Cesare Lombroso is considered to be the father of criminology. His criminal classifications were relevant for many years. Learn more about him in this article!
Cesare Lombroso is an extremely important figure in the history of crime fiction. His theories of classifying criminals were the most important tool people used to profile them over a long period of time. Some of his ideas are actually used to this day.
Cesare Lombroso was a physician and anthropologist. Many consider him to be the father of criminology. His book, Criminal Man, According to the Classification of Cesare Lombroso, is considered to be the first systematic list of criminal profiles.
Together with Enrico Ferri and Raffaele Garofalo, he became one of the most prominent figures in positive criminology.
Lombroso had been greatly inspired by Darwin’s theories of evolution. He even made a theory that criminals were ” the missing link ” between primates and modern humans.
His theory of criminals, and how to classify them, is still what is best known to him. Hans said that there were “born criminals”, criminaloid (occasional criminals,) moral imbeciles, people with a criminal passion and criminal epileptics.
Cesare Lombroso and his criminal classifications
Lombroso believed that you could see if some were criminals by looking at their physical characteristics. To him, the criminals were mentally and physically inferior in a way that was visible to the naked eye.
His physical classification of the born criminals involved a small skull, large eye sockets and sunken forehead, a fold in the lower part of the back of the head, and so on.
Psychologically, he said they were insensitive, impulsive and could not feel any kind of guilt.
Cesare Lombroso’s theory states that you will rarely see a moral imbecile in a psychiatric hospital. You would rather encounter them in a prison or a brothel. They are unfriendly, vain and selfish.
Like the born criminals, they also have a recognizable jaw. Their faces were also asymmetrical. But they can be identified through their behavior, not on their appearance. They could seem crazy, even from childhood.
Lombros saw epilepsy as a sign of crime. According to him, criminal epileptics are lazy, animal-loving, destructive and vain. He also said that they had tendencies to commit suicide and that they, along with the moral imbeciles, were the only ones who committed crime along with others.
Criminals of passion
Criminals of passion act on impulses and have no noble thoughts about it. A criminal act motivated by passion by a non-noble impulse will just be a common criminal act.
According to Lombroso, these individuals do not possess any physical characteristics that stand out, but they will usually be between 20 and 30 years old.
To him, they are extremely affectionate and tend to feel guilty after committing their criminal acts. Many of them attempt suicide. Lombroso believed that there were three possible motives for their criminal acts: greed, politics and child murder.
Occasional criminals according to Cesare Lombroso
Lastly, Lombroso believed that the occasional criminals fell into three categories: pseudo-criminals, “criminaloid” and professional criminals.
Pseudo-criminals committed three types of crime: involuntary, non-perverted (almost always motivated by necessity) and in self-defense. Criminaloids commit crimes according to the circumstances. Professional criminals behave in accordance with the law, but also commit crimes.
Cesare Lombroso’s theories on the classification of criminals have long been the standard. However, some serious problems became clear if people tried to apply scientific methods to test this theory. There was also a time when it led to prejudice and that one could “exterminate” criminals.