Page 9 of 11
The five techniques are:
- Denial of Responsibility. If offenders see themselves as lacking any responsibility for their actions, then the effectiveness of disapproval of self or disapproval of others, as a restraining influence on behavior, is sharply reduced. Offenders may see themselves as "billiard balls" that are helplessly bumped around from situation to situation through no fault of their own. By viewing themselves as being more acted upon than acting on, offenders do not have to face responsibility for their actions . Cheaters may consider laws so vague and ambiguous that it was not their fault they broke them. They may plead "momentary insanity," "ignorance," "accident," or "acting under orders" or try to shift the blame to higher authority . This denial of responsibility helps them free themselves from experiencing any culpability for their deviance by allowing them to perceive of themselves as victims of their environment.
- Denial of Injury. The law differs in its view of crimes that are Mala in se (wrong in themselves) and crimes that are Mala prohibita (wrong because they are prohibited). Offenders use this same reasoning to differentiate between their own behaviors so they can deny any injury or harm from their actions. By denying the wrongfulness of their actions, such as by considering vandalism as mischief or larceny as borrowing, offenders can deny there was any actual injury or harm from their actions. Sometimes offenders even claim their activities were economically beneficial to their victims, and therefore, no harm was done. Since society sometimes supports these same distinctions between wrongs, it further supports the offender’s denial of injury since it makes the wrong appear as just a common practice. This allows offenders to feel their deviance may be executed without any direct harm to others.
- Denial of the Victim. Even if offenders accept responsibility for injuries caused by their actions, it may be neutralized by their insisting the injury was not wrong due to the circumstances. Offenders may claim there was no injury since their actions were in the form of justified retaliations or punishments. Denial of victim may facilitate an offender’s deviance when the offender feels he/she can justify the action as retaliation upon a deserving victim. Offenders may view themselves as avengers of some wrong doing by their victims, acting as if they were modern day Robin Hoods. Also, if the victim is not present when the offender commits a crime, the offender may deny to him/herself that there was an actual victim. In some crimes, such as shoplifting, the offender may not have to deny the victim at all since there is no real target of the crime. Dehumanization of the victim is a form of denial of the victim. Criminals may feel a person is mean, unfair, and does not deserve the usual protection of the norms of society.
- Condemnation of the Condemners. Offenders may shift the blame from themselves to the motives and behaviors of those who condemn their behavior by viewing their condemners as being hypocritical or spiteful. These feelings can gradually harden into bitter cynicism toward enforcers of the rules, which allows the offenders to project blame for their actions upon law-makers and law-enforcers.
- Appeal to Higher Loyalties. Offenders may sacrifice the demands of the larger society for the demands of a smaller social group to which they associate. The offenders do not necessarily repudiate the larger society, rather, they see themselves as being caught up in a dilemma between their loyalties to the two groups, which then causes them to break the law . The offenders feel their deviant behavior is legitimized because a nonconventional social bond dictates greater relevance to them than one more consistent with conventional society.