Eng 201 – Genes Vs Environment
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English 201 -Genes VS Environment
May 23, 2011
As a Criminal Justice major in John Jay College, I have always sought for ways to create stability and justice wherever I may be. I personally feel that stability and justice is not only needed in ones personal life but also it is equally essential in a society. The term justice usually brings to mind the words punishment followed by the Criminal Justice system. This is because the Criminal Justice system carefully evaluates an offenders crime and in the most honest way possible, they decide on a verdict of what the given punishment should be. However, have you ever thought if the Criminal Justice system actually values the offender as a person and understands what is responsible for making a human being into what he or she becomes? A very good and controversial example of this is the Genes vs. Environment theory on criminals. This idea puts forth that biological and/or environmental factors play a major role in a criminals mind or a “bad person”. Does that mean this is unfair and cannot punish nor fault the offender for being “unlucky”? And what does that mean for putting people in prison? In Barbara Oakleys Evil Genes, she raises the question about the truthfulness that evil people may come from either genes or badness? In order to answer this question one must fully understand the context of “badness.”
The definition of badness in the dictionary is defined as worse, not good, naughty and spoiled and evil is entailed as wicked, sin, source of sorrow or distress. To start off, the word “bad” is entirely vague and relies purely on ones ethical beliefs while evil is defined as more of a religious term using sin, wicked, etc. I believe that environment is the only factor that contributes to psychopathy because ones personality is built off of your surroundings, people, etc. Lets say for instance, a soldier that has served in war and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder they will endure symptoms such as delusions, stress, anger, etc. Furthermore, if not properly treated, the individual may become overly violent due to abnormal amounts of stress and anger. So is it not safe to say that this poor victim could unwillingly commit a crime? And can we also state that these characteristics are very similar in a criminal? However, I do not believe that genes can possibly play a role in criminals. Although, we inherit many genes from our parents I do not find it possible to attain a gene that would make us more prone to be a criminal. For instance, its like saying that a child is happier than another because he or she inherited more “good” genes. I do believe that the environmental factors that have made them ill is an unfortunate mishap to the individual, hence, making it unfair in the Criminal Justice system, where they would be found guilty for their actions. However, if sympathy were to be taken into consideration for the individual they would be more or less considered and treated like a handicapped or a child in which they are not in full capacity of their actions. Consequently, this could become very complicated in society because it can inflict excuses onto any offender and their crime by simply stating that they also had a troublesome life and also be excused of their actions.
Oakley opens up chapter two of the book by understanding antisocial personality behaviors and defining it as a syndrome in which people show a pervasive pattern of disregard for any violation of the rights of others. She states that the term Machiavellianism and psychopathy are simply the same just given by different psychologists. Personality and social psychologists study this personality under Machiavellianism while clinical psychologists examine the same personality under psychopathy. Sociologists generally use the word sociopath and believe that sociopathy is a learned behavior. Biologists use the word psychopathy because they are more interested in the characteristics of their ability to tell right from wrong. However, the DSM-IV categorizes psychopathy as of today, as an antisocial personality disorder. They also claim that in