Essay on Freud’s Theory of Criminal Behaviour

That is to say, although the desire for sex pleasure and hunger are basic urges of a person yet he is all the time conscious that only the righteous means to fulfil these desires protect his personality and any deviation from the normal course shall cast aspersions on his personality. Super ego according to Freud is the force of self-criticism and control inherent in every person.

Thus, there is a constant conflict between ‘Id’ (basic urges of men) ego and super-ego. Freud, therefore, contends that crime is the substitute of symbolic behaviour of a person. The desire for committing suicide (self-murder) is out of the feeling of inferiority, frustration, depression or anxiety. Again, theft is committed out of the sense of financial inferiority and to get rid of the feelings of spite and dependence etc.

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According to Freud, the ego does not exist at birth but it is something the individual learns. For example, a baby learns that it is fed only after crying and child learns to say ‘please’ in order to obtain thing which he wants. Gradually, ‘ego’ develops and starts controlling the temper i.e., id.

The super-ego is largely part of the unconscious personality. It is the conscience which exists in the unconscious areas of mind. The super-ego thus characterises the fully socialised and conforming member of society. It is the impact of moral and ethical attitudes of parents with whom the child interacts in his or her early stages of development that helps in the formation of the super-ego.

It would be seen that id demands pleasure, while the super-ego demands control and repression and both push ego towards its own. As a result of this, there is conflict which is difficult to resolve. Where the super-ego in a child is not well developed, he is likely to be drawn towards delinquency.

Freud postulated that the failure to develop super-ego was generally the result of parents being unloving, harsh or absent during the child’s upbringing. It is for this reason that socialising processes had failed to work on those children whose latent delinquency had become dominant; the children were therefore, dis-social, if not anti-social.

Psychologists also recognise that other factors such as relationships with persons outside the family and general social environment can also affect the formation of super-ego. If super-ego is over-developed, it may lead to guilt feelings or neurosis.

Adler attributes criminal behaviour to inferiority complex and observes that crime is an overt compassion for a deep feeling of inferiority, which is often the result of distrust or neglect of child by the parents.