Violence Prevention Education Book Review
Preventing Violence by James Gilligan
Nowadays, much attention is paid to the determination of various ways of preventing and addressing crimes because their rate has become incredibly high. In the book Preventing Violence, James Gilligan explains the unlawful behavior of criminals by their feeling of shame and desire to be respected by the others. It is notable that this feeling depends on both internal and external factors, i.e. self-respect and the social pressure. The lower is self-esteem, the higher is individual’s amenability to the influence of the society. The violence is also stipulated by numerous other factors, such as the considerable gap between the rich and the poor, poor education, social pressure and the established standards of success, perceived gender roles, etc.
All of these factors were precisely analyzed and connected with the feeling of shame in the book under discussion. Much emphasis was made on the description of the feelings and behaviors of prisoners and criminals determine the factors that pushed them to violate laws. These studies support the idea that the major common root of crime commitment is shame. Understanding of this fact enables one to realize that the current governmental strategies directed at the reduction of crime rate (such as sharpening the laws, increasing the number of police, putting of juvenile offenders into adult prisons) are ineffective because they raise the pressure on the society and stimulate shame, aggressive response, and further violence. Against the background of this understanding and various investigations, the author recommends increasing the educative initiatives, changing the living conditions in prisons to make them more humane, decreasing the unemployment rate, providing free access to education and health care, equal distribution of wealth, etc.
Moreover, he provides the understanding that the adoption of these initiatives are highly disadvantageous to wealthy people as they are interested in the support of high rate of crime in the society to drive the wedge between the middle and lower class (and inside the lower class) and prevent their intentions to change the existing order and endanger the position of the upper class.
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The murderers stated that one of the major reasons why they committed crime was victim’s disrespect to them, i.e. they were looking for respect.
Among the other reasons of crime commitment were self-esteem, pride and dignity.
The author suggests that the main psychological motive of violent behavior is the desire to eliminate shame and humiliation (to a greater extent), which are opposite to pride.
Pride is connected with such feelings as the self-love, self-esteem, self-worth, self-respect, and dignity.
According to Franz Alexander (1938), shame is connected with narcissism and equivalent to inferiority (Gilligann, 2006).
Individuals may become violent due to the feeling of indignity caused by humiliation by others.
An example of a crime caused by humiliation is the case of Cain and Abel from Bible as the former killed his brother because God respected Abel and disrespected him (Gilligann, 2006).
Aristotle and Aquinas noted that the desire to assault comes from the feeling of being slighted by others (Gilligann, 2006).
Hegel stated that the major motive force of all the historical events is the desire for recognition (synonym to respect, honor, attention, pride); consequently, the feeling of shame and disrespect was always the main cause of violence.
The similar conclusions concerning the understanding of the shame (humiliation and narcissism) as the major root of crime is made by modern behavioral scientists (Heinz Kohut, Gregory Rochlin, and Herbert Thomas) and experimental psychologists (Feshbach), sociologists (Thomas Scheff, Suzanne Retzinger, and Elijah Anderson), criminologists (David Luckenbill), and law enforcement officers who investigated the motives of criminals (John Douglas) (Gilligann, 2006).
According to Feshbach, the most effective way of provoking violent behavior, anger and aggression is insulting the person through violations of their self-esteem (Gilligann, 2006).
Violation of autonomy through coercion also raises the feeling of shame.
Unlike shame, frustration does not lead to violence if it is justified.
David Luckenbill revealed that criminals committed crimes in order to demonstrate the strength of their character, or save face (or out of fear to lose face).
Elijah Anderson studied the ghetto areas in Philadelphia and revealed that the heart of the code of the street is the issue of respect that is hard-won and easily lost in the environment with sharp racial discrimination, social and economic inequality.
John Douglas showed that violence is caused by the deep feeling of inadequacy and that criminals desire to blame others for real or imagined shortcomings or the diminishing of their low self-esteem.
The degree of the feeling of shame depends on the treatment of others and the personal feeling of proud of shame.
For people who are physically or psychologically pressed for a long time (that caused chronical shame), and who are hypersensitive to being ashamed, even insignificant real or imagined sign of disrespect can cause their homicide as they are searching for recognition by pressing others.
Personal dependence on the respect of others has the negative relationship to the personal self-respect.
Shame is seemed to be a necessary but not sufficient cause of violence as the latter depends on the existence of several preconditions, such as absence of the feelings that prevent violations, perceived absence of non-violent means to restore self-respect and self-esteem.
Shame is aroused by means of social system and economic system through the vertical division of the society that presupposes the hierarchical ranking (economic classes and castes) and horizontal asymmetry of social (gender) roles, reflected economic inequality and unemployment.
Thus, in some societies, violence may be a successful strategy for men (as it enables one to obtain the signs of recognition and respect, such as medals) and unsuccessful for women (as it makes them being perceived as unfeminine).
The major predictor of the homicide is the extent of income disparities in the society. This statement is supported by studies performed by Hsieh and Pugh in 1993, by James Galbraith in 1997, and by cross-sectional studies in England and Wales (Gilligann, 2006).
