Theories and Theoritical Solutions

Aggression: Theories and Theoretical Solutions.

I began my research on the topic of violent crime prevention. After reading about different crime programs, it became obvious to me that many of these programs conflicted in their deterrence philosophy. Many of the crime programs were based on a different theory of violence causation. It seemed more important for me to understand why violence exists before learning the methods of preventing crime. I looked up the definition of violence in several sources and after combining some words decided that violence is simply extreme aggression. Aggression is the behavior intended to injure another person. The six main aggression theories include the instinct theories, the biological theories, the drive theories, the learning theories, the social learning theories, and the cognitive theories. Understanding the major theories of aggression is essential to understanding the theoretical and practical solutions to fighting crime.

Pioneered by Sigmund Freud, the instinctive theories of aggression are arguably the first explanations of human aggression. In the 1920″s Freud formulated his theories known as life and death instincts. He believed that the life instinct explained humans” motivation to protect and reproduce themselves. Juxtaposed to Freud”s life instinct was his death instinct – a deep and usually suppressed desire to end the stresses of life by death. Freud considered aggression to be an expression of the death instinct towards other people rather than towards oneself – to release the stresses of life.

Freud”s death instinct is not the only aggression instinct theory that has achieved notable recognition. Scholar Konrad Lorenz established his theory of aggression based on Charles Darwin”s theory of natural selection. Natural Selection states that only the strongest survive. Lorenz believed that “aggression drive is a primary species preserving instinct”.(Montagu 1976) By the use of aggression, species can easily gain more of their desired resources, thus defending their existence by aggressing and offending others.

The instinct theories tend to darken the image of humanity. Based solely on instinct theories, aggression and violence cannot be prevented because human nature cannot be changed. This means that crime prevention programs would be useless. History has shown us that certain crime prevention programs are effective at reducing crime.

Somewhat ironically, as a growing knowledge has lessened the plausibility of instinctive aggression theories, this knowledge has also lead to more modern theories of aggression that give an equally dark face to human nature. Biological theories of aggression have been a more recent subject of judicial debate. The question is – if the biology of a human dictates its aggression, and ultimately violent tendencies if the human has no control over its biology, can it be held responsible for its actions? Courts have agreed that if a person commits a crime, while having no control over their actions, then they are considered mentally insane and are at times legally not responsible for their actions. The biological theories have been categorized into four areas: neuronal, brain damage, genetic, and biochemical.

Neuronal aggression experimentation is done almost solely by electrical stimulation. Because of the sensitivity of the brain, most of the experimentation is done on animals. The most recognized electrical stimulation experiment was performed by a psychologist named Delgado. He implanted an electrode in the brain of a bull. The bull was put in a bull-fighting ring and prompted to charge at a matador. In mid-charge, a current was delivered to a part of the bull”s brain. The bull came to a screeching halt. (class lecture) This experiment clearly demonstrated that the specific voltage of an electric shock to the brain could have an effect on aggression.

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