Positivist Theory and its Deductions on the James Holmes Case

Over the old ages, assorted theoretical models have been proposed to explicate the nature and causing of offenses. This includes the corporate rationalist theory, peculiarly the biological and psychological trait theories as accounts on why persons commit certain offenses. The positive tradition in criminology suggests that psychological, biological, and even societal forces determine a person’s condemnable behaviour, therefore observing that the condemnable act is beyond the control of the individual. To analyze this theory and its deductions to offense, one may analyse the instance of James Holmes, the suspect of mass shot at the Century film house in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people on July 20, 2012. Probes revealed that the alleged culprit had history of mental audiences, which strongly affirmed issues with his mental wellbeing.Sing that Holmes exhibited significant marks and symptoms declarative of mental unwellness, prompt diagnosing and intervention might hold prevented the fatal Aurora shot ; true to the ends of a rationalist psychological science, it is besides best to pull off Holmes through a intervention in a mental wellness installation, instead than a condemnable penalty.

Before analyzing how a psychological diagnosing and intervention might hold prevented Holmes’ condemnable act, it would be imperative to briefly discourse a specific sub-theory of the positive psychological science: the trait theory. The trait theory is an umbrella term that encompasses a combination of assorted biological, psychological, and societal factors that predispose an person to develop and exhibit condemnable behaviour ( van Gelder & A ; de Vries, 2012 ) . These factors can be present at birth and may continually act upon a person’s societal operation over his or her life class. Biologically, condemnable behaviours may be attributed to factors such as genetic sciences, endocrines, metamorphosis, and neuro-physiological conditions. The trait theory besides turns to the psychodynamics of a individual to find implicit in temper upsets, personality traits, and cognitive forms that result to condemnable behaviour. The theory likewise integrates societal factors including societal acquisition and environmental restraints as possible causes of condemnable behaviour or delinquency. As will be explained in the succeeding parts of this essay, Holmes had mental wellness issues that feature a combination of these factors.

There are several indexs and clinical tracts that would hold prevented Holmes from perpetrating the mass shot in Aurora, get downing with his anterior psychological appraisals. Reports note that the accused gunslinger had assignments with three mental wellness practicians before the violent violent disorder. These experts include Dr. Lynne Fenton, the head head-shrinker of the mental wellness services of University of Colorado ( Denver ) ( BBC, 2013 ) . Dr. Fenton sent a study to the university’s menace appraisal squad sing Holmes’ hazard for murderous behaviour, but concluding diagnosing and follow-up ratings were non carried out ( Rosenberg, 2014 ) . There were besides other indexs of the gunman’s psychological perturbation, including a “bizarre – pharyngeal, freakish” personal voice mail message ( BBC, 2013 ) . While the consequences of Holmes’ post-arrest mental wellness appraisal remain confidential, psychologists believe that the gunslinger might be enduring from schizophrenic disorder and mental illness ( Solty, 2012 ) . These conditions could explicate Holmes’ impaired ideation or sense of world every bit good as his leaning to perpetrate force. Nonetheless, issues about his mental wellbeing were non quickly diagnosed and treated. Psychotherapy would hold “contained” and managed his hallucinations and impaired idea procedures, therefore the bar of the fatal shot.

As noted earlier, the trait theory besides includes biological factors that combine with psychological factors that, when quickly addressed, could hold prevented Holmes from assailing and killing civilians. Similar to his psychological appraisal, published groundss of a neurobiological injury or caput hurt were absent. However, one may add the possibility of encephalon injury or encephalon tumour as an underlying or exacerbating factors for his mental wellness issue. The planning and executing of mass killing itself attest to the gunman’s deficiency of empathy and sensible judgement. These traits are characteristic of harm in the orbitofrontal cortex portion of the encephalon ( Burke, 2014 ) . In other words, encephalon imaging surveies such as a magnetic resonance imagination ( MRI ) and computed imaging ( CT ) scanning can assist formalize or govern out the aforesaid conditions. The quantification and measuring offered by these diagnostic trials are cardinal to the rationalist psychological science. In any instance, it would hold added to an effectual clinical direction to forestall Holmes from exhibiting force. Furthermore, the trait theory besides provides an account for the societal dimensions that might hold influenced Holmes’ condemnable behaviour. One may get down by looking at the undermentioned analysis of Solty ( 2012 ) :

