Cesare Lombroso And His Criminal Atlas

Cesare Lombroso, physician and anthropologist, is considered the father of criminology.
Cesare Lombroso and his criminal atlas

Cesare Lombroso’s name is closely linked to the history of criminology. His classification method has long been the primary tool for profiling offenders. Some of his theories are still the subject of debate in the field of law today.

Cesare Lombroso, physician and anthropologist, is considered the father of criminology. His essay “The Delinquent Man” represents the first attempt to collect data in a systemic way. Together with Enrico Ferri and Raffaele Garofalo, he was one of the great representatives of positivist criminology.

Lombroso’s thinking was strongly influenced by Darwin’s theories. In this sense, the anthropologist went so far as to say that criminals are “the missing link” between ape and man.

The culmination of Lombroso’s work was his classification of delinquents. He divided them into: born criminals, moral insane, epileptic, insane criminals, criminals out of passion, habitual and second-hand. Let’s see how he defined each of the categories.

The born criminal of Cesare Lombroso

Lombroso was convinced that it was possible to establish a person’s  tendency to commit crime starting from his physical characteristics. This approach therefore suggests that a criminal shows evident signs of physical and psychic inferiority.

The born criminal, according to Lombrosian theories, is characterized by elements such as small skull, large eye sockets, receding forehead, bulge at the base of the head. From a psychological point of view, on the other hand, he has an insensitive, impulsive and incapable of feeling remorse.

Cesare Lombroso Museum

Moral crazy criminal

Moral delinquents are seldom interned in criminal asylums. They are often found, however, in prisons or brothels. They are cunning, rude, vain and selfish.

Physically, they have a prominent jaw in common with the born criminal. The face has several asymmetries. However, in this case it is easier to recognize them by their behavior rather than their appearance. They simulate madness and this aspect can be identified from childhood.

Epileptic offender

Lombroso considered epilepsy a sign of the criminal. It could occur habitually, with seizures, or with no apparent symptoms. In both cases he considered her to be one of the most dangerous categories of offenders.

He defines them as laziness, love for animals and a vain and destructive attitude. A certain tendency to suicide is also reported. Together with the moral insane, it is the only group that associates in crime.

notebook of notes by Cesare Lombroso

Crazy thug

Cesare Lombroso distinguishes between delinquent insane and true insane ones. The truly insane are sick and do not answer for their actions. The insane delinquents, on the other hand, commit a crime and go mad later in prison.

He divides this group into three types: alcoholics, hysterics and madmen. The first commits a crime under the influence of alcohol. The hysteric has a strong tendency to lie and a natural inclination towards eroticism. The fool is on the line between sanity and insanity. Delinque acting on impulse.

The passionate delinquent by Cesare Lombroso

The passionate offender acts on impulse and is moved by noble causes. The ignoble passions are instead limited to common criminals. It has no particular physical traits, rather harmonic. The age typically fluctuates between 20 and 30 years.

This type of criminal is very sensitive and feels strong remorse after committing the crime. Sometimes he attempts suicide. The reasons that push him to commit a crime can be three: mourning, infanticide and political passion.

Second-hand criminal

Second-hand offenders are further classified into pseudo-criminals and criminaloids. The former commit three types of crime: involuntary, without perversion (almost always motivated by necessity) and in self-defense.

Portraits of criminals

Criminaloids are those who commit delinquency motivated by circumstances. In normal situations they would not. even if they are predisposed.

Lombroso’s theories and classification of criminals remained valid for some time, and then decayed. Several inadmissible gaps appeared in the scientific method.

It was also a dangerous theory that favored prejudice as well as supporting the “complete elimination” of the criminal.

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