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Could Your Thoughts Be Criminal? Part II

Answers to 'Could Your Thoughts Be Criminal?'

First, the answers to the self quiz in Could Your Thoughts Be Criminal Part I. *

All statements, 1-10, are examples of the criminal thinking patterns identified by the Minnesota Department of Corrections and the Hazelden Foundation in A New Direction: A Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Curriculum. Are you surprised?

Statement number one (1) says: I tend to be a victim of the whims of others. Friends, family, employers, and/or the government really created the mess I am in today. This statement best reflects the researchers' "Victim Stance" pattern of criminal thinking. Individuals who take a victim stance tend to blame others for their problems and often fail to take responsibility for their own actions. They may also create justifications for their behavior (i.e. "I only cheated on my wife because I was hurting after she cheated on me"). Failure to take ownership of their own choices stands in the way of viewing themselves in an objective light.

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Statement number two (2) says: I've done things in my life that others really look down upon me for, like lying, stealing, drug dealing or fighting, but I'm still a really good person. This statement best reflects the "Good Person" pattern of criminal thinking. People who take this stance tend to ignore their negative behaviors when evaluating themselves (i.e. "So what if I lie a little on my taxes. I only use that extra money to support my family and give them the lifestyle they enjoy. They couldn't ask for a better dad.). Like the Victim Stance, this pattern stands in the way of positive change by obscuring objective self-evaluation.

Statement number three (3) says: I act tough, but even though I'd never admit it, I'm scared of being ‘found out'. This statement is an illustration of the "Fear of Exposure" pattern. Individuals with this criminal thinking pattern tend to have low self-esteem and be afraid of their real identity. They may be very protective of their image and keep others at a distance.

Statement number four (4) says: It doesn't take a lot of hard work, time or effort to be successful. I am really interested in ‘get rich quick' ideas. This statement exemplifies the "Selective Effort" pattern of criminal thinking. These individuals tend to be relatively lazy with little sense of responsibility. The majority of their efforts are tied up in finding new ways to earn easy money. They are not likely to engage in long-term plans or goals such as attending college or job training programs.

Statement number five (5) says: No one knows what I have gone through. I've lived a tough life that has given me the experience to be better at things than others. This statement best reflects the "Unique Person" pattern. This criminal thinker believes that he or she is special and different from others. They may also believe that the rules will not apply to them. This pattern seems have some similarities with David Elkind's theories on adolescent egocentrism particularly the ‘personal fable' (I am unique) and ‘invincibility fable' (I am invincible), thereby suggesting an immaturity in the cognitions of this criminal thinker.

Statement number six (6) says: Rules and laws are made for other people. I tend to have my own way of doing things. This statement is another example of the "Unique Person" pattern of criminal thinking.

Statement number seven (7) says: People are always telling me that I should learn from my mistakes and plan for my future. Not me, I live for today. This statement best reflects the "Lack-of-time Perspective" pattern and those who use it tend not to learn from their mistakes. Loved ones may become frustrated with them for their failure to see the big picture and their tendency to live in the moment. They tend to be irresponsible and seemingly unaware of their true position in life (i.e. An unemployed woman with no job prospects purchases a new luxury car after her old car was repossessed.).

Statement number eight (8) says: Honestly, I like it when others are fearful of or intimidated by me. It illustrates the criminal thinking pattern of "Using Power to Control." The researchers say that it is motivated by selfishness and may be used when the "Victim Stance" fails to get the individual what he or she wants from others. They use intimidation, threats or even physical force to get what their way. Provoking fear in others may raise their self-esteem and give them the sense that they are respected.

Statement number nine (9) says: I'm a thrill seeker. I live for excitement - responsibility is not for me. This statement best illustrates the "Seek Excitement First" pattern of criminal thinking in which the individual's first priority is to prevent boredom. They tend to enjoy socializing and are hardly ever alone. Like the "Lack-of time Perspective" and "Selective Effort" patterns of criminal thinking, this pattern shuns responsibility. For these individuals, being responsible and planning for the future is considered boring and thus avoided.

Statement number ten (10) says: I tend to be possessive of my things and the people around me, but get upset when others don't share their good fortunes with me. This statement is an example of "Ownership Stance" and, according to the researchers, is a criminal thinking pattern where the individual has "one-way boundaries" in respect to his dealings with others. This pattern suggests both entitlement and selfishness at the same time (i.e. A man expects his partner to treat him on dates and buy him gifts, yet refuses to return the favor.).

* Please note, this quiz is meant for entertainment value only, it is not meant to advise, diagnose or treat.

Source: Minnesota Department of Corrections & The Hazelden Foundation. (2002). A new direction: A cognitive-behavioral treatment curriculum. Center City, MN: Hazelden Publishing.

 

Marisa Mauro, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

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