All About Punishment

An eye for an eye is one of the strongest human instincts, but reciprocating harm is not always the best course of action. Punishment sometimes works to condition people not to repeat misdeeds, and threats of negative repercussions can act as disincentives, but our ability to rise above our base instinct for revenge and judge each situation objectively and with an eye toward rehabilitation is one of the highest achievements of humanity and of civilization.

Recent posts on Punishment

Explanation or Excuses for Stealing?

The criminal evaluates his evaluator.

Dealing With Feelings

"Minimize affect inhibition... Maximize positive affects… Minimize negative affects.” — Silvan Tomkins

Lady Justice Is Not Color-Blind

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on March 19, 2017 in Wicked Deeds
The massive U.S. prison population does not mirror the demographic profile of U.S. society. There is a stark pattern of racial disparity in the prison population.

Why Men Post Revenge Porn Pictures

By David J Ley Ph.D. on March 17, 2017 in Women Who Stray
The culture has been rocked by more nude photo scandals, and they won't stop until we have thoughtful, nuanced conversations about why they happen.

On Criminology and Politics in the Social Sciences

By Clay Routledge Ph.D. on March 09, 2017 in More Than Mortal
A biosocial criminologist's thoughts on the state of his field, professional challenges, and ideological bias within the social sciences.

What If Your Child Chooses to Do Wrong?

Punishment drives the feelings underground and makes the bad behavior worse. Healing the feelings that are driving the behavior is what prevents a repeat of the misbehavior.

Should Parents Pay For Their Children's Incarceration?

A policy that imposes more suffering on people who are already suffering.

How Children Learn Right from Wrong

When children feel close to their parents, they want to "follow" them. Going against their parents would be going against the most important people in their lives.

Revenge Really Is Sweet

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on March 06, 2017 in ExperiMentations
Revenge is sweet, but causes problems in the long run. Why do we so often turn to retaliation to feel better when it doesn't usually work out to mutual advantage?

Passive Aggressive Notes

An 8-year-old boy replaces aggression with passive-aggression, in response to his mother's attempt to punish him.

Five Ways to Be a Better Parent to Your Child With ADHD

Children with AD/HD have unique needs and present unique challenges for parents. How can you best meet these needs? Read on to learn more.

Psychopathic Killers Hide in Plain Sight

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on February 26, 2017 in Wicked Deeds
The world’s most prolific killers are totally incapable of empathy or remorse. However, they rarely look like the scary monsters we expect them to be.

Who Killed JonBenet? Part 2: The Ransom Note

By Stephen A. Diamond Ph.D. on February 23, 2017 in Evil Deeds
A forensic psychologist breaks down the JonBenet Ramsey ransom note.
Paul Nunez

Are Some Scientists Serious About Denying Free Will?

A brief look at the issues of consciousness and free will.

Controlling Your Partner Is Illegal, But Not in the U.S.

By Lisa Aronson Fontes Ph.D. on February 17, 2017 in Invisible Chains
Domestic violence victims in the U.S. have less protection than in some other countries. Laws in England now make controlling a partner illegal.
Leszek Glasner/Shutterstock

In Praise of Healthy Revenge

By Jeanne Safer Ph.D. on February 08, 2017 in The Last Taboos
Getting even can be good for you.

Forgiveness

By Ana Nogales, Ph.D. on February 07, 2017 in Family Secrets
Forgiveness is difficult.

Researching Terrorism From the Field

By Scott Atran Ph.D. on January 31, 2017 in In Gods We Trust
The many challenges of countering extremism.

You Have the Right to Remain Silent

By David Ludden Ph.D. on January 24, 2017 in Talking Apes
The Miranda ruling was intended to protect the innocent from making false confessions. But does it work?

Some Individuals Kill for Their Own Sadistic Pleasure

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on January 21, 2017 in Wicked Deeds
Power/control killers are patient and they kill their victims slowly in order to prolong their own sadistic pleasure. They derive satisfaction from the suffering of their victims.

Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child?

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on January 18, 2017 in Media Spotlight
Does sparing the rod spoil the child? New research explores how corporal punishment and harsh parenting can lead to later behavioral problems in children.

Who Killed JonBenet?

By Stephen A. Diamond Ph.D. on January 18, 2017 in Evil Deeds
What can forensic psychology tell us about the still unsolved JonBenet Ramsey case?
Krystine I. Batcho

Beyond Hate: Healing in the Aftermath of Violence

Defeating hate is one of the most pressing issues of our time. How can we move beyond the impact of hate-filled violence?
K. Ramsland

The Measure of Cunning

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on January 15, 2017 in Shadow Boxing
We have many instruments for measuring IQ and personality traits, even psychopathy, but we need a precise instrument to learn more about criminal street smarts.
baptismonfire.deviantart.com

Why Psychopaths Are Effective Killers

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on January 01, 2017 in Wicked Deeds
When psychopaths commit a homicide, their killings likely will be planned and purposeful—that is, organized, and not committed in the heat of passion.

Justice Moves Slowly Against Durst in Mob Daughter’s Murder

By Cathy Scott on December 31, 2016 in Crime, She Writes
Will New York real estate heir Robert Durst be convicted in the murder of his best friend Susan Berman? The evidence to be presented in court appears strong.

The Case Against Zero Tolerance in Schools

A recent study shows that a brief intervention encouraging teachers to respond with empathy to misbehaving students was able to reduce middle school suspension rates by half.

How to Create Suspense

By Sheila Kohler on December 22, 2016 in Dreaming for Freud
How do you keep a reader reading a text?

Physical Punishment and Violence

To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, if hitting a child is not wrong, then nothing is wrong. If we truly want to decrease violence in our society, not hitting our children is a good place.

If You View Empathy as a Sign of Weakness, Think Again

Unless justice and fairness are signs of weakness, people's perceptions of empathy as such could not be more wrong.