10.20.2012

Emotions and Crimes


Article by: Scott Hall docplocky@gmail.com
emotion icon
emotion icon (Photo credit: Łukasz Strachanowski)
            Since the dawn of time, humans have experienced emotions or emotional situations that may cloud our thoughts and maybe even lead to crimes.  Research over time has consistently shown that opposite genders, regardless of race, look at emotions very differently.  Do these emotions lead to crimes or can they lead to crimes, such as crimes of passion or contempt for another person? This article will explore a range of those emotions, we will overview and discuss items such as domestic violence and rape.  Some of these subjects will require deeper understanding of the human mind and reaction, this article will also touch into those areas and give some examples of what a bit of breath may or may not accomplish in those emotional ranges.  Abuse of any kind should not be tolerated, including mental or physical and any range in between.  Truth glasses upon our brow and piercing the delicate curtain of emotion, we evolve into deeper understanding through critical thinking.


            Before discussing rape and domestic violence issues, it is important to note that research in social and natural sciences have determined that men and women indeed view emotions and emotional issues differently; this may be in part to genetic inheritances, neurochemistry and gender specific socialization.  For example, it was observed that females tend to use persuasion rather than physical force in order to reach their desired goals, sometimes at great cost to themselves.  Men also respond to different hormones that become released when under stressful situations, however, each gender reacted or will react differently to the same situation. Some researchers think this may be tied to child bearing or rearing while others tend to think in terms of the nurturing that gets instilled in us due to upbringing or violent homes they portray emotional dominance or distancing in those relationships where “Mom and Dad never can get along without something happening”, which could affect either gender.  What all this information means is that we cannot say for certain which emotions are gender specific as some men cry watching emotional movies the same as women can be inspired from watching Rocky stand up and beat his opponent, so in our research of emotion, we can say that not only does upbringing and influences affect how we react or act emotionally, but gender and chemical composition can contribute to those emotions as well. 
English: Suzanne Perry delivered a powerful ac...
English: Suzanne Perry delivered a powerful account of her former life as a victim of domestic violence for over half her life at SUNY ECC City for domestic violence awareness month. She tours the Buffalo, and Western New York area, touching and inspiring every member of her audience. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

            With these non specific emotions in mind, we will first turn our attention into the world of rape.  Sex alone can be emotionally confusing, for instance you are married or involved with someone for a long period of time, things do not work out but you still get intimate with your partner, this may stem from the emotional need to have that connection with someone, even if it is sexually driven.  Which can make us rethink if we love someone or not or even become confused over whether it is love that makes them or you return and it usually ends with two people going their separate ways and maybe one of them crying into some ice cream, because of the emotional turmoil or guilt of not being able to let go, these items are also non gender specific.  Coercing women into sex that they may not have wanted to have in the first place, whether or not by force is also a form of rape, as the abuser is controlling their victim and using the need against them, not healthy and not legal in a court of law.

            In some polls, it has been discovered that up to one third of women did not enjoy their first sexual experience as they felt coerced or had been forced into doing it, this happens usually to women between the ages of 15-25.  While there are really no excuses for being forced into a particular situation, many of these same women felt guilty because the terms “I don’t want to do that” 
Emotions show
Emotions show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
were replaced by “but, we have came this far, why not”, which has heavy impact in the heat of the moment, bringing brash decisions that offset the worries of pregnancy or disease.  In employment law, the act of repeated asking has been shown to cause harm and indeed if in civil cases the repeating can be construed as forcible intimidation, it should be applied in criminal law, or more simply start thinking subjective as well as objective.  If criminal law were to start including these scenario’s in determining guilt or innocence then maybe a clearer picture of what actually occurred could be painted for the juries or judges to decide whether or not emotional distress lead to the crime by incessant means.  Stalking or harassment is not really different from this concept in that fear is being instilled in the victim to give the assailant an advantage over emotional control. 

            Emotional investments into relationships can cloud thinking clearly especially in domestic violence situations where the victim can feel trapped by the mate’s habits, actions or own out of control emotions.  Statements such as, “it was the first time they hit me” and “I love them and don’t want to leave” can be attributed to emotional control, the abuser over the victim, whether it is male or female.  Take for example, Lorena Bobbit, she reached a point in her relationship to commit a crime, based mostly on emotions, similarly, the same was attempted to be applied on the O.J. Simpson case where jealousy and confusion were rampant, the crime was an “emotional scene”.  In this case, those items were used to prove wrongful death in the civil suit, showing how much weight emotional testimony or emotions can effectively carry.  Science is only cresting on these important aspects in rape or domestic violence cases and while the law recognizes hitting or fighting back as “male bias”, it does not connect the impact on emotions and the physical or mental harm that come with the event.

WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 27: Actress Mariska Hargi...
WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 27: Actress Mariska Hargitay participates in a Domestic Violence Awareness Month event in the East Room of the White House October 27, 2010 in Washington, DC. Hargitay is the founder of the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization that aids survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. U.S. President Barack Obama announced new and unprecedented cooperation between the departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Treasury, Labor and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to protect victims of abuse and provide resources for families and communities to prevent abuse. Guests invited to the event included advocates, women�s and fatherhood groups, faith leaders and law enforcement agencies. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
            In the 1990’s researchers discovered that the majority of studies on “fight or flight” were conducted with males as the subjects and decided to retest on female subjects.  When females were researched and faced many of those same tests, the results were far different from the base line normal.  The new label, “tend and befriend” was applied to the women’s results, meaning one who befriends or tends reacts by reaching out to support groups (including close friends or relatives) or by taking particularly good care of their dependants as an outlet.  The chemical hormone, Oxytocin (not Oxycontin) can be part of why these emotional responses happen differently.  This chemical is released in times of intense emotional attachments, making person’s feel “bonded” to each other, such as love or someone saving a life or impactful event.  Here is where the male gender has an advantage, so to speak.  Estrogen enhances the effect of Oxytocin and Testosterone blocks it.  You may think this is “typical of men” to block things out, but scientific research shows that when combined or entered into a estrogen rich environment, this may be the reason when women are abused physically they want to nurture their abuser, reaching out to them trying to connect to stop the violence, how many men end a fight with a hug, not many.  In comparison, men who killed out of “passion” outnumbered women greatly and case studies have shown that women rarely cite crimes of passion as the excuse for committing the crime.

            This view may seem biased in that men kill out of jealous rage while women may do it for other reasons, this can deceiving in that even though women may not use the crime of passion as a defense, those who did (around 14 cases found using keyword searches), 9 of them were defended successfully, of the remainder 3 were affair related.  Comparing those same keyword searches against the male gender, 227 cases popped up when using “heat of passion” as the search basis for the killing, by far women are more resistive to the rage killing crimes.  This can also in part be attributed to the notion that if women do resist their assailant, the violence will increase or worse, include exaggerated harm from objects or constant mental dominance.  Many who have researched domestic violence and abuse will argue that the entire violent scenario could not be summed up in a few words or reasons, but it can open our minds to think in those cases where the violence or abuse is less severe or not as extreme, does the “flight” path take precedent or should we invest time into seeing if we can conclude the issues and stay to work out the problems.  The backlash is if you stay and it continues, you look foolish, if you leave and it eventually works out and you come back, the emotional gap will be a focus for a while and proper healing cannot take place and may lead back into the cycle of violence.  This would mean that rational application to emotional reaction would have to be considered in those crimes as well as men, terms like “they didn’t stop even after I said to several times” could be used to point out the trend into the crime itself, showing how emotions and mental abuse or dominance caused the event to unfold. 
"North Hampton is a Domestic violence free-zone" (Massachussetts) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

            In conclusion, we can see how emotional response can be triggered by environmental upbringing, body chemistry, gender socialization as well as some genetic influence.  Some persons may seem more emotional than others and while some outbursts may be a bit on the extreme side, certain threads are common and if laws that are in place now used the influence of those emotions in consideration of more heinous crimes, many situations that men use for crimes of passion would no longer apply and a few more may be added.  We will only know these things if our laws can evolve and adapt to the things happening in the current time period.  Emotions such as love, hate, happiness, anger, sorrow can all affect us and also bond us closer and in this author’s opinion, it should be the latter rather than the former.

Reading References:

Dan N. Kahan & Martha C.
Nussbaum, Two Conceptions of Emotion in Criminal Law, 96 Colum. L. Rev. 269, 273
(1996)
Ruben C. Gur et al., Sex Differences in Temporolimbic and Frontal Brain Volumes
of Healthy Adults, 12 Cerebral Cortex 998, 998, 1001 (2002).
Carol
Nagy Jacklin & Eleanor E. Maccoby, Social Behavior at Thirty-three Months in Same-Sex
and Mixed-Sex Dyads, 49 Child Dev. 557, 566 (1978)
Robin West, Jurisprudence and Gender, 55 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1, 21 (1988)
Eugene J. Kanin, Date Rape: Unofªcial Criminals and Victims, 9 Victimology 95,
97 (1984)
People v. Warren, 446 N.E.2d 591, 594 (Ill. App.
Ct. 1983)
Katharine K. Baker, Sex, Rape, and Shame, 79 B.U. L Rev. 663, 668–69 (1999)
Andrew Taslitz, Willfully Blinded: On Date Rape and Self-Deception, 28 Harv. J.L.
& Gender 381 (2005)
Bonnie L. Katz, The Psychological Impact of Stranger Versus Nonstranger Rape
on Victims’ Recovery, in Acquaintance Rape: The Hidden Crime 251, 267 (Andrea
Parrot & Laurie Bechhofer eds., 1991).
Martha R. Mahoney, Legal Images of Battered Women: Redeªning the Issue of
Separation, 90 Mich. L. Rev. 1, 83–93 (1991).
C. Sue Carter, Neuroendocrine Perspectives on Social Attachment and Love, 23
Psychoneuroendocrinology 779, 788 (1998)
Victoria Nourse, Passion’s Progress: Modern Law Reform and the Provocation
Defense, 106 Yale L.J. 1331, 1375–77 (1997)

            
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