Review: The Anatomy of Violence

Adrain Raine, "The Anatomy of Violence"
Adrian Raine, “The Anatomy of Violence”


Adrian Raine’s The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime amasses the latest evidence from neuroscience and uses it to inflict a devastating blow on 20th century criminology based on the Standard Social Science Model.

Dark Enlightenment types will be thrilled with Raine’s evidence and conclusions. In the course of the book, he cheekily assaults the foundational assumptions of liberals, libertarians, “progressives,” Randroids, socialists, communists, feminists, conservatives, Christians, Muslims, Jews, mind/body dualists and all types of spiritualists.

Raine believes that the reviled Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso was basically right: there is a hereditary basis to crime which is rooted in structural and functional abnormalities in physical regions of the brain. There are even “atavistic stigmata” (traits like men who have long index fingers, a singular palm crease, or adherent ear lobes) which are “biosocial markers” of criminality.

The proof of this is hidden in plain sight:

– Raine notes there isn’t a single example in the history of the world of a group of women banding together to violently invade and occupy a foreign country.

– Violence is overwhelmingly something that men do. It is something that young men in particular do.

– Socioeconomic status can’t explain why men are so much more violent than women.

– The consumption of alcohol is strongly related to violence because people who are drunk are less capable of restraining themselves.

– Impulsive murderers and criminals tend to have low IQs.

– It simply isn’t possible to reform certain types of criminals.

– Schizophrenics like Jared Loughner (and people suffering from other kinds of mental disorders) are far more likely to engage in violence.

– Severe brain trauma, malnutrition, and malignant tumors can lower intelligence, result in the loss of motor functions, and produce drastic changes in personality.

– There are various types of drugs which have a calming effect on aggressive behavior.

– Male sex offenders who are castrated are far less likely to become recidivist criminals.

It's the brain, stupid!
It’s the brain, stupid!

The male brain plays the starring role in violence.

As Raine shows, if we study the male brain closely with MRIs, PET scans, twin studies, case studies, longitudinal studies and other lines of evidence, we can see that the brains of criminals tend to differ in many important ways from the brains of average people that predispose them to violence.

The impulsive, common criminal suffers from low brain functioning in the prefrontal cortex
What was he thinking? The impulsive, common criminal suffers from low brain functioning in the prefrontal cortex
Scans of a normal brain, left, beside that of murderer Antonio Bustamante, who was spared the death penalty after a jury was shown these pictures.
PET scans of a normal brain, left, beside that of murderer Antonio Bustamante, who was spared the death penalty after a jury was shown these pictures.

The impulsive, reactive common criminal tends to suffer from low brain functioning and structural deficits in grey matter in key parts of the prefrontal cortex which are responsible for self-control and executive functions like planning complex behavior. As a result, these people – Raine compares them to automobiles without brakes – tend to have low IQs and thus lack the mental capacity to control their more violent emotions welling up from the limbic system.

Among his more interesting findings, Raine argues that serial killers and white collar criminals tend to have excellent prefrontal cortex functioning, psychopaths lack a conscience because their amygdala is structurally deformed or because they are suffering from cavum septum pellucidum, and the common criminal is an under-aroused, inattentive, stimulation seeker with a low resting heart rate.

Raine quotes Francis Crick, the co-discover of the structure of DNA with James Watson, who believed that “free will is nothing more than a large assembly of neurons located in the anterior cingulate cortex, and that under a certain set of assumptions it would be possible to build a machine that believes it has free will.” The explosive conclusion is that “free will lies on a continuum, with some people having almost complete choice in their actions, while others have relatively less.”

In discussing an ordinary man whose late onset pedophilia was magically cured by the removal of a massive brain tumor, Raine argues:

“Regardless of this latter issue, you might view Mr. Oft as not responsible just because his tumor “caused” his pedophilia, but also because the tumor could be resected and return him to normality. He could be quickly and convincingly treated, unlike most offenders with more subtle brain impairment. His treatability is making you think different about his culpability – it’s altering your moral evaluation of his act. And yet you would view today’s untreatable offenders with volume reductions in their prefrontal cortex and amygdala as more responsible and worthy of punishment? How could we ethically condone such a difference in our evaluation? Today’s brain-impaired offenders cannot help the fact that we cannot currently reverse that brain impairment in the way we could with Mr. Oft. Would we call that difference in our opinion “justice.”

This has enormous implications for the concept “equal justice.”

If all human beings don’t have the same rational capacity or the same amount of “free will” because of heritable differences in brain structure, and these things exist along a continuum, which is to say, all humans are not created equal, then what sense does it make to treat the ticking timebombs with “volume reductions” circulating among us as if they were “equal” before the law?

