The human brain is something so complex and (almost) perfect that since the time of Hippocrates it has been a source of curiosity. With the advance of science and technology, neurosciences have gradually been solving the enigmas of the wonderful human brain by trying to explain why human behaviour, including such complex phenomena as crime, is so complex.
Why does a man commit a crime? What causes him to break the rules? Why does the idea of being punished by the law not frighten him? As we shared with you in a recent article, criminology is the science that aims to answer the above questions, having as object of study the antisocial behavior, which is the one that hurts and goes against the common good. But to study crime and antisocial behaviour, criminology relies on several sciences and disciplines among which the already mentioned neurosciences stand out .
Studies to the brain of criminals
One of the most famous cases studied by criminology neurology, which put in check concepts such as the free will of the offender and concepts such as malice and guilt dates back to 2003. In that year, a 40-year-old man who had never previously presented behavioural disorders of sexuality was sentenced for sexual harassment of minors .
Biological causes of antisocial behavior
A brain resonance in the subject showed a haemangiopericytoma in the orbitofrontal region which, after being removed, caused the paedophilic symptoms to fade away, so he was granted freedom. It was not until a year later that the fixation towards minors began to be born again. After doing a new resonance, it was observed that the tumor had appeared again and once again, after being operated on, the symptoms disappeared.
More studies linking brain dysfunction to antisocial personality disorder
Research that has been the subject of debate led by the American Society for Neuroscience suggests that there are deficits in specific structures of the brain that include areas related to empathy, fear of punishment and ethics among those who manifest antisocial personality disorder.
Similar studies have been presented by Adrian Rayne, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania. This professor conducted an interesting study of 792 killers with antisocial personality disorder, finding that their prefrontal cortex was significantly smaller than another group that did not have antisocial disorder . As if this complacency were not enough, it was also discovered that these individuals tend to present damage to brain structures linked to the ability to make moral judgments. These regions were the amygdala and the angular gyrus .
Endocrinology to the aid of criminology
Criminology has become increasingly interested in how the endocrine glands are related to criminal behaviour .For example: we know that when faced with a dangerous situation we can react by paralyzing ourselves, running away or attacking. From the first option we know that it is cortisol mainly responsible for transmitting this stress response, however in relation to the last two it is adrenaline that prepares the body for these reactions.
It is known with certainty that if an individual presents some dysfunction (for example, as a result of a trauma) that leads to an increased production of adrenaline by the adrenal glands of the individual, the subject will have a special tendency to perform aggressive behaviors, which could well be violent crimes and crimes against physical integrity . With regard to sexual crime, other studies carried out in the United States have shown that prisoners who committed violent sexual crimes have high levels of testosterone in their bodies in relation to the rest of the prison population.
Eynseck and the theory of the excitement of psychological types
Hans Eynseck maintains that the nervous system of extroverts and introverts tends to one of two fundamental characteristics : excitation and inhibition. He states that the so-called extroverts are predisposed to inhibition while the introverts to excitation, which is why the activities between each type are usually compensatory to their predisposition to stimuli.
For example, as an introvert is more easily excited, he will tend to seek out less pressing stimuli and thus quieter and lonelier activities ; while the extrovert will need to seek out stimuli because of his natural inhibition. In his theory he establishes that extroverts have a greater inclination to criminality because they are frequently in search of exciting stimuli, however when an introvert gives way to the act he can end up committing more serious crimes. In addition to noting a tendency of the extrovert by sadism and psychopathy while the introvert tends to masochism and autism.
Are criminals born or made?
In the face of the eternal debate among sociologists, psychologists, biologists and other specialists in human behavior, criminology has chosen to resolve this issue by resolving that the delinquent is the product both of the predisposition of his psychophysiological, genetic and individual characteristics and of the interaction between the social environment, anomie, culture, education, among others .
Therefore, to say that a certain neurobiological damage was the definitive cause of the commission of a crime would be not only brief but also inconclusive, since the subject needs a wide range of factors to consummate the crime , in addition to opportunity, motives, etc. It is the work of criminology to detect how much “force” a crime-impellent neurological factor presents as to have been the cause of the crime, working together with the neurosciences that, day by day, gradually reveal the secrets of the human nervous system and brain.