Concept of the Month -- October 2009

Part 1: "I think it; therefore, it's true" -- a thinking error of the criminal

The criminal operates largely on the basis of assumptions. Because he perceives himself as omniscient, he does not have to check things out. If one knows it all, he has no need to go through the steps of making responsible decisions. Why suspend judgment, gather the facts and weigh alternatives when one already is postive that he knows best!

Others suffer because of this thinking error. If a criminal believes that he should be treated a certain way, then that is how things should pan out. If what actually transpires is not in accord with what he already has in mind, then he takes it personally and feels diminished. His self-image is on the line. To prop up his self-image (which relies largely on controlling others), he retaliates at a world that does not give him what he thinks he is due.

There are numerous examples of "I think it; therefore it is true" in the daily life of the criminal. If a motorist is driving slower than he thinks he should, there is instant anger, and that motorist (and perhaps others) is at risk. If he is expecting a promotion at work, in his mind it is a sure thing. When his supervisor informs him that the decision about promotion is on hold, that news blasts a hole in his self image. He not only has expected the promotion, but he has also envisioned himself functioning in the new role and is already thinking about how he will spend his increase in salary. Instant anger is the result when he does not get his way.

This error in thinking is not the same as the thought process of someone who is psychotic and has impaired reasoning because he is not in contact with reality. A person who is psychotic may believe he is God or has special powers. You could challenge him repeatedly, but the belief which is a delusion would likely remain fixed. The criminal is not delusional. He is unrealistic in his thinking about himself and other people. He is in contact with reality but he has inflated ideas about himself largely based on his "chess board" view of life in which he sees others as pawns to be moved about to accommodate his every desire.

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