Journalism Opinion

The superego quo: my life as a student of forensic psychology

Apart from endless career-related ruminations… I blog (pat on the back), or I don’t blog (aversive consequation). Studying criminal psychology is like diving into the collective subconsciousness of social order, or as I like to call it: the superego quo. In psychoanalysis, Freud described the self as having three components, the ID, the EGO, and the SUPEREGO. The EGO is the central self, that is, who we are in relation to spaces and people. It creates the balance between the SUPEREGO- which is the social and moral conscience- and the ID- which Freud described as being the instinctual self, responsible for basic instincts such as hunger, arousal, aggression and so on. However, this is not as straightfoward for primary psychopaths, who due to neural brain disconnections between lobes, do not feel the primary emotions that all animals (including humans) with a limbic system feel. In other words, the problem with dysfunctional psychopaths is that they have internalised a severely abnormal superego quo, which might or might not have contributed to their neurological deficiencies. Predispositions are genetic, whilst a dysfunctional family environment creates the dispositions. This is why moral therapy is popular in penal psychology. By informing and updating an internalised superego quo, one can re-normalise healthy forms of affection, friendship, behaviour, and so on. Often, those with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) who get clinically diagnosed as psychopaths through psychological assessments using instruments such as Hare’s Psychopath Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; Hare, 2003) have already a problematic, pervasive, persistent and pathological record of legal misbehaviour, often including an analysis of poor behavioural performance at school, and conduct incidents in childhood/adolescence/early-adulthood. Such background checks frequently point to these individuals having a superego deficit, and an internalised, dysfunctional superego ideal.

Nowadays, so much is happening. The symptoms of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) are manifesting collectively. We have a lot to worry about from a forensic psychological perspective.  These are called first world problems for a reason. The more we try to turn a blind eye to injustice, the more the subconscious mind will reinforce the defence mechanisms that keep the average layperson from fully processing and cognitively acknowledging the dark side of reality. A lot has changed, and new priorities have become instilled in the super ego quo, such as creating environmental solutions. Yet, human rights violations are happening on a large scale. For instance, many people are in denial of surveillance capitalism, even though there was recently a case published on HUDOC from the ECHR where Big Brother Watch and others (2018) accused the UK government of instrumentally effecting a mass cybersecurity breach and therefore of the mass violation of human rights such as the right to respect for private and family life. This is why it is shocking for me that several of my international friends have been asking me about migration to the UK, as if I was a border agency expert or something. What I can say about this is that if you wish to migrate to the UK, you must apply for a Visa. Otherwise, you will end up in a detention centre, and I’ve heard those are pretty nasty (Taylor, 2020), and that asylum seekers in the UK face state-sponsored hostility. Furthermore, vulnerable people in the UK are starving to death (Butler, 2020). We are going to have to recognise that things are out of control in paradise.

25,000-plus people pass through Britain’s immigration removal centres each year.
Photograph: The Guardian


Big Brother Watch and Others v. The United Kingdom (2018) First Section, European Court of Human Rights, 13 September [Online]. Available at (Accessed 17 February 2020).

Butler, P. (2020) ‘Disabled man starved to death after DWP stopped his benefits’, The Guardian, 28 January [Online]. Available at

Hare, R.D. (2003) Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised [Online]. Available at (Accessed 17 February 2020).

Taylor, D. (2018) ‘Worse than prison: life inside Britain’s 10 deportation centres’, The Guardian, 11 October [Online]. Available at (Accessed 17 February 2020).

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