Monday, March 12, 2007

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: What Kind of Man Mugs a 101-year-old Woman?

A lot of people were shocked and horrified when they watched a 101-year-old woman get mugged coming out of her Bronx apartment. This poor woman was punched a number of times by this despicible man and, thankfully, lived through the attack and still has a great spirit (which is no doubt why she has made it past the century mark). I was asked by The Today Show why we are so mesmerized by this particular videotape because crimes like this happen everyday. I answered that this woman's age and vulnerability forcefully illustrates to us the absolute callousness of this kind of crime. It is hard for people to understand the mentality of street criminals, to understand that their psychopathy is such that people and cockroaches are not so distinct in their minds. This establishing of value is not unique to psychopaths, however. We all place different values on people, animals and things. For example, meat eaters in America often think nothing of eating a cow but eating a dog is horrifying to them. Why? Is a dog any more worthy of life than a cow? Not necessarily but many people assign dogs special places in their lives. I remember when I was a child, I found an ant crawling about the pink rug in the bathroom. I named the ant Jimmy. A few days later, I found Jimmy curled up and dead in the corner. I was very sad. I had assigned Jimmy a "friend" designation and so it hurt me when he died, even if he was just an ant. Likewise, if a person labels a cow "meat" and a dog "man's best friend," the dog is going to take on more importance in the life of that individual.

So, what do psychopaths label people? Either "useful" or "in the way." Now, this mugger of the elderly may have designated his grandmother "useful" and, therefore, he is nice to her, but this unknown old woman was just "in his way" of getting money (hers). What makes a psychopath a psychopath is how few people (if any) he assigns value and, if he does assign someone a value of any worth, he may devalue them in minutes (like Scott Peterson when he suddenly decided his wife was cramping his newly desired lifestyle).

Seeing this video can be of value to all of us to help us understand the absolute lack of humanity in the psychopathic soul. These types cannot be trusted and cannot be rehabilitated. Although we might like to believe that all men have some good in them, psychopaths prove otherwise. We need to understand this in order to encourage our criminal justice system not to be lenient on these criminals and not to allow them back out on the street to prey on us.

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