Ask an expert
Question

08 Aug 2007

Why are we so violent?
CS, I don't know if this a psych question or if it is more suited to a sociologist but I find that these days I am getting more and more depressed about how violent our criminals are.

When I was younger, round about the time Noah was applying varnish to the ark, I seem to recall that we had distinct types of criminals: car thieves, thieves that broke into cars to steal radios, street corner thugs that mugged one and so forth.

These days criminals seem capable and willing to do anything. A housebreaking will start with burglary, if there are women in the house this will escalate to rape, if there are men then torture is added to the list and murder is finally committed.

Even child abusers now murder their victims and it seems to me that our whole society is violent beyond belief, as if our criminals don't when to stop committing a crime.

Why is this so - what has happened in our society that hijackers are synonymous with murderers? Why is that we had the despicable necklace method of murder? Why are South Africans so violent? So often people are murdered for cell phones, for R20 or for no apparent reason. Why is that we have so many peadophiles? There was a time when family murder/suicides were happening every week.

Its depressing to think that we are living in an age when we, as human beings, can launch rockets to Mars, build computers that perform miracles on our desk tops every day, when we have people like Stephen Hawking, the late Stephen Gould - that we can walk down to street and be murdered for R20.
Answer 358 views
Expert
CyberShrink
cybershrink

01 Jan 0001

It is a psychological question, J. We do indeed seem to have developed an unduly vicious and violent society. The distinction I would draw from the bad old days, is that generally then, criminals used no more violence than they considered necessary to achieve their criminal aim. So the burglar would try to avoid a confrontation with you, and preferred an empty house ; and if he met you, would be likely to shove you aside and escape --- he would not dally for an hour or more to rape and torture and kill. But of course in those days there was reasonably effective policing, so the longer a crook hung around, the greater his chances of being caught --- now he can stay all weekend, if he pleases, at remarkably little risk. And if a burglar in mid-rape happens to get shot by a householder, its likely that the house-owner will be arrested for murder before anyone gets charged with burglary. <br>I wonder what the effect would be if the odds were rebalanced more in favour of the victim than the perp ? If it was made totally clear that ANYONE who broke into a house or attacked someone could expect to get shot or harmed and that this would be considered self-defense and not a crime ? If perhaps had to repay cash and services to the victims and the community ?
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical examination, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.