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Criminal Thinking Errors

Cutoff: with practice, the lifestyle criminal eliminates normal feelings, which deter criminal action through a simple phrase (“fuck-it”, “just chill”), image, or musical theme. In some cases the offender will use drugs or alcohol to cut off fear, anxiety, guilt, or other common deterrents to criminal activity.

Cognitive Indolence (Mental Laziness): as lazy in thought as in behavior, lifestyle criminals take short-cuts which inevitably lead to failure, low self-evaluation, and poor critical reasoning skills.

Power Orientation: choosing power and external control over self-discipline and internal control, lifestyle criminals attempt to exert power and control over others. Consequently, they feel weak and helpless (zero state) when not in control of a situation. They attempt to alleviate this feeling by manipulating, intimidating, or physically assaulting others (power thrust).

Discontinuity: lifestyle criminals have difficulty maintaining focus over time because of being easily influenced by events and situations occurring around them. As a result, they have difficulty following through on initially good intentions.

Mollification: lifestyle criminals seek to play down the seriousness of past criminal conduct and current interpersonal conflicts by blaming problems on external circumstances, making excuses for their behavior, pointing out unfairness in the world, or de-valuing their victims.

Entitlement: the lifestyle criminal believes that he is entitled to violate the laws of society and the rights of others by way of an expressed attitude of ownership (“it’s mine”), privilege (“I’m above the law”), or by labeling wants as needs (“I needed a new car, expensive clothing, a trip to Las Vegas, etc.”).

Sentimentality: like most people, the lifestyle criminal has an interest in being viewed as a “nice guy”. However, this creates a serious dilemma, given the level of interpersonally intrusive activity they have engaged in. Consequently, they may perform various “good deeds” with the intent of cultivating a “Heck-of-a-guy” or “Robin Hood” image.

Super-Optimism: experience has taught lifestyle criminals that they get away with most of their crimes. This leads to a growing sense of overconfidence in which they believe they are invulnerable, indomitable, and unbeatable. Ironically, this belief leads to their eventual downfall.


Criminal Thinking Patterns

Irresponsibility: Falling to meet personal obligations to family, friends, and employers.

Self-Indulgence: Thinking of oneself without regard for negative long-term consequences.

Interpersonal Intrusiveness: Intruding on and violating others rights.

Social Rule Breaking: Transgressing the rules of the home, neighborhood, school, and society.

3 C’s: Conditions = Social Environment; Choice = Ego Battle; Cognitions = Thought Processes

Manipulation: Influence/control over personal gain or advantage.

Grandiosity: Criminal pride. Being proud of the fruits of your crime. Exaggerating the extent of your criminality (e.g., “I sold hundreds of keys, had money, cars, jewelry, women”). In addition to these thinking patterns, specific criminal acts are affected by motives such as fear, anger/rebellion, power/control, excitement/pleasure and greed/laziness. These motivations sometimes combine with criminal thinking patterns to produce a variety of maladaptive behaviors.


Rational Thinking Errors

Absolutes: thinking in absolute, extreme, over-generalized or stereotyped ways. Some types of this error are:

Stereotyping someone as good or bad because of behavior or characteristics, which are sometimes exhibited.

Thinking about time in inaccurate and extreme ways. Using terms such as “never”, “always”, or “forever” when they are clearly invalid.

Thinking that there is only one solution to a problem or only one way of doing something.

Thinking that you never make mistakes or are always right.

Awfulizing: looking at things in a negative way. Some types of this error are:

Thinking that you can’t tolerate an unpleasant emotion or that you will go crazy or die if you experience one.

Thinking that a problem is more severe than it is; exaggerating how bad something is.

Thinking that only bad things will certainly happen.

Overlooking or ignoring the positive, advantages, benefits, or good points when you evaluate something (e.g., considering only the negatives, disadvantages, costs, detriments, or bad points.

Blaming: thinking that other people or things are totally responsible when bad things happen to you.

I Can’t: making excuses for not doing something, or declaring that you are not able to do it. Some types of this error are:

Making a vague half-hearted commitment to do something, rather than stating what you will do.

Implying that your reason for not doing something is due to a physical limitation, when it is really due to lack of motivation or skill.

Thinking that because a task is difficult you should give up.

Deserved Luck: believing that people earn random events.

Have to/need/must: saying that you “have to” behave in some way; thinking that some behavior which you have chosen or selected was coerced or reflexive. Treating a want, desire, or preference as if it were a need.

Emotional Control: thinking that you are not in control of your feelings or emotions. Some types of this error are:

Thinking that other people, objects, or other things outside of you are the only cause of your emotion.

Thinking that emotions just happen to you perhaps randomly or for no good reason.

Thinking that the way others evaluate you is the way you are.

Mental Magic: believing that your thoughts or feelings directly control external events, or assuming that you know what other people are thinking or feeling.

Loaded Words and Put Downs: loaded words trigger images that create strong feelings. Loaded words lead to unwanted feelings and emotions. Put downs are ways to disrespect someone else to make yourself feel better or attempt to put others down to your level of emotional state.

He/she/it Statements: suggesting that you are not in control of your feeling or emotions and someone else is causing you to feel a certain way. Others may contribute to your emotions,

But they are not the sole cause. You create your own self-esteem and your own feelings.

Statement of Fact: this is when you make an assumption or opinions about something and then present your opinion as fact.

Rhetorical Question: you often hide your thoughts in questions, because you really don’t want an answer. They are questions in which you are making a statement rather than looking for information (making a statement that sounds like a question). Example: how stupid do you think I am? There are hidden motives behind rhetorical questions.

Should: demanding that they would be a certain way; demanding that the behavior of others, self, or objects be a certain way, usually the way you want them to be. This may take the form of demanding immediate gratification.


Steps to Responsible Thinking – The Coping Strategies

Open channels: Truthful and open, critical of own behavior, receptive to positive change.

Personal accountability: Reliable, prompt, prepared, takes responsibility for action admits victimizing others.

Self-respect: Show gratitude, earn others respect, explore alternatives, work towards solutions and control feelings.

Daily effort: Is considerate of others, has healthy associations, organizes to achieve expected task, fulfills obligations, considers responsibility rewarding.

Self-discipline: Plans and builds toward future, decides on fact, not feelings, uses past experience and guilt to learn.

Courage over fear: Views criticism as input, trusts others to help, admits fears, and meets challenges without dodging.

Healthy relationships: Chooses to let go of control, seeks to understand others, and cooperates even when at a disadvantage. Respect for others: sees genuine value in others and respects the rights, property, privilege of others, works toward cooperative relationships, reserves sex for intimacy.

Humility: Demands more of self than others, acknowledges “higher power”, and views self as no better than others.

Patrick Boyce Federal Mitigation Specialist at NCIA is an expert in the field of prison consulting and a 2003 graduate of the RDAP program. Successful RDAP eligibility, admissions and support maximizes ones chances of a sentence reduction and early release. Timing is critical with the ever changing and complex requirements surrounding what documentation is deemed acceptable for RDAP admission, it is extremely important to contact us as early in the process as possible. For a free no-obligation case analysis contact Patrick now!


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