suicide, anomie.
Hill, J., Early identification of individuals at risk for antisocial personality disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry,
182,2003 .
Supra nt.19 at p. 98.
Anomie refers to an environmental state where society fails to exercise adequate regulation or
constraint over the goals and desires of its individual members.24 It is important to note that
Durkheim’s conceptualization of anomie is based on a general assumption about the
psychological or biological nature of individual human beings.25 From Durkheim’s viewpoint,
individual happiness and well-being depend upon the ability of society to impose external limits
on the potentially limitless passions and appetites that characterize human nature in general.
Under the condition of anomie, however, society is unable to exert its regulatory and disciplining
influences. Durkheim’s work has been the subject of extensive discussion and criticism.26
Nonetheless, his study of suicide has endured as a classic example of the macro normative
approach to theory and research on deviance.
b. Merton’s theory of social structure and anomie
Strain theory
Strain theory is a sociology and criminology theory developed in 1938 by Robert K. Merton. 27
The theory states that society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals
though they lack the means, this leads to strain which may lead the individuals to commit crimes.
The strain may either be:Structural: this refers to the processes at the societal level which filters down and affects how
the individual perceives his or her needs, i.e. if particular social structures are inherently
inadequate or there is inadequate regulation, this may change the individual's perceptions as to
means and opportunities; or
Individual: this refers to the frictions and pains experienced by an individual as he or she looks
for ways to satisfy his or her needs, i.e. if the goals of a society become significant to an
individual, actually achieving them may become more important than the means adopted.
Anomie theory
Supra nt.19 at p. 103-104.
David Gadd and Tony Jefferson, ‘Psychosocial Criminology’, Sage Publications, p.30-32.
Gadd David and Jefferson Tony, Psychosocial Criminology, Sage Publication, p.30-32.
Merton, Robert (1938). "Social Structure and Anomie". American Sociological Review. 3 (5): 672–682.
Merton argued that society can encourage deviance to a large degree. Merton believed that
socially accepted goals put pressure on people to conform. People are forced to work within the
system or become members of a deviant subculture to achieve the desired goal. Merton's belief
became the theory known as Strain Theory. Merton continued on to say when individuals are
faced with a gap between their goals (usually finances/money related) and their current status,
strain occurs. When faced with strain, people have five ways to adapt.28
Conformity: pursuing cultural goals through socially approved means.
Innovation: using socially unapproved or unconventional means to obtain culturally approved
goals. Example: dealing drugs or stealing to achieve financial security.
Ritualism: using the same socially approved means to achieve less elusive goals (more modest
and humbler).
Retreatism: to reject both the cultural goals and the means to obtain it, then find a way to escape
Rebellion: to reject the cultural goals and means, then work to replace them.
c. The Chicago School/Social Disorganisation29
Social disorganisation theory grew out of research conducted by sociologists at the University of
Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s. Its key proponents were Clifford R. Shaw and Henry D. McKay
(1942), who used spatial mapping to examine the residential locations of juveniles referred to
court. Shaw and McKay found that patterns of delinquency were higher in areas characterised by
poor housing, poor health, socio-economic disadvantage and transient populations. This led them
to suggest that crime was a function of neighbourhood dynamics and not due to individual actors
and their actions. Shaw and McKay explained these patterns by reference to the problems that
accompanied immigration to Chicago at this time. They claimed that areas settled by newly
arrived immigrants experienced a breakdown of social norms due to ethnic diversity and
competing cultural traditions. Conventional institutions of social control were therefore
weakened and unable to regulate the behaviour of local youths.
http://www.sccjr.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/SCCJR-Causes-of-Crime.pdf, visited on 31'1/18.
