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,
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