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Changing the criminal mind?

Let's not create feral children to start with.

When I was growing up, I knew that if a cat gave birth to kittens in our backyard wood heap, it was necessary to get to those kittens early. Kittens need to be touched and handled and fed by human beings or else they will become feral cats, wild animals. And our little country town didn’t need any extra feral cats.

People often fail to realise that human beings are potential wild animals just as much as kittens are, and if we don’t touch and handle them and feed them properly, they too can grow up to be wild animals. Wild human beings are called criminals.

How do we tame a wild animal? We need to confine it in a secure space where one person, the handler, can visit it frequently. We leave the feeding of this animal to the handler. While the animal is being fed and is well disposed toward the handler, the handler will begin to touch the animal so that it loses its fear of closeness to human beings.

Once the handler is confident of a developing mutual trust, the animal can begin learning the basic rules that apply in its relationship with human beings.

This taming process is identical to the child-raising practices of civilised human beings. However, because of the powerful emotions of women towards their babies, this child-taming process seems to happen without most of us being aware of it. Sometimes it can go wrong and children may grow up to be wild or feral.

Human families and communities have built-in rules of behaviour as do other mammals that live in family groups, such as wolves and baboons. When human beings become feral, they tend to observe the same rules of conduct as packs of wild dogs. Here are some rules common to human criminals and wild dogs:

  • The boss is the one who can inflict the most harm on anyone opposing him.

  • The weak are despised and rejected, and often subjected to violence.

  • Other animals are there to be feared and avoided or to be used for food.

  • Whatever exists in the marketplace or hunting-ground is there to be taken by those bold enough to do so.

  • When preying on other animals, the weakest and youngest are the preferred prey, because they are easiest to catch and overpower.

  • Deception is a good strategy to get close to victims in order to make use of them for food.

Some time ago there was a TV program called “Brat Camp”, dealing with badly-behaved children, and on another TV channel a program called “The Dog Whisperer”. A dog behaving badly is taken off to a dog obedience school where the dog learns to his surprise that he is actually not the top dog. The human master is the top dog, and the dog is second on the authority chain. Once the dog realises he’s not the top dog, he begins to do as he’s told, and peace returns to the household.

The most difficult part in creating this transformation is convincing the dog’s owner that he or she is the top dog, and has to behave as such.

It is a similar situation with spoilt children who don't realize they are not supposed to control the household. The major difficulty here is to convince the parents to begin to act like parents and actually discipline their children.

Let us now consider the impact on families where there are spoilt, semi-tamed children making life miserable for parents who have failed to let their children know that the children are not the top dogs. And these parents have sought help from orthodox psychiatry that functions by assigning labels to people and prescribing medication.

These naughty boys and girls may be given a label of “Oppositional Defiant Disorder”, and drugs are prescribed that the parents buy but the unruly children refuse to take. Or another psychiatrist may claim the child has “Attention Deficit Disorder” and prescribe potentially addicting stimulant drugs such as Dexamphetamine.

The current trend in psychiatry towards labelling people and prescribing drugs has succeeded in diminishing the authority of parents. Now unruly children are viewed not as badly behaved kids, but as patients suffering from some sort of mental or emotional illness. The psychiatrist is the boss now, not the parent, and the misbehaving child has become confirmed as top dog misfit at home.

Sadly, however, along with the diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder that may appear to absolve the child from responsibility for his behaviour and absolve the parents for failing to discipline him, the misbehaving child has now been labelled as a second-class citizen with a personality disorder, and this label may have long term negative effects on this child’s future.

So what do we do to tame feral human beings? We lock them up, treat them well and teach them the rules all over again. When we let them out and they re-offend, we lock them up, treat them well, and teach them the rules all over again. If they re-offend, we lock them up, treat them well and teach them the rules all over again. Eventually they get the message.

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