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Lombroso, Cesare

Lombroso, Cesare

WORKS BY LOMBROSO

SUPPLEMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

Born of Jewish parents in Verona, Cesare Lombroso (1835–1909), the Italian criminologist, was educated by the Jesuits; he received a degree in medicine from the University of Pavia in 1858 and a degree in surgery from the University of Genoa in 1859. At various times he was an army physician and in charge of the insane at several hospitals, but his major positions, all at the University of Turin, were those of professor of legal medicine and public hygiene, 1876; professor of psychiatry and clinical psychiatry, 1896; and professor of criminal anthropology, 1906. Although he wrote extensively about such diverse subjects as pellagra, the nervous system, and genius, he came into prominence with his major work,L’uomo delinquents, first published in 1876. The book went through five editions in Italy and was translated into various European languages, although never into English.

Lombroso was influenced by French positivism, German materialism, and English evolutionism. In particular, he was influenced by Auguste Comte; Charles Darwin; Bénédict Morel, the French alienist who developed a theory of degeneracy; Bartolomeo Panizza, the Pavian comparative anatomist; Carl Rokitanski, the Viennese pathologist; and Enrico Ferri, his principal younger colleague, who suggested to him the term “the born criminal.”

Although Lombroso was aware of the importance of social and psychological factors in the causation of crime, his primary emphasis was on the concept of the atavistic criminal. He believed the atavistic criminal to be a biological throwback to an earlier stage of evolution, since inborn delinquency was not natural to contemporary mankind but peculiar to primitive races. The atavistic criminal could be identified by various anatomical, physiological, and psychic stigmata, different kinds of inborn delinquency being identifiable by different patterns of stigmata.

Lombroso later modified his ideas about criminal typology. Because in the first edition of L’uomo delinquente he had focused his attention so exclusively on such anatomical and anthropometric data as skull measurements and facial asymmetries, he had been led to an excessive emphasis on one type of criminal and one theory of criminal causation, atavistic criminality. In later editions he expanded his investigations and consequently his theory, adding degeneracy as a cause of criminality and considering atavism to be a form of degeneracy. Although his theoretical linking of atavism and degeneracy was challenged by biologists, it did widen his original narrow concept of the born criminal, which had been the primary point of attack of his critics. Lombroso’s investigations also revealed that the born criminal had pathological symptoms in common with the moral imbecile and the epileptic, and this led him to expand his typology to include the insane criminal and the epileptic criminal. The insane criminal type includes the alcoholic, the mattoid, and the hysterical criminal. Further additions to the typology include the criminaloid—a criminal qualitatively similar to the born criminal but differing quantitatively from him —who had become a criminal more from precipitating external factors than from predisposing internal ones; the pseudocriminal; the habitual criminal; and the person who commits a crime of passion.

Although Lombroso did not believe that all criminal behavior is of organic origin, there is no doubt that he never completely relinquished his belief in the existence of the born criminal type. However, in the fifth and last edition of L’uomo delinquente in 1896–1897 reduced his estimate of the proportion of this type to 40 per cent of the total criminal population, and in his introduction to his daughter Gina’s summary of his work,Criminal Man (1911), he reduced it still further. In response to suggestions by friends and attacks by critics he also came to give more attention to factors in the physical and social environment of the offender. For example, in Crime: Its Causes and Remedies (1899) he not only revised the estimate of the born criminal to 33 percent of the criminal population but also discussed social circumstances which might be partially responsible for encouraging a variety of transmissible biological anomalies that in turn would function within and affect the social structure.

Lombroso was not entirely opposed to the death penalty but believed it should be used only as a last resort. He favored attempts to readjust the criminal and suggested a doctrine of symbiosis of crime, whereby society would make use of the labor arid aptitudes of offenders. Included in this doctrine is the idea of the compensation of the victims of crime from the proceeds of work done by prisoners.

Lombroso’s work influenced criminologica] thinking principally by redirecting emphasis from a legalistic concern for crime to a scientific study of the criminal. His approach is most evident in the clinical criminology of Benigno Di Tullio and his associates in Italy.

Marvin E. Wolfgang

[see alsoCriminology; Delinquency, article onPsychological Aspects; Penology; Psychology, article onConstitutional Psychology; andPsychopathicPersonality.]

WORKS BY LOMBROSO

(1876) 1896–1897 L’uomo delinquente in rapporto all’-antropologia, alia giurisprudenza ed alle discipline carcerarie. 5th ed., 3 vols. Turin (Italy): Bocca.

