In an occasional yet ongoing series of posts on thetopic of offender therapy, I will now briefly discuss the characteristic of the lifestyle criminal as it relates to postulate #1 - Interpersonal Intrusiveness. Generally speaking, what this involves is a complete disregard for the rights, boundaries, and dignity of others. There is typically little in the way of compassion or empathy for others; rather, the world is viewed from the perspective of a pack animal, such as a wolf - there is a pecking order, and to the extent I can take what I want from you, I am entitled to do so.
This, according to Walters, is more of a learned criminal characteristic, in that people are not born this way. I’d submit, however, that to the extent this learned, the learning process may start quite early. The way Walters describes this, the lifestyle criminal engages in interpersonal intrusiveness in a deliberate manner. While a child may engage in all sorts of disturbing behaviors, including ones that are interpersonally intrusive, this is generally not done by children with the same type of deliberate intent as the adult. However, over time, the individual’s cognitions with respect to interpersonal interactions are shaped by these previous choices (and the resulting consequences), where, as an adult, they now engage in these actions willingly.
Often, the type of interpersonal intrusiveness we are talking about here is violent and aggressive. Of course, this is the case in terms of the actual offending behavior, but it will also be evident in less-than-illegal behavior as well. For a behavior to rise to the level of intrusive, one must consider whether the behavior violates the rights and dignity of others. Offenses can be considered on a continuum in this manner - crimes like murder and rape are on a farther end of this scale than, say, shoplifting. In addition, the manner in which the crimes are carried out will give us a fuller picture of just how intrusive a person’s actions are. As an example, a fight with a stranger at a bar, following excessive drinking a a few words being exchanged might be considered less intrusive than a husband physically assaulting his wife in a similar manner, particularly if done in front of the kids, and with other assorted verbal comments meant to demean the wife added.
Another form of intrusiveness that is not overtly hostile, but nonetheless a violation of others, is the parasitic lifestyle. Often seen among offenders, this is an interpersonal style whereby the offender will enter into relationships by saying or doing whatever is necessary in order to form the relationship, then basically sponge off the person in order to have to engage in activities like, say, getting a job. They will remain in these relationships as long as possible, continuing to make promises, excuse, etc. to put of an ultimatum as long as possible. If the other person does in fact put down their foot, they will simply pick up and look for a new “host.” Now, not all “parasites” are lifestyle criminals, but many lifestyle criminals are parasites. Particularly on a psychopathic level, these individuals will make the most significant promises possible, even marry people, with no intention of actually following through on the commitments most people recognize are implicit in the arrangement.
The next key aspect associated with postulate #1 will be social rule breaking, which I will hopefully address sooner rather than later!