Ownership: The World as the Criminal's Chessboard

"If I want it, it's mine"

Posted Sep 17, 2018

A sense of ownership pervades the criminal’s thinking. It represents an extreme form of control.  If he owns something, he controls it completely.  He regards the world as though it is a chessboard, and he determines where and how to move the pieces.  He believes he is entitled to whatever he wants. This stance is reflected as he speaks about people and their possessions.

·         “I hope they’re keeping my money safe for me.”  This does not refer to funds that are actually his but to money that is in a bank that he is contemplating robbing.

·         “When I walked into that room, everything in that room belonged to me.” The offender was speaking about breaking and entering.

·         “When she left the keys in the ignition, she was inviting me to take the car.” This comment relates to a car theft.

·         “I don’t care if she’s deaf, dumb, and blind; all I want is her torso.”  This statement was made by a criminal speaking of how he will have sex with anyone whom he finds attractive.

An inmate is saving a seat for his buddy in the jail’s cafeteria.  Another guy sits there.  World War III erupts.  By innocently take a seat, the interloper has offended the inmate’s view of himself and the world.  From the standpoint of the man saving the chair, that chair is “his”; it belongs to him.  Another person taking the seat is not affording him the respect he believes he is due.

A man is at a nightclub with his date. Another fellow innocently approaches and starts chatting with the young woman whom he knew from high school. His approach is met with a stream of profanity and a shove.  From the point of view of the man who is the woman’s date, she is “his girl” and no one is to even look at her without asking him first. 

In a classroom, a student with a conduct disorder does not see it necessary to comply with what others expect.  Instead of meeting others’ requirements, he expects them to meet his. He takes possession of the classroom by disrupting instruction, cheating, intimidating others, and so forth.  The same is true of his functioning at a job.  He rarely considers what he owes colleagues or an employer but thinks mainly in terms of what he deserves from them. Others do not have rights, while his rights are unlimited.

Criminals rarely blatantly proclaim that they own other people or their property.  Rather, they ingratiate themselves and manipulate others so that they can have their way.   Relationships become a one-way street. While seeking sexual conquests, a criminal regards a potential partner as already “his.”  He figures out how to take possession – by flattery, intimidation, or force.  In an intimate relationship, the partner has no rights.  What the criminal wants is paramount because he owns the other person.  His partner is his servant.  He expects that individual to accommodate his desires and suit his convenience.

Criminals know that, in fact, they do not literally own other people or their possessions.  But they are so certain that matters will work out as they ordain that they do not feel a need to justify or explain their actions.  Criminals do not think in terms of being obliged.  Rather, they believe that others owe them.  Believing that they are superior, unique and, in addition, good people, they think they are entitled no matter what the circumstances