Psychology and Human Mind


Psychology is the systematic study of human mind and behaviour. Again it endeavors to the scientific study of mental processes such as perception, cognition, emotion, personality, behavior, and interpersonal relationships.

What is Psychology

Psychology is the systematic study of human mind and behaviour. Again it endeavors to the scientific study of mental processes such as perception, cognition, emotion, personality, behavior, and interpersonal relationships. Again psychology encompasses the study of behavior for use in academic settings, and contains numerous areas. It contains the areas of abnormal psychology, biological psychology, cognitive psychology, comparative psychology, developmental psychology, personality psychology, social psychology and others. Research psychology is contrasted with applied psychology.

Mind and brain

Psychology describes and attempts to explain consciousness, behavior and social interaction. Empirical psychology is primarily devoted to describing human experience and behavior as it actually occurs. In the past 20 years or so psychology has begun to examine the relationship between consciousness and the brain or nervous system. It is still not clear in what ways these interact: does consciousness determine brain states or do brain states determine consciousness – or are both going on in various ways? Perhaps to understand this you need to know the definition of “consciousness” and “brain state” – or is consciousness some sort of complicated ‘illusion’ which bears no direct relationship to neural processes? An understanding of brain function is increasingly being included in psychological theory and practice, particularly in areas such as artificial intelligence, neuropsychology, and cognitive neuroscience.

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    • #122580

      Psychology is the systematic study of human mind and behaviour. Again it endeavors to the scientific study of mental processes such as perception, cognition, emotion, personality, behavior, and interpersonal relationships.

      [See the full post at: Psychology and Human Mind]

    • #122581

      It is the awareness, of course, which is the foundation of the attribution of legal responsibility

      As it was drawn in Green v The Queen,  [2011] VSCA 311, [23]

      In the present case, the judge accepted the expert’s opinion that [the offender] was probably not behaving ‘calmly or rationally’ when he committed the armed robberies. At the same time, the expert had made clear in both reports that [he] was aware of the nature and gravity of what he was doing, and that it was wrong. It is that awareness, of course, which is the foundation of the attribution of legal responsibility. In the light of that evidence, and given the judge’s findings about premeditation and planning, it can readily be understood why his Honour was not prepared to view [the offender’s] moral culpability as more than ‘somewhat reduced’

    • #122582

      Criminal responsibility ‘is founded in capacity’

      In Search of Criminal Responsibility’( Oxford University Press, 2016, pp 27–31) Professor Nicola Lacey explores the idea that criminal responsibility ‘is founded in capacity’.

      At the heart of this vision of criminal responsibility, she says, is: the notion of an agent endowed with powers of understanding and self-control.

      ‘Capacity responsibility’ assumes that we are responsible for the specific acts which we choose to do. In this sense, criminal law:

      is addressed to human beings as choosing subjects capable of conforming their actions to the criminal law.

      In Professor Lacey’s view, human agency is the key. An attribution of responsibility for specific actions:

      lies in human capacities of cognition — knowledge of circumstances, assessment of consequences — and volition — powers of self-control.

      And further:

      the basic moral intuition is that it is only legitimate to hold people criminally responsible for things which they had the capacity to avoid doing.

    • #122583

      Offenders are only punished to the extent justified by their culpability and degree of responsibility for their offences

      In Director of Public Prosecutions v Herrmann,[ [2021] VSCA 160, [13]–[14] the Court of Appeal said:

      Assessing culpability is a central part of the sentencing court’s task in every case. It is an express objective of the Sentencing Act to ‘ensure that offenders are only punished to the extent justified by … their culpability and degree of responsibility for their offences’.

      In assessing an offender’s ‘moral culpability,’ the sentencing court is making a moral judgment on behalf of the community about the degree of blameworthiness to be attached to the offender for the offending conduct. Determining how harshly a particular offender is to be judged — and punished — often requires a close examination of the personal circumstances and background of the offender and an exploration of factors which may explain the offending conduct. To the extent that offending conduct can be seen to reflect the operation of factors which are beyond the offender’s control, the harshness of the moral judgment is likely to be moderated.

