CJ 725 Forensic Behavior Analysis Blog

The Crimes of Ted Bundy and Jack the Ripper: An Enigmatic Juxtaposition?

By Marina KatehisAugust 21st, 2019in CJ 725

Delving into the dark catacombs of the human condition lends itself to the exploration of some of the most abominable crimes. Since the late 1880s, modern society began to grapple with the empirical construct of serial murder, demanding attention and insight in explaining its etiology in the criminological framework. A rudimentary understanding of serial killers has inexorably gained momentum and social significance because their attendant crimes both perplex and fascinate those in their periphery. Such illuminating examples constitute the heinous crimes of Jack the Ripper and Ted Bundy, who predated on multiple women and left a trail of horror behind. One may ask: Are there similarities in some of the underlying causes and manifestations of their crimes? Such a juxtaposition raises the specter of whether their crimes share commonalities involving the designation of a sex crime.

Attention to the predatory violence inflicted on the hapless victims of the Ripper and Bundy reflects an insatiable desire to engage in sexualized violence, perhaps stemming from immense feelings of emasculation, giving rise to a eunuch. In describing a sex crime, Caputi (1982) emphasizes a sexualized violence associated with the crime, whereby the target of the attack, the motivation, and the manner of violence are collectively relegated into the realm of “sexual,” within the cultural fabric. Thus, an ideology emerges to reveal a sex crime, conferring realistic and metaphoric significance (Caputi). In a quest for attention and infamy, Jack the Ripper sought women in the slums of London, leaving their morbid bodies on display, eviscerated and mutilated. Similarly, Ted Bundy would lure women into his deadly lair, killing them with no compunction, and dumping their bodies in remote areas to be scattered by ferocious animals. Told anew, these tragedies invoke a ritual, reflecting the perpetuation of entrenched cultural values. In this vein, the murderous ritual functions to align with the cultural universals of male dominance and patriarchy, should they be challenged.

Conceivably, this ritual allows those who manifest sexual violence to enact their dominance over women, and thus, dichotomizing the sexes into the structure of predator and prey (Caputi, 1982). This chasm, serving often as a linchpin for gender inequality, undergirds the rationalizations of a sex crime. Against this backdrop, it is instructive to understand the psychological underpinnings of the sex crimes committed by Bundy and the Ripper. In analyzing them, common themes emerge. Much blame is imputed to their mothers for their criminality, and their murderous arc represents a holy war against women and their inherent sexuality (Caputi). Jack the Ripper was adept in removing the genitalia of his victims, suggesting an animosity toward women, particularly, his mother (Caputi). Indeed, research into the crimes of Bundy and the Ripper do suggest that they had cultivated an ambivalence toward their mother (Caputi). Most likely, their childhoods were mired in psychological and physical abuse by their mothers according to the findings of Caputi in the course of her research on sex crimes.

Juxtaposing the sex crimes of Bundy and the Ripper carries the stamp of male dominance, seeking to denounce and punish feminine values in the context of a ritual, serving as a justifiable representation of embedded social values. They were purportedly raised by domineering mothers, having inflicted ambivalence and pain, which would be concomitantly avenged against. As such, killing women evinced a catharsis to countervail their painful and traumatic memories of their childhood. Having overidentified with their mothers, or the feminine sex, evoked a fundamental antagonism toward their sense of masculinity. By committing violent crimes, their status of a eunuch was neutralized through the symbolic warfare against women. For all the credible rationalizations and explanations of these serial murderers, their personas remain a formidable mystery.

Caputi, J. E. (1982). The age of sex crime (Order No. 8227475). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (303210815).


Psychopath Blog

By Sahara HartleyAugust 21st, 2019in CJ 725

This blog post is my personal horrific fascination with psychopathy. Psychopaths are ‘social predators who charm and manipulate’. Psychopaths that people think of are usually horrific serial killers and murderers- but there are psychopaths that adjust well to normal life and usually are very successful. We had discussed psychopaths in class and some famous ones from media. Psychopaths are of higher intelligence, not usually violent and are calloused/lacking with emotion.  These people are interesting because this illness is not like other mental illnesses. Psychopaths are born with a dysfunction in their brain. They can be born a psychopath or have the traits for it that can be expressed after some environmental factors take place during life. They are known for their lack of empathy and per this class, I have learned that it is in part due to a lack of fear as well as other neuro dysfunctions. Psychopaths don't predict pain ie getting shocked by static electric a person with a normal fear factor would have anticipation for the pain they knew was going to happen, a psychopath would not. My question to explore about psychopaths is if they don’t have emotions, do they ever feel truly happy?