d. Sub-cultural Theory30
Linked to anomie and strain are concepts of status frustration and differential opportunity, which
North American sub-cultural theorists used to explain the delinquent activities of disadvantaged
groups in the 1950s and 60s. Status frustration is associated with the work of Albert Cohen
(1955), who conducted research into group offending by young, lower-class men. Cohen argued
that lower-class youths could not aspire to middle-class cultural goals and so, frustrated, they
rejected them to create their own sub-cultural system of values. In school, for example, they gain
status and respect by meeting the expectations of peers not teachers, engaging in delinquent
activities such as smoking, truanting, and acting up in class. Richard Cloward and Lloyd Ohlin
(1960) built on these ideas, pointing to the differential opportunity structures available to lowerclass young people in different neighbourhoods: criminal (making a living from crime), conflict
(territorial violence and gang fighting) and retreats (drugs and alcohol).
e. Social Control Theory31
Control theory does not address the causes of crime, but rather focuses on why people obey the
law. In other words, it explains conformity rather than deviance.
Social control theory proposes that people's relationships, commitments, values, norms, and
beliefs encourage them not to break the law. Thus, if moral codes are internalized and
individuals are tied into and have a stake in their wider community, they will voluntarily limit
their propensity to commit deviant acts. The theory seeks to understand the ways in which it is
possible to reduce the likelihood of criminality developing in individuals. It does not consider
motivational issues, simply stating that human beings may choose to engage in a wide range of
activities unless the range is limited by the processes of socialization and social learning. The
theory derives from a Hobbesian view of human nature as represented in Leviathan, i.e. that all
choices are constrained by implicit social contracts, agreements and arrangements among people.
Thus, morality is created in the construction of social order, assigning costs and consequences to
certain choices and defining some as evil, immoral and/or illegal.32
Ngo, Fawn T (2011). "Role-Taking And Recidivism: A Test Of Differential Social Control Theory". JQ: Justice
Quarterly 28.5. Academic Search Complete. pp. 667–697, visited on 22/01/18.
5. Economic theory
The relationship between economic conditions and crime is founded broadly on two main
conflicting views, namely:33
The relationship between economy and crime is inverse; that is when economic
conditions are favourable, the incidence of crime is comparatively low but in times of
economic depression criminality records an upward trend. This assumption finds
support in all Marxist doctrines and leftist policies. Willian A. Bonger, the noted
Dutch social scientist strongly supported this contention and propounded the Bonger
theory to crime. He concluded in his theory that capitalism was one of the potential
causes of criminality because the system created an atmosphere for promoting selfish
tendencies in men. While establishing a co-relationship between economic condition
and crime, W.A. Bonger drew the following conclusions:34
a) He prepared a statistical data and demonstrated that almost 79% of
criminals belong to the non-profitable class. Thus he tried to establish a
co-relationship between poverty and delinquency and concluded that
crimes relating to property such as theft, stealing, robbery, dacoity, housebreaking, etc record abnormal increases during the period of depression
when the prices are high.
b) Bonger further observed that the influence of the economic conditions on
delinquency is essentially due to the capitalistic economy which breeds
disparity and leads to unequal distribution of wealth, the capitalist resort to
hoarding and monopolistic trends thus creating artificial scarcity and
consequent rise in prices. This in turn stops production which ultimately
leads to unemployment of labour as a result of which offences such as
alcoholism, vagrancy, beggary, assault, violence, etc record an upward
c) In an economic system based on capitalism, economic cycles of inflation
and deflation are frequent. Inflation gives rise to bankruptcy and
Supra nt. 51 at p. 94
Id. at p. 97.
insolvency with the result the persons affected thereby are forced to lead
an anti-social life and some of them may even resort to criminality.
d) Another peculiar feature of a capitalistic economy is the competitive
tendency among entrepreneurs. Efficiency, low-production cost and better
quality of products are some of the admirable result of the competitive
economy and vice- versa
e) There is yet another danger of the capitalistic economy which contributes
to an enormous increase in crimes. The employment of children and
women furnishes soothing ground for criminality despite effective
legislative restriction.35
The relationship between economic structure and crime is direct or positive; that is to
say, criminality being an extension of normal economic activity, increases or
decreases with the rise or fall in the economy. Thus, according to this proposition, the
crime rate shows an increase in periods of prosperity and decrease during periods of
economic depression. This view has been most explicitly developed by Fillips Polett
as a supplement to the original research of Enricco Ferri and his famous work, ‘Law
of Criminal Saturation’ Thorsten Sellin however concluded that unemployment which
is necessarily an offshoot of depression did not have an adverse effect on the crime
rate perhaps because of government relief measures.
