Cesare Lombroso

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Cesare Lombroso was the founder of the Italian School of Positivist Criminology. He rejected the established Classical School, which held that crime was a characteristic trait of human nature and that rational choices were the foundation of behavior. Lombroso, using a scientific approach and concepts drawn from physiognomy, early eugenics, psychiatry, and Social Darwinism, argued that criminality was inherited, and that the "born criminal" could be identified by physical defects, which confirmed a criminal as "savage," or "atavistic." While his particular identifying characteristics are no longer considered valid, the idea of factors that predispose certain individuals to commit crime continues to be foundational to work in criminology. Together with his emphasis on the scientific method, this revolutionary approach has earned Lombroso the title "father" of scientific criminology He was later forced to considerably alter his views after extensive study of the phenomenon of Eusapia Palladino, a famous spiritualist. He later wrote, "I am ashamed and grieved at having opposed with so much tenacity the possibility of the so-called spiritistic facts. Cesare Lombroso was famous in the nineteenth century because he claimed to have discovered the cause of crime and wrote books. In these books, Lombroso claimed that anatomical investigations of the post mortem bodies of criminals revealed that they were physically different from normal people. He maintained that criminals have stigmata (signs), and that these stigmata consist of abnormal dimensions of the skull and jaw. Lombroso even claimed that different criminals have different physical characteristics which he could discern. In time, and under the influence of his son-in-law, Guglielmo Ferrero, Lombroso included the view that social factors were also involved in the causation of crime and that all criminality is not inborn. "Born criminals" were thus viewed by in his earliest writings as a form of human sub-species....