Intervention Strategies for Occupational Stress and Burnout

By Desirae CooperAugust 17th, 2019in CJ 725

In the text, Inside the Criminal Justice Organization: An Anthology for Practitioners, O’Brien discusses how “occupational stress occurs when an employee’s work environment, such as the nature of job demands or physical or social situations, result in reactions that are detrimental to the person’s well-being (physical or mental health).” O’Brien goes on to discuss how elements of a work environment creates stressors (e.g. relationships or work schedules), these stressors can then cause a reaction such as, strain or anxiety (Mastrorilli, 2018). For example, in the field of criminal justice, officers face stressful situations and traumatic events such as, shootings and witnessing death, these occurrences could then create stressors. In addition to these elements, work-related stress can also “affect the well-being of the organization, in the form of heightened use of sick leave, absenteeism, turnover, and effects on productivity” (Mastrorilli, 2018). Moreover, in order to improve the overall well-being of an employee, it is important to address and implement strategies that can help alleviate these strains or stressors.

In addition to occupational stress is burnout. According Dr. Mastrorilli, burnout is caused by chronic stress and signs of individual burnout include “extreme cynicism and detachment; physical and mental exhaustion, and severe irritability.” Moreover, there are six causes of burnout, which includes too much workload and value mismatch, also not enough control, reward, community, and fairness (Mastrorilli, 2019). For example, in the field of criminal justice, correctional officers can become physically and mentally exhausted from experiencing too much workload that is excessive and demanding. Regarding occupational stress and burnout, these occurrences can have devastating effects on employees and even organizations. Therefore, it is important that administrators and leaders in the criminal justice field be proactive and aware of these occurrences.

As previously mentioned, criminal justice agents who work in the field face traumatic events, which could trigger certain responses and can have harmful effects. Some of these effects can include reliving the event or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to Newsweek article, “in a survey of Washington State Department of Corrections employees, nearly 20 percent of participants expressed symptoms indicative of PTSD, the same rate as veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and higher than that of police officers.” Another study in California found that “ten percent of prison guards have contemplated suicide, three times higher than the U.S. population, facing the same exposure to violence that incites PTSD” (Andrews, 2018). As criminal justice officers are exposed to workplace trauma and is a necessary part of their job, it may be impossible to fully alleviate this mental health issue. However, leaders of an agency can make things possible by being proactive and prepare for strategies that can buffer against this stress-related disorder.

Within a criminal justice department is it important to implement a program that integrates intervention services. These services can be established in two phases. The first phase can provide a one-time incident-specific intervention that handles the effects of “overwhelming trauma on otherwise normal, well-functioning personnel” (Miller, 2014). The second phase of the process incorporates individuals who have reoccurring incidences of PTSD, which calls for a more extensive individual approach (Miller, 2014). Regarding these services, it is important that leaders of an agency consider the timing of the intervention. Specifically, in primary intervention, providing coping skills within the program can be an effective tool. Research suggests that “when people are given specific preparation for viewing traumatic scenes, they are better able to cope” (Mastrorilli, 2018). This research proposes that “people who are mentally prepared for stress fare better than those who are unprepared” (Mastrorilli, 2018). For example, this strategy can be incorporated at the beginning stages of training for officers. Therefore, this is a beneficial tool because it can target officers who are not yet at risk and allow them to learn specific coping mechanisms that can prepare them for a traumatic event.

Another program that should be implemented into criminal justice departments is critical incident stress debriefing (CISD). According to Miller, “CISD is a structured intervention designed to promote the emotional processing of traumatic events through the ventilation and normalization of reactions, as well as preparation for possible future experiences.” This specific model is based off a number of criteria in which the support staff will assess the employees and establish proper debriefing services, this criteria includes, “many individuals within a group appear to be distressed after a call; the signs of stress appear to be quite severe; personnel demonstrate significant behavioral changes; personnel make significant errors on calls occurring after the critical incident; personnel request help; the event is unusual or extraordinary” (Miller, 2014). These debriefings usually consist of mental health professionals and takes place within 24-72 hours after the incident has occurred (Miller, 2014). This is particularly beneficial for criminal justice departments, it allows officers to receive one-on-one attention and provides a response to their specific needs. Therefore, implementing these programs and addressing this mental health issue becomes not only beneficial to the officers, in hopes to increase their well-being, but it can also benefit the overall operations within an agency.









Andrew, S. (2018). Prison employees face same rates of PTSD as war veterans, new research claims. Newsweek. Retrieved from https://www.newsweek.com/prison-workers-face-high-rates-ptsd-study-says-1024273

Mastrorilli, M. (2018). Inside the Criminal Justice Organization: An Anthology for Practitioners. Cognella Academic Publishing.

Mastrorilli, M. (2019). Lecture Modules 4 -5. Boston University.