6. The Psychodynamic theory
Freud's Structural and Topographical Models of Personality
Sigmund Freud's Theory is quite complex and although his writings on psychosexual
development set the groundwork for how our personalities developed, it was only one of five
parts to his overall theory of personality. He also believed that different driving forces develop
during these stages which play an important role in how we interact with the world.
a. Structural Model (id, ego, superego)
Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act,1986; See also Art. 24 of the Constitution of India.
According to Freud, we are born with our ‘Id’. The ‘id’ is an important part of our personality
because as newborns, it allows us to get our basic needs met. Freud believed that the ‘id’ is
based on our pleasure principle. In other words, the ‘id’ wants whatever feels good at the time,
with no consideration for the reality of the situation. When the child is uncomfortable, in pain,
too hot, too cold, or just wants attention, the ‘id’ speaks up until his or her needs are met. The
‘id’ doesn't care about reality, about the needs of anyone else, only its own satisfaction.
Within the next three years, as the child interacts more and more with the world, the second part
of the personality begins to develop. Freud called this part the ‘Ego’. The ‘ego’ is based on the
reality principle. The ‘ego’ understands that other people have needs and desires and that
sometimes being impulsive or selfish can hurt us in the long run. It is the ‘ego's’ job to meet the
needs of the ‘id’ while taking into consideration the reality of the situation.
By the age of five or the end of the phallic stage of development, the ‘Superego’ develops. The
Superego is the moral part of us and develops due to the moral and ethical restraints placed on us
by our caregivers. Many equate the ‘superego’ with the conscience as it dictates our belief of
right and wrong.
According to Freud, in a healthy person, the ‘ego’ is the strongest so that it can satisfy the needs
of the ‘id’, not upset the ‘superego’, and still take into consideration the reality of every situation.
Not an easy job by any means, but if the ‘id’ gets too strong, impulses and self-gratification take
over the person's life. If the superego becomes too strong, the person would be driven by rigid
morals, would be judgmental and unbending in his or her interactions with the world. You will
learn how the ‘ego’ maintains control as you continue to read.
b. Topographical Model
Freud believed that the majority of what we experience in our lives, the underlying emotions,
beliefs, feelings and impulses are not available to us at a conscious level. He believed that most
of what drives us is buried in our unconscious. The role of the unconscious is only one part of the
model. Freud also believed that everything we are aware of is stored in our conscious. Our
conscious makes up a very small part of who we are. In other words, at any given time, we are
only aware of a very small part of what makes up our personality; most of what we are buried
and inaccessible.
Figure no. 136
The final part is the preconscious or subconscious. This is the part of us that we can access if
prompted, but is not in our active conscious. It is right below the surface, but still buried
somewhat unless we search for it. Information such as our telephone number, some childhood
memories, or the name of your best childhood friend is stored in the preconscious.
Because the unconscious is so large and because we are only aware of the very small conscious
at any given time, this theory has been likened to an iceberg, where the vast majority is buried
beneath the water's surface. The water, by the way, would represent everything that we are not
aware of and that has not been integrated into our personalities, referred to as the non conscious.
c. Jung’s Contribution to Personality Theory37
Although Jung is among the seminal thinkers in personality, his contributions have rarely been
applied in the personality disorders. Once Freud’s primary disciple, Jung broke from Freud,
insisting that there is more to mental life than sex. Most people are acquainted with his
distinction between extroversion and introversion38. Extroverts explain events from the
https://sites.google.com/site/psychologyofpersonalityperiod6/home/psychodynamic-theories/freud-s-personalitytheory, visited on 22/10/18.
