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What Causes Criminal Behavior? Essay

2216 words - 9 pages

The controversial question: "Are criminals born, or made?" is an argument that has been ongoing for many years and has become the subject of countless heated debates. In doing a little research, I have found that this question has been asked as far back as the 18th century by early sociologists and criminologists. Ever since, an investigation toward the answer has been pursued. Early theorists at the time had thought that it had something to do with an innate tendency, or even something as far fetched as a genetic flaw or a form of mental retardation. Over the years that followed, many other sociologists and psychologists have tried to decipher this complicated question. Some staying on the side of biological causes, some siding with theories that surround geographical location, and some state that criminals are direct products of the environment in which they were raised and behaviors that are observed of others. There are many factors that effectively provide evidence for arguments on all sides of this question. In this essay, it will be proven that criminals are, in fact, made, and not born into existence.Called "The father of Modern Criminology", Cesare Lombroso believed that particular physical characteristics or attributes could predict criminality, creating a "born" criminal. This was, he theorized, a result of certain atavisms whereby the criminal would be both mentally and physically inferior to "normal" human beings. Also, criminals would resemble our predecessor, the ape. He used certain physical characteristics as indicators of criminality, and measured them. These included: Size or shape of the head, Enlarged cheekbones and jaw, Fleshy protruding lips, abnormal teeth, and dark skin to name but a few.His first conception of the criminal, which was greatly modified later, was that the criminal is an atavistic phenomenon reproducing a type of the past. This of course was the theory or Charles Darwin in his book "The Descent of Man", written in 1871. Lombrosso found that when a criminal displays a tendency towards crime, which results from pathological, physiological, and psychological characteristics it is necessary to search in the lower species for the characteristics that correspond to those of the criminal.If a person were to portray five or more of these atavisms, then they were seen to be a born criminal. He also added other factors to this theory, including that of an excessive use of tattooing, excessive idleness and a tendency to express ideas pictorially.Sheldon had similar ideas, but these were mainly based around body types. He described three basic body types and different temperaments that corresponded with them. These were: Endomorphs, who would be soft and round with relaxed extrovert personalities; Mesomorphs, who were athletic and tended to be aggressive; and finally, Ectomorphs, who were thin frail and introverted.The study of anatomical characteristics of the criminal enabled him to separate the born criminal from...

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