Cesare Lombroso: an anthropologist between evolution and degeneration

Mazzarello, Paolo (2011) Cesare Lombroso: an anthropologist between evolution and degeneration. Functional Neurology, 26 (2). pp. 97-101. ISSN 1971-3274

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Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909) was a prominent Italian medical doctor and intellectual in the second half of the nineteenth century. He became world famous for his theory that criminality, madness and genius were all sides of the same psychobiological condition: an expression of degeneration, a sort of regression along the phylogenetic scale, and an arrest at an early stage of evolution. Degeneration affected criminals especially, in particular the “born delinquent” whose development had stopped at an early stage, making them the most “atavistic” types of human being. Lombroso also advocated the theory that genius was closely linked with madness. A man of genius was a degenerate, an example of retrograde evolution in whom madness was a form of “biological compensation” for excessive intellectual development. To confirm this theory, in August 1897, Lombroso, while attending the Twelfth International Medical Congress in Moscow, decided to meet the great Russian writer Lev Tolstoy in order to directly verify, in him, his theory of degeneration in the genius. Lombroso’s anthropological ideas fuelled a heated debate on the biological determinism of human behaviour.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: criminology, criminal anthropology, degeneration, evolution, Lombroso, Tolstoy
Subjects: 300 Scienze sociali > 360 Problemi e servizi sociali; associazioni > 364 Criminologia > 364.2 Cause di criminalità (Classificare qui l'Antropologia criminale) (Classificare la Vittimologia in 362.88)
600 Tecnologia - Scienze applicate > 610 Medicina e salute (Classificare qui la tecnologia dei servizi medici) > 616 Malattie (classificare qui la Clinica medica, la medicina basata sull'evidenza, la Medicina interna, la Medicina sperimentale) > 616.8 Malattie del sistema nervoso e disturbi mentali (Classificare qui la Neuropsichiatria, la Neurologia)
Depositing User: Danilo Dezzi
Date Deposited: 25 Nov 2011 10:43
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2016 09:48
URI: http://eprints.bice.rm.cnr.it/id/eprint/3515

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