Thursday, December 29, 2005
Is Remorse Overrated?
Emory's Martha Duncan has posted her new article, "So Young and So Untender": Remorseless Children and the Expectations of Law. (HT: Solum) I'm not sure what to make of the thesis, but it sounds intriguing:
This article employs psychology, sociology, and literature to investigate the expectation of remorse in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. More specifically, it presents seven in-depth case studies of juveniles who were charged with murder or attempted murder and whose apparent lack of remorse played a salient role in the legal process. Through these case studies, the article challenges the law’s assumption that any decent, redeemable person, regardless of age, will exhibit sorrow and contrition after committing a heinous crime.
Beyond challenging the courts’ ability to interpret the emotional state of a juvenile, the article questions the validity of remorse as a predictor of future character. Drawing on Biblical and literary examples and the psychoanalytic theory of the superego, the article suggests that remorse, as the most agonizing form of guilt, may actually undermine the ability to “turn one’s life around” and begin anew.