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This research is an exploratory study aimed at examining the psychological processes underlying desistance from offending based on the lived experience of seven ex-offenders. A phenomenological approach was chosen and the research used qualitative semi-structured interviewing in order to collect rich data regarding the self-narratives of participants. Research findings confirmed several themes already prominent in the desistance literature including the importance of psychological maturation, the role of choice, the importance of the individuals’ self concept, the role of ‘making good’ and cognitive change in the area of thought processes and attitudes to offending. In addition several themes emerged which are under-discussed in the contemporary desistance literature including the relationship between the psychology of addiction recovery and desistance, the evolution of empathy and the importance of identifying, experiencing and expressing emotion. The dissertation concludes by discussing the relevance of the psychology of desistance in terms of penal measures and the reintegration of ex-offenders along with making a number of recommendations for further research.
O'Sullivan, T. (2013) The Great Epoch: An Exploration of the Psychology of Desistance from Offending. Masters Dissertation, Dublin Institute of Technology.