Psychologising Criminals and the Frankfurt School's Critique

Hawkins Press, An imprint of the Federation Press
Publication Type:
The Critical Criminology Companion, 2008, First, pp. 43 - 54
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The birth of criminology and psychology as scientific pursuits in the mid-19th century drew together the two disciplines (Hollin 2002: 147). Institutional criminologists, the courts1 and popular culture2 have maintained their fascination with and reliance on psychological models to explain criminal behaviour. They assume that the individuals psychology is the cause of crime and that psychotherapy can be relevant in the eradication of crime. But despite this focus on the individual criminal or act of crime, psychology has a broader tradition in criminology, including in critical criminologies. Notably, the Frankfurt School engaged neo-Freudian psychoanalysis to provide a political critique of the criminal justice functions of the authoritarian state. Such an approach tends to be overlooked by those who associate psychology with positivism.
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