visited on 22/10/2018.
viewpoint of the environment. They see the focus of life as being driven by events outside
themselves and fix their attention firmly on the external world. In contrast, introverts are
essentially subjective, drawing from the environment that which satisfies their own inner
dispositions39. Because, for most of us, the external world is primarily social, extroversion is also
associated with sociability, whereas introversion is associated with turning inward, away from
the interpersonal world. Among the contemporary personality disorders, the histrionic is
notoriously gregarious, an important facet of the larger extroversion construct. In contrast, the
schizoid personality is almost completely a social. The avoidant personality, who desires social
relationships yet recoils from engaging others for fear of humiliation, can be seen as conflicted
on these dimensions40.
Analysis of the causation theories
As discussed above, all theories differ on various counts, yet all highlight the presence of
criminal behaviour in many aspects of society and emphasize that it needs to be addressed.
Researchers hope to develop tools to prevent criminal behaviour before it reaches adolescent or
advanced stage. In short, Choice theories focus on the individual’s decision and control over who
they are and what they will be. Trait theories rely on research which proves that one’s
neurological process and conditioning is a large contributing factor to the criminal effect. Social
theories lean toward the idea of environmental influences which govern one’s state of being.41
Every theory is backed by relevant research. Certainly, each of these ideas have contributed to
furnish plausible explanation of the crime problem.
The key learning from various theories of causation of crime indicates that psychology plays a
prominent role in criminal tendency and crime committed. The psychoanalytic theory helps to
analyse criminal motives and behaviour by comparing the crime rate and nature of the crime
committed by persons suffering from various abnormal behaviours.
Knowledge of Criminology and Psychology to understand the concept of crime viz-a-viz
case studies
https://www.scribd.com/document/146173106/C-G-Jung-info, visited on 22/10/2018.
Cressey & Ward, Delinquency, Crime and & Social Process, Harper & Row Publishers, 1969, p.428-29.
Psychology includes within it inter alia the study of the mind and behaviour attitudes. It is the
study of individual characteristics such as personality, reasoning, thought perceptions,
intelligence, imagination, memory, creativity42 etc. Crime is treated as a behaviour learnt by the
criminal in the course of his contact with different persons. Thus like sociologists, they seek to
explain crime in terms of environmental circumstances43.
Lombroso attributed criminality to atavism which meant that criminals have savagery ancestral
history and criminality in them is hereditary44. Similar assertions were made by Goring who
pointed out that criminal traits in people are imbibed by hereditary and through instinctive
patterns and therefore, environmental conditions are of little importance45. Subsequent researches
by psychologists and sociologists have, however demonstrated beyond doubt that it is not the
hereditary but the psychological influences operating in delinquent families that make one
Eleanor Glueck founded the theory of criminal behaviour on personality deviations47. He worked
out a Prediction Table comprising of three main aspects of human personality:
The social background of the criminal;
his personality traits; and
his psychiatric conditions.
He observed that abnormalities (termed personal deviations) in the person are the root cause of
criminality. It was however subsequently realized that these theories do not offer a satisfactory
explanation for certain crimes such as gambling, prostitution, vagrancy and drug addiction.
These offences are satisfactorily explained as connected to sociological considerations48.
Prof. Paranjape N.V., Criminology & Penology, Central Law Publications, 2009, p.58.
Packer in Evil Or Ill?Justifying the insanity defence, 1969, Lawrie Reznek,London and New York, Routledge
1997,p. 9.
Id.p. 60.
Packer in Evil Or Ill?Justifying the insanity defence, 1969, Lawrie Reznek,London and New York, Routledge
1997,p. 9.
Prof. Paranjape N.V., Criminology & Penology, Central Law Publications,2009, p.57.
Supra nt.48, p.58.
As we have discussed various psychoanalytic theories, an attempt is now made to explain, the
causation of crime through a few case studies.