The rates of violence also depend on the unemployment rates. As per M. H. Brenner’s studies, the lowering of the employment rate by 1 % leads to the increase in the homicide rate by 6 % and rise of suicide and hospitalization because of mental disorders, imprisonment, death from natural causes (such as heart attacks), and infant mortality within a year period (Gilligann, 2006). This also evidenced by studies of Theodore Chiricos, David Dickinson, Bernstein and Houston (Gilligann, 2006).
The feeling of inferiority is connected with the relative poverty as inferiority and superiority are also relative concepts.
In the caste-ridden society, the possibility of the rise of the shame because of being poor is lowered as poverty is considered to be as inborn characteristic, but the possibility of revolutions aimed at changing the existing order is higher.
The equal opportunities (for instance in the USA) increase the possibility of violence as the poverty is seen as the personal inability to reach success, be smart and work hard (as per Horatio Alger’s myth).
The American reality evokes the desire to be rich through advertisings and forms the barriers to social mobility from the lower classes to upper ones, leading to unequal income distribution, and the highest poverty rates, which maximize the gap between what a person aspires to and they attain and provoke the feeling of shame.
The USA has the unspoken cast division based on ethnicity and skin color that is reflected in the economic level of living and employment and can lead to shame.
The shame is also caused by the age discrimination reflected in the assigning of higher status positions and punishments.
Cultures whose representatives do the most violence to other cultures has the political orders, social and value systems that make these people more vulnerable to the feeling of shame and provide insufficient barriers to the development of this feeling.
The systems opposite to those mentioned above may cause feelings of guilt and depression and tend to institutionalize the practice of confession.
The feeling of shame motivates one to eliminate it because of its painfulness through making actions aimed at making one being appreciated.
The desire to eliminate the feeling of guilt may lead to the suicide, i.e. aggression and violence towards self.
Punishment increases the feeling of shame and relieves the feeling of guilt.
Respect (for elimination of shame) can be gained through making others be afraid or making them cry instead of ridiculing.
The shame can be measured by the extent of boastfulness, display of wealth, sensitivity to insult, composite index of narcissism, which stipulate the occurrence of warfare, crimes against the person, pursuit of military glory, alcoholic aggression, etc.
The wars occur when one of the countries has the non-democratic form of governance, such as dictatorship or oligopoly.
The personal amenability to violent behavior depends on individual’s authoritarianism.
The equal sharing of power and decision making between both spouses leads to lowering of the domestic violence.
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The fact that males are more violent than females is based on the significant asymmetry of the gender roles assigned from the birth and conditioned during all their lives, i.e. females can avoid the feeling of shame by violence and vice versa (the unwillingness to engage in violence can cause shame).
Females are insulted for being rebellious, aggressive and too active sexually. Thus, violence can be shame for them. Females are usually honored for sexual chastity outside marriage.
Males are assigned to be violence-objects and females – sex-objects. That is why males become victims of murder more often than females, while females become victims of rape more often than males.
Males are usually honored for successful aggression, for example military merits (number of killed enemies).
The roots of homophobia lie in the feeling of shame to the homosexuals (and fear to become one of them). It arouses the desire to prove personal heterosexuality through sexual promiscuity, machismo, avoidance of feminine behavior, murdering males and raping females.
Usually, violence occurres when the causes of the rage and shame are unconscious.
Violence is the behavioral similarity to paranoia as it causes actions based on the mistaken estimations of what others constitute a menace to an individual who can protect themselves only by attacking others.
Prisons are microcosm of hyper-masculinity, homophobia, and patriarchy as male prisoners intend to prove their manhood.
The provided theory of violence is beneficial because it explains such paradoxical facts as why the first group (poor young and/or males) will never commit the serious crimes in the environments with the correlations between caste status and lower social class, while the second (not poor, male, young, and minority) will commit.
Poverty, sexism, racism and age discrimination are indirectly connected with (but not necessary caused by) violence as they cause shame, i.e. they represent some kind of risk factors.
Any means that cause shame also cause violence, i.e. it is multi-determined by biological, psychological and social causes.
Any means of reduction of shame also serve as the tools for the decreasing of the possibility of violence.
The feeling of shame revolves around the perceived sexuality adequacy.
Overcoming the shame and gaining the respect by committing a crime can be connected with the absence of the feeling of guilt since violence is perceived as self-defense, means of obtaining the respect from others and self.
The middle and upper classes intend to segregate from the lower class to protect themselves from the harmful effect of poverty, discrimination and criminals, but this does not protects them from the violence caused by shame because of the existing pressure in the formed bubble societies caused by the non-correspondence to the established standards.
People cannot totally prevent violence until they understand which of their actions and behaviors cause it.
Self-respect and self-esteem cannot be given by a person; it can be only acquired by self. However, the society can create the significant opportunities for this.
There is no direct relationship between violence and unemployment as the first is more connected with the loss of self-esteem and the condemnation by the society, but not the loss of job.
Children raised in single-parent families (in the societies with the significant gap between the rich and the poor) experience abuse more frequently and are more likely to become criminals.