Miller, L. (2014). Law enforcement traumatic stress: Clinical syndromes and intervention strategies. The American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Retrieved from http://www.aaets.org/article87.htm

Cyber Sexual Assault and Trauma

By Katherine SullivanDecember 20th, 2018in CJ 725

When one thinks of trauma the classic definition comes to mind, deeply distressing or disturbing experience or physical injury (Webster Dictionary, 2018). Our first thoughts usually goes to major violent events like war trauma, sexual assaults, etc. We, as a society, have historically always viewed physical violence as the most severe and rightfully so but we lose sight of the emotional costs and what that in turn does to an individual. I think of what my grandmother would say to me, “sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. In some aspect this is correct, we treat those physical breaks with medicine but infrequently treat the emotional breaks caused by the words, so although we receive physical injury from physical abuse, we cannot belittle the emotional injury of abuse like cyber sexual abuse.

I believe this to be the mindset when we think of cyber sexual abuse or as it has been labelled previously, “revenge porn”. The idea is that the abuse is not physically happening to the individual, so therefore it cannot be creating too significant of a trauma. But the prevalence of intimate partner violence is more closely correlated to emotional or psychological abuse than act

ual physical abuse. One in seven relationships for physical abuse and close to two-thirds of all partnerships for emotional or psychological abuse. (Bartol & Bartol, 2017)

When Dr. Shelley Clevenger presented before congress as a member of American Society of Criminology's Division of Women and Crime to share with them recommendations towards the Enough Act, she was trying to address this under reported fact of emotional and psychological abuse. In her presentation Dr. Clevenger addressed the issue of cyber sexual abuse, the reason this is such an important topic to be discussed is because there is a lack of knowledge around it. When Dr. Clevenger was reporting her qualitative research results, she noted that all of the 500 survivors of intimate partner violence also experiences cyber sexual abuse. People misinterpret the actions of the offender as just, based off the fact that someone may have given them access to the sensitive material. An example of an abuse and the mindset of one police officer is Betty, a 60-year-old woman, who broke up with her abusive boyfriend, he reacted by sending an intimate photo to multiple men who then tried to contact Betty online. The situation escalated until Betty had to quit her job as a nurse out of fear that her abuser would continue to send the photo to her coworkers. A New York police officer told her that this was her fault for sending the photo in the first place. (Atlas, 2018) This mindset is shifting with every bit of knowledge that is put out there for policy makers to help guide them.

In New York City, it is now (as of February 15, 2018) a crime to share, or threaten to share, an intimate photo without the subject’s consent or with the intent to cause harm to the subject. 41 states and Washington DC also have laws against cyber sexual abuse; however no statewide law currently exists in New York. (Atlas, 2018) This is a huge step in the right direction, it is showing that our policy makers are recognizing the harmfulness of cyber sexual abuse and its traumatic effects and are willing to do something about it.

The traumatic outcomes that can come from this type of abuse are ones that can last a long time. Even though there maybe protect orders in place, it still does not erase the judgement some people may have towards the victims based off of what they had seen or heard. Also, once images are on the web they can be taken down but there is no guarantee they weren’t copied before they were taken down. It leaves the victims of cyber sexual abuse is a very vulnerable situation of not knowing if those pictures or video will surface again.


Atlas, Lauren. (June 11, 2018). What You Didn’t Know About Cyber Sexual Abuse. Sanctuary for Families. Retrieved on December 18, 2018  from  https://sanctuaryforfamilies.org/what-you-didnt-know-about-cyber-sexual-abuse/

Bartol, Anne, and Bartol, Curtis. (2017). Criminal Behavior: A Psychological Approach. 11th Edition. Pearson. 2017.

 Clevenger, Shelley. (October 2018). Cyberabuse of Women and Girls. American Society of Criminology's Division of Women and Crime.     ASCDWC VIDEO, Published on Oct 12, 2018. Retrieved on December 18, 2018 from https://youtu.be/_wTMHoyUrhc

Gun control laws in the United States

By Corey DizoglioDecember 20th, 2018in CJ 725

            What was so interesting for me this semester was chapter 10 in Bartol & Bartol (2016) that focused on Multiple Murder, School and Workplace Violence. Learning and speaking about public mass shootings and, in particular, school shootings is what stuck out to me the most this semester. According to the Washington Post, by February 15 of this year, there had already been seven school shootings in the United States. That makes for one school shooting per week, which is more than some countries have ever had.

Despite these high numbers, mass shootings actually make up a small percentage of overall deaths by firearm. “Over three recent decades (1983 to 2012), there have been approximately 78 public mass shootings in the United States, resulting in 547 deaths (not including the shooters)” (Bjelopera, Bagalman, Caldwell, Finlea, & McCallion 2013). Even if we add the more recent deaths not counted in those figures (e.g., Newtown and Aurora), the numbers do not approach 1,000 over three decades. While shocking, frightening, and tragic, public mass shootings account for a very small portion of the murders in any given year. In the year 2013 alone, for example, firearms were used to murder 8,454 persons (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2014a, p. 306)

            It is obvious that something needs to be done regarding gun violence and mass shootings, especially shootings that occur on school grounds, have brought it to the attention of the public. We need change in the United States in regard to stricter gun laws and more extensive background checks. With this being said, there should be certain rules regarding firearm ownership for individuals with mental illness as well as those who live in the household with them. A perfect example of this would be the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. Although the mother of the shooter, Nancy Lanza, owned her firearms legally, in my opinion, she should have not of held the firearms kept at home. Unfortunately, this mistake cost her life along with 20 innocent children and six adult staff members.

