Glossary
This glossary is designed to guide readers to the meanings of Lombroso’s key terms
and concepts.
abnormality AtermLombrosousesinseveraldifferentways,toreferto(1)a
deviation from a statistical average; (2) a deviation from law-abiding be-
havior; (3) a degenerative trait and therefore a sign of criminality.
alcoholism A chronic pathological condition caused by the habitual and ex-
cessive consumption of alcohol that can lead to nervous disorders and in-
sanity. According to Lombroso, the consumption of alcohol constitutes
a major cause of crime because (1) it loosens inhibitions against violence;
(2) it occurs in taverns where criminals congregate and recruit accom-
plices; and (3) it becomes hereditary. In the fourth edition of Criminal
Man, Lombroso revises his definition of the insane criminal to include a
new subcategory, alcoholic criminals, a group that he predicts will grow
because modern society encourages the production and consumption of
alcohol.
algometry A procedure for measuring sensitivity to pain using an electrical
apparatuscalledanalgometer.Byrestingthecoilsofthealgometeronthe
backof hissubjects’hands,Lombrosomeasuredboth‘‘generalsensitivity,’’
when they felt a prickling sensation, and ‘‘sensitivity to pain,’’ when they
felt an electrical shock. Lombroso held algometry in high regard because
hebelievedthatphysicalinsensitivitycorrelatedwithemotionalandmoral
insensitivity; thus low algometric readings were a sign of criminality. See
also sensitivity.
anomaly A sign of deviance and hence of potential criminality. Originally,
Lombroso used this term to refer to an atavism, but later he applied it to
anydegenerativetrait.ForLombroso,ananomalycanbebiological,intel-
lectual, or psychological, and it can be detected through physical exami-
nation, an interview, visual inspection, or hearsay.
anthropometry The scientific measurement of the human body, body parts,
and capacities for the purpose of establishing physical types (such as the
criminal type) and identifying anomalies. As anthropology became estab-
lished as a scientific field of study in the mid-nineteenth century, anthro-
pologists relied increasinglyon anthropometry to bring precision to their
studies of human types.
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