Free Biological Theories In Criminology Essay Sample

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Criminal Justice, Crime, Social Issues, Victimology, Anthropology, Education, People, Development

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/12/01


In the 80 years of the XIX century in criminal law (mainly in Western Europe) appears anthropological or biological area which received a further special distribution in Nazi Germany and among the reactionary circles of different modern countries. The founder of this direction was an Italian doctor Cesare Lombroso (1836- 1909), who outlined his views in two books - "Criminal Man" and "Crime, its causes and means of treatment." As a doctor by education, Lombroso for a long period practiced in the field of medicine. He has gained considerable popularity in Italy as a specialist in the treatment of pellagra, in Pesaro led clinic for the mentally ill, where he conducted an interesting study of the dependence of behavior of the mentally ill on the climate and weather. Later he became a professor of forensic medicine and psychiatry, and then head of the department of criminal anthropology at the University of Turin. Interest in the study of criminals originated when he was engaged in psychiatry. At that time were still fresh memories of the attitude towards the mentally ill as criminals. At the beginning professor noticed a link between criminal behavior and epilepsy. Then there was an idea to conduct a more deep research of the criminal phenomenon. Position of Professor of Forensic Medicine presented him an extensive factual material. His grandiose fame began with a little work, to which he gave a very original name "criminal man."
Ideas about the relationship of body and soul were expressed long before Lombroso. Perhaps the most ancient area of knowledge in this regard was palmistry, which claimed that by studying the human hand, it is possible to determine his nature and predict future actions. Certain statements on this subject we find at Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas. Very close to the basic study of the issue were phrenologists of the XIX century. Founder of phrenology Austrian physician and anatomist Franz Joseph Gall asserted that in the human brain can be found 27 basic human abilities. According to Gall, we can determine places in the brain, whence come the inducement to murder, theft. Differences in brain convolutions can be easily defined by shape of the skull, by the presence of certain bumps, and so on. (Francis et al., 2010)

The essence of biological theory

C. Lombroso tried to establish a new science - criminal anthropology. In the center of his studies Lombroso put the criminal. "Explore the identity of the offender not abstractly, not in the quiet of your office, not from books and theories but in life itself: in prisons, hospitals, police stations, in the boarding house, among criminal gangs and societies, in range of vagrants and prostitutes, alcoholics and the mentally ill, in an atmosphere of their lives, in conditions of their material existence. Then you will understand that the crime is not an accidental phenomenon and not a product of "evil will", but quite natural and not preventable act. The offender is a special creature that is different from other people. This is a kind of anthropological type which is induced to crime due to multiple properties and characteristics of his organization. Therefore, the crime in human society is as natural as throughout the organic world. Plants commit crimes by killing and eating insects. Animals cheat, steal, rob, kill and devour each other. "- in this brief passage from the book" Criminal Man" concentrated basic ideas of Lombrosian theory.
The basic idea of Lombroso is that the offender is a special natural type, more sick than guilty. Person does not become e a criminal, criminality is inherited. Criminals are two-legged tigers among people; they are predators, which can not adapt to the normal human conditions and, because of their mental and physical qualities they can only kill, plunder and rape. Material conditions, social status do not play any role in the formation of crime, or, in extreme cases, their role is secondary. We find fierce villains among the kings and the rich, and, conversely, the most honest people - among the poor. Therefore, the problem of crime rests on the identity of the offender, his mental and physical features. As among animals, there are tigers and horses, and among mankind there have been and will be criminals and honest people. Tiger can not be turned into a pet, and the offender can not be corrected. As a born criminal, Lombroso believed, sooner or later have to commit a crime, there is no need to wait for this moment: criminals should be ruthlessly destroyed, or, in extreme cases - isolated. It is completely pointless to judge them. (Charles, 1912)

Features of a born criminal

Lombroso pays special attention to the development of signs of criminal. According to research of Lombroso, to anthropological characteristics of the criminal man applies a significant number of abnormal and degenerative features. A born criminal as Lombroso notes has anomalies of the skull. It reminds skulls of lower prehistoric human races. The brain of a born criminal by its convolutions also differs from normal human brain and is close to the structure of the brain of human embryo or animal. They are characterized by atavistic features: excessive hairy head and body, or early baldness, irregular arrangement of teeth (sometimes two rows), excessive development of central incisors, strabismus, facial asymmetry. Criminals have in general straight nose with a horizontal base, of moderate length, not too convex, often deflected to the side and a fairly wide. Criminals with red hair meet very seldom, mostly brunettes or brown-haired. Criminals’ wrinkles appear earlier and more often 2-5 times than at normal people, with a predominance of the zygomatic wrinkles (located in the middle of the cheeks). Their hands are too long - the length of the outstretched hands of the majority of born criminals exceeds their growth.
Like savages the born criminals like tattooing their bodies. They have reduced sensitivity and neglect to pain and their own health (15% of cases they have little or no pain sensitivity). Dullness of pain sensitivity (analgesia) is the most significant anomaly of the born offender. Persons, who have insensitivity to injuries, consider themselves privileged and despise gentle and sensitive people. To this rude people makes pleasure a constant torture of others whom they regard as inferior beings. This explains their indifference to other people's and their own lives, increased brutality, excessive violence. They have blunted moral sense (Lombroso even developed a new scientific concept - moral insanity). At the same time they are characterized by extreme excitability, temper and irritability. (Aman et al., 2012)