            One major issue regarding to mass shootings in school is due to the easy availability of firearms. Erickson (2018) wrote: “Americans have a disproportionate number of guns at least 300 million, about one per person, especially handguns and semiautomatic weapons. A bullet from an AR-15 rifle, which the alleged shooter used in the Florida attack Wednesday, can penetrate a steel helmet from five hundred yards. As the New Yorker put it: when fired from a close range at civilians who aren’t wearing body armor, the bullets from an AR-15 don’t merely penetrate the human body – they tear it apart. It ‘looks like a grenade went off in there,’ Peter Rheem a trauma surgeon at the University of Arizona, told Wired.” With this being said, in my opinion, high powered AR-15 rifles should only be accessed by law enforcement or the military. Being able to willingly purchase an AR-15 is something that I find preposterous. It is clear that not only is school violence an issue that is unique to the United States, but the United States is also the only country that has an overall dilemma with firearm-related deaths. We as Americans are failing as a country, and our future unfortunately suffers.

            With mass shootings happening at an alarming rate, we as a country must do something about it, rather than becoming so numb to it. One country that we can learn from is from Australia. On April 28, 1996, a 28-year-old Australian identified as Martin Bryant shot up a local tourist location using a semiautomatic rifle. The results of the shooting left 35 people deceased and 23 wounded resulting in the worst mass shooting in Australian history. After the shooting took place, the ruling center-right Liberal Party came together with groups across the political board to work together on legislation with the objective of ending easy access to guns. Calamur (2017) wrote: “Australian government banned automatic and semiautomatic firearms, adopted new licensing requirements, established a national firearms registry, and instituted a 28-day waiting period for gun purchases. It also destroyed more than 600,000 civilian-owned firearms, in a scheme that cost half a billion dollars and was funded by raising taxes.” The entire process took months to complete. The findings after the Australian government took action indicate that stricter guns laws do in fact work. Calamur (2017) shares the definition of a mass shooting in Australia is any incidents in which a gunman killed five or more people other than himself. This is a notably a higher casualty count than is generally applied for tallying mass shootings in the U.S. Mass shootings dropped from 13 in the 18-year period before 1996 to zero after the Port Author massacre (Calamur 2017). Between 1995 and 2006, gun related homicides and suicides in the country dropped by 59 percent and 65 percent, respectively, though these declines appear to have since leveled off.”  It seems reasonable to aim to implement similar regulations in the United States, however the United States has more people, more guns per capita, and, the second amendment, which complicates the process.




Bartol, C. and Bartol, A. (2017). Criminal behavior: A psychological approach (Eleventh                         Edition). Upper Boston: Pearson.


Calamur, K. (2017, October 2). Australia’s lessons on gun control.  The Atlantic.                           Retrieved from:                      https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/10/australia-gun-   control/541710/


Erickson, A. (2018, February 15). The one number that shows America’s problem with                school shootings is unique.  The Washington Post. Retrieved from: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/02/15/the-one-         number-that-shows-americas-problem-with-school-shootings-is-       unique/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.065d444660f4.

Does Justice Always Prevail?

By Carolyn WilsonDecember 19th, 2018in CJ 725

In the recently political climate that has been brought about by the election of President Trump into office, many different facets of the justice system are being questioned. Along with these questions about how our system is functioning, questions have arisen regarding the morals and ethics of our current population. There has been recent uproar over the sentencing of Cyntoia Brown. At 16 years old, Cyntoia killed the man that solicited her for sex and who was known for being dangerous. For her actions, she was sentenced to at least 51 years in prison before even being eligible for release. This sentencing occurred over a decade ago and is just getting the attention that it deserves. Cyntoia’s situation recently gained the attention of several high profile celebrities, including Rihanna, whose Instagram post regarding her views on this topic is shown below (CNN, 2018).

CNN, 2018

According to an article that CNN posted earlier this month, Brown was tried as an adult and was sentenced as such because they argued that she didn’t need to kill him out of self-defense and instead her intention was to rob him. However, this man had taken her to his house for sex, making this non-consented and essentially a premeditated rape. It would seem that in this situation, even her juvenile status did not earn her a reduced sentence. The outrage over her sentencing is exacerbated when it is coupled with all the articles about rapists getting away with not much of a sentence to serve.

