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The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime by Adrian Raine

Adrian Raine is one of the world’s leading authorities on the minds of the violent, the criminal, the dangerous, imagethe unstable. An Anatomy of Violence is the culmination of his life’s work so far, offering the latest answers to some of the most difficult questions: what are the causes of violence? Can it be treated? And might it one day be stopped?

Are some criminals born, not made? What causes violence and how can we treat it? An Anatomy of Violence introduces readers to new ways of looking at these age-old questions. Drawing on the latest scientific research, Adrian Raine explains what it reveals about the brains of murderers, psychopaths and serial killers. While once it was thought upbringing explained all, and subsequently explanations shifted to genetics, Raine goes to great pains to explain that anti-social behaviour is complex, and based on the interaction between genetics and the biological and social environment in which a person is raised. But the latest statistical evidence between certain types of biological and early behavioural warning signs is also very strong. Through a series of case studies of famous criminals, Raine shows how their criminal behaviour might be explained on the basis of these new scientific discoveries. But the conclusions point to a host of philosophical and moral issues. What are the implications for our criminal justice system? Should we condemn and punish individuals who have little or no control over their behaviour? 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 behaviour grows.

Praise for Adrian Raine’s The Psychopathology of Crime:

‘An extremely informative, thoughtful and illuminating book … a tour de force’, David P Farrington, Psychological Medicine

Adrian Raine is the Richard Perry University Professor in the Departments of Criminology, Psychiatry, and Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. For the past 35 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.

My Review

The information contained within, the evidences and theories, may help us have a safer and more humane society in the future or it may not, but you will read some shocking facts found in piecing together the anatomy of violence.
Have you ever wondered at the evil that men do and the theories why?
Behind the fictional characters like Donald Draper of Mad Men, Norman Bates of Psycho, and Rambo of First Blood there is an unseen tapestry, of thinking and behaviour.
Behind the shocking truths that hit our news reports of school shootings, mass murders, terrorism, news on violence and abuse there are darker truths that lurk in the anatomy of the offender and this book dissects and examines the flags of danger. The author tells you of the evidences found in researching the anatomy of violence.
This work explains the shades of the brain, the behaviours displayed, the social and the home aspects that contribute to an evolution into violence, he does not blame and pass down the roots of violence to Cain and Abel in their act of killing of kin and then on being a born condition with no other possible ailments, but explains the roots of violence with more insidious and complex workings at work.
With the simple imaging of the brain the hallmarks of a persons potential for violence could be documented.
This reading may have you looking at people you recognise in society and in your home and thinking of ways they could be helped, this reading is a much needed essential work on a human stain that will never magically be wanded away but needs efforts by all the faces of humanity in its toil and struggle to be cured.
Written with vast and great knowledge on the subject in an easy read terminology that everyone could understand, one that can could be used many times over for referencing particular conditions of behaviour.
Evidences and theories pieced together giving plenty of food for thought on the anatomy of violence.

Excerpts
“The bright sunlight of my sisters radiant life was overshadowed by a particularly acute form of leukemia. On September 18, Roma’s life was snuffed out-perhaps mercifully-in just two weeks, although that’s painfully long compared with the victims of most acts of violence. We all miss her, just as Clare does to this day.
I have reflected a great deal on Roma, and her death has profoundly affected my thinking. The other cancer that bloodies the lives of so many other people-violence-is to me as much medical as the sickness that killed my sister. For me, Roma’s death is a metaphor for how I think we need to treat violence. It requires more compassion, less retribution, and a new clinical perspective that I want to move you toward considering.”

“Do violent offenders have abnormal functioning in terms of how they think, feel, and behave? Yes, they certainly do. Does this “dysfunction” have a biological basis? Is something not going right in their development? I have argued that crime germinates early in life from a neuro-development and genetic base. I’ve suggested that there is a heck of a lot that is just not working right in violent offenders. They are also impaired in how they perform in life-whether at school, at home, or at work. Violence certainly causes distress to others, and the offender himself is frequently in a distressed state. Repeated violent offending is a clinical disorder.”

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 23 May 2013