Les Conquetes Recentes de La Psychiatrie (1898) PDF criminologist, scientific racist, physician, and founder of the Italian School of Positivist Criminology. Venetia, on 6 November 1835 to a wealthy Jewish family. Lombroso’s general theory suggested that criminals are distinguished from noncriminals by multiple physical anomalies.
He postulated that criminals represented a reversion to a primitive or subhuman type of person characterized by physical features reminiscent of apes, lower primates, and early humans and to some extent preserved, he said, in modern « savages ». Besides the « born criminal », Lombroso also described « criminaloids », or occasional criminals, criminals by passion, moral imbeciles, and criminal epileptics. In Criminal Woman, as introduced in an English translation by Nicole Hahn Rafter and Mary Gibson, Lombroso used his theory of atavism to explain women’s criminal offending. In the text, Lombroso outlines a comparative analysis of « normal women » opposed to « criminal women » such as « the prostitute.
Lombroso’s research methods were clinical and descriptive, with precise details of skull dimension and other measurements. He did not engage in rigorous statistical comparisons of criminals and non-criminals. Lombroso’s theories were disapproved throughout Europe, especially in schools of medicine, with Alexandre Lacassagne in France, but not in the United States, where sociological studies of crime and the criminal predominated. Self-proclaimed the founder of modern scientific psychiatry, Lombroso is purported to have coined the term criminology.
He institutionalized the science of psychiatry in universities. Through his various publications, Lombroso established a school of psychiatry based on biological determinism and the idea that mental illness was via genetic factors. A person’s predisposition to mental illness was determinable through his appearance, as explained in the aforementioned criminal atavism segment. Through his observations of sex workers and criminals, Lombroso hypothesized a correlation between left-handedness, criminality, and degenerate behavior. He also propagated the idea that left-handedness lead to other disabilities, by linking left-handedness with neurodegeneration and alcoholism. Despite his stance on inherited immorality and biologically-destined criminal behavior, Lombroso believed in socialism and supposedly sympathized with stigmatization of lower socioeconomic statuses, placing him at odds with the biological determinism he espoused. Within the penal system, Lombroso’s work led to new forms of punishment, where occasionally punishment varied based on the defendant’s biological background.