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From a member of the President's Task Force on Victims of Crime: overstated, superficial generalizations about the ""criminal mind""--followed by a brief presentation of a new therapy-program (barely tested yet) that can ""help a criminal change 180 degrees by learning an entirely new way of thinking and acting that would permeate his entire life."" Samenow, a clinical psychologist who has studied criminal/psychiatric patients for twelve years, dismisses all of the 20th-century views of criminal behavior and its causes. ""Criminals cause crime--not bad neighborhoods, inadequate parents, television, school, drugs, or unemployment."" And what causes criminals? well, ""so far, the search to pin down causation has been futile""--but Samenow seems to lean towards the ""bad seed"" theory, especially since he rules out all social, familial, and psychological factors (in tired, slipshod arguments). In any case, the future criminal is identifiable as such from childhood: he or she is a habitual liar, a ""dynamo of energy, a being with an iron will, insistent upon taking charge, expecting others to indulge his every whim."" Such children, in fact, can cause child abuse by their ""unrelenting provocation."" And so it goes--as Same now, with a few case histories, portrays this cold, manipulative criminal-type in assorted situations (school, work, prison, sex), always getting his/her way--thanks to bleeding-heart teachers, gulled psychiatrists, etc. Can this near-cartoon model be true of all criminals? Samenow believes so: ""Although criminals differ in the crimes they find acceptable, they are carbon copies of one another in their view of themselves and the world."" Thus, the only way to reduce crime is to change the ""thinking patterns"" of criminals: Samenow's mentor, the late Dr. Samuel Yochelson, developed an intense one-on-one program--with elements reminiscent of AA, est, brainwashing--to teach criminals moral behavior, to ""inculcate fear and guilt."" The program, still in its infancy, may or may not have some value. But it is certainly ill-served by Samenow's shrill, repetitious, poorly written presentation of a crude theoretical framework--which sees each and every criminal as a canny monster.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1983
Publisher: Times Books