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

Parenting Without Punishment: A Humanist Perspective, Part 3

Tragically, since recorded history corporal punishment has been the “default” system for disciplining children. In the past century, however, evidence demonstrating its ineffectiveness has mounted to the degree that it can no longer—whether ethically or pragmatically—be justified. It’s therefore regrettable that today it's still common in the U.S.

Orange is the New Bleak: What the SHU Can Do to Your Brain

By Jordan Gaines Lewis on July 03, 2015 in Brain Babble
What happens to the inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary when they're sent to the SHU? Not much; that's why it's so terrible.

Eleven Facts About Sex I Wish Judges & Lawyers Understood

By Marty Klein PhD on June 30, 2015 in Sexual Intelligence
The justice system requires knowledgeable judges and lawyers. When it comes to sex, most aren't.

Motivation in Education, Therapy, and Parenting

Vengeful parental fantasies often take the form of protecting the child from invented or exaggerated external threats.

Serial Killers: Modus Operandi, Signature, Staging & Posing

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on June 29, 2015 in Wicked Deeds
FBI profilers examine, among other things, whether a victim’s body was posed to predict whether an unknown offender is an organized or disorganized killer. Organized criminals are meticulous planners, often psychopathic but know right from wrong, not insane and show no remorse. Disorganized criminals are impulsive, irrational, and assault victims in blitz-like attacks.

Parenting Without Punishment: A Humanist Perspective, Part 2

Given the particular situation, children (like all the rest of us) are doing the best they’re capable of. So what are some ways that parents might effectively confront their child’s annoying, hazardous, or otherwise troublesome behavior—without, that is, having to punish them for it?

The Psychological Effects of Shaming Children

Public shaming videos seem to be on an uptick, and the recent story of a teen girl’s apparent suicide after a public shaming incident is an extreme example. Whether or not this particular case was a one of a parent shaming his child, there are lessons for all parents on the psychological risks of using shame to change your child or teen's behavior.

What "My Child Won't Cooperate!" Really Means

We often hear parents say, "My child won't do what I ask! He just won't cooperate!" Maybe it's because we are lying to ourselves about what we really want.

Parenting Without Punishment: A Humanist Perspective, Part 1

However exasperating a child’s behavior may be, it’s still—in most instances—age-appropriate. So when kids misbehave (according, that is, to grown-up standards), they’re prompted to do so primarily because of powerful forces in them they lack the cognitive development to control.

Effectiveness of Rewards and Punishments in Dog Training

Data shows that using punishment as part of dog training, or to control unwanted behaviors, is not particularly effective, and may actually trigger some behavioral problems.

Devastating Consequences for Relatively Minor Misconduct

While focusing on the offense, do not neglect to evaluate the offender

When Parents Get Angry at Their Adolescent

One primary responsibility of parents is to teach their adolescent how to manage anger well through their instruction, interaction, and example in family life.

How Forgiveness Therapy Helps Emotional Eating

By Karen Salmansohn on June 09, 2015 in Bouncing Back
If you want a successful Weight Loss Plan, start with a "Hate Loss Plan."

James Holmes' Notebook

Contents of James Holmes' notebook are released. Will they prove insanity?

Rebound and Revenge Sex: The Truth Behind the Myths

By Michael Castleman M.A. on June 01, 2015 in All About Sex
Myth: To get over breakups, people quickly jump into bed with new lovers, often strangers. Truth: Recent research shows that this is more the exception than the rule.

What Really Motivates Kids

What really motivates kids (and adults for that matter)? Not rewards. Not punishments. Not even intrinsic motivation! My goodness -- what's left?

Barred Art: Reflections on a Prison Art Show

Guest blogger and colleague Shannon Schmitz, an art therapist who has spent many years working as an art therapist in various prison settings, offers heartfelt musings following her recent experience of judging an art show in a makeshift prison art gallery.

What Did The LAPD Know About Robert Durst and When?

By Cathy Scott on May 20, 2015 in Crime, She Writes
An in-depth look at delayed evidence in the California case against real estate heir Robert Durst, who stands charged with the murder of his best friend, writer Susan Berman.

Did Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Deserve the Death Penalty?

By Joe Pierre M.D. on May 15, 2015 in Psych Unseen
How did jurors decide Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's fate?

Why Shouldn’t We Use Punishment toTeach A Dog Not To Jump Up

There needs to be trust in our relationships with our pets.

What Makes Narcissists Angry (and Why)

By Art Markman Ph.D. on May 07, 2015 in Ulterior Motives
Narcissists are people who feed off the energy of others. They draw from people around them to boost their self-esteem. As a result, they are extraordinarily self-centered. If you have a narcissist for a boss, that can be very difficult. Narcissists are reluctant to share credit with others.

Discipline, Nurturance, or Living Example: What Works Best?

Discipline is pointing the way. Living example displays the message in vibrant color impacting a child even more than words.

What Is Your Problem, Baltimore?

By Kathryn Seifert on May 04, 2015 in Stop The Cycle
What Is Your Problem, Baltimore? Racism, Lack of Economic Opportunity, Community Engagement, or Something Else?

Theater Shooter on Trial

Colorado shooter uses insanity plea for his defense

Why Betrayal Hurts So Much (and Who Seeks Revenge)

A betrayal by someone you trust is one of the most challenging interpersonal situations you can face in life. Whether through infidelity or a failure to fulfill a promise, betrayal leads to a desire for revenge, particularly in some people. New neuroscience research suggests who’s most likely to be hurt by a betrayal and why.

Hinckley Release from Mental Hospital

Should John Hinckley be released from the hospital and given freedom?

A Dream of Decapitation

By Robert J Landy Ph.D. on April 20, 2015 in Couch and Stage
Two drama therapists discuss a dream about a beheading and an attempt to restore life. In doing so, they recount two mythological stories, one about the Golem of Prague and the other about a simple journey home. Through their dialogue they seek to understand the meaning of healing.

How Brian Williams Can Earn Back Trust

Can Brian Williams earn back trust? Yes, he can if he follows the 4 H's and 4 R's.

Harming the Innocent to Punish the Guilty

By Peter Toohey on April 16, 2015 in Annals of the Emotions
There are three harrowing stories here, one modern concerning Katherine Knight, and two from Greek mythology concerning Procne and Atreus. Mental derangement, jealousy and resentment, and profoundly dysfunctional families are at the heart of the cannibalistic stories. They dramatize the harm that is inflicted on the innocent in order to punish the apparently guilty.