Pathological vs. Normal

Essay by simple22University, Bachelor'sB-, April 2005

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Crime is an ever present phenomenon which has an enormous impact on every individual through out society. A crime is defined in the Webster's Dictionary as "a breach of law, divine or human." Given this definition a criminal is a person who perpetrates actively breaking the law whether it is positive law or natural law. The criminal code is prescriptive in the actions of the individuals in society and the formation of the criminal code comes from the social norms and standards of society. Any person who violates the social norms and standards outlined by the criminal code is labelled a criminal. There are two debates that attempt to explain criminality, the pathological debate; which depicts criminal behaviour as a mental illness, categorising criminals as insane, and the normal debate, which argues that criminals are of stable minds who commit crime for various sociological reasons. This essay endeavours to show that the 'normal debate' better explains the reasons for criminality by identifying faults in the pathological debate and by illustrating the importance of environmental factors as a cause for criminal behaviour.

The pathological debate states that criminality is an insane behaviour; however it fails to clearly define what it is to be insane. Insanity as defined by the pathological debate can be seen as a personality disorder that leads to distress or severe impairment. All mental disorders by this definition then lead to some form of distress, however normal behaviours also lead to some form of stress. A simple drive in peak hour traffic can cause sever distress and impair one's normally controlled outlook for example road rage. Does this mean one is criminal and therefore suffering from a personality disorder? Conversely does a criminal have to be distressed and impaired to commit a crime? The definition of insane by...