Many have heard about the case against Brock Turner, who was a "former Stanford University swimmer who was sentenced to six months in jail in 2016 for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman” (Hauser, 2018). Many believed that his sentence was too lenient for the crime he was committing. Social media increased public awareness of this incident, further increasing public anger and disbelief. Most of what social media emphasized was the fact that Brock Turner did not look like what a typical rapist is usually assumed to look like, thereby earning him a more lenient sentence. However, in the case of Cyntoia Brown, her use of self-defense in which she murdered the man who was going to rape her earned her 51 years in prison. However, the man who could’ve committed the rape gets away with only six months in jail. The comparison between these two cases bring to light the difference in how justice is served, when one crime out of self-defense is penalized at a much greater or harsher rate than a more morally incorrect crime of rape.

Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group, via Associated Press

Putting these two cases side to side really makes it seem as though justice is not being served adequately in our society. One would assume that a person who tried to commit rape would be penalized greater than a person who tried to act in self-defense. This also makes us question what type of image is being given to others. Rape victims will believe they will be ostracized if they come out to the public, and people in abusive relationships will fear to take action to remove themselves from the situation. If this is the message being given out, is justice really prevailing?



CNN. (2018, December 09). Court: Cyntoia Brown must serve at least 51 yrs. Retrieved from https://www.nbc26.com/news/national/cyntoia-brown-life-sentence-decision-tennessee-supreme-court


Hauser, C. (2018, August 09). Brock Turner Loses Appeal to Overturn Sexual Assault Conviction. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/09/us/brock-turner-appeal.html


By Reem KarimiDecember 18th, 2018in CJ 725

We encourage a lot of people to speak up and to report sexual violence but what happens if they do? We constantly hear about victim blaming but how ugly does it get? Most of us have heard about the #MeToo movement but how did this movement inspire others globally?


The #MeToo movement has inspired and empowered women of all ages to speak up against sexual violence globally. #ThisIsNotConsent movement was established in Ireland due to the admission of a victim’s underwear as evidence by the defense in a court trial regarding a rape case. The defense attorney argued that wearing nice underwear was consent and that the teenage girl shouldn’t have worn it in the first place (Norton, 2018). Further arguing, “You have to look at the way she was dressed. She was wearing a thong with a lace front” (George, 2018). The defendant was found not guilty of raping the 17-year old girl (Mezzofiore, 2018). This sparked multiple protests in Ireland and started the social media hash tag  #ThisIsNotConsent.An Irish parliament member, Ruth Coppinger, held up underwear at one of the parliament house meetings to highlight the mistreatment of rape victims during trials and argued for a better legal approach to sexual violence (George, 2018). She further argued towards a male dominated assembly stating, “It might seem embarrassing to show a pair of thongs here in this incongruous setting, but… how do you think a rape victim or a woman feels at the incongruous setting of her underwear being shown in a court” (Norton, 2018). She further stated that the Rape Crisis Network Ireland statistics indicated, “only 10 percent of rapes are reported and just one in 40 gets an adequate conviction” (Norton, 2018). The low number of sexual violence allegations shows that many victims are hesitant to report such violence.


This demonstrates how victim blaming is a global issue, where if one had the courage to come forward, they might have to face such cruel condemnation. With such mistreatment of rape victims, it discourages many rape victims coming forward. Especially when showing off a victim’s personal garment by the defense legal team as evidence or a defense tactic against the victim in court. This truly affects whether or not a victim comes forward because they don’t or won’t be able to face such criticism or humiliation. This would also add emotional distress to the victims and re-traumatizes them. The problem here is the stigmatization the society has placed regarding this issue. Consequently, this can cause trauma to go untreated, causing it to develop into something more serious like seeking violence. Especially, when one feels hopeless with the world stacked against them.

Studies have shown that a direct correlation exists between trauma and violence (Saar, Epstein, Rosenthal, & Vafa, 2015). Where girls fall into the juvenile system rabbit hole, starting with smaller offenses and getting dragged into more serious offenses. I think this is due to the fact that the cause of the problem is not being addressed appropriately. Treating the trauma the girls have experienced and removing them from such toxic environment can improve this, showing them that there is hope or a way out.

The #MeToo movement has been very influential and has provided a platform for survivors. It encouraged many survivors to recognize the trauma they have experienced and also seek help to treat or heal from such trauma. This shows how important awareness is and how it can actually have a great impact on intervention. It is important for us to encourage victims to seek resources. It is our responsibility as a society to change.




Saar, M., Epstein, R., Rosenthal, L., & Vafa, Y. (2015). The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls' Story. Washington, D.C.: George Town Law Center on Poverty and Inequality.

