Attacks on police due to ‘Frustration-Aggression’ - Psychologist
A psychologist has said ‘Frustration Aggression Theory’, a discipline in psychology; best explains increasing attacks on the police by citizens.
According to Samuel Wiafe, disregard and mistrust for state officials, crowd psychology, stress and mental disorders are some of the causes of the attacks.
Recounting some recent attacks on agents of the state on the AM Show on the Joy News channel on Thursday Mr. Wiafe bemoaned how firefighters from Kade, who had responded to a distress call to put off fire ravaging the Asamankesse Market, were pelted with stones by the same people who called them.
Not only did firefighters sustain serious injuries, police and fire service vehicles were also damaged.
Prior to this incident, a driver and his mate had publicly beaten a police officer who arrested them for breaking a traffic regulation.
The two, Francis Buabeng, 26 and Albert Ansah, 33, were remanded in police custody but later granted bail by a Weija Circuit Court in the Greater Accra region.
As if that was not enough, at least two persons have sustained injuries at Nuaso in the Eastern Region after a protest against erratic power supply turned bloody.
According to eyewitnesses, the protestors, mainly from the Nuaso Township, marched towards Somanya on Wednesday evening to attack the Power Distribution Services (PDS) office which serves towns in the area.
Explaining the triggering factors for the excessive public display of anger towards officialdom, Samuel Wiafe said contrary to the conservative belief that people are not supposed to manifest anger, “emotions play a role in our daily lives.”
In his view, the public anger is in part due to loss of trust in the security agencies. According to him, reported cases of crime such as armed robbery which involved security persons have waned public trust in them.
Again he argues that the public no longer respects the police and the security services because of misconduct such as bribe-taking and bullying of the civilian population.
Alluding to the Bible, he said “if the salt loses its taste, of what use is it? The people no longer see the need for them.
“We see a lot of bullying, money-taking, arresting people and assaulting them. The people have become angry,” he said.
Aggressive civilian behaviour towards agents of the state is also due to poor mental health. “People have mental illnesses that can make them violent. Assuming that one was brutalized by the police in the past, they take their anger to the next security officers they see,” he said.
Again personality disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are a cause of aggressive behaviour. This is a personality disorder that typically includes the following symptoms: inappropriate or extreme emotional reactions.
Another disorder likely to elicit violent behaviour is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). This is a personality disorder with a long-term pattern of abnormal behaviour characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, excessive need for admiration, and a lack of empathy.
Stress is another factor. Samuel Wiafe explained that marital problems, job losses and financial challenges can make people displace their anger on others unconnected with what has incensed them.
Another factor is group psychology. According to this principle, when people are in groups they act in a manner they would otherwise not have exhibited if they were alone.
The last situation is those who are paid to act violently for whatever purpose. “Others are pushing them. They have been incentivized to do that,” he said.