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The Big Answer

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Our take on a book review called Victimful Crime

our take on a book review by Cathy Young

(our site's book review comments)

Young reviews Wendy Kaminer’s book, It’s All the Rage: Crime and Culture, and finds it ambivalent, fascinating, and inconclusive.

Kaminer rightly deplores the tendency to bring the “personal development” mentality, with its scorn for individual accountability, and its claims that we are all victims, into the legal process. Juries that let people off because of their bad childhoods are mixing up responsibility and etiology, and judges are wrong to let them get away with it.


Incidentally, most people into personal development and/or involved with therapy don’t believe that individual accountability is only for those of us with good childhoods. It’s the Oprah shows and other talk shows that convince an ignorant public to relax accountability standards. These are also the sources of the idea that human potential adherents want less accountability. We believe that if the personal development community and therapists in general were all polled regarding their likelihood of letting a rapist off because of a bad childhood, the results would cancel the notion once and for all that such people have a soft spot for criminals and are indifferent to victims.

The fact that this sector of our society can fully understand why the criminals are doing what they do, and how their negative environments have helped them choose criminality, doesn’t in any way mean that they feel that this excuses such actions. And the reason for this is simple: Therapists see people every day that are the traumatized victims of criminals. It’s very frustrating and depressing to them. At least if criminals are locked up, they keep such traumatization between each other.

At least if criminals are locked up, they keep traumatization between each other
At least if criminals are locked up, they keep traumatization between each other

See The Abuse Excuse: And Other Cop-outs, Sob Stories, and Evasions of Responsibility.