 Ryan International School case49, in this case, a 16-year-old student of Gurgaon's Ryan
International School, has already been accused of the murder of a seven years old student
of the same school Pradyuman Thakur. The teenager has confessed that he had killed
Pradyuman, in order to ensure the postponement of an approaching examination and a
parent-teacher meeting. After reviewing the situation The Juvenile Justice Board has
opined that the accused should be treated as an adult and undergo a regular trial in a
court, if convicted, he will stay in a correctional home up to the age of 21 years and then
transferred to a jail50.
Analysis – The causation of crime in this case reflects Freud’s theory of ‘id’, which
explains the offender’s desire up to the extent that he can kill anyone without caring for
the victims emotions and without taking account of law.
 Sheena Bora murder case51
The Sheena Bora murder case attracted a lot of media attention and public interest. Sheena was
one of two children born out of a relationship between Indrani Mukherjea (nee Bora) and one
Siddharth Das, both residents of Assam52.
In April 2012, Sheena Bora’s body was discovered in the Raigad district of Maharashtra but the
body remained unidentified and the case lay in suspension until the arrest of one Shyamwar Rai,
Indrani and Peter Mukherjee’s driver. Investigations revealed the direct involvement of Indrani
and her former husband Sanjeev Khanna in the murder. Subsequently, Peter Mukherjee was also
arrested for his involvement in the case as per the findings of CBI53.
Analysis- The case ranks high on the list of heinous crimes, since it involves a remorseless
mother killing her own child for material gain. It reflects that a person’s psychology can be
Ryan Augustine Pinto v. State Of Haryana And Anr, CRM-M-35002-2017.
https://www.ndtv.com/delhi-news/juvenile-accused-in-pradyuman-thakur-murder-case-to-be-treated-as-adult1790000, visited on 25/1/18.
Shiv Narain Singh Sidhu v. Central Bureau Of Investigation, HC, Delhi, W.P.(CRL) 781/2013 &
https://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/india/crimes-that-rocked-india-in-2015, visited on 25/1/18.
changed due to the overriding urge for money. According to Jung’s personality theory, such
people make judgments based on subjective ideas and on internally established beliefs. Often
they ignore prevailing attitudes and defy social norms of thinking.
 Dadri lynching case54
On 28 September a 52-year-old individual Mohammad Akhlaq was dragged out of his home in
Dadri village, U.P, for killing cow and eating beef, by an angry crowd, and was brutally beaten
to death. His 22-year-old son Danish tried to intervene but was also severely beaten55.
Analysis- This case reflects that anyone one can play with the mind / mood of the mob in the
name of religion. According to Jung, this category of personality explains events from the
viewpoint of the environment. They see the focus of life as being driven by events outside
themselves and fix their attention firmly on the external world.
 Dimapur Mob lynching case56
In Dimapur, a 35-year old Syed Farid Khan was dragged out of prison by a frenzied mob, who
had been jailed for raping a 20-year-old Naga girl. Helpless prison guards stood as mute
spectators as the mob comprising thousands of agitated locals, dragged Khan out, stripped him
naked and proceeded to lynch him in full public view.
Analysis- The act drew condemnation from all quarters but also raised questions about the
prevailing law and order situation in Nagaland. This also reflects that a few people can change
the psychology of a gathering of common people and urge them to commit a crime without
knowing the consequences in the guise of delivering instant justice to the rape victim. According
to Jung’s personality theory, people judge the value of things based on objective fact.
Comfortable in social situations, they form their opinions based on socially accepted values and
majority beliefs.
 Aarushi Hemraj murder case57
Lynching cases are based on the reports.
Rajesh Talwar v. C.B.I & Ors, 2013 (82) ACC 303.