In “The Future: Where Will Neurocriminology Take Us?,” Raine imagines a world in the year 2034 in which the United States adopts The LOMBROSO Program (this is too optimistic of a scenario, in my view) which subjects all males 18 and over to genetic screening and a brain scan for the “Fundamental Five Functions.”

The LPs – Lombroso Positives – are then removed from society and held in indefinite detention centers like Guantanamo Bay:

“The program works like this: those who test positive – the LPs – are held in indefinite detention. In light of the administrative lapse that originally sparked LOMBROSO when test results were mixed up, LPs are given the legal right to challenge the findings and be retested by an independent authority. The detention centers are highly secure, but are not the harsh holding bays of decades gone by. They are equipped as a home away from home. Conjugal visits are allowed on weekends, albeit under surveillance that is a bit too close to comfort for the partners concerned. There are full recreational and educational services. They are allowed to vote. The LPs have full communication access to their family and even friends – after appropriate security checks for those concerned. It sounds quite cushy, but remember that the LPs have not actually committed a crime. Perhaps the main drawback is who they live with, housed as they are in facilities with other LPs – time bombs waiting to explode.”

In the year 2049, the government passes another law that requires potential parents to get a license before they can have a child:

“It’s now 2049 and the fifteenth anniversary of the LOMBROSO program. The nation is nine years into the NCSP. Together these programs are undeniably making a dent in the rates of juvenile and adult violence. They have also significantly reduced non-violent crime. …

Cars can be killers, and so you need a license before you can drive. Kids can be killers too. So the logic goes that you should have a license before you can have a child. Just as you need to document practical skills in driving a car and also knowledge of the right way to drive, you also need to show theoretical and practical proficiency in rearing a child. It’s only right for the child and society.”

In such a way, defectives like Adam Lanza are identified and hospitalized in treatment centers, and their numbers are finally reduced altogether. America reaps a peace divided when all the resources which are currently squandered on law enforcement, the judicial system, and equality promotion are rechanneled into economic growth.

This makes too much sense for a country which could have have been on Mars and which could reap most of the benefits of the LOMBROSO program right now simply by applying segregation to the race of people who commit 95% of the violent crime in New Orleans, Birmingham, and Atlanta.

In order for something like the LOMBROSO program to happen here, America (and Enlightenment-based Americanism) will likely have to expire first.

About Hunter Wallace 12381 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Occidental Dissent


  1. Re: EC

    1.) Raine is a hereditarian who believes that genetics makes around a 50 percent contribution to violent anti-social behavior.

    2.) It is true that poor fear conditioning is a risk factor for violence. Raine discusses this in the book.

    3.) There is an fascinating discussion in the book about how crime dropped throughout the West, not just in the United States, after 1991. Raine believes it was related to lead poisoning.

    4.) Raine agrees that child abuse, particularly bonding between mother and child, is a key risk factor for violence.

  2. Iceman,

    Yes, Raine mentions in the book that incarceration is a form of passive eugenics. I didn’t cover everything in the review. I don’t want to spoil the book.

  3. HW

    “I’ve read Brave New World and it would have never occurred to me to compare it to this book.”

    It’s the idea that male aggression should be the target. Male aggression is good and necessary. It’s particular *forms* of male aggression that you want to decrease (or increase imo) i.e. when they’re combined with low impulse control. In particular a yeoman state requires as much self-controlled male aggression as possible imo.

    Crime itself gives you the filter you need – people self-select themselves by being criminal. All you need then is the understanding that it is genetic to stop with all the nonsense about rehabilitation, conjugal visits etc.

    For example testosterone acts as a multiplier. A lot of criminals will be criminal while young because of this. As soon as their t-levels drop below whatever their individual trigger level is they’ll be “rehabilitated” but not before.

    Consciously treating the criminal justice system as a genetic filter does the trick without specifically targeting the self-controlled male aggression that a yeoman society want but New York hive-queens don’t.

  4. What i’m getting at is a lot of “warrior” genes are also “criminal” genes depending on levels of impulse control. You don’t want to breed out your warrior genes. You want to breed out low impulse control.

  5. It’s spirit of compulsory, massive genetic engineering carried out by a totalitarian state (and what else can we call a state from which we would have to beg permission to have a child?) is very much of a piece with Brave New World.

    I used to agree with Bernard Shaw’s statement that it was absurd for man to expend so much effort on breeding quality horses and dogs while he took next to no effort to breed quality humans. But then I realized that the reason we do not breed man as we breed horses and dogs is that man is not a beast.

