Criticism of Lombroso’s Work

Criminology has come a long way after the publication of Cesare Lombroso’s works, his theory of the born criminal has become almost obsolete and most scientists might even consider it to be funny. His famous median occipital fossa has been discredited and nowadays every skull is considered helpful for criminal profiling.

Among the many criticism that the Modern School of Criminology came up against, the born criminal came to be the object of most of them. The French criminologists who came after Lombroso believed that the Italians were mistaking atavism with what was in fact just “habit, imitation and socialization”. The born criminal, as the French believed, established a determinism that deprived men from their freedom, specially their freedom of choice, or freewill. They also criticized Lombroso’s use of the word “criminal” to refer to people who had been convicted or who were waiting to be convicted, therefore assuming that everyone convicted was actually a criminal. (Perez, 386)goring

A few wears after Lombroso’s death, a British physician called Charles Goring published a book in which he gives his account on a research similar to Lombroso which he conducted on over 3000 English convicts. After analyzing all the data collected, he stated that “no evidence has emerged confirming the existence of a physical criminal type, such as Lombroso and his disciples have described” (Goring, 96) and that “English criminals are selected by a physical condition, and a mental constitution which are independent of each other” (Goring, 184).

However outdated his research is, Lombroso’s essential place in the history of criminology cannot be denied, since he was the one who came up with the idea of a criminal anthropology that not only studied the physical traits of a criminal, but also his behavior.

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