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The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime

The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime [Kindle Edition]

Adrian Raine
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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This remarkable book offers startling evidence of the links between our biology and criminality ... powerful and well-written ... I commend his intelllectual courage (Jenni Russell Sunday Times)

Raine's book is a masterpiece. He has the research at his fingertips - not surprising, since he carried out much of it - and makes a compelling case that society needs to grapple with the biological underpinnings of violent crime (Bob Holmes New Scientist)

Adrian Raine has devoted his career to uncovering the causes of human violence ... This important book is a most valuable contribution (Daniel Dennett Prospect)

Fascinating ... Has profound implications ... It is remarkable that most of the work Raine outlines remains largely unknown to the wider public ... It is high time this defect was remedied (David Rose Mail on Sunday)

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Adrian Raine is one of the world's leading authorities on the minds of the violent, the criminal, the dangerous, the 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.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book which falls at the last fence 21 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The factual content of this book is brilliant and much needed. Quoting study after study, and with a nice lacing of anecdote, Adrian Raine drives home in the message that violent crime results from brain abnormalities, sometimes taken in conjunction with - and sometimes actually caused by - environmental factors. He shows also that this biological damage can be, in some ways and to some extent, improved or prevented by remedial action. To Raine, violent crime is a clinical disorder which (if its dire results are to be reduced) must be treated as such.

To some people the idea that violent crime has biological roots is apparently surprising and even unacceptable. On a rational level, I find it hard to see why. Although I'm not a scientist (I'm a lawyer) I should be astonished if it were not so. Criminals are not self-created: they aren't ordinary people who wake up one morning and decide, for no reason, to become criminals: they are products of their genetic endowment and their past experiences. And if you and I had exactly that same endowment and exactly those same experiences, we should be exactly the same as they are and behave in exactly the same way as they do.

My only quarrel with Raine is that he doesn't seem fully to accept the logic of what he's saying. I approach his book as the author of another book (The Nonsense of Free Will) which denies the existence of what we call "free will". It's obvious to me that all of us - not just criminals - behave as we do because our behaviour is determined: determined by our being the people we are and by the factors which have made us that way. The virtue of Raine's book is that it shows, to some extent and in relation to one class of people, how the determining takes place.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but... 29 Jun 2014
By DocDeda
A. Raine shows us a relationship between seafood consumption and homicide rate in figure 7.3 (taken from a study by J. Hibbeln published in 2001). Even quick internet search shows that Bulgaria's highest rate in past 20 years was 6 and has been in steady fall since 1995, Hungary's rate has been lower than 3 since 1995 and Poland reached 6 only in the year 2000 and usually has had
between 1 and 3 for years before or since. Yet in the book we are presented with numbers that are double or triple the actual rates.
Today the rates are: Hungary 1.3, Poland 1.1, Bulgaria 1.9. Fish consumption still low, about 20 pounds/person/year. No significant change over past 30 years.

I wonder how many more massaged figures and flawed studies are given to us as "facts" in this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read for the informed layperson 1 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent read and although I have a degree in psychology I think it is perfectly accessible to people without specialist knowledge. It is a really fascinating read and highly recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars too complicated 30 May 2014
By Wallie
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I guess it was written for pros. I am not a pro. I got a few good insights and the book is helpful. I wish Prof. Raine had commissioned a shorter version with a simpler message for lay people.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, informative read. 19 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I suspect this book should be compulsory reading for anyone involved in the justice and medical systems, and anyone who is, or is thinking of becoming, a parent. So just about everyone. Clearly and expertly written, evidence based, and keeping the content accessible to lay readers (like me). If you have the slightest interest in evolutionary psychology, this will be a valuable addition to your library.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderfully informative read 15 Mar 2014
'The Anatomy of Violence', while it addresses the biology of criminals as being a contributing factor to the acts they commit, is written in a way that engages the reader and forces them to think. It explains each factor with clarity, accompanied by detailed analyses, but was - thankfully, for someone with very little understanding of biology - relatively easy to understand.

I used this book for research on my extended project on what drives people to commit murder, and it was by far the most valuable source of information, as well as being a fascinating book as a whole.

This book definitely deserves a 5 star rating!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating read 13 Feb 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Violent behaviour is deemed to be a complex product of biosocial and environmental influences. In this book ‘The Anatomy of Violence’, Adrian Raine sets out what biological research is revealing about the root causes of crime and violence, and he reiterates the nature-or-nurture debate in doing so. Notwithstanding, the book is deeply informative and introduces the reader to a fascinating perspective on crime and violence. It will be of interest to undergraduate students (and the lay reader) who is concerned with the effects that biological influence has on people who commit violent crime.

Raine's central theme considers several awkward societal issues, which left me asking questions such as; what are the implications for the criminal justice system? Should individuals be punished and condemned for behaviour they have little control over? Is there an opportunity to act preemptively with individuals who exhibit strong biological predispositions to becoming dangerous criminals? To be fair, Raine does attempt to provide some credible answers and i found his logic quite persuasive at times.That being said, he appears to have taken on the baton from 20th Century eugenicists who also claimed that criminal behaviour was a result of defective genes. (and we all know where that led!!). Nevertheless, as convincing as Raine’s urgings are, his dilemma and frustration appear to lay in the fact that he can only provide the science. An example of this is in the final chapter, when he predicts a dystopian future that would be a cause of great concern to civil libertarians among us.
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