Saturday, July 13, 2024

Going beyond brutality, experts help us unravel mindset of violence

The increasing incidence of criminal activities in the nation’s capital has instilled fear in the population. The severity of these crimes is particularly alarming, and it is worth noting that the reported cases represent only a fraction of the total number of crimes that go unreported.

Crime occurrences have become a daily reality to the extent that people have developed emotional resilience, striving not to be affected or intimidated. However, the recent surge in brutal murders has become a cause for concern, as the pervasive brutality is deeply distressing and unsettling.

“Murderers may view killing as a last resort due to multiple factors, such as intense emotional distress, distorted belief system, perceived threats, a lack of alternatives, or a desire for control or power,” Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Sneha Sharma of Aakash Healthcare, New Delhi said.

Although, it is crucial to acknowledge that there is no single explanation to comprehend the factors that drive individuals to commit crimes and to understand the circumstances that lead them to perceive murder as their last resort, violence often stems from a combination of individual, psychological, environmental, and societal factors.

Looking at the psychological factors, there are several that may contribute to an individual’s inclination towards violence.

“These can include untreated mental health conditions, such as antisocial personality disorder, conduct disorder, or anger management issues,” told Dr Minakshi Manchanda, an Associate Director – Psychiatry at Asian Hospital, Faridabad.

It is commonly believed that our behaviour as both young individuals and adults is greatly influenced by our upbringing, the values instilled in us, and the environment in which we were raised. These factors play a significant role in shaping our conduct and actions.

A history of childhood trauma, abuse, neglect, or exposure to violence may increase the likelihood of violent behaviour later in life.

“The environment in which a person grows up and the society they are a part of can significantly impact their mindset. Factors like exposure to violence, poverty, social isolation, substance abuse, and lack of access to education and mental health resources can contribute to an individual’s propensity for violence. Cultural norms and media influence can also shape attitudes and behaviours related to violence,” Dr Manchanda explained.

On the other hand, according to Dr Vipul Rastogi, a Senior Psychiatrist at Medanta Gurgaon, individuals with disturbed behaviour often exhibit aggressive tendencies from a young age.

He said that people who perpetuate such atrocities are generally people with antisocial tendencies.

“They may display violence and even demonstrate a propensity for animal cruelty during their childhood,” Dr Rastogi made out an important point, adding that they can also be very insecure people and take any adverse event very personally in their life.

Dr. Sharma further explained that early behavioural traits can include a range of indicators.

“Early behavioural traits could be inclination for violence such as exhibiting cruelty towards animals, displaying persistent aggression, lacking empathy, being impulsive, having a fascination with violence, or experiencing social isolation, among other characteristics.”

Following the recent and highly brutal murder of Shraddha Walkar in Delhi, where she was reportedly killed and dismembered into more than 30 pieces by Aaftab Poonawala, approximately 7 to 8 similar cases have been reported across India.

In a month-old incident, a 32-year-old woman in suburban Mumbai was killed by her live-in partner of nine years who then used an electric saw to hack her body into so many parts.

For three days after the alleged murder, Manoj Sane (56) tried to dispose of the body and to escape detection, he pressure-cooked some body parts, roasted others, and ground some more in a mixer and fed them to stray dogs.

The spine-chilling nature of these murders, coupled with the perpetrators’ desperate attempts to cover up the evidence, leaves us all wondering about the thought process behind such heinous acts.

It is difficult to fathom how someone can conceive of committing such atrocities and muster the courage to carry them out.

“Factors contributing to extreme acts of brutality such as chopping body can be because of a combination of psychological factors, personal motives, emotional states, and the specific circumstances surrounding the crime,” Dr Sharma told.

“In cases of cannibalism, mutilation, ritualististic murders- can be nacro- sadistic that is the act, or parts of the crime signifies a fetish, trophy or a symbol. Other brutal crimes may be guided by strong aggressive emotions.

“The crimes are often organised, well-planned and researched. The common thread will usually be little to no guilt,” said Dr Sanjana Saraf, a Clinical psychologist and certified Somatic therapist.

These individuals who exhibit little or no remorse often attempt to justify their murderous actions. It is understandable that a person with a sound mindset would not think of committing murder and feeling at ease with it.

The distorted mentality of those who engage in such acts plays a significant role in their ability to rationalise and accept such extreme behaviours.

“There is a lack of empathy toward others, extreme and rigid thought processes, feeling wronged, blaming others or the environment and belief systems, an inability to manage emotions and urges,” Dr Saraf said.

“The mentality of individuals inclined to violence can vary, but common factors include distorted thinking, a lack of empathy, impulsivity, and a skewed perception of power or control,” Dr Sharma added.

It would be inaccurate to say that all individuals who inflict violence have personally experienced similar traumatic events. However, it would also be incorrect to entirely dismiss the possibility.

Trauma can have a profound and damaging impact on people, often leading them to cope by inflicting pain onto others. While it may not apply to every case, the link between personal trauma and the perpetration of violence cannot be completely disregarded.

Dr Sharma said: “Some individuals prone to violence may have faced abuse, neglect or trauma in their own lives which can be the reason to a cycle of violence. However, it is important to understand that not all individuals who experience negative circumstances become violent offenders.”

Indeed, comprehending the mindset of individuals who commit violent acts can be a complex and difficult task.

However, it is crucial to approach the situation with a positive outlook and seek ways to facilitate change in these individuals.

By understanding the underlying factors contributing to their violent behaviour, it becomes possible to develop strategies and interventions that can support their transformation and rehabilitation.

Providing opportunities for rehabilitation and addressing the root causes of violence can help pave the way for positive change and contribute to building safer and more compassionate communities.

“While changing the mindset of such individuals is complex, a comprehensive approach involving prevention, early intervention, and rehabilitation holds the potential for promoting positive change,” Dr Manchanda said.

She added: “Efforts should focus on creating supportive environments, improving access to mental health resources, and providing individuals with the necessary tools to lead non-violent and fulfilling lives.”

It is important to delve deeper into the factors that contribute to violent behaviour and taking a proactive approach to addressing them.

Rather than solely condemning individuals who commit violent acts, it is crucial to encourage empathy, understanding, and a comprehensive approach to tackling violence.

By recognising the psychological, environmental, and societal factors that may influence violent behaviour, society can work towards creating supportive environments, improving access to mental health resources, and providing individuals with the necessary tools for non-violent and fulfilling lives.

There is a potential for positive change through prevention, early intervention, and rehabilitation, ultimately aiming to build safer and more compassionate communities.

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