Lombroso's Theory Of Moral Insanity

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The nineteenth century saw an explosion in knowledge regarding the brain unlike any before. For centuries, the brain had been considered the seat of human intelligence. However, the brain of the classics was a singular organ of matter. Rene Descartes, who studied the brain in the 1600’s, theorized that the mind and the body were separate entities. The mental existed independent of the body. Descartes chose a singular structure in the brain as the unifying structure of the mental and the body. That structure known as the pineal gland is often to this day referred to as “the seat of the soul.” Descartes suggested, then there was no biological basis to rational thinking, and rather the body was a vessel of matter that the mind could interact …show more content…
At the beginning of the century Pinel and Esquirol described a phenomenon that would come to be known as moral insanity. This disorder allowed the afflicted to maintain complete lucidity, however they displayed little to no empathy and a willingness to turn violent without provocation. Lombroso’s theory of biological criminality led to increased attention and exploration of the brain. This included the practice of phrenology. In response to the phrenology craze, Pritchard insisted that moral insanity stemmed from psychological dysfunction. Following the father of neurology, Charcot, Freud developed the structural system of mind, which like the days of old posed the question of intellect governing man’s bestial nature, or the …show more content…
While Freud chose not to examine the neurological reasons for these character disorders, others did and have continued to define the morally insane or the psychopath; the sheer mention of these traits tend to send shivers down one’s spine. While a litany of scientific research exists and continues to be carried out as an attempt to localize or pathologize moral insanity, a definitive answer simply does not exist. Rather, this disorder of moral insanity that has morphed into anti-social personality disorder remains something of a social construct. It is a diagnosis of, “Failure to obey laws and norms by engaging in behavior which results in criminal arrest, or would warrant criminal arrest,” as well as, “A pattern of irresponsibility and lack of remorse for actions.” If a person acts criminally and does not show remorse we hasten to label that person with a disorder that makes them different from the general

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