Concept of the Month -- April 2006

An Expanded Concept of "Criminality"

The definition of what is "criminal" can be a legal one. You can be a criminal today but if the law changes, not tomorrow. Or your conduct may be "criminal" in one state, but not another.

During the past 36 years, in my work, I have been focusing on minds, not just whatever laws may exist at a given time in a given place. There are people who would be criminals, no matter where they live. As they see it, to be someone in life is to do whatever the forbidden is. One man said, "If rape were legalized today, I wouldn't rape, but I would do something else."

My paramount concern is how people live their lives. There are victimizers who never are arrested and, for that matter, may not be arrestable. We have all known people who are controllers and users. Uncompromising, they are determined to prevail in any situation. Human relationships are seen as avenues for conquest and triumph. They fail to be emphatic. Only what they want matters. They betray confidences, abuse trust, and are takers but not givers. These are people who prop up their own self-image up by tearing others down. They exploit people for their own gain.

Such individuals may be very intelligent and talented. Others may admire them for their skills and accomplishments. Evidence of these people's irresponsibility and other shortcomings is often overlooked because of their achievements.

These individuals demonstrate the presence of "errors of thinking" in the way they live their daily lives. They may never see the inside of a police station or court room. Their victims are many. If held accountable, they blame others for their problems, seldom themselves. Living in this way, they are "criminals." They leave a trail of damage behind.

Return to Dr. Samenow's Homepage