Reviews for Anatomy of Violence : The Biological Roots of Crime

Booklist Reviews 2013 March #1
Once reviled because of its ties to eugenics, the idea that criminal impulses are rooted in biology has been reinvigorated by the Human Genome Project. Criminologist Raine applauds a growing cross-disciplinary approach and the growth of neurocriminology that looks at the biological and social factors behind criminal behavior, but his focus is firmly on the biological. 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. Raine also analyzes research on adoption and twins to study the different impacts of nature versus nurture, as well as environmental factors that affect brain development, including nutrition, smoking, and drug abuse. Finally, Raine explores the practical implications of neurocriminology on the legal system, public health issues, and the future treatment of criminal and antisocial behavior. 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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Choice Reviews 2013 November
Speaking against the dominant perspective that violence is purely a product of social forces, Raine (criminology, psychiatry, and psychology, Univ. of Pennsylvania) argues that sociopathic and violent behavior arise from complex interactions between social and biological factors. The author presents a wealth of evidence from scientific studies that violence has its roots in the expression of particular genes, abnormalities in brain structure and function, poor nutrition, and childhood exposure to toxins and heavy metals. These biological risk factors, when paired with a maladaptive social environment, can push individuals to exhibit criminal behavior. Raine writes in an engaging manner, turning potentially difficult research findings into a compelling narrative that is seeded with detailed, cringe-inducing accounts of the upbringing and downfall of actual criminals. In the final chapters, readers are asked to consider how society should act to prevent crime via controversial practices such as compulsory biological screening, indefinite detention of at-risk individuals, and parental licenses to raise children. By filtering the current scientific understanding of the biological origins of violence through his personal worldview, Raine offers a book that is highly informative as well as intellectually and ethically challenging. Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers; undergraduate students and above. General Readers; Lower-division Undergraduates; Upper-division Undergraduates; Two-year Technical Program Students; Professionals/Practitioners. K. G. Akers University of Michigan Copyright 2013 American Library Association.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 March #2
Neurocriminologist Raine (Criminology, Psychiatry and Psychology/Univ. of Pennsylvania; Crime and Schizophrenia, 2006, etc.) asserts that "revolutionary advances into brain imaging are opening a new window in the biological basis of crime." The author emphasizes the importance of biology, along with environment, in shaping the individual. He reprises genetic evidence of a predisposition to criminal behavior and the identification of polymorphisms of genes controlling enzymes that regulate neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. Brain scans and autopsies show physiological differences in the structure of different regions of the brain, possible effects of brain damage incurred during birth or before as a result of the environment within the womb or from subsequent child abuse. These correlate with a history of violence and different criminal behaviors, making it possible to differentiate the brains of impulsive killers from those of serial killers. Studies of psychopaths show dampened activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain that normally alerts us to danger, and signs of stress, such as perspiring, are absent. Individuals with this psychophysiology are not primarily motivated by risk avoidance but by the rewards. "Different biological, psychological, and social risk factors can interact in shaping either violence or self-sacrificing heroism," writes the author, who makes the controversial conclusion that despite considerations of civil liberties, as neurocriminology develops over the next few decades, preventative incarceration will become an increasingly attractive option. Underlying Raine's presentation is his stated conviction that socially ameliorative measures in dealing with a rising tide of crime will prove ineffective. While Raine explicitly rules out any notion that biology is destiny, and the implication that criminologists such as himself are modern-day eugenicists, his questionable political conclusions are sure to be controversial, especially in the context of the current debate on guns and the prevention of violence. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 September #1
Research by University of Pennsylvania criminologist Raine shows that impairment to the regions of the brain governing decision-making or feelings like empathy can lead to increased criminal behavior. The implications are far-reaching and controversial.My Picks (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal Reviews 2013 June #1

This daring survey of neurocriminology addresses crime and violent behavior through a new explanatory paradigm rooted in the work of previously discredited theorists such as 19th-century psychiatrist Cesare Lombroso. Raine (criminology, psychiatry, & psychology, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Crime and Schizophrenia: Causes and Cures) argues that recent advances in molecular and behavioral genetics and other factors have introduced a renewal of the biological model of criminal behavior. Chapters explore how violence has evolved, where science stands on "broken brains" and how those malfunctions occur, graphic case studies, legal implications, and rehabilitation through medication and other more radical medical and social interventions. The author reviews an impressive array of international research varying in style and quality from twin studies to brain imagery analyses while also acknowledging how difficult it is to determine cause and effect. Less convincing is a discussion of the relationship between physical "marks of Cain" and antisocial behavior. VERDICT As compared to Steven Pinker's more sweeping The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, this provocative introduction to a "bio-social" model of violent behavior is primarily recommended for students of crime rather than general readers.--Antoinette Brinkman, formerly with Southwest Indiana Mental Health Ctr. Lib., Evansville

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2013 February #4

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.)

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