Mezzofiore, G. (2018, November 15). Use of underwear in Irish rape trial sparks outrage. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/14/europe/ireland-underwear-rape-acquittal-scli-intl/index.html

Norton, S. (2018, November 19). 'This is not consent': How a thong prompted protests across Ireland over the handling of rape trials. Retrieved from https://inews.co.uk/news/long-reads/this-is-not-consent-thong-rape-case-ireland-protests/

George, K. (2018, November 21). Why Irish Women Are Showing Off Their Underwear To Denounce Victim-Blaming. Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/p/irish-womens-this-is-not-consent-tweets-protest-the-shocking-way-this-rape-trial-was-decided-13147976



Self-Determination Theory

By Jessica DejesusDecember 18th, 2018in CJ 725

When selfceare is discussed often times we immediately correlate it to a persons physical wellbeing. People are affected by many lifestyle factors such as substance use, diet, and physical activity. These factors are ultimately controlled by a persons behavior. Any care outside of a hospital consist of being prescribed medications, self examinations, or refraining from a specific activity/habit. In my opinion the greatest problem with these implications is failure. The majority of individuals stick to a plan for a short amount of time before reverting to old habits. Lets be realistic here, habits are a life time in the making and are hard to break. Successful people remain self motivated by setting a goal and accomplishing it.

How do we revert our natural tendencies into positive healthy habits? Self-Determination Theory created by Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan focuses on motivation and personality. Self-Determination Theory (SDT) is a theory of human motivation stating that individuals have innate tendencies towards personal growth and vitality that are either satisfied or thwarted by there immediate environment (Maraya, 2014). It is the ability for someone to take charge of their life and choices. Self-determination theory is comprised of two other sub theories including Cognitive Evaluation Theory and Organismic Integration Theory. Cognitive Evaluation Theory states we have a need to be good at something (competence), have control of our actions (autonomy) and are connected by positive relationships (relatedness). (Jones, 2014) Organismic Integration Theory states people just go through the motions (amotivation), motivation is simply to complete an external demand (external regulation), and motivation is enjoyable (intrinsic regulation). (Jones, 2014)

A strong goal oriented person sets their mind to what they want to achieve. I can't speak for most but for myself, I am happiest when I accomplish my goals. Self-determination is a vital component to our everyday lives including mine. We use it in the work place to feel more engaged and motivated, athletes use it to perform better and in personal relationships to provide support to one another. I have become successful in being realistic about my goals, owning my small accomplishments and mishaps, holding myself accountable, and taking pride in my small accomplishments. How can we help others become self dependent? Parents can encourage children to: self-awareness or self knowledge, goal setting, problem solving skills, decision building skills, ability to self advancement, and create goals and action plans. Teachers should nurture students interest, communicate using informal messages, explain the importance of different task, understand the students strength and weaknesses, provide positive feedback, and acknowledge students feelings. (Maraya, 2014). Self-determination theory provides positivity to heath, behavior, and well-being. Engaging in intervention methods for changing our life style improves longevity in each individual.


Home. (n.d.). Retrieved December 14, 2018, from http://selfdeterminationtheory.org/

Jones, B. D. (2014, January 06). Self-Determination Theory v1. Retrieved December 14, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=v84XxJkqvbU

Maraya, J. (2014, August 24). Self determination theory. Retrieved December 14, 2018, from https://www.slideshare.net/jrmaraya/self-determination-theory

The Complexity of the Psychopathic Mind

By Rebecca KlestzickDecember 18th, 2018in CJ 725

The psychopath holds a special place in our society because of our fascination with the dark side of humanity. We are attracted by physical appearance that it trumps everything else about the individual and we evaluate this person by how he or she looks, dresses and talks.They are charming, which makes them easily misjudged or simply misunderstood instead of being considered dangerous. Psychopaths use their winning smile and captivating body language to play into our emotions, that make us weak and vulnerable, deceiving us from their true intentions.

These people are not your typical “psychopath” that conjures up images of famous serial killers or murderers. On the surface they can appear to be genuine and personable but just below the surface they are deceitful and manipulative. What makes them so captivating says, Dr. Raine, Professor of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania, is, “their larger than life characteristics, they are charming, fun to talk to and they are the life of the party.” (Mallard 2018) Their charismatic behavior and hand gestures often distracts the listener from identifying their psychopathic nature says Dr. Woodworth.  They have the ability to “perform convincingly in one – on – one setting which are all qualities that can help one get ahead” and into positions of power. (Forbes 2013) Robert Hare, Paul Babiak and Craig Neumann conducting a study on those who worked in corporate companies and found that 3% scored in the psychopathy range. This was disturbing to them as it is “well – above the incidence of 1% in the general population” but these results show; psychopathic behaviors are valued and at times commended. (The Conversation 2018)

The media has re – established the image of a psychopath by portraying them as the anti – hero. The “Hollywood psychopath” is someone with anti-social personality disorder or psychotic features and possess overdramatized traits that are common among psychopaths. (Perry 2014) Due to the lack of a diagnostic tool or a presence in the DSM V, it has led to the inaccurate media image of a psychopath. The psychopath on the big screens is seen as someone with high intelligence, charming, sophisticating and able to deceive the authorities by staying one step ahead. They are criminal masterminds who use their good looks to evoke empathy while lacking any themselves.

