April 12, 2007
A Neuro-Fantasy: Predicting violent behaviour
A very brief bit of commentary exposing that facet of the investigation which desires to slate my eventual introduction to certain, questionably legitimate neurological processes claiming to be able to predict future violent human behavior
Something I've not written much about is the known assumption on the part of the behavioral science end of the investigation, that I fit the bill for some sort of therapeutic or even neurological analysis' to determine the likelihood of future violent behavior.
This was made evident enough during some of the more oppressive street theatre operations back in the early 2002 timeframe where I would repeatedly find myself witness to social dramas hinting at all sorts of nefarious criminality ... dialogue purporting to possible homicide, dialogue indicating supposed necrophiliac fantasies, etc.
Elsewhere in this website, I go into great detail describing these early days of being aware of investigative scrutiny and as well my fleeting attempts at seeking aid from community members; it was during this brief period of seeking aid and while in the confines of various of these efforts (shelters, hospitals, etc.) that I saw the most intense and regular psycho-social skits being played out.
Now, of course, I have the definite word of others who have been involved in the investigation that this aspect of the psychological investigation is present and is still hallmark to the investigators goals ... especially considering the desired trajectory my eventual 'treatment' or 'alternative sentencing' should take once any given set up attempt should be successful.
An easy chronological indication could go as such:
I am set up for something indicating computer crime, with an angle towards sexual dysfunction, with an angle towards memory or neurological dysfunction, with an angle towards mental illness, with substance abuse issues thrown in for good measure.
Judge rules out incarceration, mandates specified period of time for mental/neurological treatement.
I'm then relegated to a new home environment, relegated to daily therapeutic solutions, required to find new employment or no employment.
Once in an environment more influenced by the investigation's participants, then further fabrications of circumstance are devised, various drugs may be employed under particular circumstances to cause seemingly inappropriate physical/biological responses (unexplained sexual arousal, etc.), more staged scenarios to further compound the impression of memory dysfunction, etc. these fabrications are then used to argue for neurological study (PET scans, CAT scans, brain topography, etc.)
Sounds a bit over the top, huh?
I agree, which is exactly why these sorts of operations generally will work on the unwitting subject.
It's the same principle that drove hitler's psychological operation on the 'good germans' prior to world war II.
The idea? Commit acts so horrible, tell lies so unbelievably preposterous, that 'no reasoning human being' would ever believe another person capable of such deeds.
Perhaps i'll be able to refer back to this blog entry some day and say, "I told you so." but, for now, lets hope not.
Anyway, in the spirit of exploration, here's a few words from a good article discussing the questionable practice of making behavioral assesments from unproven methods in the field of psychiatry and especially neuroscience:
"The attempt to link unconscious bias to actual acts of discrimination may be dubious. But are there other ways to look inside the brain and make predictions about an individual’s future behavior? And if so, should those discoveries be employed to make us safer? Efforts to use science to predict criminal behavior have a disreputable history. In the 19th century, the Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso championed a theory of “biological criminality,” which held that criminals could be identified by physical characteristics, like large jaws or bushy eyebrows. Nevertheless, neuroscientists are trying to find the factors in the brain associated with violence. PET scans of convicted murderers were first studied in the late 1980s by Adrian Raine, a professor of psychology at theUniversity of Southern California; he found that their prefrontal cortexes, areas associated with inhibition, had reduced glucose metabolism and suggested that this might be responsible for their violent behavior. In a later study, Raine found that subjects who received a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder, which correlates with violent behavior, had 11 percent less gray matter in their prefrontal cortexes than control groups of healthy subjects and substance abusers. His current research uses f.M.R.I.’s to study moral decision-making in psychopaths.
Neuroscience, it seems, points two ways: it can absolve individuals of responsibility for acts they’ve committed, but it can also place individuals in jeopardy for acts they haven’t committed — but might someday. “This opens up a Pandora’s box in civilized society that I’m willing to fight against,” says Helen S. Mayberg, a professor of psychiatry, behavioral sciences and neurology at Emory University School of Medicine ...
... As the new technologies proliferate, even the neurolaw experts themselves have only begun to think about the questions that lie ahead. Can the police get a search warrant for someone’s brain? Should the Fourth Amendment protect our minds in the same way that it protects our houses? Can courts order tests of suspects’ memories to determine whether they are gang members or police informers, or would this violate the Fifth Amendment’s ban on compulsory self-incrimination? Would punishing people for their thoughts rather than for their actions violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment? However astonishing our machines may become, they cannot tell us how to answer these perplexing questions. We must instead look to our own powers of reasoning and intuition, relatively primitive as they may be. As Stephen Morse puts it, neuroscience itself can never identify the mysterious point at which people should be excused from responsibility for their actions because they are not able, in some sense, to control themselves. That question, he suggests, is “moral and ultimately legal,” and it must be answered not in laboratories but in courtrooms and legislatures. In other words, we must answer it ourselves."
-- from, "The Brain on the Stand" (NYT)
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