  6. The point is always that the criminal can do no wrong.

    If it is hereditary, and a brain malfunction, well then it’s not his fault. Can he really be held responsible for what was beyond his control?

    And if the criminal has the same brain as everyone, then he can be helped and rehabilitated.

    Either way, the caretakers can then step on the public money for the maintaining of this criminal person.

    So it doesn’t really matter whether the root of the crime is biological or not. EITHER WAY, the statist will make a buck on the criminal. They just need to KEEP THE DEBATE GOING (so they can make money, either way, on the body of the criminal.) Criminals are cash cows, regardless.

    The real culprit is probably a psycho version of jesus, where he “dies for your sins” (which are inevitable, of course, in the corrupt world you, yourselves, create and yet act as if is just always already that way and just can’t be helped, so the dead jesus so kindly died to somehow ATONE for your sins, so you can get off the hook).

    What Jesus really said on the cross was, “Why have you FORSAKEN me,” lol. Not, “oh, thank heaven I get to die so all the sorry corrupt slobs who live later will get off the hook for their lousy crimes.”

    Anyway, the debate is what matters not the conclusion (if you are making a mint on the Criminals Industry, which everyone is).

  7. “We know that alcoholism and schizophrenia run in families. We also know from twin studies that criminality runs in families.”

    that’s why they got rid of families and bred and raised via conditioning different classes of workers. Reality is going to be much worse than that, Direct manipulation of the human germ line will lead to every abomination under the sun. From grotesque mutants to part animal/part machine cyborgs.

    There is a possible future that might be non-intelligent nanobots reproducing at such a fast rate that they cover the planet in an ever deeper layer of their own seething dust. The Archaea of the Age of Machines.

  8. “We know that alcoholism and schizophrenia run in families.”

    Hunter, “schizophrenia” is a psychiatric label. Despite claims to the contrary it has not been proven that it is a medical entity. I thought those who have had negative experience with the shrinks who always label the adult child during conflicts with his parents had learned the lesson that psych labels are, to say the least, doubtful.

    There are lots of sane adolescents and adult children who have been diagnosed as schizos only because their family wanted some sort of extralegal, punitive action for their child’s behavior. In my research of the psychiatric field I found kids who were committed only for, e.g., smoking pot. (Of course, some of the drugs they give you in psych wards are even more dangerous than the street drugs.)

  9. There is another very reliable predictor of impulsive, violent, antisocial behavior-black skin. There, I saved you the $3000 for the PET scan.

  10. In re violence as a male phenomenon: Does that include the massive slaughtering if the unborn (forty-five million a year worldwide annually) by “non-violent” females? As regards mandatory testing: Does that include mandatory testing for females to detect pussy in the belfry?

  11. “Raine notes there isn’t a single example in the history of the world of a group of women banding together to violently invade and occupy a foreign country.”

    There also isn’t a single example in the history of the world of women banding together to explore a foreign country or establish diplomatic relations and trade routes with it.

    For example, while Queen Isabella of Spain was happy to finance,encourage, and support Columbus’ trip to the New World, and of course reap the monetary benefits of it, you couldn’t have blasted her fat ass onto the ship with a fire hose. Same goes for violent occupations. Women are happy to encourage,support, maybe even facilitate it in one way or another, and then to reap the rewards, but they are adverse to getting their own hands dirty and have historically reserved the right to
    condemn men for any atrocities that took place in their name,pretending as if men have always and everywhere been war’s sole authors.

    When Queen Isabella financed Christopher Columbus’ peaceful expedition to the Americas she made possible the violence and subjugation of the indigenous of the conquistadors. But instead of blaming Isabella,or at least acknowledging that without her the whole thing would have never happened, we instead blame the men whose hands were on the swords,rather than the one who owned the crest that was on their shields.

  12. Raine’s comment that never, in the history of the world, has there been an example of women banding together to invade a foreign country is the most astonishing nonsense. Innumerable female rulers have done so. From Zenobia of Palmyra invading Syria in Roman times to Queen Catherine partitioning Poland in the eighteenth century to Queen Victoria attacking Afghanistan in the 19th century to this same queen invading Dutch South Africa in 1899, women have always started wars. But, as Nergal points out, they do it with the opposite sex’s blood. This idiot professor also seems to forget that the torturing of war prisoners in primitive tribes is exclusively the province of “non-violent” females.

    One really has to wonder about the intelligence of academic jackasses who can overlook the obvious. None of this is to deny that low intelligence males commit most of the crimes but this moron’s capacity for overlooking the above points as well as massive violence at the abortion clinic merely proves that all academics more or less live with their head up their ass.

Comments are closed.