A Critique of Social Bonding and Control Theory of Delinquency Using the Principles of Psychology of Mind

By Kelley, Thomas M. | Adolescence, Summer 1996 | Go to article overview

A Critique of Social Bonding and Control Theory of Delinquency Using the Principles of Psychology of Mind


Kelley, Thomas M., Adolescence


Psychology of Mind (POM) is a new psychological theory derived from the work of Banks (1983, 1989); Mills (1990a,b, 1993); Mills & Pransky (1993); Suarez (1985); Suarez & Mills (1982); and Suarez, Mills, & Stewart (1987). In a recent article (Kelley, 1990), the author described the principles of Psychology of Mind and revealed how virtually all forms of delinquent and criminal behavior could be explained using the logic of these principles. In additional writings (Kelley, 1993a,b,c), the author applied these same principles to prevention and early intervention programs with at-risk youth and suggested how an accurate understanding of POM could advance the field of criminology.

Since these writings, the distinctions of Psychology of Mind have been clarified and simplified into three major principles: Mind, Consciousness, and Thought (Mills & Pransky, 1993). The present paper first describes the refined principles of POM and shows how their logical interaction can help explain the comparative amounts of both deviant and conforming behavior engaged in by youthful offenders.(1) Then the logic of these principles is used to examine the major assumptions of social bonding and control theory of delinquency focusing predominantly on the formulations of Walter Reckless (1956) and Travis Hirschi (1969).

The Principle of Mind

According to POM, mind is the source of an offender's thinking (how he interprets life), his emotions (how he feels about life), his perceptions (how things look to him), and his ability to experience his world through his senses. Practically speaking, the mind, according to POM, works like a movie projector through which an offender's thoughts are projected from the inside out to form his moment-to-moment idiosyncratic experience of life. Mills and Pransky (1993) warn of the difficulty in grasping a complete understanding of mind:

It is impossible to provide an easy-to-grasp description of the mind, because mind is the source of how things look to us. As such, it generates how we think about things. It operates before our thinking. Therefore, it is impossible to intellectually have a complete picture or accurate model of the mind. Such a model would be a product of the mind's workings (p. 5).

Psychology of Mind defines an offender's mind as the neutral projector of all of his thoughts. POM proposes that, left to its own devices, each offender's mind is designed to work in a healthy way, operating as a neutral force toward innate mental health, which includes a natural wisdom, intelligence, intrinsic motivation, and high self-esteem.

The Principle of Consciousness

According to POM, consciousness is the offender's ability to be aware of external reality. Consciousness brings an offender's thoughts to life via his senses. Through consciousness, his thoughts are converted into his experience. Consciousness would be similar to the light in an activated movie projector. Thought creates images in an offender's head. Consciousness is the faculty or the power that makes these images appear real to his senses. The mind combines consciousness with thought to produce his ongoing moment-to-moment reality. Consciousness goes where an offender's thoughts go via his senses. It always brings to light what an offender is thinking.

The Principle of Thought

The power of consciousness would not exist without thought, or the offender's ability to think, sourced by the mind. In the POM paradigm, mind is a constant as the source of his thinking and experience. Consciousness is also a constant, as it brings to life whatever he is thinking. Thus, according to POM, the only variable in an offender's psychological functioning is thought. If mind is the projector, and consciousness the light, then thought represents the film which comes to life when the light shines through it. Psychology of Mind defines thought as an offender's ability to create images within his own head. …

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