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The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crimeby Adrian Raine
Synopses & Reviews
With a 4-page full-color insert, and black-and-white illustrations throughout.
Why do some innocent kids grow up to become cold-blooded serial killers? Is bad biology partly to blame? For more than three decades Adrian Raine has been researching the biological roots of violence and establishing neurocriminology, a new field that applies neuroscience techniques to investigate the causes and cures of crime. In The Anatomy of Violence, Raine dissects the criminal mind with a fascinating, readable, and far-reaching scientific journey into the body of evidence that reveals the brain to be a key culprit in crime causation.
Raine documents from genetic research that the seeds of sin are sown early in life, giving rise to abnormal physiological functioning that cultivates crime. Drawing on classical case studies of well-known killers in history — including Richard Speck, Ted Kaczynski, and Henry Lee Lucas — Raine illustrates how impairments to brain areas controlling our ability to experience fear, make good decisions, and feel guilt predispose us to violence. He contends that killers can actually be coldhearted: something as simple as a low resting heart rate can give rise to violence. But arguing that biology is not destiny, he also sketches out provocative new biosocial treatment approaches that can change the brain and prevent violence.
Finally, Raine tackles the thorny legal and ethical dilemmas posed by his research, visualizing a futuristic brave new world where our increasing ability to identify violent offenders early in life might shape crime-prevention policies, for good and bad. Will we sacrifice our notions of privacy and civil rights to identify children as potential killers in the hopes of helping both offenders and victims? How should we punish individuals with little to no control over their violent behavior? And should parenting require a license? The Anatomy of Violence offers a revolutionary appraisal of our understanding of criminal offending, while also raising provocative questions that challenge our core human values of free will, responsibility, and punishment.
“Well-written and engaging....Mr. Raine reminds us of all the interesting things we do know about genes, brains and the environment that can tilt someone toward anti-social behavior....For those unfamiliar with these arguments and the important supporting scientific literature, The Anatomy of Violence is a good read. What makes it something more is Mr. Raine's contention that violence is a public-health issue and that this forces upon society some uncomfortable ideas about possible interventions. Mr. Raine sees violence as a mental disorder and argues that it should be treated as such.” The Wall Street Journal
“Are ‘criminal tendencies’ hard-wired or acquired?...Psychologist Adrian Raine argues the biological case, marshalling swathes of findings and case studies of murderers and rapists....Provocative and bristling with data, the book’s complexities fail to boil down to a simple answer.” Nature
“Groundbreaking....Never before has a ‘map of the criminal mind’ been written about so convincingly....Raine offers us the most compelling look to date at the connection between human genetics and human acts of violence....The Anatomy of Violence will convince even the most skeptical that there is a genetic or biological cause for the violence exhibited by psychopaths across all cultures. Without doubt, the book should be required reading for any student of criminology. The Anatomy of Violence is an astonishingly accessible account of all the major elements—environmental, social, biochemical, psychological, and neurological — related to crime and human violence, leading us to the conclusion that yes, some people are natural born killers.” New York Journal of Books
“Lively, engaging....A convincing case that violent criminals are biologically different from the rest of us....[Raine] has the research at his fingertips — not surprising, since he carried out much of it — and makes a compelling case that society needs to grapple with the biological underpinnings of violent crime just as vigorously as the social causes, if not more so.” New Scientist
“A passionately argued, well-written, and fascinating take on the biology of violence and its legal and ethical implications.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Raine explores famous criminal cases, from Ted Bundy to the Unabomber to more obscure figures, and offers compelling research, including brain scans of psychopaths, schizophrenics, and others, to demonstrate the hard science behind some criminal and antisocial behavior from domestic violence to murder....Although the topic will certainly continue to provoke controversy, Raine offers a highly accessible look at the latest research on the biology behind criminal behavior.” Booklist
“Sure to be controversial, especially in the context of the current debate on guns and the prevention of violence.” Kirkus Reviews
Provocative and timely: a pioneering neurocriminologist introduces the latest biological research into the causes of — and potential cures for — criminal behavior.
A leading criminologist who specializes in the neuroscience behind criminal behavior, Adrian Raine introduces a wide range of new scientific research into the origins and nature of violence and criminal behavior. He explains how impairments to areas of the brain that control our ability to experience fear, make decisions, and feel empathy can make us more likely to engage in criminal behavior. He applies this new understanding of the criminal mind to some of the most well-known criminals in history. And he clearly delineates the pressing considerations this research demands: What are its implications for our criminal justice system? Should we condemn and punish individuals who have little to no control over their behavior? Should we act preemptively with people who exhibit strong biological predispositions to becoming dangerous criminals? These are among the thorny issues we can no longer ignore as our understanding of criminal behavior grows.
About the Author
Adrian Raine is the Richard Perry University Professor in the departments of Criminology, Psychiatry, and Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. For the past thirty-five years, his research has focused on the neurobiological and biosocial bases of antisocial and violent behavior, and ways to both prevent and treat it in both children and adults.
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