While the media does exaggerate psychopathic traits there is some truth in their behaviors. In terms of a successful psychopath, “we see a strong parallelism between what happens in our society and what happens in film.” (Perry 2014) While the prevalence of psychopathy in prisons is high but the majority of psychopaths are not criminals. The perception that psychotic and psychopathic are one in the same, simply is not accurate. They are not mentally ill rather masters at deception by appearing normal. They are not psychotic and have not lost touch with reality, they quickly weigh the risks and benefits but focusing mainly on the reward. They don’t feel emotion, they do what other people say is associated with a particular emotion and mimic those expressions, acting as if they do.

The psychopathic criminal makes up between 15 and 25 percent of the prison population. There is an alluring attraction in understanding how psychopaths think as our insight into neuroscience progresses. What makes psychopaths so dangerous is their ability to deceive the professionals whose jobs involve regular interactions with psychopaths. Their charm and deception have led to the misidentification by mental health professionals or their ability to coerce the criminal justice system. Psychopaths are very adept at imitating emotions such as remorse or guilt in the courtroom, the illusion of sincerity. As psychopathic behaviors continue to present themselves across our legal system will a neuroscientific defense become “my brain made me do it.” (New Atlas 2017) It has become evident that there are a variety of neurological mechanisms that affect thought process which influence our decisions. Research into the traits and neurology of psychopathology, brings us closer to explaining why they behave the way that they do and it has also given us insight into why we all do what we do.

Work Cited:

Haridy, R. (2017, July 07). Inside the brains of psychopaths. Retrieved from https://newatlas.com/psychopath-brain-mri-study/50365/

Lipman, V. (2018, December 03). The Disturbing Link Between Psychopathy And Leadership. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/victorlipman/2013/04/25/the-disturbing-link-between-psychopathy-and-leadership/#687009974104

Lilienfeld, S. O., & Watts, A. (2018, September 19). Not all psychopaths are criminals – some psychopathic traits are actually linked to success. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/not-all-psychopaths-are-criminals-some-psychopathic-traits-are-actually-linked-to-success-51282

Miller, A. (2014, February). The Criminal Mind. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/02/criminal-mind.aspx

Perry, S. (2014, January 17). Why psychopathic film villains are rarely realistic - and why it matters. Retrieved from https://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2014/01/why-psychopathic-film-villains-are-rarely-realistic-and-why-it-matters/

Woodworth, M. (2012, July 01). The Language of Psychopaths: New Findings and Implications for Law Enforcement. Retrieved from https://leb.fbi.gov/articles/featured-articles/the-language-of-psychopaths-new-findings-and-implications-for-law-enforcement





Solitary Confinement: A Sentence Within a Sentence

By Orianna NatsisDecember 14th, 2018in CJ 725

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has denounced the use of solitary confinement beyond fifteen days as a form of cruel and degrading treatment that rises to the level of torture, yet it is not uncommon for individuals to endure long-term isolation with no relief (Casella et al., 2018, p. 1). In 2016, William Blake entered into his twenty-ninth year of solitary confinement at the Special Housing Unit (SHU) at New York’s Great Meadow Correctional Facility (Casella et al., 2018, p. 26). Narrowly escaping the death penalty, despite the sentencing judge wanting to “pump six bucks’ worth of electricity into [Blake’s] body,” Blake reflected, “When the prison gate slammed behind me, on that very day I would begin suffering a punishment I am convinced beyond all doubt is far worse than any death sentence could possibly have been […] I cannot fathom how dying any death could be harder or more terrible than living through all that I have been forced to endure for the past quarter century” (Casella et al., 2018, p. 26-27). Similarly, Jesse Wilson, serving a life sentence at ADX Florence, described his experience in the government’s only remaining supermax as a “clean version of hell” (Casella et al., 2018, p. 81). Imploring that his humanity remain intact, Wilson wrote of himself: “Past these tattoos and this penitentiary pain, I remain, a son, a brother, a friend, and a human being. It sometimes feels that is forgotten” (Casella et al., 2018, p. 81). In addressing the inhumanity of solitary confinement, Wilson continued:

I refuse to embrace the solitude. This is not normal. I’m not a monster and do not deserve to live in a concrete box. I am a man who has made mistakes, true. But I do not deserve to spend the rest of my life locked in a cage– what purpose does that serve? Why even waste the money to feed me? If I’m a monster who must live alone in a cage, why not just kill me (Casella et al., 2018, p. 82)?

