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Etiological Factors of James Holmes’ Criminal Behavior

Discuss about the Psychological Development of Criminal Behavior.

Etiological factors are defined as set of causes that gives rise to a health condition or a disease in a human being (Springer, 2017). Etiological factors that are to be considered with regard to the criminal considered for the study i.e. James Holmes are segregated into three broad categories, which include social, mental illness and biological issues. The five etiological factors that James Holmes has been observed to possess entail personality disorder, ADHD, Major Depression Disorder (MDD), deindividaution, and temperament issues (Mugsy.org, 2000).

In this context, James Holmes was convicted for mass shooting and was found to have a problem of personality disorder. James Holmes killed 12 individuals and injured 70 people in a movie theatre. After 22 hours of court sessions, a psychiatrist was appointed to test the criminal, which in this case is James Holmes. It was observed that the convict was found to be mentally ill and legally sane. Hence, he was diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder. This mental illness is described with few unusual or an eccentric close relationship. People suffering from this personality disorder do not have any understanding on how relationship works. In addition, they also lack proper knowledge on the impact of their behavior on other individuals (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2017). Thus, James Holms failed to understand the effect of mass shooting, as he was suffering from schizotypal personality disorder, which depicts a lack of emotion towards other people.

The schizoid personality disorder focuses on a lack of interpersonal relationship along with a lack of desire for developing one. This shows limited interaction with other individual, which can often lead to comobrid axis a disorder including anxiety issues in a human being. Thus, the depersonalization, which is mostly experienced by the individuals through schizoid personality disorder due to a lack of emotional engagement and human contact, may lead to develop psychotic behaviour. This often leads an individual to develop negative symptoms along with interpersonal deficits (Esterberg, Goulding & Walker, 2010). In this, context, James Holmes having a little interaction with others led him to develop negative traits through anxiety issues, which resulted in him to outburst in the movie theatre. His lack of getting along with the society invoked his lack of interpersonal activities.

In addition, James Holmes also depicted characteristics such as constricted behaviour, which made it difficult for him to relate with other individuals. The convict was sentenced to death penalty though he was mentally ill and legally rational, which did not prevent his actions to mass shooting. James Holmes suffering from mental illness was found to be socially awkward along with being violent which led him to have paranoid thoughts before the mass murder (Wikipedia, 2017b).

Personality Disorder

James Holmes also had the problem of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which made him take psychiatric drugs including anti-depression such as sertraline, a generic version of Zoloft and anxiety drugs entailing clonazepam (Citizens Commission on Human Rights International, 2017). Based on the understanding, the mental state of James Holmes was not stable even before his actions, which led to rampage shooting. Thus, it can be inferred that James Holmes had a personality disorder due to which he was not in a stable state of mind.

Major Depression Disorder (MDD) or depression is a mental problem, which is mostly characterized by loss of interest, low mood and activities without any clear cause. The reason for the MDD is often believed to be integration of psychological, genetic and environmental factors (Malhotra, Kaur, Madan, Kumar, Patil, Hans…, Bhatia, 2014). In this context, James Holmes was found to kill people because of his depression problems. It was observed that he had developed suicidal along with homicide feelings due to catatonic depression (The Associated Press, 2015).

James Homes further lacked self-awareness or often referred as deindividuated, who are unknown regarding the consequences of a violent action, which led to mass shooting (Radar Online, 2015).

Temperament refers to the disparities in the behavioral tendencies (Saudino, 2005). Constant changes in the behavior of an individual can often lead to violent conducts. James Holmes’s behavior resembled a fictional character from the movie ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, as he dyed his hair like the villain, Joker and acted in an unusual way. It was “a strange concoction of despairing anomie mingled with manic extroverted energy,” during mass shooting in the movie theatre (Bogar, 2014).

Anti-social behavior leading to a criminal act can be described with the help of theory related to psychosocial developmental. According to this theory, a person becomes anti-social due to isolation, which can lead to change in personal behavior. The theory mostly focuses on maintaining stable relationship (Fleming, 2004).In this context, it can be inferred that James Holmes being a loner developed problem of anxiety and faced personality disorders, which led to mass shooting without being self-aware. In addition, he also lacked the consequences of his actions along with behavior. Thus, the theory suffices the actions of James Holmes. Nonetheless, he was still liable for punishment, as he was found to be completely culpable even though he was diagnosed with personality disorder.

