The harmful feeling of “entitlement” in criminals and normal people.

Stanton Samenow interviewed criminals for years, and has concluded that they have an entitlement mentality. He says that “the criminal believes that he is entitled to whatever he desires, and he will pursue it ruthlessly.” Samenow sees this as “cognitive distortion”. In this blog post I’ve inserted several type of entitlement-mentality examples, the criminal just being one, to see if a pattern emerges.

“A criminal was told to write a letter to the Leeds family he robbed as part of his rehabilitation. He did write the letter, but the message was (I paraphrase): you deserved to be robbed, you were stupid, weak and vulnerable; I was quick enough to take advantage of that. You are the losers. I am cool.
the reporter who wrote the article about this asks:

Wherever did a boy of 16 get this sense of entitlement from? Who could possibly have inculcated this warped and topsy-turvy view of what is right and what is wrong? Not his former teachers surely? What about the parents? Or is it just something he has picked up from his equally entitled peers on the mean streets of Leeds? I simply have no idea.
It is the same sense of entitlement which encouraged thousands of teenagers all over the country to indulge in wanton destruction and help themselves to spanking new trainers and the latest mobile phones during the August riots which convulsed London and a string of other cities.
It is akin to the sense of entitlement that sees millions of young people happy to sit back and claim a range of state-funded benefits rather than taking some simple job which they deem to be beneath them but which are willingly undertaken by diligent and ambitious foreign workers.

It’s not just poor criminals who feel “entitled”. In “The Perils of Fraud Detection”, published in The Forensic Examiner, Frank Perri exposes misperceptions about white-collar criminals – people who could earn a middle-class living if they wanted to.  Personality traits he warns of include: “blames others for his or her problems, displays a sense of entitlement, exploitative, egocentric, grandiosity, difficulty taking criticism, and feels victimized.” He adds that offenders believe that they are entitled to commit fraud and feel victimized when that entitlement is challenged.”

So as Samenow says, a substantial abnormal section of the population, the criminal element, has a cognitive distortion in this area.

But do non-criminals?

To what extent are the rest of us entitled to remake our environment at the expense of others?

My co-religionists, Hasidic Jews, have complained about female cyclists who cycle in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The religious group complained to the community board that many of the young, female cyclists who rode through the neighborhood were “hotties,” who “ride in shorts and skirts,” both of which are against their dress code.

Islam goes to extremes in this regard.  For instance one Muslim cleric, Sheik al-Hilali, said this:

Addressing 500 worshipers on the topic of adultery, he added: “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it..whose fault is it – the cats or the uncovered meat?
The uncovered meat is the problem.
He went on: “If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab (veil), no problem would have occurred.”

In other words, he is making excuses for sexual assault by saying that it is understandable that it would happen if women do not dress the modest way that they should.

He feels that women have a responsibility to men; the responsibility of walking around in a burqa, or not walking around at all.

Both the Jews and the Muslims want modest behavior from women, but there is a difference. None of these Hasids I mentioned are committing sexual assaults. (I do not know the statistics for Muslims).

Gratitude is related to entitlement:

The head of a UNHCR camp called Syrian refugees “The most difficult refugees I’ve ever seen. …In Italy, …there are….mobile phone charging stations so the destitute refugees can check on their Facebook accounts.

It had to be done because the refugees in Italy were throwing rocks at police while demanding free wi-fi.

This is the tawdry sense of entitlement of the Syrian Muslim refugee that the media champions.

Hussein said: “We have the feeling that the aid workers are heartless.” (He) lives in a trailer that cost $3,000. The air-conditioner runs with electricity he is tapping from the Italian hospital. The water for his tea is from canisters provided by UNICEF. He hasn’t worked, paid or thanked anyone for any of it.

It’s puzzling to me that the refugees feel that they can make demands using force, rather than asking nicely. Perhaps they believe it is undignified to plead for charity, and that demanding it while throwing rocks is dignified.

In the USA, a black woman, Kuuleme T. Stephens, says this about another culture’s entitlement mentality (the ghetto):

…if Black Americans are not going to stop living in the past and blaming other for their problems, we will never move forward as a people. To maintain a belief that you are owed something and entitled to things when you are doing nothing to help yourself is absurd. To stay ignorant as a lifestyle choice and have others (the government) take care of you and tell you what to do is exactly what the slaves did, and some continued to do even after they were freed…Today our Black American community suffers from a different “syndrome” and that is called the Entitlement Mentality, which to me has many attributes of the Slavery Mentality, but adds ignorance, laziness, and arrogance to the picture and is much more dangerous.

