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. Read more...
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.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-02-25
- Reviewer: Staff
Neurocriminologist Raine is known for pioneering studies gauging long-term effects of environmental factors on neurological development. In his latest (after Psychopathology of Crime), the University of Pennsylvania professor explains how a startling number of early incidents can retard the development of the prefrontal cortex and other neural sites of learning, focus, and emotion, resulting in violence-prone adults. Indeed, from fetuses malnourished in the womb to children “ushered into the vestibule of violence before they could even sit up on their own,” to adults living near the Twin Towers on 9/11 (brain scans made three years later “showed a reduction in hippocampal gray-matter volumes”), no one is immune. However, Raine insists that drugs, cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness training, exercise, and periods of “environmental enrichment”—like educating mothers about kids’ emotional, educational, and nutritional needs—can mitigate damage, and perhaps stave off violent tendencies down the road. Ultimately, Raine is optimistic: “We can use a set of biosocial keys to unlock the cause of crime—and set free those who are trapped by their biology.” Though sometimes dense, this is a passionately argued, well-written, and fascinating take on the biology of violence and its legal and ethical implications. 8-page color insert, b&w photos throughout. Agent: Eric Lupfer, William Morris Endeavor. (Apr.)