NUMBER 634• 15 NOVEMBER • TREATMENT OF OFFENDERS
Any treatment of offenders must be community centered. The reason for this first principle is our present understanding of the nature of the human being as a social being. The central drive of every human being, besides the biological life instinct, is to have meaning, to be someone. This central drive can even overcome the life instinct, as we see in martyrs and other people dedicated to a cause. Alan Paton wrote about this when he said:
To mean something in the world is the deepest hunger of the human soul, deeper than any bodily hunger or thirst, and when a man has lost it he is no longer a man. (Paton, 1968).
In other words, the basic life-giving force is self-respect, dignity. Self-respect and dignity are not self-made. They grow out of human relationships, of the relationship between child and parent or between youth and adult in any social contact. If self-worth is not nourished by these relationships, the human being loses it and reacts in some very predictable ways:
1. He may withdraw totally into a mental illness, thus turning away from other human beings;
2. He may submit to any demand placed upon him from the outside, but without any inner consent, simply following the powerful pressure on him; or
3. He may strike out against others, their property or their person. Whatever forms he chooses, he hates himself and others and he suffers. A mental patient once wrote:
I know no man
No man knows me
I know no (;od
No God knows me
This surely must be
What men call
Konopka, G. (1974) Corrections and human dignity. Georgia Journal of Corrections, 3 (1). pp.49-57
Paton, A. The Long View. Praeger, 1968.