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Velma Barfield's Strain Theory Essay

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From Life to ‘Death Row Granny’ What comes to mind when thinking of grandmothers? Cookies, acts of spoiling, and love are just a few, but what does not come to mind may be something like arsenic killings. Yet, in Velma Barfield’s case, one might want to ponder this carefully. Obviously, arsenic poisoning is not something a normal grandmother would be known for, so it is not striking to assume some sort of strain took place in Barfield’s life. Indeed, the Strain Theory could possibly be one way to explain such erroneous behavior. Strain Theory is Robert Merton’s take on Emile Durkheim’s concept of anomie which essentially says deviance is most likely to occur when there is a gap between goals and ways of obtaining them that are legal and safe. Velma Barfield’s heinous crimes can be dissected and examined using Strain Theory and three distinct happenings of her life which led to the murders of seven people. The first incident can be…show more content…
To cope with the stress at home, Velma was “hospitalized and treated with sedatives and vitamins. Once home, she gradually increased her prescription drug use and went to different doctors to get multiple prescriptions of Valium to feed her growing addiction” (Montaldo, 2017). Velma’s rejection of the goal (staying sober) but use of (kinda) legitimate means to obtain prescriptions can be classified as ritualistic, and it is to no surprise that this behavior eventually evolved into rebellion and stuck with Velma longer than her husbands did. Velma’s use of prescription pills, mainly painkillers, sent a tornado through her already ravaged life. This may have caused her to begin poisoning people as she clearly did not see her drug addiction as a problem, and therefore, her values can be only seen as incorrect. If taking drugs did not bother Velma enough to see the pain it caused her family, who is to say that murder would be no
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