(1893) 1927 LOMBROSO, CESARE; and FERRERO, GUGLIELMO La donna delinquente, la prostituta e la donnanormale. 5th ed. Turin (Italy): Bocca. → Partly translated as The Female Offender and published in 1958 by Philosophical Library.

(1897) 1907 Genio e degenerazione: Nuovi studie nuove battaglie. Palermo (Italy): Sandron.

(1899) 1911 Crime: Its Causes and Remedies. Boston: Little. → First published in Italian. A bibliography of the writings of Lombroso on criminal anthropology appears on pages 453-464.

SUPPLEMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

Di Tullio, Benigno 1959 Cesare Lombroso e la politica criminale moderna.La scuola positiva Series 4th 1:495–508.

Kurella, Hans G. (1910) 1911 Cesare Lombroso: A Modern Man of Science. London: Rebman. → First published in German.

Lombroso-Ferrero, Gina 1911 Criminal Man According to the Classification of Cesare Lombroso. New York and London: Putnam.

Lombroso-Ferrero, Gina (1915) 1921 Cesare Lombroso: Storia della vita e delle opere. 2d ed. Bologna (Italy): Zanichelli. → A short biography and a bibliography appear on pages 447-476.

Mannheim, Hermann 1936 Lombroso and His Place in Modern Criminology.Sociological Review 28:31-49.

Wolfgang, Marvin E. 1960 Cesare Lombroso. Pages 168–227 in Hermann Mannheim (editor),Pioneers in Criminology. London: Stevens.

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Cesare Lombroso

Cesare Lombroso

The Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909) devised the now-outmoded theory that criminality is determined by physiological traits. Called the father of modern criminology, he concentrated attention on the study of the individual offender.

Born in Verona on Nov. 6, 1835, Cesare Lombroso studied medicine at the universities of Pavia, Padua, Vienna, and Genoa. His interests in psychology and psychiatry merged with his study of the physiology and anatomy of the brain and ultimately led to his anthropometric analysis of criminals. While he was in charge of the insane at hospitals in Pavia, Pesaro, and Reggio Emilia (1863-1872), his interest in physiognomical characteristics of the mentally disturbed increased.

In 1876 Lombroso became professor of legal medicine and public hygiene at the University of Turin. That year he wrote his most important and influential work, L'uomo delinquente, which went through five editions in Italian and was published in various European languages but never in English. A deep and lasting friendship developed between Lombroso and his chief student, Enrico Ferri, who became Italy's leading criminologist.

Concept of Atavism

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 man characterized by physical features reminiscent of apes, lower primates, and early man and to some extent preserved, he said, in modern "savages." The behavior of these biological "throwbacks" will inevitably be contrary to the rules and expectations of modern civilized society.

Through years of postmortem examinations and anthropometric studies of criminals, the insane, and normal individuals, Lombroso became convinced that the "born criminal" (reo nato, a term given by Ferri) could be anatomically identified by such items as a sloping forehead, ears of unusual size, asymmetry of the face, prognathism, excessive length of arms, asymmetry of the cranium, and other "physical stigmata." Specific criminals, such as thieves, rapists, and murderers, could be distinguished by specific characteristics, he believed. Lombroso also maintained that criminals had less sensibility to pain and touch; more acute sight; a lack of moral sense, including an absence of remorse; more vanity, impulsiveness, vindictiveness, and cruelty; and other manifestations, such as a special criminal argot and the excessive use of tattooing.

Besides the "born criminal, " Lombroso also described "criminaloids, " or occasional criminals, criminals by passion, moral imbeciles, and criminal epileptics. He recognized the diminished role of organic factors in many habitual offenders and referred to the delicate balance between predisposing factors (organic, genetic) and precipitating factors (environment, opportunity, poverty).

Lombroso's research methods were clinical and descriptive, with precise details of skull dimension and other measurements. But he did not enjoy the benefits of rigorous statistical comparisons of criminals and noncriminals. Adequate control groups, which he lacked, might have altered his general conclusions. Although he gave some recognition in his later years to psychological and sociological factors in the etiology of crime, he remained convinced of, and identified with, criminal anthropometry. He died in Turin on Oct. 19, 1909.

Lombroso's theories were influential throughout Europe, especially in schools of medicine, but not in the United States, where sociological studies of crime and the criminal predominated. His notions of physical differentiation between criminals and noncriminals were seriously challenged by Charles Goring (The English Convict, 1913), who made elaborate comparisons and found insignificant statistical differences.

