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Psychology And Its Branches Sociology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 1868 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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First of all psychology is the study of human behaviour. The sole purpose of psychology is to unravel the mystery of ‘why’ and individual acts a certain way. Psychology examines an individual’s specific actions, responses and factors that dictate how an individual reacts under set conditions and the environment. The behaviour of an individual has an impact on the greater society that surrounds the individual. Psychological theories cover many branches including organizational psychology, environmental psychology, development psychology, forensic psychology and sports psychology.

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The talk about psychology and its branches bring up an individual in particular, Robert William Pickton. This former pig farmer and serial killer convicted of the second degree murders of six Canadian women in 2007. He was also charged with the murder of twenty additional women. The Canadian man born in British Columbia is considered a psychopath and is very easily determined as one because of his childhood. The branch of psychology that specifically affected Picktons mentality was his development as a child and the environment he grew up in, in other words development psychology. Robert Pickton grew up in a childhood filled with denial from his mother. Due to Robert’s mother heavy work regime he would never have fun, spend time with friends or time to play. If Robert was not in school, he would be found in the slaughterhouse where his environment affected his mentality. In such an environment it is easy to see the development psychology theory that has had a major effect on Picktons psychopath killing spree up to a total of forty-nine victims.

Erik Erikson believes that human behaviour can be understood through the experiences an individual encounters during their development. This directly relates to Robert Pickton because of the violent and gruesome environment Pickton grew up in, it is easy to analyze why his psychological behaviour has become what it is today. Erikson suggests that a person may pass a stage of psychological development or they get ‘stuck’. For example, an infant either trusts his/her caregivers or s/he doesn’t. This failure of trust gain can affect the persons trusting relationship later on in life. This same ideology goes for Pickton; he grew up in an environment where killing was occurring periodically in a day. This harsh and violent environment has caused Pickton to have a violent and gruesome psychological personality. He believes that killing has no evil or wrong in it, this is because of the psychological development theory. Pickton has been ‘stuck’ in this psychological environment since his childhood and has been prominent in his life.

Sociology Perspective:

Sociology is a social science perspective that states one area of society will always have an effect; it can be either direct or indirect. This is due to society being a complex structure where there will always be modifications and changes in it due to society itself. The ideology of society influences decisions made on marriage, economics, love, freedom, politics etc. However, recognizing these facets of life does not assist with the explanation of their existence. In other words, sociology is the study of the development, structure, and functioning of human society this can include social problems within society.

Robert William Pickton had a criminal mind set because of his childhood as explained through psychological development. Through his childhood and Picktons brutal treatment as a child from his mother, Pickton grew intolerance for the opposite sex. He felt that males are dominant over females and thus the feminist theory of female oppression. Through the sociological feminist perspective Pickton neglected the female figure. His behaviour as a serial killer towards women was triggered through his childhood and ever since he has developed a feminist social view where he believes males are the dominant gender over females. Hostile affection from Picktons mother led to an angrier individual later on towards the opposite sex and thus the criminal acts released against women in Picktons elder years.

The sociological analysis of Marxist Feminism Theory also plays a role in the behaviour of Robert William Pickton. This implies the lack of balance in society in terms of gender classes in the economic perspective of sociology. Stereotypes within society influenced Pickton as he believed women have a lesser role in society than males. This is why Pickton would go for ‘vulnerable’ areas for kidnapping and base his attacks on lower class levels. For example, Robert Pickton would target women that were prostitutes or drug addicts because there class level in society was lower than his. Picktons targeting specific groups of women instead of the women gender as a whole illustrated sociological perspective of feminism.

Pickton tried to achieve structural functionalism in society where there is a balance, equilibrium in society by maintaining its interdependent social structures. Talcott Parsons stated, “as much as things change they stay the same”. Structural Functionalism deals with the maintenance within a society; it defines changes within a system and will always seek a way to return to its normal functioning state. As Parsons stated, Pickton followed this social theory as he thought he was bringing balance to society by eliminating the lower class of females. Parsons also mentioned, “When part of the system breaks down, it is necessary for the other components of the society to take over the function of the missing social structure or to assist with the recreation of the malfunctioning social structure”. This supports Picktons choice in achieving structural functionalism by the removal of the lower class which consisted of females.