Typology of criminals

The researcher is not limited to the identification of common features of criminal man. He creates a typology – to each type of offender correspond his own characteristics.
Killers. In the type of murderers are clearly visible anatomical features of the offender, in particular, very sharp frontal sinus, very bulky cheekbones, huge eye orbits, jutting square chin. These most dangerous criminals have the curvature of the head; head width is greater than its height, narrow face (rear semicircle of the head is more developed than the front), most often black and curly hair, rare beard and short hands. The murderers also have cold and motionless (glass) look, bloodshot eyes, bent downwards (aquiline) nose, overly large or, conversely, too small earlobes, thin lips.
Thieves. The thieves have elongated heads, black hair and a thin beard, mental development is higher than other criminals except scams. Thieves, mostly have a straight nose, often concave, upturned at the base, short and broad, flattened, and in many cases deflected aside. Eyes and hands are movable (the thief escapes to meet with someone by direct gaze), they have shifty eyes.
Rapists. Rapists have bulging eyes, a gentle face, huge lips and eyelashes, flattened noses of moderate size, deflected to the side, most of them are lean and rachitic blondes.
Scammers. Fraudsters often have a good-natured appearance, their face is pale, eyes are small and severe, nose is curved, and head is bald.
Lombroso was able to identify handwriting features of different types of offenders. Handwriting of murderers, thieves and robbers differ by elongated letters and certain features in the endings of the letters. For handwriting of thieves are characteristic extended letters, without sharp contours and curvilinear endings. (Tania, 2009)

Approaches to the impact on criminality

As already noted, Lombroso considered criminals as patients (morally bonkers). Accordingly, the measures to influence them are similar to those on mad people. His views in this area, in addition to psychiatric practice, are significantly influenced by the theory of social protection, designed by E. Ferry. Criminals are not guilty, committing their crimes, because of innate properties of their body which put them in the need for their own protection. That’s why they deserve more pity than hatred. " In the early works Lombroso even offered to cancel the Institute of courts and replace it with the commission of psychiatrists, which using developed one of his followers tahiantropometry (Lombroso calls it anthropometric guillotine), would produce the relevant studies and draw conclusions about man's belonging to the class of born criminals. Later he abandoned this idea, recognized the need of the court and assigned the role of experts to anthropologists. (Tania, 2009)

The evolution of Lombroso’s ideas

Lombroso's views set out in the first edition of "criminal man" differed by definite unilateralism, which is understandable if we consider his extraordinary enthusiasm for anthropological ideas. Many of the conclusions and recommendations of Lombroso were naive, that was due to the lack of legal training of the scientist. Under the influence of his young compatriot Enrico Ferri, Lombroso largely changed and clarified his views. Changing the primary views of Lombroso under the influence of criticism and recommendations of E. Ferry and other scientists was so significant that the fifth edition of "criminal man", which was published in Turin in1897, was unlikely to be the work of a purely anthropological direction. Conclusions and statements of Lombroso become more cautious. He does not claim that the problem of crime is solved for him.
Indeed, it must be admitted that considering the critics the changes in attitudes of Lombroso occurred very significantly. First, he abandoned the notion of a criminal type of person, and adopted the proposed by E. Ferri term "born criminal" and stopped to consider all the criminals as innate. Ferri proposed division of offenders into five groups (the mentally ill, innate, habitual, casual and criminals of passion), and Lombroso accepted this classification, according to which natural-born criminals make up only 40% of all offenders.
Secondly, Lombroso largely under the influence of Ferri recognized a very significant role of social factors as causes of crime. The third volume of the latest editions of "criminal man" devoted to the analysis of neantropologic factors, including weather and climate, geography, level of civilization, the density of population, emigration, birth rate, nutrition, crop failures, the price of bread, alcohol, the influence of education, economic development, homelessness and orphanhood , the shortcomings of education, etc.
Third, he had to admit that the born criminal does not necessarily have to commit a crime. Under favorable external social factors criminal propensities of man can never be realized throughout his life. Thus, the use of anthropometric guillotine may be superfluous. Recognition of this situation, many scientists have regarded as the end of the anthropological school. (Mary Gibson et al., 2006)

The importance of Lombroso’s research

Level of Lombroso’s arguments demanded a sharp increase in the level of scientific research of many of his contemporaries. Thus, he gave a powerful impetus to conduction of numerous in-depth researches in the criminal sphere. Placing at the center of scientific research the person who commits an offense, Lombroso laid the foundation to profound systemic studies of personality of the criminal - opened the global direction of criminological search. Lombroso ideas about the relationship to the criminal as a sick man were imbued with humanism. Although Lombroso failed to realize the humanism in the system of impact on offenders, the humane aspirations of his theory had considerable importance.
Lombroso studies were very popular among practical workers. To his ardent supporters belonged the famous French criminologist Bertillon, who developed the anthropometric method of identifying criminals, as well as Galton and An-foso, who advanced on the basis of criminal anthropology the methods for identification of criminals. (Rebecca, 2000)


Aman Amrit Cheema. Ashish Virk. (2012). Reinventing Lombroso in the Era of Genetic Revolution: Whether Criminal Justice System Actually Imparts Justice or is Based on ‘Convenience of Assumption’? International Journal of Criminology and Sociological Theory, 2, 2-4.
Charles A. Ellwood. (1912). Lombroso's Theory of Crime. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Volume 2, 2-9.
Francis T. Cullen. Pamela Wilcox. (2010). Lombroso, Cesare: The Criminal Man. Encyclopedia of Criminological Theory, 2-7
Mary Gibson. Nicole Hahn Rafter. (2006). Criminal man. Duke University Press Books,69-77
Rebecca B. Fleming. (2000). Cesare Lombroso's Influence on Science and Popular Opinion, 197-211
Tania Risoleo. (2009). From education to crime: a critical approach of Italian question, 26-31

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