Further Reading

A useful study of Lombroso is H. G. Kurella, Cesare Lombroso: A Modern Man of Science (trans. 1911). See also Hermann Mannheim, ed., Pioneers in Criminology (1960). □

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Lombroso, Cesare (1836-1909)

Lombroso, Cesare (1836-1909)

Italian psychiatrist, criminal anthropologist, and psychic investigator. He was born on November 18, 1836, at Verona, and studied at Padua, Vienna, and Paris. In 1862 he began his professional career as a professor of psychiatry at Pavia, then served successively as director of the lunatic asylum at Pesaro, professor of forensic medicine and psychiatry at Turin, and finally professor of criminal anthropology.

In 1872 he investigated the disease known as pellagra and concluded that in Italy it was caused by a poison in diseased maize eaten by the peasants. He also researched madness and genius, about which he authored several books, then turned his attention to psychic research. His later studies in criminal behavior were conducted concurrently with his psychic investigations.

His involvement in the paranormal resulted from an article he wrote for the July 1888 Fanfulla della Domenica on the "Influence of Civilization and Opportunity of Genius." In it he concluded:

"Who knows whether I and my friends who laugh at spiritism are not in error, since, just like hypnotised persons, thanks to the dislike of novelties which lurks in all of us, we are unable to perceive that we are in error, and just like many lunatics, being in the dark as regards the truth, we laugh at those who are not in the same condition."

After reading this article, Cavaliere Ercole Chiaia of Naples addressed an open letter to Lombroso and invited him to sittings with the medium Eusapia Palladino in Naples. In March 1891 Lombroso accepted the invitation. With Professors Tamburini, Bianchi, and Violi and Drs. Ascenzi, Prenta, Limoncelli, Gigli, and Ciolfi, Lombroso witnessed the extraordinary medium. In a subsequent letter to Ciolfi, the reporter of the sittings, Lombroso openly declared: "I am ashamed and grieved at having opposed with so much tenacity the possibility of the socalled spiritistic facts; I say the facts because I am still opposed to the theory. But the facts exist, and I boast of being a slave to facts."

Lombroso's admission caused a great sensation in Italy. As a direct consequence, a memorable series of sittings was held with the same medium in October 1892 at Dr. Finzi's house in Milan. The facts were completely confirmed for Lombroso, who pursued his research assiduoulsy. He conducted experiments in thought-transmission and contributed many articles on the phenomena of mediumship to the 1896 Archivio di Psichiatria. His investigation of a haunted house in Turin is of special interest (see poltergeist ).

In 1900 Lombroso wrote to M. T. Falcomer: "I am like a little pebble on the beach. As yet I am uncovered; but I feel that each tide draws me a little closer to the sea."

In 1901 and 1902 Lombroso participated at further sittings with Palladino in Genoa and in 1907 in Turin. He came progressively to accept the spirit hypothesis, and, against the protests of friends who believed he would ruin an honorable reputation, he published his findings After DeathWhat? (1909).

The book is richly illustrated and presents a very lucid and sincere account of the phenomena of mediumship. Lombroso's chief credit was his fearless confession to the truth of his strange observations at a period when, despite the courage of William Crookes, Alfred Russel Wallace and J. C. F. Zöllner, the physical phenomena of Spiritualism were held in utter disdain. Following Lombroso's open declaration, a group of scientists resolved to put aside prejudice and investigate in a serious frame of mind.

Lombroso died suddenly at Turin on October 19, 1909.

Sources:

Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York: Paragon House, 1991.

Lombroso, Cesare. After DeathWhat? Boston: Small, Maynard, 1909.

. The Man of Genius. London: Scott, 1891.

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Lombroso, Cesare

Cesare Lombroso (chĕ´zärā lōmbrô´zō), 1835–1909, Italian criminologist and physician. In 1876 he published a pamphlet setting forth his theory of the origin of criminal traits. In the study, later enlarged into the famous L'uomo delinquente (5th ed., 3 vol., 1896–97; partial tr. as Criminal Man, 1911), he compared anthropological measurements and developed the concept of the atavistic, or born, criminal. In his later works, less importance was given to that concept. Although the scientific validity of the concept has been questioned by other criminologists, Lombroso is still credited with turning attention from the legalistic study of crime to the scientific study of the criminal. Lombroso advocated humane treatment of criminals and limitations on the use of the death penalty.

See biography by H. G. Kurella (tr. 1911).

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Lombroso, Cesare

Lombroso, Cesare (1836–1909) An Italian army physician who developed the theory of the criminal type. Although he modified his views over his life, he is primarily known for studying the physiognomies of criminals, and suggesting that much crime was biological and hereditary, theorizing from Darwinian evolutionary theory that many criminals were atavistic throwbacks to an earlier and more primitive species. He is often considered to be the founder of modern positivist criminology.

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