Category Archives: Philosophy

Looking at different aspects of psychological theory and research including therapeutic jurisprudence within a forensic setting.

It's all about striking a balance.

It’s all about striking a balance.

As an individual, one is entitled to their human rights throughout all walks of life – and this is especially true when it comes to victims of crime (Towl & Crighton, 2010). Unfortunately, criminogenic activity is ubiquitous in society, and thus, no – one individual, is entirely impervious to the indirect injustices’ and misfortunes that make them vulnerable to such unlawful acts of criminality (Towl & Crighton, 2010). Consequently, whilst investigating acts of crime, the testimony of victims and witnesses is a paramount, but often a poorly remembered aspect of the legal procedure (Kebbell & Milne, 1998; Rand, 1975). Therefore, there has been an increase in the acknowledgement that certain individuals’ may have distinct needs that could facilitate investigative and legal procedures (Bull, R., 2010). However, due to mixed findings reported from police officers, there are obvious circumstantial differences in obtaining information from witnesses, victims and suspects (Bull & Soukara, 2010). Thus, this article aims to explain the shortcomings of the Cognitive Interview (CI) and the developmental aspects that have been applied to improve its efficacy in in trying to facilitate a two-way dynamicism between the interviewer and the interviewee (Bull, R., 2010). Also, the article is going to look at the possible beneficial value of promoting psychological wellbeing during the interviewing process (Winick, 1997). Thusly, the concept of synergizing therapeutic jurisprudence with the CI could be highly beneficial to police in obtaining information, and militate against witnesses’ overcoming psychological problems (Fisher & Geiselman, 2010). To conclude, examining meta-analytical research and contrasting the results with that of individual research will amplify limitations in empirical based research that could further provide insight into how practical methods can be improved (Clarke, C., Milne, R., & Bull, R., 2011). Continue reading

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Psychology has a great deal to offer the law, but what exactly does this mean in regards to young offenders – Is there room for improvement?

Cillian Murphy

Now, …what will it be?!

Despite the consequences of public sector cuts, the attack on welfare and growing unemployment, crime rates have been steadily declining, a trend that has been discerning for the last fifteen years (Hancock & Raeside, 2009). Although there is a highly correlated systematic relationship between the marginalisation and deprivation of communities and the increased risk of violence and imprisonment for youth offenders, a myriad other factors compound these multivariate issues – with a vast degree of overlap – including territoriality, previous convictions, previous custodial sentencing and impulsivity and irrational decision making (Hancock & Raeside, 2009). Thus, youth offenders seem to become attracted to the metaphorical pitcher plant, and thus, become accustomed to the nectarous fast track benefits of criminal activities in a vast consumerist market – where wages are paying way below rising inflation rates (Bannister, 2012). This can create a despondent, circuitous and synonymity between incarceration and criminogenic tendencies (Copas, Marshall & Tarling, 1996). Thus, there is evidence that a major element in the increase in prison population is due to the failure to rehabilitate youth offenders and to plan for a seamless interaction back into a structured societal and familial algorithmic patternisation (Barry, 2013). Subsequently, this article will take a critical approach – using psychological theory – to gauge the current benefits and shortcomings of sentencing approaches in Scotland for youth offenders (Kearney, Kirkwood & MacFarlane, 2006). Also, it will look at the heuristic, moral, ethical and experiential methods that sentencers’ implement to create a narrative of the offender when sentencing them (Millie et al. 2009). Lastly, a critical review of the current universal multi agency approach and whether therapeutic jurisprudence can aide the desistence programme will offer some insight into any improvements that are needed to the current sentencing approaches which will, in turn, prevent individuals’ from falling into a never-ending cycle of crime (Lambie & Randell, 2011). Continue reading

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Nietzsche was right: adversity makes you stronger

It is the quote used by many to bolster resilience in the face of adversity. But the words “what does not kill me, makes me stronger”, by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, could have scientific merit too, according to research.

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, 12:55 PM GMT 19 Dec 2011

Nietzsche

US psychologists found that while traumatic experiences such as assault, bereavement or natural disaster can be extremely damaging, smaller amounts of trauma may help people develop resilience. “Everybody’s heard the aphorism ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’ ” Mark Seery, a researcher at the University at Buffalo, said. “But in psychology, a lot of ideas that seem like common sense aren’t supported by scientific evidence.

“Indeed, a lot of solid research shows that having miserable life experiences is bad for you.

“Serious events, like the death of a child or parent, a natural disaster, being physically attacked, experiencing sexual abuse, or being forcibly separated from your family, can cause psychological problems. Some research has suggested that the best way to go through life is having nothing ever happen to you.

But not only is that unrealistic, it’s not necessarily healthy.”

In one study, although researchers found that people who experienced lots of adversity were generally more distressed than others, those who had experienced no traumatic events in their lives had similar psychological problems.

The people with the best outcomes were those who had experienced some negative events in their lives.

Another study found that people with chronic back pain were able to get around better if they had experienced some serious adversity, whereas those who had suffered either large amounts of adversity, or none at all, were more impaired in life.

Dr Seery said one possibility for this pattern was that people who have been through traumatic experiences have had the opportunity to develop their coping mechanisms more acutely.

He said: “The idea is that negative life experiences can toughen people, making them better able to manage subsequent difficulties.”

Dr Seery also said people who have gone through stressful events may have stronger social networks than others, as they have learnt how to get help from others when they need it.

“I really look at this as being a silver lining,” he added.

“Just because something bad has happened to someone doesn’t mean they’re doomed to be damaged from that point on.”

Dr Seery’s paper on adversity and resilience was published in the latest issue of the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.

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