Essay Example: Social Control Theory and Jeffrey Dahmer

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  9
Wordcount:  2229 Words
Date:  2021-03-24


Social control theory is based on the assumptions that socialization and social interaction with peers and the society works to build a person's self-esteem and control thus preventing them from engaging in antisocial activities. What is social control theory? Social control theory in criminal law offers the justification to why some people obey the law or the reason why others choose to commit crimes (Chan at el, 2010). It details how the behavior of a person suits what is expected of the person in the society. The theory emphasizes that the way people are brought in the childhood stage will greatly affect what they grow to be. The development phase of the child during when the cognitive and reasoning constraints are developing will dictate the person's character at adulthood. The theory focuses on the external issues in a person that are fully developed at a later time in life and become effective (Carver & Scheier, 2012). Crime and deviance in a person's life is caused by some inadequate constraints which the person seeks to fulfill by indulging in the criminal activity.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

Social Control Theory

Social control theory views human nature as a combination of the concept of free will that offers the offenders the ability to make choices and assume responsibility for the way they behave in the society. It is highly linked to the idea of a social norm as being a determinant of the way we grow to become (Chan at el, 2010). Even those showing deviant behavior and actions in the society are aware of what is expected of them, but they proceed to commit the crimes as a justification for some social gap in their lives. The criminals are as well certain of the right way to go but choose otherwise to fulfill a certain feeling of fear, negligence, or revenge.

Social Control Theory Origin

The origin of social control theory traces its first use in the utilization of the work of the Enlightenment philosophers, classical criminologists, and thinkers (Denson et al, 2012). Philosophers believe that the tendency to self-indulgence and crimes require some external restraint and a corresponding state role (Agnew, 1985). Deviance and crimes are social disorders present in almost all societies as a result of negligence to the social norms. Crime can be used as a deep stick to test the boundaries of one's behavior that is collectively recognized and will receive negative criticism from the society. Being social to the society will help avoid the disapproval related to criminal activities (Carver & Scheier, 2012). It works as a means by which the set behavioral boundaries are altered thus creating a social change.

Social Control Theory in Criminology

The weaker a group to which an individual belongs, the less he relies on it, forcing the persons to act on their own by making them believe that their destiny only lies in their hands. This is how social control theory believes individuals are compelled to commit crimes (Chan at el, 2010). The solitude due to lack of or weak social ties leaves individuals to be on their own which cultivates the belief of individualism and the criminal feelings emerge. The individual feels neglected in the society and will be involved in delinquency to relieve the feeling of negligence (Agnew, 1985). Abandoning children especially at a tender age destabilizes their mental development forcing them into criminal activities in a bid to be satisfied or seeking attention from those who have neglected them (Carver & Scheier, 2012).

Who Is Jeffrey Dahmer?

Jeffrey Dahmer shocked the world in 1978 till 1991 for his brutal murder and being a serial murderer as well as a sexual offender who poached and preyed boys and men in gay bars. During his killing spree, it is believed he murdered seventeen victims whom he raped, assaulted and then killed and buried them (Agnew, 1985). He was charged in 1991 when he threatened and wanted to kill his last victim of cannibalism, rape, murder, necrophilia and dismemberment.

Social Control Theory and Psychological Theory of Jeffrey Dahmer

This essay examines the social control theory and the psychological problems that might have caused the killing spree by Dahmer. Through the examination of his entire life and relating it to the social control theory we get to identify the underlying circumstances that forced him to be what he was. His early life and the conflicting information about the family life he was brought up in makes it difficult to fully find accurate findings (Chan at el, 2010). His forensic psychology is not known, but his life was characterized by sadism, pervasive, antisocial personality and personality disorder. Most people are believed to suffer from one of these traits, but they are not formally diagnosed. The disorders in his life are to blame for these heinous acts of inhumanity that he procured (Denson et al, 2012).

What Was Jeffrey Dahmer Childhood Like

His early childhood is highly attributed to what transpired later in his life. His mother is believed to have been suffering from mental illness proposing that he possibly never received the motherly care that ought to be accorded to kids as they grow (Carver & Scheier, 2012). His parents divorced and was neglected by the mother at age when the attention shifted to his brother David. His surgery of a double hernia at the age of six years scared and created fear in his life as a result of the traumatizing episodes, a condition he never recovered from till his death. This condition changed his character completely from jovial and outgoing child to a shy boy without self-confidence (Agnew, 1985). He was unable to maintain a social life and moved out of their house severally before he was eight years.

His father was an analytical engineer, and the mother was a teletype instructor both of whom worked for long hours thus losing the close watch and the parental bonding of their child at a very small age. Dahmer was a happy kid like any other child in America, but the surgery brought things to a standstill as he began to live a solitary life. His parents were living with his grandparents, so they decided to move to their apartment in Bath, Ohio where the father was to further his education (Agnew, 1985). The house they moved in was surrounded by open forests that worsened Jeffrey's situation.

