Tuesday, August 14, 2007

We Need to Understand More

... about why people do the things they do.

The Beltline Rapist from here in Calgary is undergoing his dangerous offender hearing right now. I don't want to comment AT ALL on this guy, but it makes me realize how very important psychological research is, not only for prevention, but for rehabilitation and appropriate treatment and sentencing within the criminal justice system.

This reminds me of a news story from back in May of this year.

The University of Lethbridge (which is a leader in criminal etc. psychology) announced a study they were doing (with U of Toronto) which paid ex-convicted pedophiles to participate in a research project that would monitor their reaction to sexual images. They received huge public outcry at the fact that they'd be PAYING these ex-cons to participate in a study.

Paying people to participate in studies is normal practice. I've been paid to participate in a study before. I got $20 for about 10 minutes of my time (and I got to play computer games with another user ... it was a study on transparent GUIs and multi-user processing on one machine). These ex-cons were getting paid $60 for 2 - 3 hours of their time. So ... pretty standard.

Even though some subjects may make us uncomfortable, they're still worthy and necessary research topics. As long as research is conducted in an ethical and customary way, I say bring it on. It's not like you're rewarding these people for being pedophiles, I'm sure the stigma they carry with them everyday is in no way eased by getting $60 for participating in a study that focuses on their illness (is that even the right word? Illness? I'm no psychologist ... Wikipedia says that pedophilia is considered a mental disorder ... hmmmm).

Maybe when I'm rich and famous one day, I'll kick in money for criminal-psychological research.

There's a law class at the U of S called "Law and Psychiatry", which I did not ballot for. Now that I think about it, maybe I'll try for it for next year ... I bet it would be really interesting. Here's the course description from the academic calendar:
Introduction to psychiatric theory; the methodology of psychiatric diagnosis and modern psychiatric treatment; the role of psychiatrists in the legal process. Psychiatry and the criminal process: remand for mental examination, fitness to stand trial, sentencing, automatism, insanity and dangerous offenders. The concept of competency: contractual and testamentary capacity. Civil commitment of the mentally ill: a comparative study. The psychiatrist as expert witness. Selected problems.

AND ... one week and one day ... it's an important day for two reasons. 1. It's my Sister's birthday. 2. I find out which classes I successfully balloted for, so I'll get my class schedule. EXCITING!

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