The adverse effects of solitary confinement appear to be related primarily to the length and conditions of imprisonment. Although it has not been conclusively established that short periods of isolation produce negative outcomes for the emotional well-being of inmates, long-term solitary confinement does, especially in relation to the psychological adjustment of prisoners (Arrigo & Bullock, 2008, p. 627). Serving as an expert witness for the plaintiff convicts in a class-action suit challenging the conditions of confinement in the SHU at Pelican Bay State Prison in California (Madrid v. Gomez, 1995), psychologist Craig Haney (2006) noted that the rigid conditions of solitary confinement and the absence of socialization encourages inmates to become “highly malleable, unnaturally sensitive, and vulnerable to the influence of those who control the environment around them” (p. 5). Ironically, long-term social isolation often leads to social withdrawal– individuals move from craving social contact to fearing it (628). Furthermore, prisoners housed under conditions of confinement grow to rely on the prison structure to limit and control their behavior. Consequentially, convicts are no longer able to manage their conduct when returned to the general prison population or when released back into the community (628).

It has been well documented that prisoners in long-term solitary confinement are at increased risk for developing symptoms of mental illness (Grassian, 1983; Haney, 2006). Specifically, social isolation is correlated with clinical depression and long-term impulse-control disorders (Arrigo & Bullock, 2008, p. 628). It has been amply demonstrated that the conditions of solitary confinement can produce symptoms of mental illness even in healthy prisoners. Convicts with preexisting mental illness are, however, especially susceptible to suffering damaging consequences from long periods of isolation, such as the development of psychiatric symptoms (632). In 1997, the Human Rights Watch estimated that five percent of the general prison population experienced some form of psychiatric illness, whereas more than half of the prisoners in segregation units suffered from psychiatric illnesses (Human Rights Watch, 1997). Psychosis, suicidal behavior, and self-mutilation are commonly seen among prisoners in long-term solitary confinement (Haney, 2006; 628). Considering this, it must be noted that suicide continues to be a leading cause of death in correctional facilities across the United States (Hayes, 2011, p. 1). In 2006, the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives (NCIA) entered into a cooperative agreement with the United States’ Justice Department’s National Institute of Corrections to conduct a national study on penitentiary suicides that would determine the extent of inmate suicides (Hayes, 2011, p. 1). The data indicated that the suicide rate in detention facilities during 2006 was thirty-eight deaths per one-hundred-thousand inmates, a rate approximately three times greater than that of the general population (Hayes, 2011, p. 3). One 2004 Austrian case control study, in an attempt to identify characteristics that distinguish prisoners who commit suicide from other prisoners, found five specific factors: (1) a history of attempted suicide or suicidal communications; (2) psychiatric diagnosis; (3) psychotropic medication prescribed during imprisonment; (4) a highly violent index offense; and (5) single-cell accommodation (Fruehwald et al., 2004) (note: it is unclear if these same factors are cross-culturally transferable).

With the complete isolation and austere conditions of solitary confinement having been shown to induce psychiatric symptoms in its recipients, solitary has proven to be a sentence within a sentence. “People,” begins Jean Casella, co-author of Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement, “are supposed to be sent to prison as punishment, not for punishment” (Casella et al., 2018, p. 10). According to the law, deprivation of freedom alone is supposed to be the price society demands for crimes committed. Additional suffering endured within prison at the hands of officers and administrators can then be seen as extrajudicial, and cruel and unusual. Former president Barack Obama, on the topic of long-term solitary confinement, said, “Do we really think it makes sense to lock so many people alone in tiny cells for twenty-three hours a day for months, sometimes for years at a time? That is not going to make us safer. It’s not going to make us stronger” (Obama, 2016). Therefore, solitary confinement as a punishment must be re-thought.



Works Cited

Arrigo, B., & Bullock, J. (2008). The Psychological Effects of Solitary Confinement on Prisoners in Supermax Units. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 52 (6).

Casella, J., Ridgeway, J., & Shourd, S. (2018). Hell is a very small place: Voices from solitary confinement. New York: New Press.

Fruehwald S, Matschnig T, Koenig F, Bauer P, Frottier P. (2004) Suicide in custody: a case-control study. British Journal of Psychiatry, 185: 494-498.

Grassian, S. (1983). Psychopathological effects of solitary confinement. American Journal of Psychiatry, 140(11), 1450-1454.

Haney, C. (2006). Reforming punishment: Psychological limitations to the pains of

imprisonment. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Hayes, L. 2011. National Study of Jail Suicide: 20 Years Later. National Jail Exchange.

Human Rights Watch. (2000). Out of sight: Super-maximum security confinement in the United States.

Madrid v. Gomez. (1995).

Obama, B. (2016). Why we must rethink solitary confinement. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/barack-obama-why-we-must-rethink-solitary-confinement/2016/01/25/29a361f2-c384-11e5-8965-0607e0e265ce_story.html?utm_term=.49f6ef5c16b6