It is clear that Holmes seems to hold felt himself to be in a hopeless state of affairs. And as a adult male he didn’t have the progressively popular option of female pupils in North America of going an enterpriser of one’s ain youthful… [ and ] in his obvious despair Holmes anticipated his suspension [ from the University of Colorado ] . He prepared and pursued his ain de-matriculation. In his province, he must hold realized that he would likely no longer be a top performing artist. ( p.10 )

The above description high spots that there are restraining societal factors that might hold led to Holmes’ defeats. Media studies note that Holmes ne’er had a romantic relationship prior to the hiting incident ; he was besides rejected by the adult females whom he contacted at a insouciant dating web site ( BBC, 2013 ) . A consistent winner, Holmes might hold been affected by a diminution in his academic public presentation, which led to his program to retreat from the university. Therefore, feelings of societal rejection besides add another angle to Holmes’ condemnable behaviour. Experts besides found a nexus between Holmes’ fancy for picture games, comparative to the popular vigilance man figure- Batman, and aggression. Simply put, the gunman’s violent inclinations might besides be reinforced through societal acquisition. Considerations for these societal factors could hold besides solidified any psychiatric diagnosing and find appropriate clinical intercessions to turn to Holmes’ mental wellness issues.

Convinced that Holmes’ condemnable behaviour was a consequence of biological and psychosocial factors beyond his control, it is sensible to take a firm stand that the appropriate intercession would be confinement and intervention to a mental wellness installation. This position besides conforms to the nucleus tradition of criminological positivism in that it places accent on therapy or rehabilitation, instead than penalty exemplified by captivity or decease punishment. It must be re-emphasized that Holmes was and continues to hold significant psychological issues that impair his judgement and sense of world. While in gaol, he even committed suicide efforts ( BBC, 2013 ) . Without psychotherapeutics and other intervention modes to pull off his mental wellness status, incorporating and imprisoning Holmes would merely be ineffectual. In peculiar, surveies note that the rate of recidivism among mentally-ill inmates could be every bit high as 80 % because they receive deficiency or deficient psychiatric interventions inside the prison ( Burke, 2014 ) . The ability of the trait theory to sufficiently explicate the host of factors for Holmes’ condemnable behaviour merely indicates that the concluding declaration to this instance would be an intercession that follows a positive attack.

Overall, Holmes provides a instance in point as to how assorted factors may work to develop a condemnable head among people who are susceptible to force. This gunslinger shows that personality traits and the elements of these traits could finally make its maximal tolerance, striping a individual of any staying reason and sense of world. Psychological and criminological positivism suggests that such condemnable behaviour could hold been prevented or managed through prompt diagnosing and intervention. Now that harm was already done, the lone manner frontward is to handle and rehabilitate the psychologically unstable gunslinger.


BBC. ( 2013, April 1 ) .Profile: Aurora film hiting fishy James Holmes.Retrieved from hypertext transfer protocol: //www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-18937513

Burke, R. H. ( 2014 ) .An debut to criminological theory( 4th ed. ) . New York: Routledge.

Rosenberg, J. ( 2014 ) . Mass shots and mental wellness policy.Journal of Sociology & A ; Social Welfare, 41( 1 ) , 107-121.

Solty, I. ( 2012 ) . Beloved Left: The NRA is right – The mass taw as high-achiever: Historical-materialist considerations on the resistible autumn of James Holmes and the pathologization and culturalization of the film slaughter in Aurora, Colorado.Socialism & A ; Democracy, 26( 3 ) , 1-13. Retrieved from 10.1080/08854300.2012.722372

new wave Gelder, J.-L. , & A ; de Vries, R. E. ( 2012 ) . Traits and provinces: Integrating personality and impact into a theoretical account of condemnable determination making* traits and provinces.Criminology, 50( 3 ) , 637-671. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9125.2012.00276.x