The sense of entitlement is related to our sense of what is fair. The idea that you are victimized might, in your mind, excuse your taking something from the victimizers.

A Danish psychologist, Nicolai Sennels, studied Muslim criminals in Denmark. He shows that the religion itself has led to “cognitive distortions” (not his phrase) that in turn hurt its relationships with Westerners.

He says:

“It is clear from a psychological point of view that Westerners feel that their lives are mainly influenced by inner forces – ourselves…
But Muslims have something else. They have strict external rules, traditions and laws for human behavior. They have a God that decides their life’s course. “Inshallah” follows every statement about future plans; if God wants it to happen. They have powerful Muslim clerics who set the directions for their community every Friday. ..If we are raised in a culture where we learn that “…I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul,” as William Ernest Henley wrote in his famous poem Invictus in 1875; we will, in case of personal problems, look at ourselves and ask: “…What did I do wrong?” and “…What can I do to change the situation?” People who have been taught throughout their entire lives that outer rules and traditions are more important than individual freedom and self-reflection, will ask: “Who did this to me?” and “Who has to do something for me?”

Thus, the locus of control is central to the individual’s understanding of freedom and responsibility. Even though our Christian based societies may, in certain situations, give too much emphasis on feelings of guilt; it also strengthens the individual’s sense of being able to take responsibility for, and change one’s own life. In societies shaped under Islamic and Qu’ranic influence there may be fewer feelings of guilt and thus, more freedom to demand the surroundings to adapt to one’s own wishes and desires. This may include demands to wear Islamic costumes which can result in more Muslim demands for Islamization of our Western societies, but it is also a powerful source of victim mentality and leads to endless demands on one’s surroundings. In a very concrete way this cultural tendency, shows itself in therapy, as a lack of remorse. The standard answer from violent Muslims was always: “…It is his own fault that I beat him up. He provoked me.” Such excuses show that people experience their own reactions as caused by external factors and not by their own emotions, motivation and free will. Even though one’s own feelings, when experiencing an insult, can be moderated by one’s own point of view, this kind of self-reflection does not happen to the same degree among Muslims as it does among Westerners.

The difference in mentality is clearly stated by the old Indian proverb:

“You can walk around softly everywhere by putting on a pair of shoes, or you can demand that the whole Earth becomes covered by soft leather.”

Sennels says about the Muslims he encountered:

“Typically, they learn a handful of conspiracy theories “proving” that the West, especially the US and the few million Jews left on this Earth, are the cause of all the problems in the Muslim world.

This reminds me of a recent stampede in Mina, (Saudi Arabia) which killed at least 2000 religious pilgrims. The stampede was eventually blamed by an Iranian official, Ali Younesi, on the Israeli secret service, the Mossad. How does he know?  Maybe if you believe nothing is your fault, then it must be the fault of an evil organization out to destroy you.

Sennels adds:

Danish Psychologist Nicolai Sennels
Danish Psychologist Nicolai Sennels

A Danish saying goes “…Only small dogs bark. Big dogs do not have to.” That saying is deeply rooted in our cultural psychology as a guideline for civilized social behavior. To us, aggressive behavior is a clear sign of weakness. It is a sign of not being in control of oneself and lacking ability to handle a situation.
Jokes, irony and, especially, self-irony [among Muslims] is as good as non-existent. … Instead of being flexible and humorous they become stiff and develop fragile, glass-like, narcissistic personalities.
As far as honor killings or attacks, [Rather than ‘honor’] terms like “family execution,” “childish jealousy,” “control maniac” or “insecure” would be much closer to our cultural understanding of such behavior.

In the examples of entitlement above, we see that a sense of victimization often accompanies it, and we see that culture and religion can push people to “entitlement” habits of thinking that in turn can make them hurt their society. A person with a self-deprecating sense of humor, plus a desire and an ability to put himself into someone else’s viewpoint, is not likely to have this problem. On the other hand, a person who sees life as a zero-sum game – where if you win, it has to be at the expense of someone else, or who has been taught that his group is superior, may victimize others.

Even children brought up with western ideals can become bullies, with a feeling of entitlement: “If your peer group says that pushing and shoving and spitting on people or spreading lies is O.K., even though you may have been taught differently in your home, you lose your moral compass” says one student of bullying.

It may be some of us (criminals) are born with an entitlement mentality, and others obtain one from their culture or religion. It spells trouble.

