Yurii Irkhin, the Head of the Department of Psychological Research of Kyiv Scientific Research Institute of Forensic Expertise in an interview with journalists of the «Priamyi» TV channel told about the peculiarities of a person’s stay in a specific psychological state of affect. According to him, the affect is a particularly interesting phenomenon and in translation means «explosion». Controlling the external behavior of the person becomes impossible in this case.
How does the state of affect generally appear and what does it mean?
Experts identify two types of affect: pathological is when consciousness and sub-consciousness are completely turned off, a person can perform only reflex actions that are beyond the control of the brain, and there is a second kind of affect – physiological – it is distinguished from the pathological by the fact that certain conscious brain functions remain as well as fully active subconscious functions. The absence of the domination of the subconscious mind, the will, eliminates the boundaries of sensations. In the state of physiological affect a person can make, at first glance, conscious actions, but in fact his consciousness will remain uncontrolled.
This particular state is the most interesting to consider in a criminal context. Pathological affect, as a matter of fact, is diagnosed quite easily – it is a total loss of consciousness and the implementation of reflex actions. A classic example for a conditional comparison is the execution in the middle Ages. After death, the body could perform certain reflex movements that are beyond the control of consciousness.
In the field of criminalistics and forensic science, more attention is paid to the state of physiological affect. Externally, the person looks conscious and keeps self-control, in fact; a person cannot keep himself/herself in the hands because of the disturbance of the person’s mental processes.
This state can occur as a result of what?
There are a lot of materials in the criminal law on this subject. Unfortunately, psychologists and psychiatrists are not allowed to interpret such articles, mitigating or excluding blame as a result of a specific mental state. These points are interpreted by lawyers from their point of view. For example, strong emotional excitement in accordance with criminal law is the main component of affect. In fact, a strong emotional excitement mental state is a state of a certain degree. Affect, unlike strong emotional excitement, excludes certain control functions over behavior.
Very rarely there are critical cases when the affect occurs without emotional excitement. In such cases, an element of strong emotional excitement is present, but its latent time is so short that the environment and the person himself do not have time to fix it. For example, once suddenly takes a person to lose his/her temper – there is no compound of growth. Passing the element of growth, a person immediately turns into an explosive state and begins to act in the absence of volitional control.