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RE: Psychology Addict # 58 | Punishment – An Overview Through the Lens of Psychology.

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My dear Abigail,

What a topic to take on. This even tops near death experience, I think, for the potential to provoke discussion, even controversy.

I live in a country where mass incarceration is a fact. The notion of rehabilitation has been abandoned (behavior modification). It's all about vengeance. A consequence: large segments of the population are ostracized ("amygdala-dependent pathway plays an important part in the avoidance of future interaction with the target, or in ostracising it altogether"). The ostracism is reinforced by laws that prevent felons from fully reintegrating into society. This is not only devastating to individuals and communities, but undermines the cohesion of the nation as a whole.

However, we, in my country, cannot have a rational, science-based discussion about punishment (incarceration and its consequences) because the issue of retribution comes to the fore. The efficacy of 'punishment' is irrelevant to many people. The indifference to efficacy is most glaringly evident when the issue of the death penalty is raised. An overwhelming number of legitimate studies indicate that the death penalty does not deter crime. And yet, a large percentage (a growing percentage!) of people in my country support it.

As for punishment within the family...I look back on my own parenting and realize that when I thought punishment was necessary, it was often because I was at a loss for how to effectively manage the children without it. Punishment is a default mode. It's quick, easy, and everybody says it's good. But I agree with you. The best way would be to have the children internalize values so they carry these with them wherever they go, for the rest of their lives.

Would I do it better, if I had another chance? I think so. Maybe not perfect, but better.

This post is so rich. All of yours are, but wow. Such an important topic.

Thanks, Abigail. I will of course resteem and tweet this out. I'm going to tweet it out every day for a week :)

With even more regard (is that possible?), affection and respect,

Your New York friend, from punishment-ridden USA

AG

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And yet, a large percentage (a growing percentage!) of people in my country support it.

I am deeply puzzled by this @agmoore2. What kind of bias underlies this sort of thinking? Punishment is a very complex topic. I understand humans have an urge to punish, something which may have stemmed from the very grounds that laid the foundations for our moral values. With fairness/unfairness being one of them. We just simply do not tolerate what is deemed unfair, unjust. It's deeply ingrained in us (please, my dear do watch this video. It's 3 minutes long.)

But then, as a species, we learnt behaviors that prevent selfishness from undermining cooperation - altruistic punishment. Except that we did not leave the old habits behind: punishment as an act of vengeance, of aggression, of ostracism (pretty much like it is done in non-human animals societies). Maybe because the socialization process has stagnated in our modern world. But, how can people build a sense of self-concept in a society where rewards (opportunities, recognition) are limited, and punishment (fines, prison, debt) is aplenty? Where there is little to sacrifice, or lose for the greater good of the group? If one has nothing to lose ... well ... a vicious cycle begins :/

As for children, punishment should come as a means to inform them about how the world works. Punishment is an ugly word, I know. But here we are using it in Skinnerian terms. As a tool to diminish or eliminate undesirable behaviour. Children will inevitably act in ways that are not desirable, because they're constantly exploring (this is very good!). But, in my opinion, it is not fair, mainly on the child, to just reward their desired behaviour and leave the undesirable ones undealt with because of fear of punishment. They need to know there are consequences to not conforming, to going against the rules.

There is nothing wrong with sitting a small child on the sofa; let's say after he kicked another kid, and calmly tell him: "now, I need to tell you that there are other ways of dealing with your frustrations .... and so on and on ... I will leave you here for 5 minutes so you can reflect on what you did". If this sort of event reduces the child impulsive reactions; well, not only is that punishment, but also responsible caring. Because it prepares that child to be function in society :) but alas! Parents are understandably so very drained, and tired and impatient that they often end up resorting to the quick methods!

Thanks, Abigail. I will of course resteem and tweet this out. I'm going to tweet it out every day for a week :)

Weeeeeeeee !!! THANK YOU my dear. Your support is invaluable to me. Your encouraging, motivating feedback, your re-esteems, your sharing my work with the world out there ... oh, words can not thank you enough, or express the extent of my gratitude <3

You do live in my heart :*

I am deeply puzzled by this.... What kind of bias underlies this sort of thinking?

I am afraid you are too clever for me. I tried to avoid this in my comment because it is controversial. Many, many of the original settlers who came to the United States (then the New World) were motivated by religion. They were dissenters, most of them adhering to a strict fundamentalist interpretation of Christianity (you referred to the Salem Witch Trials in one of your previous blogs). It would be hard to overestimate the influence of these religious origins on the development of US culture, and law. I think the inclination to impose a strict moral code, a kind of righteousness (an eye for an eye), influences our penal system. It is impervious to science and reasonable argument.

The influence of fundamentalist religion hangs over this country in other ways--for example, sex education. I love that my country was settled by freedom seekers. I love that this nation was founded by people who had courage and passion enough to come to a raw place and fight for principle (and survival). Some of these settlers were my direct ancestors. However, the legacy of fundamentalist religion is now a kind of yolk that limits the freedom of others.

You see why I avoided this 800 pound gorilla in the room:))

And speaking of gorillas (or simians, anyway)--I loved the video. I had actually seen that before but needed a refresher. The rage, the indignation, of the slighted monkey. Just wonderful.

Of course I share your blogs. It's a public service. I think you should schedule a TED talk. 😇

I don't know how you get these gems out so quickly. I just plod along slowly.

Have a wonderful weekend, dear friend.

Affectionately,

AG

Thank you for the history lesson my dear. Thank you so much <3
You too have a wonderful weekend!
Much, much love ❤️☀️🍁

Dear Abigail,
I'm sorry if this came off as a history lesson. You are fully aware of history, I know. I was just trying to address your reference to 'bias'--In God We Trust is actually the official motto of the US. Right up there with the eagle eagle.png
I so much enjoy our dialogues on this, and other subjects. I've learned a great deal.

Have the most wonderful, peaceful weekend.
Love and respect, ❤
AG

I'm sorry if this came off as a history lesson
Please take that apology back straight away! 😇 I know you were not trying to lecture :) But the insight you provided was to me very informative, like in a lesson, and I truly appreciate it! Plus, I am more acquainted with European history than with American history. So, there you go :D

Also, I forgot to thank you for those links you shared here. For the next few months I am going to take some lessons on the latest in forensic psychology (one never stops), and I have already seen that I will have to conduct research on offenders rights, rehabilitations in prison and so forth... every bit of material is valuable!

All right! Make sure you take that apology back sooner than later 😘
Much love from a warm Evening in Portugal!
Movie time over here 😊

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Thank you, friend. Removed
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