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

Death Penalty May Not Bring Peace to Victims' Families

Does the death penalty provide true justice and closure to victims?

How Human Traffickers Keep Victims Mentally Enslaved

Psychological manipulation tactics are critical to traffickers’ success, and coercion, manipulation and psychological abuse are often more powerful weapons than physical violence.

Trump's Failed Apology

Why it is so important for Trump (and all of us) to give meaningful apologies

From “My Bad” to “I'm Sorry": Trump's Evolving Apology

Trump has apologized . . . sort of. He said the words, more than once, yet many voters are unconvinced. Why? We forgive (and often forget), when apologies are authentic.

Why We Obey and Disobey the Law

By Glenn C. Altschuler Ph.D. on October 06, 2016 in This Is America
Responses to law are shaped by rewards and punishments, peer group influence, and internal motivation. They vary by time, place, and culture, and how information is communicated.

Is It True That "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished?"

By Temma Ehrenfeld on September 29, 2016 in Open Gently
People may withdraw or punish you after you try to help them.

Good Deeds, Sinister Motives

Good deeds can have a dark motive

Bringing Methods of "The Voice" to the Presidential Debates

By Mark Goulston M.D., F.A.P.A. on September 27, 2016 in Just Listen
What if the Presidential debates could be cleansed of persona and personality and see what content shows through.

Is Restorative Justice Exhausting?

By Mikhail Lyubansky Ph.D. on September 11, 2016 in Between the Lines
School teachers and staff are already stretched thin. Is restorative justice the final straw?

Why Louisiana Defendants Say, "Geaux Tigers!"

Two economists suggest a surprising source of racial bias in juvenile sentencing.

Clear Evidence: Spanking Harms Kids

A large body of research definitively shows that spanking has negative consequences for kids.

TRAPing the Lone Terrorist, Part 1

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on August 24, 2016 in Media Spotlight
A new screening tool to help identify potential lone wolf terrorists is currently being evaluated. Can the TRAP-18 help prevent future violence?

The Strange Allure of the Killer Living Next Door

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on August 21, 2016 in Wicked Deeds
A serial killer is frequently an unassuming everyman who could easily be a next door neighbor or co-worker.

When You've Been Bad, Is it Enough to Say You're Sorry?

Regret may seem like a watered down version of an apology but, according to new research, honest feelings of regret will have more lasting effects on behavior.

Do Criminals Desire to Get Caught?

In 1915, Freud wrote about an unconscious desire to get caught and punished. But he did not treat criminals.

Humpback Whales Rescue Animals From Orcas Around the World

By Marc Bekoff Ph.D. on August 03, 2016 in Animal Emotions
Why do humpback whales rescue other animals from killer whale attacks? It's not clear but these fascinating observations show how much there is to learn about animal behavior.

From Rejection to Revenge

The pain of rejection may be a significant cause of fraud as an act of revenge, new research says.

Is Parental Authority 'Bullying'?

Perhaps we model (non-physical) aggressions in our homes, even as we decry the (re)enactment of these behaviors on the playground, in the hallways, on the bus, in the cafeteria.

Peanut Butter's Revenge

By Gregg McBride on July 20, 2016 in The Weight-ing Game
Hell hath no fury like a "trigger food" does for someone with a dieter's mentality. Especially when that someone is trying to eat, live and think healthy.

The Stanford Rape Case

By Guest Blogger on July 19, 2016 in The Guest Room
Let’s shift the conversation toward understanding the needs of survivors in their healing journey.

Unmanned: An Unnatural History of Human Castration

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on July 14, 2016 in How We Do It
Deliberate castration, long used to punish criminals and prisoners of war, has also yielded harem guards and has been inflicted on young boys to stop their voices from breaking.

Sexual Trophies, Murder, And Addiction

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on July 13, 2016 in In Excess
When it comes to the collecting of ‘sexual trophies’, most research relates to more criminal sexual deviance. But what does the literature say and can it be addictive?

Nazi Fetishism

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on June 30, 2016 in In Excess
Examples of Nazi fetishism can be found in both musical content and films but what do we know about it from an academic and psychological perspective?

Susan Silver: Job Justice

By Gayil Nalls Ph.D. on June 28, 2016 in Sensoria
We must help ex-offenders connect "with appropriate community resources to find jobs, housing, substance abuse, treatment, and mental health care."

Why Time-Outs Need a Time Out

In using time-outs parents unintentionally convey that they are unable to contain or tolerate their own feelings.

Ian Anderson’s Progressive Path

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on June 20, 2016 in Brick by Brick
Jethro Tull is considered by many to be one of the greatest progressive rock bands of all time.

Which Way Will Prince’s Death Lead Us in the Opioid Fight?

Common sense and compassion in dealing with addiction can be hard to find, but the defeat of punitive fentanyl legislation offers hope.

Exploring Feelings

We are born with specific innate feelings, which combine with each other and life experiences to form our complex emotional world.
Wikimedia commons, labeled for reuse

Why Every Psychotherapist Needs to Understand Sociology

Psychology on its own presents too skewed of a perspective to truly understand the entirety of human behavior. It must be counterbalanced by other disciplines, such as sociology.

Prince Would Do Prison Time Under Fentanyl Bill

By Jason Powers M.D. on June 14, 2016 in Beyond Abstinence
Senate proposal harkens back to the 1980s, when low-level offenders were locked up for decades.