Concept of the Month -- January/February 2012

A Note on the Criminal's "Suggestibility"

People who live a criminal lifestyle appear extremely suggestible to their equally wayward peers, especially during adolescence and young adulthood. An examination of school records reveals that teachers describe many of these individuals as suggestible -- followers, emulators of the bad examples set by particular classmates. If one student acts up in class, another copies him. If a student skips school, others follow. Repeated imitation of the bad example means that the individual strays further and further from his more conforming peers. Thus, seemingly without a backbone, he appears quite suggestible -- i.e., easily led and corrupted. His marked vulnerability to suggestion eventually leads to his downfall. At least, this is how things may appear!

The reality is that almost everyone is suggestible to something. However, what one person is open to another person shuns. There is the individual who, for sheer excitement, uses any illegal drug offered at a party. Attending the very same party, another youth, upon discovering drugs on the scene, immediately leaves. He has no desire to be anywhere near drugs, much less experiment with them. He is not in the least suggestible along these lines. This is because drugs and all they represent are totally antithetical to his objectives.

can be highly suggestible to some things but not to others. Offered a scoop of coffee ice cream, I am unlikely to resist. In a Las Vegas hotel, I don't even pause at the roulette wheel, black jack table, or dollar slot machines. Touring an exotic Asian destination, I see appetizing food being prepared and sold on the streets. But I am not suggestible to purchasing it from the vendor because the thought of getting sick is a powerful deterrent.

To characterize a person as suggestible or as a "follower" says little about him. If we truly understand his personality, then we have a sound basis for determining in what manner he might be suggestible. For example, the individual with a criminal personality is not open to suggestions that he save money, budget it, and seek the best price for an item he desires. Quite the contrary. If he decides he must have something, he is suggestible to any means to acquire it. To his way of thinking, justifies the ends.

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