First published in 1984, and with a more recent 2004 update, this book explores the workings of the criminal mind. The author believes after decades of working with young adult criminals and delinquent adolescents that criminals choose to be the way they are. He debunks popular theories of sociologists about the roots of crime.
For instance, the notion that something in a child's upbringing led to the eventual criminal behavior and therefore the criminal is a victim of circumstances beyond his or her control is addressed. If the theory is that the criminal was dropped on his head as a baby, Dr. Samenow points out that many criminals were not dropped on their heads as babies and that many babies who were dropped on their heads do not grow up to become criminals.
"Delinquent youngsters come from all social classes and from all kinds of homes. The variation in their upbringing is enormous. They differ from one another physically, in their talents and capabilities, and in many aspects of their personalities. Despite these differences, they are strkinkgly alike in that they all display the patterns that will be described in this chapter."The evolution of the criminal mind starts with learning patterns of manipulation early in life that enable him to negotiate the real world without consequences. The thought process becomes twisted
into a sense of entitlement and distorted "self logic" and a belief that the rules others live by don't apply to him. At some point, the budding criminal makes a conscious decision to behave the way he does, as opposed to being shaped by outside forces. Samenow goes on to write:
"At an early age, such a child begins making a series of choices to live a life that he considers exciting, a life in which he is determied to do whatever he wants, a life in which he ignores restraints and eventually turns agains his family and scoffs at those who live responsible lives."There are several features that are common to the minds of criminals from different backgrounds, whether parents were too strict, too distant, too doting, too smothering, too permissive or not even present at all. They are self-centered, self serving, exploitative, unable to feel empathy toward any but themselves, feel entitled to whatever it is that they desire and shift blame onto anybody or anything other than themselves.
I am confident that when Jack Gordon's killer is captured, that there will be a web of justifications and excuses that distort the true circumstances and attempt to shift blame onto Jack for some perceived wrong, or onto his parents, teachers or other role models for leading the killer to such a predicament.