Crime, Punishment & Psychiatry

If we are to understand the twentieth-century criminal, L. Ron Hubbard tells us, then we must finally come to grips with what has precipitated modern crime: namely, the psychiatric and psychological influence.

On the one hand, the link is as obvious as any crime-drug connection (and any savvy dealer will attest to the fact that much of his merchandise had first been brewed in psychiatric laboratories). Ultimately, however, that link runs far deeper, and actually involves the entire ideological base of psychiatric and psychological theory.

The premise is simple, insidious and fairly unbroken from Darwin, Wundt and Pavlov to all modern schools of psychiatric and psychological thought: If the human being is essentially an animal descended from an upright killer ape, then surely we must still carry some biological propensity for violence. After all, it is argued, what is the most obviously compelling force for organization in all societies?
The answer, of course, is war. (While religion is generally tossed off as a superstitious effort to obtain through ritual what war gains through force, i.e., societal dominance).

What follows from the premise are then two schools of thought: Those who tend to interpret all forms of behavior in terms of an inescapable genetic code of which more will be said later. And those who see us as slightly more adaptable, with behavior modified through equal parts of adolescent experience and environment pressure. In either case, however, the equation is pretty bleak: In the final analysis, we are nothing more than killer apes in the fast lane. If we are occasionally decent, honest and kind, it is simply because we have been so conditioned (on pain of ostracism from the tribe). But those who seek a life of higher meaning, are only kidding themselves. Our seventy or so years of survival can actually be measured only in terms of sexual gratification, caloric intake and protection from members of competing tribes, i.e., anyone beyond "the ’hood."

Needless to say, one could theoretically argue, that under such paradigm, criminality is not abnormal at all. Rather, it is simply another way of dealing with the social contract (in much the same way that rogue chimpanzees have been known to exhibit "criminal" behavior when the tribe grows beyond a viable size). But given psychiatric and psychological dependency
on state/federal funding, they, too, have made crime a concern.

Traditionally, psychiatric/psychological approach to criminal behavior took two forms, often in conjunction with one another. Drawing upon a grab bag of theory, from Pavlovian conditioning to Freudian psychobabble, the psychologist attempted to establish rehabilitative programs; while the psychiatrist experimented with an increasingly wide array of psychotropic drugs. (As a dark footnote to the story, a good many prisoners actually served as unwitting psychiatric guinea pigs for the testing of those drugs, just as prisoners through the 1930s and 1940s had served as unwitting guinea pigs for electroshock and psychosurgical experimentation.) In 1974, however, after a highly controversial study later found to have been quite erroneously conducted, it was determined that no major program could supply proof of efficacy in the rehabilitation of the criminal. Whereupon, the psychologist more or less crept from cells for want of funding, while the psychiatrist commenced doling out drugs with ever more abandon.

Today, and notwithstanding continued federal funding of psychiatric research into the genetic and neural sources of criminal behavior -- all of which has likewise come to nothing -- the rehabilitation of a criminal is still generally viewed as an impossible dream. Instead, the criminal is routinely drugged to keep him tractable, but otherwise left to make his own way for better or for worse. Meanwhile, a psychiatric/psychological doctrine that effectively justifies criminality continues to seep into the fabric of society until, as LRH so succinctly puts it, "The psychiatrist and psychologist have carefully developed a lawless and irresponsible public attitude toward crime."

Originally published in 1969, Ron’s "Crime and Psychiatry" explores these matters further in blunt detail.

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