Past sins through the lenses of guilt, shame and violence: Can therapeutic jurisprudence help?

Dr Warren Brookbanks1

1Aut Law School, Mount Eden, Auckland, New Zealand

Recent writing around violence and its psychological precursors has revealed some compelling insights into the motivations for violence and its emotional  drivers. Understanding these might better equip policy-makers, public officials, judges and corrections officials to respond more accurately to  particular manifestations of violence, but without the need to engage increasingly harsh and punitive sanctions in an attempt to deter violent crime.

The paper begins  by examining notion of  ‘projective disgust’    and its relevance to violent offending,  before  considering the oblique  concept of  ‘pale criminality’ as a psychological catalyst for some forms of violence. The  axiomatic role of shame  as a precursor  to violence is also considered, noting that it often  precedes and provides the motivation  for the commission of violent acts.  The paper then discusses  the notion  of hope as an essential  element of recovery and restoration. This moves into a consideration in the final section  of how  therapeutic jurisprudence might provide some insights into how the law can best deal with the problem of violence beyond traditional carceral and punitive responses.


Professor Dr Warren Brookbanks, LLB, LLM, BD, LLD

Warren was with Faculty of Law at Auckland University from 1983 to 2016, where he was  made a professor in 2006 and was awarded the Doctor of Laws degree in 2014 . Since April 2016 he has been Professor of Criminal Law and Justice Studies and Director of the Centre for Non-Adversarial Justice at AUT University Law School. Warren has an international reputation in the fields of criminal law, mental health law and therapeutic jurisprudence.   He is co-author of the leading text Simester and Brookbanks, Principles of Criminal Law, (4th edn (2012), and co-author of Bell and Brookbanks Mental Health Law in New Zealand (3rd edn, 2017). He has co-edited texts on criminal justice and forensic psychiatry and law and was the author of Competencies of Trial: Fitness to Plead in New Zealand in 2011. In September 2015    Therapeutic Jurisprudence: New Zealand Perspectives (Brookbanks, ed) was published.   Merry and McCall Smith Errors, Medicine and the Law (2nd edn),  which Warren co-authored with Professor Alan Merry was published in 2017.

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