Class 7b - Biological Positivism.docx

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16 Mar 2012

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Cold-blooded killer: no remorse, no empathy, sociopath, no feeling for victim etc.
Biological Positivism
Criminals are biologically different than non-criminals. The individual is
biologically inferior, their makeup and genes make them different from non-
criminals, due to this, and their pathologies can be identified and measured with
scientific method
What is Phrenology?
This was one of the earliest explanations of crime and was created by Gall.
First attempt to measure a skull shape and determine character. Specific areas of
our brain determine traits and control of emotions. The more certain areas are
used in the brain, the larger it would become. This would result in the pushing on
the skull causing a bump. (The more you workout at the gym on certain muscles,
the larger that muscle will be).
Technically they read the bumps, run palms and fingers of the skull and if they
find a bump it meant that area was used the most and from there it would be
determined. Friendliness, firmness, secretiveness etc. there were 26-30 different
areas or facilities
Identified 26-35 special faculties of the brain:
Faculty: Crime:
Destructiveness Murder
Secretiveness Treason or Fraud
Combativeness Assault or Murder
Acquisitiveness Theft or Robbery
3 Regions of the Brain
Intellectual faculties
Moral sentiments
Lower function
o Most concerned with. This one was associated with criminal behaviour;
this section could be kept in check by the other two regions. (Similar to
ID, ego and superego)
Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909)
Provided medical services in army and prison
Compared physical characteristics of individuals
Heavily influenced by Darwins theory of evolution
Italian physician and surgeon he emphasized the importance of studying the scientific
method. Provided medical service to soldiers, he used these soldiers and measured
physical differences between them. Concluded individuals with tattoos were more likely
to engage in criminal activity. He had access to prisons and studied inmates and people
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within the community. Things such has size of skull, ears, eyes nose etc. Micro approach.
Anyone who was not in the western society was inferior
Social Darwinism the belief that different people are at different evolutionary stages in
society, some people are more evolved than others, some may be closer to the chimp side
in looks and actions.
Ethnocentric Viewpoint one group is superior to another (race, etc.)
In the Words of Lombroso…
At the sight of that skull, I seemed to see all at once, standing out clearly illuminated as
in a vast plain under a flaming sky, the problem of the nature of the criminal.
The Born Criminal
Shares characteristics with inferior races, the insane and MOST importantly
with prehistoric man
o It is because of this biological inferiority, they are more likely to be
criminals, and thus criminals are born and not created.
Atavists live by their instincts
Atavism manifests itself in certain physical characteristics
5 or more stigmata = born criminal
o These people will have outer characteristics and physical marks that create
a difference between them and non-criminals, these were called stigmata.
Extra toes, fingers, nipples etc.
Lack of moral sense (taste smell etc.)
Insensitivity to pain, tattoos
Atavism and Crime
Atavism + Defective Genes mental and physical inferiority inability to learn and
follow legal rules criminal behaviour
The Female Offender (1895)
Women are biological throwbacks
Criminal women possess an excess of masculine traits and preoccupation with
Showed little stigmata. Why?
Female criminality was rare
What is the missing category of crime that would account for more female
o Prostitution, if it was included it would have changed the impression that
women weren‟t engaging in as much crime
Argued that women in general are less evolved than men
Expanded Criminal Typology
Born criminal
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