Neutralization

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Articles on illegal behaviour

Neutralization is a series of self justification techniques used by criminals to justify their actions. These were categorized by Sykes and Matza in the 1950s. The various techniques are used to "neutralize" certain behavioral attitudes that usually prevent a person from doing wrong, such as morality or social convention. Basically, no-one thinks of themselves as a villain.

The same techniques are used by people who download "free" material from the internet, who drink and drive, who rob banks or who abuse children.

The techniques[edit]

In layman's terms:

  • It wasn't my fault—I'm a victim of society
  • It wasn't that bad—I wasn't really abusing those kids, just giving them a cuddle
  • They're not really victims—they had it coming to them acting like that
  • It's a smear campaign—It's a storm in a tea cup blown up to discredit my good name
  • It was the right thing to do at the time—history will bear me out
  • It was mostly the others that did it, I was just helping them a little.
  • It was for their own good—it wasn't child abuse, it was love.

See also[edit]