Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology


The prevalence of crime is a world-wide problem, and concomitantly, the fear of crime grips the public. Also, social scientists remain pessimistic about solutions: many acquiesce in the •nothing works" conclusion. The general populace views crime as both pathological (i.e., sick) and evil. Privately, social scientists may agree, but professionally they describe crime as nothing but an illness. This research establishes that such reductionism limits the explanatory power of forensic psychology and that ruling out the existence of evil a priori is unscientific. First, the philosophy of science underlying the study of crime is examined. The history of science, the current realist versus antirealist debate, the nature of scientific methods, and the necessity of hermeneutics are reviewed. Charles Darwin's Baconian methodology (i.e., consulting both general and special revelation) will be adopted. Then, the scientific character of theological constructs (e.g., evil) and the religious a priori of all theoretical thought are examined. Examining crime and evil concurrently actually safeguards science from dogmatism, while scientism is a self-refuting enemy of true science. Second, criminological psychology is investigated in the context of human nature in general. Criminality is shown to be a quasi-psychological construct, and Hippocratic and Aristotelian causality is reviewed. Several psychological views of crime (e.g., Cleckley's psychopathy, the Cognitive-Behavioral approach, the Neopsychoanalytic view, and ~he Diagnostic and Statistical Manual's [DSM) Antisocial Personality diagnosis) are analyzed alongside the construct of human evil as developed in theological anthropology. Third, psychological treatment of offenders is examined. Only when evil is recognized does criminal responsibility make sense. The commonsense attribution that severe criminality is both evil and psychopathological is affirmed. Further research in criminal moral development, abnormal psychology, and responsibility-grounded psychotherapy is suggested. Some possible public policy implications (e.g., restitution-based corrections) are discussed.

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