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The International Debate on Theories on the Psychology of Mass-Violence


 This review article derives on an article containing thorough information on psycho-socio-criminological theories about mass criminal activities or collective misdemeanor; as compiled and formulated by a Turkish scholar and now-retired- judge (and for a time the very president) of the Turkish Supreme Court of Appeal; namely Sami Selçuk. The valuable work got published in French, in the journal of the Department of Political Science of Ankara University. Related views of Sighele, Tarde, Le Bon, Mac Dougall, Freud, Jung, Adler, Espina and Reiwald are considered in some detail. Sociological approaches by Geiger, Kautsky, Lippman, Dewey, Allport and above all Durkheim are also highlighted concisely. Even prominent classical crime-novelists’ names are not neglected to be cited at the end of text. This study contributes in the existing literature of criminology studies in the sense that it makes a fairly complete mention of the leading crime scientists, who constitute the forefathers or pioneers of the theory-developpers, in the field. The section of endnotes contains tiny portraits of the scholars, obtainedfrom the internet thanks to a painstaking task. Those pictures help the readers in getting the given knowledge “embedded” into their memories; since visual remembrance is known to be superior to verbal memory, in general. To motivate the reader further; the author included two illustrations of his, as well. Sami Selçuk, author of the main source handled in the review-article, is a university-professor of criminal law, presently. A number of auxiliary sources are also employed by S.Çaya, in addition to many comments and explanations. Crime is a historical problem of human societies, which was always fought against through various measures depending upon the predominant culture. A society free of crime and full of genuine peace is missed by people, especially modern urban people, who know that they might be possible victims of crimes, themselves. Yet; those same people are also sure that such a wish could be nothing but a utopia. We know quite well that criminal acts constitute a social phenomenon. Besides; according to Durkheim, this is just a normal social phenomenon. In fact; according to the great French sociologist; as expressed in his work titled “The Rules of Sociological Method”, not only is crime normal but also it is easy to prove its usefulness! Contrary to current ideas, the criminal person does not appear any more as a drastically unsociable being. He is not a parasitic, alien non-assimilating body within the society. Rather; he is a regulating-agent of social life! From this point of view; crime should not be conceived as a malice confined into very narrow limits. When the crime rate is lower than the ordinary level, the society should not congratulate itself. This is simultaneous with and reinforcing upon a social disturbance. In times of economic hardships the number of shots and wounds committed is registered at its lowest value. On the other hand; it seems that Karl Marx preceded Durkheim in this topic. He had written the following statements: A criminal commits a crime. But; if the ties between that so-called crime the entirety of productive activities of the society are examined closely; we feel obliged to get rid of certain prejudices. The criminal not only produces criminal acts but also the criminal law. He also produces the professor who teaches the criminal-law courses. Besides, he produces all of the police-apparatus as well as the administration of justice comprising detectives, judges, juries etc. History easily proves that criminality can not be separated from life in society and is observed in all societies. It is a constant aspect of life within the society as well as a disease; it goes without saying that the crime-phenomenon is old as the world itself. Since the early stages of history, crimes were seen in all civilizations and in all places. This is why law defines sanctions against all acts which disturb peace or aim at property. Also; this is why the envisioned penalties vary with the political and economic situation, culture, tradition and other aspects of the involved community. Besides; the social reaction is a defensive reflex of the society against acts which disturb it. Despite this reaction which is often very strict; in our time; this crime trouble has attained large dimensions by its size and new models. These last years, the challenge of crimes and new dangerous forms of delinquency are much talked of. In particular; collective crimes which set free emotional reactions multiply rapidly in the modern world. Faced with that growing tendency of crimes; despite the scientific progress in research, a satisfying solution cannot be obtained. In fact; industrial societies ask if the climbing rate is an epidemic of their boost; while the less developed societies ask if it is the price they should pay achieving the level of progress they crave for. On the other hand; the collective conscience of people desire that socially intolerable crimes of all kinds be hit by severe penalties.

 Sinan Caya

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