    • #122584

      In R v Verdins [(2007) 16 VR 269]

      Significance of assessing moral culpability

      The Court there said:

      Impaired mental functioning at the time of the offending may reduce the offender’s moral culpability if it had the effect of:

      • a.  Impairing the offender’s ability to exercise appropriate judgment;

      • b.  Impairing the offender’s ability to make calm and rational choices, or to think clearly;

      • c.  Making the offender disinhibited;

      • d.  Impairing the offender’s ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of the conduct;

      • e.  Obscuring the intent to commit the offence; or

      • f.  Contributing (causally) to the commission of the offence.

      Again in Director of Public Prosecutions v Patterson[2009] VSCA 222, [47]–[49], the Court said:

      it is significant to the assessment of moral culpability that [the offender] has a reduced capacity for rational judgment as compared with a person without his mental impairment. … [His] lack of insight manifests itself in an inability to understand either the seriousness of what he has done or the gravity of its impact on his victims.

      At the same time, it seems clear that he is capable of some degree of self-control. … Similarly, he is not without the ability to make moral judgments, as is shown by his acknowledgment to [the psychiatrist] that it was wrong to engage in non-consensual sexual contact, and by his repeated apologies to the victim of these rapes.

      In our view, [his] moral culpability for this serious offending should be viewed as somewhat reduced by virtue of his mental impairment, but by no means eliminated.

    • #122585

      Did the evidence establish a causal connection between the impairment of mental functioning and the offending for which sentence is to be imposed?

      In Carroll v The Queen[[2011] VSCA 150, [20]–[22] the Court said:

      [As to] moral culpability, the question for the Court is whether the evidence establishes — on the balance of probabilities — that the impairment of mental functioning did contribute to the offending in such a way as to render the offender less blameworthy for the offending than he/she would otherwise have been. Very often, this question is approached as one of causation. Did the evidence establish a causal connection between the impairment of mental functioning and the offending for which sentence is to be imposed?

      There was no evidence of that kind in the present case. It is true that [the expert] diagnosed the appellant as suffering from alcohol dependence, kleptomania, pathological gambling, voyeurism and fetishism. But these diagnoses were simply descriptive of the appellant’s behaviours as exhibited over many years. There was no suggestion … that the offending was attributable to any causative mental impairment.

      The evidence was all to the contrary. The appellant’s offending consisted of persistent, purposeful behaviour over a long period, conduct directed quite deliberately at his own sexual gratification and – equally often – at causing distress to his victims, both by what he said and by what he did. It is clear from the appellant’s actions that, as her Honour found, he knew what he was doing. Indeed, he acted with guile in pursuing his ends.

    • #122587

      Sentencing judge had failed to give sufficient weight to his personality disorder

      R v Hatherley (Victorian Court of Criminal Appeal, Young CJ, King and Beach JJ, 6 February 1986)

      In R v Hatherley, the offender had a severe personality disorder, which created a strong tendency to sexual deviation. He was convicted, inter alia, of multiple counts of aggravated rape. On appeal, it was argued that the sentencing judge had failed to give sufficient weight to his personality disorder. While the Court accepted that ‘where an accused is mentally defective or psychiatrically disturbed little weight should be given, on sentence, to general deterrence’, it held that personality disorders should not be equated with ‘mental deficiency or psychiatric disturbance’, and so should not provide a basis for reducing the importance of general deterrence as a sentencing consideration. The Court based this decision on its understanding of the underpinnings of the Mooney principle:

      The basis for treating someone who is mentally deficient or the subject of psychiatric disturbance as not an appropriate vehicle for the imposition of a sentence which reflects general deterrence is that such a person may be taken not fully to comprehend the nature and quality of the acts that he or she has done, or not fully to comprehend that those acts are wrong. If that is … the true basis of the decisions to which I have referred, then I think it is plain that what is described as a personality disorder or a personality defect cannot be equated with mental deficiency or psychiatric disturbance.

    • #122588

      Serious psychiatric illness not amounting to insanity

      The Victorian Court of Appeal provided an overview of five ways in which ‘serious psychiatric illness not amounting to insanity’ could affect the sentencing determination:

      First, it may reduce the moral culpability of the offence, as distinct from the prisoner’s legal responsibility. Where that is so, it affects the punishment that is just in all the circumstances and denunciation of the type of conduct in which the offender engaged is less likely to be a relevant sentencing objective. Second, the prisoner’s illness may have a bearing on the kind of sentence that is imposed and the conditions in which it should be served. Third, a prisoner suffering from serious psychiatric illness is not an appropriate vehicle for general deterrence, whether or not the illness played a part in the commission of the offence. The illness may have supervened since that time. Fourth, specific deterrence may be more difficult to achieve and is often not worth pursuing as such. Finally, psychiatric illness may mean that a given sentence will weigh more heavily on the prisoner than it would on a person in normal health. [R v Tsiaras [1996] 1 VR 398, 400 (Charles and Callaway JJA and Vincent AJA).

      An offender diagnosed with a personality disorder should be treated as in no different position from any other offender who seeks to rely on an impairment of mental functioning as mitigating sentence in one or other of the ways identified in Verdins. Statements to the contrary in O’Neill should no longer be followed. Whether and to what extent the offender’s mental functioning is (or was) relevantly impaired should be determined on the basis of expert evidence rigorously scrutinised by the sentencing court. [DPP v Brown [2020] VCC 196, [3]]

    • #122589

      Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5-TR)

      The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR) features the most current text updates based on scientific literature with contributions from more than 200 subject matter experts. The revised version includes a new diagnosis (prolonged grief disorder), clarifying modifications to the criteria sets for more than 70 disorders, addition of International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM) symptom codes for suicidal behavior and nonsuicidal self-injury, and updates to descriptive text for most disorders based on extensive review of the literature. In addition, DSM-5-TR includes a comprehensive review of the impact of racism and discrimination on the diagnosis and manifestations of mental disorders. The manual will help clinicians and researchers define and classify mental disorders, which can improve diagnoses, treatment, and research.

      To create the DSM-5, the APA gathered more than 160 mental healthcare professionals from around the world, including psychiatrists, psychologists and experts from many other professional fields.

      The types of conditions that can be found in the DSM-5 include:

      Section title Examples of disorders in that section
      Neurodevelopmental Disorders Autism spectrum disorder.
      Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
      Learning disorders (which covers dyslexia, dyscalculia, etc.).
      Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders Schizophrenia.
      Schizoaffective disorder.
      Delusional disorder.
      Bipolar and Related Disorders Bipolar I and bipolar II disorders.
      Cyclothymic disorder.
      Depressive Disorders Major depressive disorder.
      Persistent depressive disorder.
      Anxiety Disorders Generalized anxiety disorder.
      Social anxiety disorder.
      Separation anxiety disorder.
      Panic disorder.
      Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
      Hoarding disorder.
      Body dysmorphic disorder.
      Skin-picking disorder and hair-pulling disorder.
      Trauma- and Stressor-Related Disorders Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
      Acute stress disorder.
      Adjustment disorder.
      Dissociative Disorders Dissociative identity disorder.
      Dissociative amnesia.
      Depersonalization/derealization disorder.
      Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders Somatic symptom disorder.
      Illness anxiety disorder.
      Functional neurological symptom disorder (conversion disorder).
      Feeding and Eating Disorders Anorexia nervosa.
      Bulimia nervosa.
      Binge-eating disorder.
      Elimination Disorders Enuresis (a group of disorders that includes bedwetting).
      Sleep-Wake Disorders Insomnia disorder.
      Sleep apnea disorders.
      Nightmare disorder.
      Restless legs syndrome.
      Sexual Dysfunctions Sexual dysfunctions.
      Gender Dysphoria Gender dysphoria-related disorders.
      Disruptive, Impulse-Control and Conduct Disorders Oppositional defiant disorder.
      Antisocial personality disorder.
      Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders Alcohol use disorder.
      Inhalant use disorder.
      Opioid use disorder.
      Withdrawal-related symptoms.
      Neurocognitive Disorders Delirium.
      Alzheimer’s disease.
      Parkinson’s disease.
      Huntington’s disease.
      Traumatic brain injury.
      Personality Disorders Borderline personality disorder (BPD).
      Narcissistic personality disorder.
      Paraphilic Disorders Sexual behavior disorders.
      Other Mental Disorders and Additional Codes Conditions that don’t match the definition of another condition, but that still significantly affect someone’s life.
      Medication-Induced Movement Disorders and Other Adverse Effects of Medication Tardive dyskinesia.
      Neuroleptic malignant syndrome.
      Other Conditions That May Be a Focus of Clinical Attention These include circumstances or behaviors that aren’t conditions, but that may affect or happen in relation to diagnosable conditions. Examples include self-harm and suicidal behaviors, a history of any type of abuse, unemployment, etc.
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