There are those who contend that
the criminal lacks a conscience. That is actually not the case. He has elements
of conscience. Put another way -- it is a tattered, threadbare conscience. He
has the capacity to shut off from consideration aspects of conscience long enough
to do what he wants to at the moment. The criminal can experience remorse. One
man broke into an elderly person's home, ransacked it, and made off with cherished
heirlooms. When he learned she was suffering from a terminal illness, he was so
conscience stricken that he arranged to have all her property returned. However,
this did not stop him from subsequently breaking into the homes of others. The
fact that the criminal experiences pangs of conscience (remorse) contributes to
his view of himself as essentially a good person.
Stanton E. Samenow, Ph.D.
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