Affect act

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An affect action (or short-circuit action ) is a reactive action , the process of which is not mastered by the person performing it and which is motivated by emotionally stimulated emotions ( affects ) that are felt intensely and usually last for a relatively short time . These can be feelings of anger , anger , fear and anger .

In a criminological context, affective actions arise mostly from long-standing emotionally-affective attitudes, such as jealousy , disappointment, hurt or vindictiveness , which are emotionally charged and, when acute, through provocative actions or situations, lead to a strong arousal of emotions. Affects are the dominant element in acts of aggression by irritable people, in panic and flight reactions , such as those that occur after road traffic accidents, in partnership conflicts and jealousy situations, in spontaneous sexual lapses and in suicidal acts.

With the aggressively tinted affects, the aspect of the “pathetic” appears important. This implies that something seems to happen to the emotionally aroused subjectively rather than actively doing something. The idea of ​​a more passive “being seized” by the anger is probably the root of the assumption that has always been popular that the perpetrator is not fully responsible for an act committed in the highest anger.

Affective excitement can lead to explosive reactions and short-circuit actions, in which massive affects are directly and aggressively discharged without restrained deliberation and without passing "the filter of the total personality".

Characteristic features

Characteristic features of affect actions are the specific previous history of the crime with a special perpetrator-victim relationship and the initial emotional situation before the crime at the end of this development. Most acts of affect are usually preceded by a period of severe internal and external conflict lasting weeks or years. The accumulation of traumatizing events can lead to chronic affect tension or a so-called affect accumulation. The experience of the future perpetrator is increasingly determined by hope and fear, by the conflicts and the simultaneous effort to control the increasing tension . The attempt at control does not bring a solution to the situation, but becomes the main cause of the increasing disruption of the motivational structure.

In this time before the act, there is a progressive attrition and labilization of the psychic forces through insurmountable experiences of failure and hurt. As the conflict situations escalate further, the long-lasting conflict situations develop into an increasing narrowing of experience, isolation, social outsourcing, self-alienation and inhibitions of drive. At the end of this situation there is a characteristic affective initial situation that can be described with the image of the bucket full to the brim, which one last drop finally causes to overflow.

Personality traits

The disposing personality traits for affect actions are:

  • Explosibility
  • Mood lability
  • Tendency to dysphoric irritability and violent reactions
  • Insecurity
  • Instability
  • Tendency to escape and failure reactions

So it is often the shy and reserved-looking, quiet and introverted people who allow themselves to be carried away in a storm of affect to a severe act of aggression that is completely in contrast to their character and their previous lifestyle.

Favorable factors such as:

  • Influence of alcohol
  • Drug influence
  • exhaustion
  • fatigue
  • vegetative regulation disorders

Psychopathologically, there is impaired impulse control in various psychological disorders , for example in an emotionally unstable personality disorder .

Legal meaning

Criminal law

In Germany, the exercise can an act on impulse ( crime of passion ) mitigate punishment according to § 21 of the Criminal Code or, because of a profound disturbance of consciousness within the meaning of § 20 of the Criminal Code, for Insanity lead. It is mostly the job of psychiatrists and psychologists to assess whether such a condition existed at the time of the crime .

Similar legal institutions in other countries:

  • France: Crime passionnel , often translated as “crime of passion”, traditionally applied primarily to acts of jealousy and judged mildly
  • USA: Temporary insanity , first used as a defense argument in 1859 in the trial of Daniel E. Sickles , who murdered his wife's lover, then used more frequently, especially in the 1930s and 1940s

civil right

If someone commits an unauthorized act in the affect, the responsibility for the damage ("criminal capacity") can be excluded according to § 827 BGB. If this is the case, an insurer is obliged to perform despite the deliberate causing of the damage ( Section 103 VVG ).

One-off emotional expressions in affect, for example in social networks, do not justify the termination of an employment contract or tenancy .

Web links

Wiktionary: Affekthandlung  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


Individual evidence

  1. ^ Affekthandlung - Lexicon of Neuroscience. In: Retrieved January 27, 2016 .
  2. ^ Affekt - Lexicon of Neuroscience. In: Retrieved January 27, 2016 .
  3. Sascha Böttner: BGH: An affective act can also have built up over a long period of time to BGH, decision of August 7, 2012 - 2 StR 218/12
  4. BGH, judgment of June 28, 1995 - 3 StR 72/95
  5. Mohammad Zoalfikar Hasan: The judicial psychiatric expert website of the Ministry for Justice and Equal Opportunities Saxony-Anhalt / District Court Stendal, accessed on June 10, 2016
  6. Werner Lücke: VR bears the burden of proof for deliberately causing the damage IWW Institute, December 1, 2012
  7. ^ Labor Court Duisburg, judgment of September 26, 2012 - 5 Ca 949/12
  8. Can the rent be canceled due to insult? Die Welt , February 5, 2012