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The Male Born Criminal :: Crime, Scandal, Spectacle

The Male Born Criminal

The most noticeable physical anomalies found in the male born criminal are in his face and skull, which make him resemble primitive and savages races. These criminals were believed to be noticeable in society because they looked as if they did not belong in that time, due to their atavistic features such as “prognathism, thick and crisp hair, thin beards,

Murderers that Lombroso believed had features tied to criminal activity

Murderers that Lombroso believed had features tied to criminal activity

dark skin, pointed skulls, oblique eyes, small craniums, overdeveloped jaws, receding foreheads, large ears, muscular weakness” (Lombroso, 57). Another special anomaly possessed by the male born criminal is that of having excessively long arms, which can be compared to those of apes, as well as big spaces in between their toes and flat feet.

To supplement these anomalies, Lombroso made an examination of the sensory and functional peculiarities of the born criminal and came to the conclusion that unlike the common men, criminals are rather insensitive to pain and their tactile sensibility is also less developed. This is also true about other sense such as sight, hearing, taste and smell which are not as acute in criminals as in normal men.

Among the personality traits found in the born criminal, the most striking one is his lack of ability in recognizing the difference between right and wrong. He rarely feels the distress of remorse, rarely confesses his crime and, if he finds himself convicted, he protests claiming that he is “a victim of injustice, calumny and jealousy” (Ferrero, 29). The born criminal is treacherous, he will turn in his companions if he knows he will be benefited from it; he is vain; he is impulsive; he is vindictive, lazy and reckless.

Illustrations from Lombroso's L'Homme Deliquete

Illustrations from Lombroso’s L’Homme Deliquete

Included in this category of born criminal we can find the epileptic criminal who is the kind of offender that has extremely violent reactions, but after committing the crime remains calm and without any recollection of what had happened. He just fells nauseous and suffers from a migraine but otherwise has a complete loss of memory and believes he is not responsible for his actions. The epileptic has the same physical characteristics as the born criminal, with the only difference that at some point in his life, the epileptic suffers from fits “due to a rapid and excessive explosion of the gray matter, which, instead of developing its force gradually, develops it all of a sudden because it is irritated” (Ferrero, 60). It is during these epileptic fits that the criminal undergoes a complete personality change and is filled with a craving for violence and destruction, even though he does not remember it afterward. 

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