Sources: (some urls have extra blanks put in to keep them from putting up pictures here)

Bloggers Note:
Sennels (the Danish psychologist) may be wrong when he blames the fatalistic “inshallah” for a lack of responsiblity.  An alternate explanation comes from former Syrian doctor, Wafa Sultan, who says that she did not observe many relationships in Syria  based on mutual respect.  Mostly one person would dominate the other.  This might explain those rock-throwing migrants -they prefer to dominate a situation.  It is true that she does blame the culture on the religion.  She quotes Mohammed’s hadith that “Whosoever obeys me obeys god, and he who obeys my emir obeys me.” The emir is any ruler who follows the faith.   So blind obedience is important, and it translates to any relationship in the society – one person is the boss.


5 thoughts on “The harmful feeling of “entitlement” in criminals and normal people.

  1. If we feel entitled than we can feel justified in taking what we want so there is a motive to feel entitled. Islam teaches Muslims that they are entitled to the possessions of the infidels so there is a motive to believe in Islam.

    1. The interesting finding though is that criminals and other bad actors do feel entitled. They don’t feel what they are doing is wrong – at least in some situations where we ourselves would. It is not just a matter of making internal excuses. There is no self-insight, no consistency in the worldview of the victimizers. As far as Islam goes, it does not teach that ALL the possessions of the infidels are for the taking, instead the infidel is supposed to pay the Jizya, which is a special tax. If the believer is engaged in Jihad however, you are partly correct – the rules are different. In another article (at Sennels quotes an experiment that shows that we feel less empathy to people we are taught to despise. We might feel entitled to do to them what we don’t feel entitled to do to our fellows. For instance, the Jews were herded into ghettos at various points in European history, certainly a violation of their rights to go and live anywhere in their country of residence.

  2. I think Sennels is being rather superficial. You cannot assess an immense and socially diverse Islamic population by interviewing criminal elements within one small segment of it. He is led to some rather absurd conclusions, such as “Muslims lack a sense of humour,” lack self reflection, etc. This is wild over generalisation. If this was true, you would have to explain why, when at its zenith, Muslim civilisation was light years ahead of Western Europe, and was responsible for advances in culture, science, and philosophy which were later on borrowed and used extensively by Western scholars. Today Islam is in a degenerative phase, and maybe like all religions has reached a self destructive stage. The people who expect something for nothing are present in all cultures.

    The question of whether we should submit to the will of God is scarcely unique to Islam. The notion that we are all masters of our own destiny is questionable, to say the least. “Should be..” maybe! But most of us are are definitely not.

    1. I agree, for instance I would not like a psychologist to make uncomplimentary conclusions about Jews by studying Jews in jail. Its a biased sample. But a key point is that most immigrants in Denmark are more law-abiding than ethnic Danes. Muslims, on the other hand, even after adjusting according to educational and economic levels, are more criminal than any other ethnic group in Denmark. So given that fact, it is legitimate to ask if there is something in the religion itself that pushes them to anti-social behavior. Obviously not all Muslims are criminals, so this weakens this argument, but there is a valid question.
      I also thought the idea that Muslims feel the locus of control in their life is outside of them as not convincing. But Sennels is not the only person to conclude there is something about Islam that leads to failure.
      Wafa Sultan’s sample was the many Muslims she met in Syria, and later in the West. Nonie Darwish’s sample was the many Muslims she met in Egypt, and later in the West. Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s sample was the many Muslims she met in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere. These three women have theories as to what explains Muslim alienation. The titles of their books give a bit of their attitudes: “A God Who Hates” (Wafa Sultan), “Because they Hate” (Brigitte Gabriel), “Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law” (Nonie Darwish).
      The fact that Islam had a golden age is interesting – I wonder what changed?
      As to a Muslim sense of humor, I would not crack jokes without self-censorship in places like Iran, ISIS-land, and even Saudi Arabia. That is assuming they would even let me visit, being Jewish, American, etc. But yes, I see your point.
      People who expect something for nothing are present in all cultures, however, if your country runs a generous welfare program, and you also allow unrestricted immigration, the freeloaders of the world will descend upon you. That doesn’t mean that hard-working people don’t come to Europe, but it is a caution. And its also not Sennel’s argument. One claim Sennels makes that I did not include is that the young boys in the Muslim communities in the West are not given boundaries, nor are they taught to be tolerant of others. That is more convincing than the locus-of-control argument.
      I personally do not want to have a gripe with Islam, I’m just very worried about it.

  3. I have noticed in families that this type of entitlement to take away whatever one accumulates feels like a form of molestation, not sexual but another kind of being used and discarded for someone else’s benefit and no benefit for the true owner or given to one.

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