The Criminal

The Criminal

by Havelock Ellis
     
 

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This little book is an attempt to present to the English reader a critical summary of the results of the science now commonly called criminal anthropology. In other words, it deals briefly with the problems connected with the criminal as he is in himself and as he becomes in contact with society; it also tries to indicate some of the practical social bearings of such

Overview

This little book is an attempt to present to the English reader a critical summary of the results of the science now commonly called criminal anthropology. In other words, it deals briefly with the problems connected with the criminal as he is in himself and as he becomes in contact with society; it also tries to indicate some of the practical social bearings of such studies. During the last fifteen years these studies have been carried on with great activity. It seemed, therefore, that the time had come for a short and comprehensive review of their present condition. Such a review of a young and rapidly growing science cannot be expected to reveal any final conclusions; yet by bringing together very various material from many lands, it serves to show us how we stand, to indicate the progress already made, and the nature of the path ahead. In these matters we in England have of recent years fallen far behind; no book, scarcely a solitary magazine article, dealing with this matter has appeared among us. It seemed worth while to arouse interest in problems which are of personal concern to every citizen, problems which are indeed the concern of every person who cares about the reasonable organisation of social life. I would willingly have given the task to abler hands. But I found no one in England who was acquainted with the present aspects of these questions, and was compelled, therefore, after considerable hesitation, to undertake a task which had long appealed to me from various sides, medical, anthropological, and social. There is, I believe, nothing original in this book. It simply represents a very large body of intelligent opinion in many countries. I have to acknowledge with gratitude the assistance, always ungrudgingly rendered, which I have received from very many directions. I would specially mention those medical officers of prisons in Great Britain who answered my Questions issued at the beginning of 1889, Dr.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940024281208
Publisher:
Walter Scott
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
619 KB

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CHAPTER IV. CRIMINAL ANTHROPOLOGY (PSYCHICAL). § i. Moral Insensibility. TlIE moral insensibility of the instinctive and habitual criminal, his lack of forethought, his absence of remorse, his cheerfulness, had been noted long before they were exhaustively studied by Despine. In the argot of French criminals, conscience is la muette, and to induce any one to lead a dishonest life is I'affranchir. This moral insensibility is, indeed, a commonplace of observation with all who have come in close contact with criminals. Gall remarked: " If criminals have remorse, it is that they have not committed more crimes, or that they have let themselves be caught." Dostoieffsky, speaking from his intimate and sympathetic acquaintance with convicts in Siberia, said : "During so many years I ought to have been able to seize some indication, however fugitive, of regret, of moral suffering. I have perceived positively nothing. Seclusion and excessive work only develop among those people a profound hatred, the thirst of forbidden pleasures, and a terrible indifference." He goes on to tell of a parricide who remarked carelessly, in the course of conversation : " Take my father, for example; he was never ill up to the day of his death." " Scenes of heartrending despair are hardly ever witnessed among prisoners," observes Dr. Wey of Elmira; " theirsleep is disturbed by no uneasy dreams, but is easy and sound ; their appetites, also, are excellent."1 " It is a most singular thing," remarks Mr. Davitt, "that I have met very few individuals in prison who gave evidence in appearance or talk of being truly miserable, no matter what the length of their sentence, amount of extra punishment, orcontrast between their previous and their convict life may have been."2 Mr. Davitt seems inclined to attribute ...

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