On the other hand, the relationship between ADHD and criminal behavior is evident. It has been observed over the years that the prisoners suffering from the problem of ADHD are more aggressive and violent as compared to other individuals. Thus, people with this disorder are often liable to commit and be involved in more anti-social activities. Therefore, these individuals tend to less appreciate the overall consequences of their actions (Harpin & Young, 2012). Hence, James Holmes suffering from ADHD issue got himself indulged in anti-social activities leading to take away 12 lives. James Holmes, in addition to having personality disorder was also suffering from ADHD, for which he was taking medication including the use of anti-depression issues. Apart from facing the problem of ADHD, James Holmes also had developed the issue of MDD due to depression, which provoked him to act irrationally.

ADHD

The problem of deindividaution is defined as a process, which focuses on reducing self assessment along with self-awareness in various situations, where recognizing individuals is more difficult. Consequently, from this perspective, the case of James Homes, he was found to be totally different from his normal self. During the time of shooting, James Holmes acted in an insane way and was compared to the joker from the Batman movie by the police officers, who arrested him. He acted rashly without considering whether his action was right or wrong regardless of the outcome. This factor led James Holmes to act violently. Therefore, it can be inferred that individuation theory significantly focuses on those individuals, who mostly act in the crowd. This theory further states that under such scenarios a person loses his/her individuality (Wikipedia, 2017a). Thus, the act of violence can also lead an individual to commit murder, as in case of James Holmes’ mass shooting in a movie theatre.

With respect to criminal behavior, an individual with both low and high intelligence can commit crime influenced by the social setting. As per the psychological experts, criminal behavior mostly emerges out of low intelligence along with having a specific type of temperament. Hence, temperament is often regarded as an individual characteristic, which can be identified as an emotion responding to stimulus. Therefore, various components of temperament include mood, sociability, activity level, reactivity and affect with other individuals. It has often been observed that temperament can either make it easy or hard for an individual to get along with the other individuals. Fluctuation in temperament of an individual can often lead to aggressive and violent behaviour (SAGE, 2016). Therefore, in this context, it can be inferred, the certain fluctuation in the behaviour of James Holmes led him to indulge himself in criminal activity of killing 12 people and injuring 70 individuals.

References

Bogar, M. (2014). Soul-making and the Colorado shooting: James Holmes as the joker, trickster, savior. Mythological Studies Journal, 5, 21-30.

Citizens Commission on Human Rights International. (2017). Another mass shooting, another psychiatric drug? Federal investigation long overdue. Retrieved May 5, 2017, from https://www.cchrint.org/2012/07/20/the-aurora-colorado-tragedy-another-senseless-shooting-another-psychotropic-drug/

Esterberg, A. L., Goulding, S. M. & Walker, E. F. (2010). A personality disorders: schizotypal, schizoid and paranoid personality disorders in childhood and adolescence. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 32(4), 515-58.

Fleming, J. S. (2004). Erikson’s psychosocial developmental stages. Erikson and Personal Identity: A Biographical Profile, 1-24.

Malhotra, S., Kaur, N., Madan, P., Kumar, P., Patil, Hans, C…, Bhatia, M. S. (2014). Depression and Inflammatory Markers: The Clinical Correlation, 17(1), 117-124.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2017). Schizotypal personality disorder. Retrieved May 5, 2017, from, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizotypal-personality-disorder/home/ovc-20198939

Mugsy.org. (2000). Mental health and behaviour disorders. Retrieved May 5, 2017, from https://www.mugsy.org/asa_faq/definitions/mh.shtml

Radar Online. (2015). Batman killer turns whining coward. Retrieved May 5, 2017, from https://crime653.rssing.com/chan-5813766/all_p30.html

SAGE. (2016). Psychosocial theories: individual traits and criminal behavior. Criminology: An Interdisciplinary Approach, 169-198.

Saudino, K. J. (2005). Behavioral genetics and child temperament. Journal of developmental and behavioral pediatrics: JDBP, 26(3), 214-223.

Springer. (2017). Etiological factors. Chapter 2, 21-33.

The Associated Press. (2015). The Latest: Holmes says depression drove him to kill. Retrieved from https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-the-latest-glitch-delays-video-in-theater-2015may29-story.html

Wikipedia. (2017a). Individuation. Retrieved May 5, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Individuation

Wikipedia. (2017b). James Holmes (mass murderer). Retrieved May 5, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Holmes_ (mass_murderer

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