On 16 May 2008 the double murder of a fourteen-year-old Aarushi Talwar resident of Noida,
and a household help Hemraj is still one of India’s murkiest murder mysteries. Aarushi was
found murdered in her house and the servant Hemraj was found missing. Hemraj became the
prime suspect in the case only till his decomposed body was discovered on the terrace, a day
The case grabbed headlines when Aarushi’s parents, Dr Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were charged
as prime suspects for honour killing and arrested. According to the CBI, Rajesh Talwar found his
daughter in a compromising position with Hemraj and therefore killed both of them in the spur of
the movement.
After CBI took charge of the probe, in 2010 it submitted a closure report in which it claimed that
the murders couldn’t be investigated in the absence of evidence. However, the case 59 was
reopened by the CBI court, which on November 25, 2013, found them guilty of the murders and
sentenced them to life. The couple then filed an appeal 60 in the Allahabad High Court
challenging the previous court’s order. Four years after they were held guilty for the murder of
their daughter Aarushi Talwar, Rajesh and Nupur Talwar were exonerated by the Allahabad
High Court on October 12, 2017. The judgment was pronounced by a two-member Allahabad
High Court bench, which said conviction can’t be based on suspicion and the couple must be
given "benefit of doubt".
The CBI filed an appeal challenging the high court order acquitting the Talwar couple, CBI's
spokesperson said. The High Court had freed them of the charges on the ground that they could
not be held guilty on the basis of the evidence on record.
The Supreme Court admitted an appeal against the acquittal of the Talwar couple in March'18.
Analysis – This case reflects Freud’s theory of ‘ego’. The ‘ego’ understands that other people
have needs and desires and that sometimes being impulsive or selfish can hurt us in the long run.
APPLICATION U/S 482 No. - 16946 of 2013.
CRIMINAL APPEAL No. - 293 of 2014.
Jessica Lal murder case61
On April 29, 1999, Manu Sharma, son of the former Union minister Vinod Sharma, shot dead
Jessica Lal after she refused to serve him liquor at the Tamarind Court restaurant owned by
socialite Bina Ramani in south Delhi’s Mehrauli62.
The case continued to hit the headlines long after the murder when Sharma was acquitted by a
trial court in February 2006. Following a nationwide public outcry, the case was taken up by
Delhi high court through a fast-track trial that ended in his conviction on murder charges. He has
been sentenced to life in the case63.
Analysis- This case reflects the changed psychology of an offender due to possession of excess
money. According to Freud’s theory of ‘id’, the ‘id’ doesn't care about reality, about the needs of
anyone else, only its own satisfaction. When the ‘id’ wants something, nothing else is important.
The discussion above indicates that psychology plays a prominent role in criminal tendency and
crime committed, whether it is a social, economic or biological crime. On the one hand, the
neurological theory asserts the functional correlation of the neuronal arrangements of the brain
with mental phenomena while on the other, the 'behaviourists', interpret all reference to mind as
'constructs' out of the behaviour. "Functionalism", asserts that mind is the logical or functional
state of physical systems. But all theories recognise, that the mind is controlled by psychometric
processes, at a level not yet fully known to science.
The overall analysis, however, indicates that the psychiatric aspects of criminology is still an
unexplored field in our country. Like all other scientists, personality psychologists are influenced
by prevailing social and political forces. In addition, the advance research on personality traits
can be utilized by psychologists to influence public attitude and social policy.
As discussed in the article, the psychoanalytic approach, in particular, provides valuable tools to
understand the deep-rooted causes of crime and criminal behaviour. This leads us to return to our
original premise that crime cannot be explained solely by the psychoanalytic theory firstly
Manu Sharma v. State (NCT of Delhi), (2010) 6 SCC 1.
https://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/india/crimes-that-rocked-india-in-2015, visited on 25/1/18.
because of its limitations and secondly because it has a strong correlation with geographical,
anthropological, economic and social factors also. If this is true, then perhaps an integrated
approach for developing theories and explanations for the occurrence of crime is helpful in
analysing the crime problem holistically. But in the end, the study and analysis of the crime
problem must trigger that befitting awareness which can initiate a dialogue for more social,
governmental and judicial action in order to ensure safe and secure environment at home and all
public places.