The first step to prevention of violence is discontinuation of the behaviors and social practices that cause shame, such as elimination of economic inequities through development of institution of social democracies, peaceful setting of the arguments without humiliation of the opponents, practicing of primitive Christian communism (with absence of class, income and standard of living discrimination), establishment of system of collective settlements with democratic educational system (kibbutzim in Israel), and creation of upward mobility that enables movement from the lower class to the middle one (Gilligann, 2006).
Pacifist societies can appear at any economic and social levels of complexity as they are based on the general rejection of aggression, competition and violence.
Social and political egalitarianism, low rate of hierarchicalization, and freedom from the personal display of wealth would reduce envy, shame and violence.
Providing as high employment rate as possible and minimizing the psychological pressure of being unemployed will also reduce the violence.
Reduction of artificial and exaggerated polarization between gender roles and lowering the fear of and aggression to homosexuals would also decrease violence.
The expression of anti-shame values can be performed by institutions that are respected and followed by the society.
Elimination of legally permitted violence against children is performed with the aim of restraining.
Restriction of media violence through installment of v-chips, studying media literacy for the higher emotional security, and boycotting the messages with violence as they present violence as entertainment will also help in dealing with the problem.
Increasing the gun control and repealing the Second Amendment that allows owning guns by private persons might help as well.
Universal access to education is one of the major tools of acquisition of self-esteem.
Violence and shame are caused by relative deprivation (not absolute).
Crimes could be stopped by the elimination of a structural violence, i.e. minimization of the gap between the rich and the poor through imposing wealth and estate taxes.
When wok is freely chosen and there is no class stratification, people start to be engaged in more creative activities and further development of civilization.
Societies with significant gaps between lower and upper classes are the most violent and less productive.
Governmental support and financing of ineffective measures (higher police control and prisons) can be replaced by financing the measures directed at the preventing of crime occurrence, such as financial support to families with children and after-studies trainings, promotion of cooperation between police officers and the community.
Among other preventive measures is the prohibition and reporting of child and adult abuse and providing psychological assistance to victims.
People under the effect of marijuana and heroin are less likely to express aggression and commit crimes, and other drugs do not directly provoke the crime behavior.
By participation in the drug wars between dealers the legal system facilitates violence. This can be ended by decriminalization of using drugs.
The violence is provoked by alcohol and tobacco.
Treatment of drug abuse has a significantly higher positive effect on the reduction of consumption of drugs and related crimes than conventional law enforcement and mandatory minimum sentence.
The courts and police development that emphasizes the increase in punishment is unsuccessful in prevention of crimes because the sharper is the punishment, the greater is the feeling of shame (lower the feeling of guilt) and the personal adherence to violence.
The author proposes prohibiting imprisonment of criminals who committed crimes against property, morality or drug offences as these crimes are less violent, and punishment for them provokes further criminal behavior of non-violent individuals.
The author proposes replacing prisons with institutions that would provide education and therapy with the aim to develop the feelings of self-esteem and self-respect, and to become employable and self-sufficient.
These facilities should have humane and pleasant architecture and courses for the recovering of their humanity and replacement of aggression.
Treating the criminals with respect will teach them to behave in the similar manner, i.e. universal respect prevents violence.
The psychological work with criminals is necessary for understanding of the causes of their violent behavior.
Respect for someone can be reflected in giving attention to this person.
The current incarceration represents the means of avoidance of attention, i.e. disrespect.
One of the alternative means of violence prevention is encouraging people to talk in order to express their feelings and peacefully resolve conflict situations.
The punishment provokes violence when restraint limits the personal freedom to avoid harm done by others and the individual himself without inflicting physical and psychological pain.
The representatives of the society can feel safe only when the rules that would help its members avoid harm are established and followed by everyone.
The most effective means of preventing violent behavior is the provision of the access to education and employment.
Temporaryly returning prisoners to the normal life conditions after they showed the improvement of their behavior is beneficial to individuals and allows eliminating crimes in the future.
Sentensing practice oriented to therapy (instead of punishment) should be employed.
Some of the criminals require therapy for a long period of time instead of short-time incraceration (for instance pedophiles).
The sex hormone treatment can be ineffective because in such cases criminals do not actually recognize their quilt and are unable to control themselves.
The major obstacle to violence prevention in the absence of the political will to do it.
This is reflected in the proclamation of war on drugs that results in the significant increase in non-violent criminals.
Moreover, politicians cancel educational programs in prisons, which has a significant positive effect on the improvement of the behavior of criminals.
Politicians adopt initiatives that hold the unemployment rate at the same level, even when it is decreased through the economic improvement.
The recent laws that presuppose transferring juvenille criminals to adult prisons lead to the incredible raise of the recidivism.
Governments adopt the laws aimed at the sharper punishment of children and promotion of their aggression and committance of crimes.
Officials stimulate violence instead of preventing it.
The domination of the wealthy minority class over the poor majority one is possible only due to realization of the strategy known as devide-and-rule, when people are too busy fighting with each other (i.e. support of violence and aggression between the middle and lower classes, and between the represenatives of the lower classes).
Until the poor are engaged in the war against crime, they will not pose threat to the wealth of the rich.
The prevention of violence is possible only after changing the estblished order and providing equal sharing of wealth, free education and healthcare.