Classification and Treatment by Moral Development Level

Murder, She Wrote, continued

Classification and Treatment by Moral Development Level, by Dr. G. Harry McLaughlin, continued


The various approaches adopted by the more or less autonomous treatment units in OCI are ostensibly oriented to morally neutral psycho-social objectives. In fact, the very theories of psychology and sociology on which correctional treatments are founded are disguised value judgements. For example, the behaviourist assumption that all fundamental laws determining behaviour are independent of man’s wishes corresponds to Stage 4 thinking that obedience to laws is an end in itself. The limitation of group dynamics to the study of interpersonal processes corresponds to the sanctification of interpersonal contracts characteristic of Stage 5 thinking. The lifegoals orientation of Stage 6 thinking and psychiatry.

It should, therefore, be no surprise that OCI’s nominally value-free treatment programmes depend upon moral pressures being exerted on the residents, and on their being evaluated in moral terms by staff and by other members of their units. Treatment goals, such as being honest, not manipulating others, and modifying a generally unacceptable code of conduct, are also moral.

It is, in short, the moral nature of OCI’s programmes which make them so similar to the Niantic programme. It should make an OCI programme more effective if the underlying philosophy were made explicit by structuring it to reflect the psychological theory of stage-by-stage moral development. To do this would require only five innovations, compared with present OCI programmes.

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