Anthropology Perspective:

Anthropology is the social science perspective of studying people and their culture. Anthropology exists to explore a variety of social phenomena. A benefit associated with anthropology is that its research lies in the huge perspective on the development and sustainability of human culture. This social science perspective poses questions concerning the continuation of poverty, racism, violence and social inequality in the world. There are four main types of anthropology; including linguistic anthropology, cultural anthropology, archaeology, and biological or physical anthropology. Each type studies different aspects of people and their respective cultures including questions such as; why do humans have such different ways of thinking, living and acting? This is the social science perspective of anthropology.

Robert Picktons social interactions and relationships were not fully established. Pickton lived his life in rejection; he was rejected of all social interactions which later led to his rage and intolerance against women. Picktons childhood was lived in neglect and the omitting of social interactions with other kids his age. The entire cause for this rejection was because of his mother, a female figure who was very brutal and hostile to the young Robert Pickton. This inevitably led to anger being stored throughout Picktons life towards women and thus the targeted attacking of women by Pickton. Pickton thought of his values and morals over others, specifically prostitutes (again targeting women). Pickton already thought of women as poor and inferior to males, now including prostitution he believed that those women did not deserve to live amongst society and him. Robert believed that to earn a living an individual should go through pain and hardship but prostitution in his perspective clearly did not show that. He believed prostitution made an earning with pleasure in life and not pain; he believed that individuals should earn a living from physical labour and pain. Robert would never feel any sympathy for women especially prostitutes, thus his guilt-free attitude in killing these specified group of women.

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Robert King Merton bases his interpretation of society using the functionalist perspective. Functionalism is a method for understanding how social institutions fill social needs. Every custom or practice in society provides a form of stability for the entire system. This seems like a grand theory but social institutions provide for the physical and psychological needs for its society members. Sex is a practice of functionalism as it is a physical and psychological need for humans. Pickton was a very shy and quiet individual but he acquired sex because it stored up inside of him. Pickton would host wild parties and orgies to release his chaotic thoughts. This also explains why Pickton would have sex with the women he would kidnap and then kill her, it is a practice of Picktons functionalism and this describes the social science perspective of anthropology.

Hypothesis: Psychoanalysis, Functionalism and Feminism

Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory founded in the late 19th century and early 20th century by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. In involves the inherited constitution of personality which is an individual’s development determined by events in their childhood. Cognition, human behaviour and experience are largely determined by irrational drives. Mental disturbances from psychology occur when there are conflicts between conscious and unconscious material.

Functionalism’s core idea is that mental states are constituted solely by their functional role. It is a theoretical level between physical implementation and behavioural output. Functionalism is a method for understanding how social institutions fill social needs. Every custom or practice in society provides a form of stability for the entire system. This seems like a grand theory but social institutions provide for the physical and psychological needs for its society members. Feminism examines the perspective of women and their rights within a society, specifically a male dominated society.

To understand and comprehend a serial killer as to what his/her motives are it is important to instigate an investigation. Through this investigation it is important to determine the unconscious and conscious mind of the serial killer by taking a look at their ego. This investigation will determine the ‘drive’ of the serial killer as to what they wish to achieve, what pleasure they wish to achieve etc.

Functionalists regard crime as a necessary guideline in society because it sets moral guidelines and rules through legal punishment. An increase in criminal behaviour loses the society’s trust whereas a decrease in criminal behaviour illustrates that individuals have no freedom or individuality.

When determining a serial killer it is important to gain information of the insights of the psychoanalytic, feminist and functionalist perspectives. These three perspectives combined can determine and give a thorough understanding of a serial killers ambition, pleasure and the ego of the criminal.


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