In school, children learn the difference between a noun and a verb. Most of us will easily recall the grade school mantra of a noun as a ‘person, place or thing.’ For the criminal thinker, the definition attributed to the noun takes on a new and more distorted meaning. Criminal thinkers perceive people, places and things as objects to possess. They have little to no regard for the ownership rights of others and minimize or ignore the negative ripple effect of their behavior.
Counselors regularly hear examples of this ‘ownership attitude’ in therapy groups when offenders describe their crimes of theft. They believe they have the right to take things that don’t belong to them because they “have to make a living somehow.” They fantasize about the big score and plan out in detail how they will “get their money.” Once they take an object or steal money they consider it theirs. Some will even go as far as to make a report to the police if the stolen money is stolen from them! This type of double standard is unwittingly played out in many areas of a criminal life. A criminal thinker will steal for a living but complain when something is stolen from them. They will belittle and decry the crimes of a sex offender, but minimize or ignore the hundreds of victims they have created themselves. They point out the inconsistencies and unfairness of probation and parole rules while breaking their own promises and the rules of a civilized society.
The attitude of ownership extends far beyond money and goods. Criminal thinkers also view other people, and especially sexual partners, as property. This type of thinking is codified into well-known rules of engagement for many outlaw biker gangs. Biker gangs are well known for their abuse of women. In some gangs, women are actually bought, sold and traded which is the epitome of an ownership attitude.
Changing an ownership oriented pattern of thinking involves discovering the consequences of ownership-oriented behavior. Crimes of theft need to be examined for the negative ripple effects they cause in the lives of victims and the also the victimizer. The criminal thinker must begin to look through the eyes of their victims and contemplate the injury they have caused others in their lives. Victim awareness must become a new habit in the life of the changing thinker. Ownership thinking creates endless examples of the double standards prevalent in a criminal’s life. Changing this way of thinking will result in a single standard of respect and acknowledgment of the human rights we all possess.
Access our free “Ownership Attitude” worksheet on CriminalThinking.net.