The marriage between Dahmer's parents began to plunge into trouble especially after their newborn son was diagnosed with colic. The tension in the marriage escalated leading to a divorce when he was about eighteen years old. The mother took David with him, and Jeffrey was left with the father who married again (Chan at el, 2010). The separation put Jeffrey under more social pressure, and his problem was worsening. The parent neglected Jeffrey and, it is said that one time he called a probation officer to report a case of sexual molestation from a neighbor, but he was ignored. This triggered and heightened his social problem since he felt left out in the society (Denson et al, 2012). He had no one to protect him from the child molestation and other atrocities against the children.

During his schooling time, Dahmer was seen handling dead animals and had a collection of them exposing him to the field of Chemistry and Biology at a small age due to the experience he got from the dead animals. This was as a result of lack of socialization in the society (Carver & Scheier, 2012). He joined Revere High school where his socialization problem continued irrespective of his efforts. He was unable to make many friends despite his involvement in the school newsletter. He continually engaged in antisocial behavior as seen in the social control theory (Agnew, 1985). He was an average performer in his classroom work, but during his high school time, he developed drinking problems. Jeffrey was a shy young man whose psychological problems had an immense impact on his social life. He rarely associated with his classmates and friends. The divorce between his parents completely tore the connection between him and the parents. Dahmer did not have his mothers residence address that completely cut the communication between him and the mother. He finished high school and joined Ohio State University. It is here that his drinking habit matured as he spent most of his time drinking to conceal and hibernate from his loneliness (Denson et al, 2012). He skipped most of the classes as he was lost in the drinking dens most of the time. His classmates were warned and told to stay away from him, and a picture of him was blacked out and later used for his psychiatric examination during his trial period (Agnew, 1985). He eventually dropped out of school after two semesters in 1978 and that was the time he began his killing mission.

His father was furious about his idea of dropping out of college and gave him an ultimatum to join the army or to get a job. He signed a six-year contract in the army in 1979 and was taken to Germany. His loneliness continued, and his drinking habit was worsening. He was discharged just after two years of his service due to alcoholism and misconduct in his duties (Carver & Scheier, 2012). He then moved to a correction hospital in Florida since he had the freedom as an ex-army to travel. He was kicked out of the facility as well due to alcoholism. He went back home, but he was arrested and charged with being drunk and disorderly in the same year (Chan at el, 2010).

In 1982 his father sent him to live with his grandmother where his alcoholism and loneliness continued. His grandmother found him in possession of stolen goods and was arrested in the same year and charged with indecent exposure. His grandmother was also fed up with his alcoholism problem, late night drinking, foul smell from the apartment's basement and weird behavior sending him away in 1988 (Denson et al, 2012). He moved near his place of work in a chocolate factory, but just a day after moving to his new residence he was arrested for defiling a thirteen-year-old boy. He was sentenced to five years probation period and registered as a sex offender.

Reasons Why Jeffrey Dahmer Commit Crime

To understand and uncover the reason behind the serial killing behavior like that of Dahmer, it is important first to explore the childhood and adolescence of the victim. From the revelation of his early childhood accounts, it is seen that Jeffrey was a normal child who underwent the usual childhood activities. The metamorphosis of his character can be explained using the social control theory. The hernia surgery he underwent at age four changed his personality from a jovial child to a shy boy (Chan at el, 2010). His parents were preoccupied with their careers in life leaving Jeffrey unattended during the time of suffering. Nobody was there for him to explain why he was undergoing this process.

The surgery changed him to a loner who rarely communicated with anyone. He was always withdrawn from the rest of the peers. He had nobody to tell him why he was to undergo the operation and why he was going to the hospital (Carver & Scheier, 2012). Jeffrey was very obedient to his parents who thought the sudden change in his life was as a result of his obedience. His happy child smiles changed to a motionless face stare that remained until his last day. He swallowed the hard times he experienced from his parents squabbles that were frequent and led to a divorce in the long run. The loss of his younger brother and mother left him with a feeling of rejection and being deserted (Agnew, 1985). The already withdrawn personality of Jeffrey was further affected by this separation.

The relocation to Bath left Jeffrey with few friends. When his mates were busy playing video games, he was occupied collecting carcasses and saving their bones. His father attributed this to the love of chemistry and often carried him to the laboratory where he got a chance to explore his loneliness more (Denson et al, 2012). His dad bought him his first chemistry packs while still in the elementary school giving him a better chance to experiment more inclu...

Cite this page

Essay Example: Social Control Theory and Jeffrey Dahmer. (2021, Mar 24). Retrieved from

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience and 25% off!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism