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Anatomy of Violence

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Anatomy of Violence Paper

December 2013

The Anatomy of Violence is a non-fiction book, written by Adrian Raine, which investigates and presents facts to prove a neurocriminology hypothesis. Adrian Raine conducted experiments, researched and studied the biological roots of violence. He inaugurated neurocriminology, a newer field that incorporates neuroscience methods with the intention of examining the causes of violent criminal acts.
Raine analyzes criminal minds. He pieces together research, data, and experiments of psychology, neurology, and criminology in order to inform the public of this new notion which sheds a new light on why people are or become violent criminals. This book was very interesting, well-explained, an easy read and the author incorporated many scientific examples to back up his theories. Adrian Raine takes us on a scientific expedition and exposes brain malfunction to be the cause of violent criminal acts. Raine’s theories are interesting and definitely bring forth many important questions however, while reading, I found some of his concepts are difficult to fully envision for logical reasons. A number of his concepts give an overreaching impression and are a bit too broad. While Raine brings up many valid points, I found myself asking important questions while reading Anatomy of Violence.
Does this new research and belief give criminals a “Get out of jail free” card? While reading this book, I asked myself, Will this new theory allow violent offenders to get away with violent offenses? However, I also ask myself, if these criminals in deed have brain abnormalities/malfunction/defects, is it fair to throw them in jail without proper treatment if it is out of their control? As a future defense attorney, I appreciate a book that allows me to question and examine what I believe and know to be true. It is important that theories be backed up with evidence; this is why the author incorporates genetic research and case studies of killers in this book. If a question were to come up, Raine delivers the answer as if he knew what the reader would be thinking and wondering. This book challenges our thoughts on crime, punishment and responsibility.

I. Basic Instincts: How Violence Evolved
Raine starts his book with explaining why people commit violent acts. He begins with the start of biological criminology. Psychiatrist and prison doctor, Cesare Lombroso, performed a routine autopsy on Giuseppe Villella, a well-known bandit and found an unusual indentation at the base of the brain. Lombroso became the founder of criminology; having two important theories: there was a basis to crime originating in the brain and that criminals were an evolutionary throwback to more primitive species.
This book starts with basic information and statistics on violence/murder. Basic statistics such as: People are 100 times more likely to die on the day they were born than on any other day; 50 times more likely to be killed by step-father than biological father, are interesting stepping stones that guide us toward Raine’s neurocriminology journey.
Raine describes the basic reasoning behind criminology by referencing how most criminal acts are associated with taking resources away from others. Nearly all violent crimes can be explained by primitive evolutionary logic; in terms of acquiring goods, the general strategy of theft can pay off in the long run. For instance, drive-by shootings are pointless to most people; nevertheless they establish dominance and status in neighborhoods.

II. Seeds of Sin: The Genetic Basis of Crime
MAOA Enzyme:
Scientists from Duke University, Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi, paved the way for the field of Genetics of Crime research with their well-known research paper. This research showed how genetic and biological factors interact with social problems and contribute to antisocial and violent conduct.
This research encouraged an exceptional analysis of the gene that regulates the enzyme MAOA and how the variation of this gene combined with child abuse produces antisocial behavior (p. 52). Research suggests that about 30 percent of people have a MAOA gene variation which causes low levels of this enzyme and in turn results in disturbances in neurotransmitter levels.
Caspi and Moffitt's study involved over a thousand children that ranged from ages 3-21. The scientists identified which children had experienced no maltreatment, some maltreatment and severe maltreatment. Their conclusion was that low levels of the enzyme MAOA, particularly when the children were severely abused, was associated with antisocial and violent behavior later in life.
This research was important because it showed the complexity of understanding the genetic and biological basis of antisocial and violent behavior. Many other research methodologies and studies were conducted and came to the same conclusion: that low MAOA levels is associated with violent and aggressive behavior.
There is a correlation between low MAOA levels and antisocial and violent behavior when older; however, they mention that it particularly happened when the children were severely abused. This could have been the entire reason for the violent and aggressive behavior, and how would we ever know? More research and bigger studies may need to be done before people buy this and bring it into court as a defense. Jimmy "The Fuse" - Explosive Brain Chemistry
There is no single gene for crime and violence, Raine says, but the MAOA gene plays a significant role in contributing to antisocial and violent behavior. Other genes that are known to contribute to this type of behavior are the 5HTT gene, DRD2 gene, DATI gene and the DRD4 gene. These genes regulate two important neurotransmitters in the brain, serotonin and dopamine.
Neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, are essential chemicals that assist in transmitting signals between brain cells in order to communicate. Changing the levels in these neurotransmitters can cause changes in cognition, emotion, and behavior. Changing the genes which influence the functioning of neurotransmitters is known to result in aggressive thoughts, feelings and behaviors (p. 56). Take the neurotransmitter dopamine for example: it helps produce drive and motivation, and is critically involved in reward-seeking behavior; if increased by a large amount (in animals), it "fuels aggression;" increasing it dramatically. However, if dopamine is blocked, aggression decreases (p. 56). Raine declares that dopamine is like a car accelerant that helps us move forward.
Raine has a gift when it comes to explaining his research and theories, but his decision to incorporate research that was solely done on animals and never with humans, seems premature and a bit farfetched. However, all experiments and studies tend to begin with looking at animals.

The serotonin transporter gene has been intensively researched by many scientists in the fields of psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience. We know serotonin is a mood stabilizer which lubricates/innervates the brain, particularly the frontal cortex that is known to regulate aggression. The less serotonin a person has the more rash and impulsive they are, tending to be more easily annoyed, and the more likely they are to retaliate.
There are two versions of the serotonin transporter gene: the short allele version and the long allele version. Sixteen percent of people have the short-allele version, which is associated with low serotonin and causes the brain to over respond to emotional stimuli. This may result in a person letting off steam when he/she gets upset, rash and impetuous behavior.
If we have reasoning behind every violent criminal act, then no one will be responsible for breaking the law. Would we have more violent people on the streets or would these people get the help they need? Is there help available to them? Where would they go? These are all important questions we need to ask ourselves before embarking on Raine’s journey.

Murderous Minds: The Brains of Murderers
Violent murderers dressed in prison attire, shackles and chains were transported to a hospital where they each received a PET scan (position-emission tomography) which measures the metabolic activity of many different regions of the brain at the same time, including the prefrontal cortex.
First, the prisoner was given a cognitive task to perform. They were told to press a button every time the figure “O” flash upon a computer screen. The test requires sustained attention for a lengthy period of time and in order to get reliable results, the test was administered for 32 minutes. The prefrontal cortex plays an important role in vigilance.
A PET scan, which measures glucose metabolism, was administered on each prisoner. The higher their glucose metabolism, the more that part of the brain was working during the cognitive task. This was done to 41 murderers and numerous non murderers (control panel) for research purposes.
Murderers showed a significant reduction in the prefrontal glucose metabolism when compared to the control group (non-murderers). Poor prefrontal functioning is the best replicated correlate of antisocial and violent behavior.
Why does poor prefrontal functioning predispose a person to violent behavior? There are five levels at which we can observe how poor functioning prefrontal cortex could prompt a person to violent activities. Reduced prefrontal functioning can cause problems at an emotional level, behavioral, personality, social, and at a cognitive level.
At an emotional level, reduced prefrontal functioning can cause loss of control over the evolutionary more primitive parts of the brain; such as the limbic system (generates raw emotions like anger and rage). The prefrontal cortex usually helps keep a “lid” on limbic emotions. When “the lid” is taken off, the emotions will boil over (p. 67).
At behavioral levels, neurological patients with prefrontal cortex damage results in a person being more susceptible towards risk taking, irresponsible behavior, and breaking rules. Violent behavior usually will follow.
Speaking on a personality level, people with frontal damage have been known to show impulsivity, loss of self-control, and inability to modify and inhibit behavior appropriately. Socially, prefrontal damage results in immaturity, lack of dexterity, and poor social judgment.
At a cognitive level, poor frontal functioning results in a loss of intellectual flexibility and poorer problem-solving skills. This can affect their education and school failure could be a consequence. Unemployment and economic deprivation are also factors that can predispose someone to a criminal and violent life.
Murderers did the cognitive task just as well as the control subjects, their performance task was just as good, maybe because of their behavioral occipital cortex was more activated in the murderers than the control people. Murders must compensate for their poorer prefrontal functioning wit recruiting the occipital area (in the back of the brain) to help them perform the task.
If this research was intensively studied and more experiments and knowledge was gained on neurocriminology, would we be able to tell if a person will become violent? Let us say that it was sometime in the future, and I am bringing my nine year old son into the doctor’s office for a physical and check up. They take images of the entire body but take extra time on a bunch of different brain scans.
The doctor comes back to the room with his colleague, a psychiatrist. It turns out, my son’s prefrontal lobe is not developing as fast as they like it to and they see a tiny dent like dip in it. They tell me that my son will have problems in the future with impulsivity, recklessness, and may become irresponsible and rebellious if I do not start a new medicine right now.
Maybe it would not even get to that point. With how much we know about genetics now, imagine what they’ll know in twenty or fifty years. They could do a DNA analysis of me and my husband and determine what defects or possible problems could develop if we had a child together. In the future we may be able to pick out traits we want in our children. I doubt anyone would ask for a deformed or non functioning prefrontal lobe.
The research Raine and his associates are doing is important work. There is a chance we will be able to tell if a person is violent or destined to be criminally challenged, by a brain scan. Who knows what later research will bring. A PET scan could tell us what a person is like or what they will turn out to be like.
Bustamante’s Bust Head—And Monte’s Testimony (p. 68)
Adrian Raine and his team of researchers’ study on murderers and the prefrontal cortex constituted the first brain-imaging evidence to show that the brains of a large sample of murderers are functionally different from those of the general population. This type of research must be done with caution because violence is extremely complex and all murderers do not have a dysfunctional prefrontal cortex.
Impulsive killer, Antonio Bustamante was spiraling out of control for years and hit his rock bottom when he impulsively killed a defenseless old man during a failed burglary. It was a vicious and needless attack which was motivated by greed and money. Although at first glance, Bustamante’s record looked like one of a typical lifelong recidivistic criminal; when looking closer, his defense team noticed he did not start committing crimes until he was nearly twenty-two years old. This is not typical of recidivistic violent offenders. Their antisocial behavior usually starts much earlier, often in childhood, and certainly by early adolescence. Yet, Bustamante was a well behaved child and teen.
When his defense team looked over his murder investigation, they noticed how Bustamante had been very disorganized and careless when stealing and cashing stolen traveler’s checks. He had left blood all over the checks, also left finger prints everywhere at the murder scene and was still in bloody clothes when he was arrested. This does not sound like a “well-oiled, efficient killing machine,” does it?
Christopher Plourd, who led the defense team, discovered his client suffered from a head injury done with a crowbar when he was twenty years old. Soon after, Bustamante’s personality changed drastically after this had happened. He transformed from a respectable, responsible individual into a reckless, impulsive, irresponsible rebel. Plourd had his client’s brain scanned because he believed that his head injury was significant. This is when world leading schizophrenia expert and renowned brain imaging researcher, Monte Buchsbaum got involved in the case. The scan revealed Antonio Bustamante’s orbitofrontal cortex is impaired. Compared to a normal brain scan, there is a significant reduction in orbitofrontal activation in Bustamante’s scan. The jury agreed that his brain suffered from an injury and spared him the death penalty when sentenced.
Even though the jury was convinced, it was not an easy task convincing them, especially since this type of evidence/defense had not been used before. The prosecutor, Joseph Beard, called this scientific evidence “hocus pocus” and was not convinced that “being hit with a pipe 20 years before can dramatically change an alter-boy into a killer.” This “hocus pocus” PET scan still hangs on the wall of Beard to remind him that this type of brain defense is increasingly used in capital cases.
The Brain of a Serial Killer:
Randy Kraft is the exception that proves the rule. This is a man who had killed approximately sixty-four people in a twelve year period without getting caught. To be able to pull off the extreme patience, planning, regulation of his actions, thinking ahead, and to be able to consider alternative plans of action one would need great prefrontal functioning. Because lack of prefrontal cortex functioning results in inability to plan, regulate and control one’s impulses resulting in early apprehension.
His prefrontal activity explains how he succeeded in killing over and over without getting caught while other killers are caught more quickly. Randy Kraft had almost nothing on his record before he was apprehended; while Bustamante had twenty-eight arrests before his homicide. The only thing on his record says a lot of how his brain works. He was propositioned by an undercover officer on the beach south of L.A. and was charged with lewd conduct. Kraft, like other first-time offenders, was told “just never to do it again.” This experience scared Kraft and made him realize he had to be very careful because the police are out there looking for people like him and if he were to be smart about it, he can beat the cops. His well-functioning prefrontal cortex helped him learn from his mistakes and allowed him to be able to adjust his careless behavior accordingly.
After his scare and run in with the police did not stop his sexual urges. He adjusted and moved from adults to adolescents. Younger victims allowed for easier control and there was a much lesser chance of getting tricked by another undercover police officer. Joey Fancher, the only one of Kraft’s victims to live and tell the tale. Joey was thirteen and had skipped school to go to the beach. This is where Kraft saw him and moved in. Kraft offered him a cigarette and started a conversation with him that led to Kraft asking if he had ever had sex with a woman. Joey answered no and Kraft asked if he’d like to. They sped off on Randy’s motorcycle to his apartment where he smoked marijuana with the boy. Joey, feeling woozy from the cannabis, was tricked into taking four red pills “to take the woozy feeling away” which he washed down with an alcoholic beverage that Kraft gave him. Kraft forced Joey to perform oral sex then brought him to the bedroom and repeatedly beat and raped him. Afterwards, Randy nonchalantly went to work.
Joey got stumbled out of Randy’s apartment, still drunk and in a drugged haze, and found help at a bar where people called 911. After a hospital trip, where his stomach was pumped, Joey, along with his family and two police officers, went to Kraft’s apartment where Joey had left his new shoes. The police officers found various pictures of men ejaculating on them, but since Joey did not mention the sexual abuse (as many victims do not, due to extreme embarrassment) and there was not a search warrant, Randy Kraft was not charged. Kraft learned from this (with help of his well-functioning prefrontal cortex). The under-part of the prefrontal cortex specializes in learning from experience and fine-tuning decision making based on past experience. He probably realized that the dead cannot tell tales and this is what will need to be done in order to not get caught.

III. Murderous Minds: How Violent Brains Malfunction
By looking at “The Freeway Killer’s” past, we never would guess that he was brought up in a loving middle-class home, conservative environment. He was gifted, placed in accelerated classes and attended the prestigious Claremont Men’s college where he, Randy Kraft, gained a degree in economics. He tells stories of fond memories with his parents, living by strawberry fields in rural Orange County. Kraft is now on death row, and it is estimated he has killed 64 boys and men between the times of September 1971 - May 1983. Some victims he shot, others he strangled. Kraft would socialize, drink a few beers with his victims and take them cruising in his car. He’d drug them with tranquilizers in their beer and torture, rape, kill and throw their bodies out of his car (hence the nick-name “Freeway Killer”). Kraft’s killing career was cut short when he was pulled over for erratic driving and was caught drinking when he walked up to the police car with a beer bottle in his hand. Sergeant Michael Howard saw a man slouched over in the passenger seat. He then became suspicious and knocked on the window, because he thought the passenger was sleeping. When he didn’t wake up or respond to him knocking, the sergeant opened the car door and after lifting up a jacket that was on the passenger’s lap, he noticed that his pants were undone, and his penis was sticking out. Then he noticed the ligature marks on his wrist from being tied up. Paramedics were called to the scene but it was too late, 25 year old Terry Gambrel, a U.S. Marine was drugged and strangled to death. A score card was found in Kraft’s trunk, which the nickname the “Scorecard Killer” evolved from. This card was a long, two columned hit list that told the police where and who some of the victims were. Kraft also left a sexual score next to each entry on the scorecard.
Proactive and Reactive Aggression
Randy Kraft is a predator and uses violence to get what he wants out of life, which is the definition of a proactive person. Randy is known as being “proactively aggressive” because of how he carefully planned his every move, he drugged his victims, had sex with them and afterwards he impassionedly murdered them. Kids who are proactively aggressive will often bully others for their lunch money or anything they may want. Proactive people tend to plan ahead, are regulated, and controlled. They are motivated by incentives that are either externally material or internally psychological. This type of person tends to be cold-blooded and dispassionate. Some examples of proactive serial killers are English man Harold Shipman who killed around 284 people (mostly elderly women); Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber; and Ted Bundy who carefully killed 35 young women. Reactive aggression killers are more hot-blooded and tend to emotionally lash out when in an area of proactive stimulus. Someone insulting and calling a reactive aggressor names, or verbally threatening him/her could cause them to hit back in anger. Reactive aggression is much more emotional and unregulated.
Prefrontal Control Relative to Limbic Activation The limbic system is the site of emotions and the more basic portion of our neural makeup. The amygdala fires up our emotions and stimulates both predatory and affective attack. Aggression is regulated and modulated by the hippocampus. When it is stimulated, predatory attack is set in motion. Between the emotional limbic areas and the regulatory cortical areas is a relay station called the thalamus. Emotional aggression is expressed by the midbrain. Their research found that both murderer groups showed higher activation of the sub-cortical limbic regions compared to the control group (non-murderous individuals); especially in the more emotional right hemisphere of the brain.
Functional Neuroanatomy of Murderous Minds
Raine and his colleagues found that images of murderer’s angular gyrus showed significantly lower glucose metabolism compared to controls’ scans. Another study in Sweden showed reduced cerebral blood flow to the angular gyrus in impulsive, violent criminals. Other researchers have also contended for angular gyral dysfunction in violent offenders. The angular gyrus is one of the latest areas of the brain to mature and the abilities it controls and regulates are complex and sophisticated such as arithmetic and reading. These abilities are not developed until late childhood, unlike the visual cortex which a newborn is able to use. If a child’s angular gyrus is not functioning properly, then his/her three R’s (reading, writing and arithmetic) will suffer. The three R’s are complex and involve integration of information across multiple domains and are essential foundations for creating and building an education. Since violent offenders tend to do poorly at school, they have problems finding jobs. Without a good job, a person may not make as much money as they want and may resort to violence to get what they want. The hippocampus and the area surrounding it, the parahippocampal gyrus is another region of the brain that is disturbed in offenders. A London story on antisocial conduct disordered boys showed reduced hippocampus function during an attention task. Swedish neuroscientist Henrik Soderstrom found reduced hippocampal functioning to be associated with higher psychopathy scores in violent offenders. American Kent Kiehl argued that the parahippocampal gyrus contributes to symptoms of psychopathy. German researchers also found reduced parahippocampal functioning in adult psychopaths, while Californian Daniel Amen found the same finding in impulsive murderers. This region of the brain makes up part of the emotional limbic system. It is known that psychopaths and other offenders have abnormal emotional responses. The hippocampus is part of the neural network that forms the basis for processing socially relevant information and is involved in recognizing and appraising objects. Disruption to this system could relate to the socially inappropriate behavior that is shown by some violent individuals. Misrecognition and misappraisal of ambiguous stimuli in social situations can result in violent encounters as well. The hippocampus also plays a role in fear conditioning. Antisocial and psychopathic individuals have a particular deficit in this form of learning; as we know psychopaths and most violent offenders tend to be fearless. Italian and Finish researchers have found a structural abnormality in the hippocampus of psychopaths, which plays an important role in fear conditioning and emotional response. The hippocampus is also a key component in the limbic circuit that regulates emotional behavior. It has been implicated in aggressive, antisocial behavior in animals and humans. The posterior cingulate is an area in the brain that is located toward the rear of the head, deep within the middle of the brain and is also known to be poorly functioning in adult criminal psychopaths, conduct-disordered boys, and aggressive patients. Due to this area of the brain is important in the recall of emotional memories and the experiencing of emotions; disturbance to this region will likely result in disturbance in emotion, including causing anger. The posterior cingulate is also involved in self-referential thinking (ability to reflect back at oneself and understand how his actions can harm others). This could help us understand why psychopaths fail to understand how his/her actions can harm others. Their thoughtless, antisocial acts and failure to accept responsibility for his actions could be a result from a damaged posterior cingulate.

Jolly Jane’s Voluptuous Brain
Jane Toppan, also known as Jolly Jane, joyfully killed at least thirty one people from 1895-1901. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Jane became one of the most successful private nurses and was known by her co-workers as being happy and outgoing. She enjoyed experimenting with her technique and with drugs. Jane was fascinated by the life and death power she could achieve over people with the use of drugs.
Insight into Jolly Jane’s murderous endeavors was possible because of Jane’s one lone survivor, Amelia Phinney, a thirty-six year old uterine ulcer patient. It was 1887 and Jane had given Amelia a strange, bitter tasting drink, supposedly for the pain, that made her body turn numb, her eyelids became heavy and severe fatigue set in. Something very strange then happened; Jane pulled back the covers, climbed into bed with Amelia and started to stroke her hair. She kissed her face and cuddled up to Amelia. Jane then peered into her eyes, as if she were a lover. After a series of weird embraces, Jane gave Amelia another drink but then abruptly left the room, probably because someone was coming. Amelia lived to tell her tale but didn’t tell it until Jane’s trial, fourteen years later; because she thought it must have been a dream from the medicine. It was just too odd of an event, it could not have been real, but it was. Jane did not understand why she felt no compassion or remorse for the many people she killed. She said, “...when I try to sense the condition of the children and all the consequences, I cannot realize what an awful thing it is. Why don’t I feel sorry and grieve over it? I cannot make any sense of it.” She knew what she was doing was wrong, but could not emphasize emotionally with the human suffering she had caused.
In 1902 she was found not guilty by means of insanity, but she knew full well what she was doing was wrong- so she was not insane, says Raine. He believes she had a defective amygdala and ventral prefrontal cortex because of her lack of feeling for what is moral.
Young Jane was known for being sociable and charming and had a reputation for being the life of the party. She exhibited psychopathic traits with pathological lying and deception by telling tales like her sister marrying an English Lord and the czar of Russia offering her a nursing job. She stole from her coworkers and patients, and also manipulated and conned her hospital supervisors. Her long list of victims included her step-sister and her step-sister’s husband. She was superficial and hid her personality disorder with a joyous and cheerful front. All of these characteristics are traits of psychopaths and psychopathy is a breeding ground for serial killers. After her trial, Jane confessed to killing over 100 people, even though she only gave detailed confessions of thirty one murders.
Raine’s gifted graduate student, Andrea Glenn conducted a study on the effects moral dilemmas have on the amygdala. She found that individuals with high psychopathic scores showed reduced activity in the amygdala during emotional, personal moral decision making. The amygdala, the neural seat of emotion, shows a bright luminosity in normal people (when looking at their brain scan) when faced with emotion provoking moral dilemmas. Highly psychopathic individuals’ scans are barely lit, however. These findings show that amygdala functioning is disrupted during moral decision-making in psychopathy. Without this amygdala activation, people would not think twice about conning, stealing, manipulating and killing others; and just like Jane; they happily hurt others without feeling any guilt or remorse.
The amygdala is essentially involved in replying to indications of suffering in others, consequently steering people away from antisocial behavior. James Blair, a leading psychopathy researcher, researched and concluded that psychopaths are less capable of identifying negative emotions (including fear and misery) in other peoples’ expressions.
IV. Cold-Blooded Killers: The Autonomic Nervous System (p.100)
Raine starts this chapter with putting the reader in a violent rape and murder situation. He starts by telling us that my (the reader’s) girlfriend becoming bored with me (a man) and wanting to leave with another man. A fight breaks out and all I wanted to do is have sex. I start walking home, see a woman and follow her until I push her into the bushes, rape her and stab her in the heart while gazing into her eyes.
At first, I was appalled and sick at the thought of what Raine was forcing me to envision, but he goes on to explain how violent offenders are not like us (or me). I have a conscience while many violent offenders do not even break a sweat when committing criminal acts. Raine declares that the nervous system of many offenders is not as “nervous” as the rest of us. They are biologically different, fearless, risk taking, conscience free personality that can result in criminal violent and even psychopathic behavior.
What does the Unabomber have in common with a bomb-disposal expert? Since both deal with deadly weapons, they both need nerves of steel along with a certain degree of fearlessness. Both are extremely intelligent and able to put fear aside.
Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, was a mathematical protégé who scored a 167 IQ at age eleven. He went to Harvard University when he was only sixteen years old and gained a PhD in mathematics from the University of Michigan. His IQ is above genius level, and was a highly intelligent and was most of the time a highly rational man.
Bomb-disposal experts have to be very intelligent in order to do what they do; but this is not the only thing that these experts have in common with violent criminals, low resting heart rate.
Hurtful Hearts
Aggressive and dominant rabbits have lower resting heart rates than the more subordinate, nonaggressive rabbits. When dominance is manipulated experimentally, their heart rates go down as dominance goes up. The same results have been found throughout the animal kingdom.
Raine mentions what I was thinking, that the idea that a low heart rate can raise the odds of someone becoming antisocial and violent may be too simple to believe. Raine then shows us how he took into account all studies that they could find that investigated this issue in child and adolescent samples. They found forty publications that involved a total of 5,868 children in order to paint a clearer picture of this idea. It turns out that antisocial kids really do have lower resting heart rates. He shows how this is clinically meaningful and significant; even when taking into account the gender heart rate differences and social factors. I believe violence has many factors and causes. There is not just one factor that is involved. Social properties, economics, family life, brain chemicals, genetics, and maybe even heart-rate may all be factors of violence. Even though I may not agree with all of his theories, Raine’s research brings about important questions and discussions.
V. Broken Brains: The Neuroanatomy of Violence
Sixty five year old Herbert Weinstein is an advertising executive who murdered his wife. It was Christmas time and he and his wife were in a heated argument. Herbert tried walking away, but his wife ran after him screaming and scratching his face. Something inside of Herbert snapped and he grabbed his wife by the throat. He strangled her until she died. Herbert panicked and threw her out the window. It didn’t take long for the cops to catch him and he was charged with second degree murder.
Weinstein had money for a good defense team and did not have any prior crimes on his record and had no history of violence. His lawyers suspected there was something unusual about this case so they referred him for a PET scan to map his brain functioning. The results were surprising. His prefrontal cortex had a huge chunk missing from it. A subarachnoid cyst was growing from his left frontal lobe and it displaced the tissue in both frontal and temporal cortices.
Neurologist Antonio Damasio was consulted during a pretrial hearing and asked his opinion on Weinstein’s ability to think rationally and control his emotions. Brain imaging data and even skin-conductance data was admitted in order to argue that Weinstein had an impaired ability to regulate his emotions and make rational decisions.
Weinstein agreed to a plea of manslaughter; which came with a sentence of seven years of prison compared to second degree murder which would have been a 25 year sentence. This case was very important because a PET scan was never used in this manner in a criminal trial. This was the first time that brain imaging was used in a capital case before the trial, in order to bargain down the crime and sentence. This case shows how a structural brain deficit in the left prefrontal cortex results in a functional brain abnormality that can predispose someone to violence.
Men and Women Brains Differ
Men and women differ in so many ways. Men are just plain meaner than women. They make up a much larger percent of the prison population and commit far more violent crimes compared to women. Men and women’s prefrontal brain volumes were compared to shed some light on why this could be. Men had 12.6% smaller volume reduction in the orbitofrontal gray when compared with women. Men who have a reduced ventral gray were found to be more antisocial than men with normal ventral gray volumes. But what is even more interesting and new in Raine’s analysis was that women with reduced ventral gray volumes were more antisocial than women with normal gray volumes. The same effect was found with antisocial women as with antisocial men. Men are more antisocial than women; this is a world-wide finding. Raine stated that if men and women were the same in terms of their ventral volume, the sex difference in crime would be cut down by 77%. This means that over half of the reason men and women differ in crime seems to be because their brains are physically different (p.151).

VI. Natural Born Killers: Early Health Influences
Born Bad Raine conducted a study on how a difficult birth can contribute to violent behavior. In Copenhagen, 4,269 live male births that occurred at the Rigshospitalet in 1959 were recorded and birth complications were assessed by obstetricians who were assisted by midwives. Forceps extraction, breech delivery, umbilical-cord prolapse, preeclampsia and long birth duration constituted as delivery complications. A year later the mothers were interviewed by social workers to find out if the mother wanted the pregnancy; and did she ever attempt to abort the fetus? They were also asked if her child was placed in a public institution for any reason for at least four months in the first year of the baby’s life. These indicators of maternal rejection were noted in their files. When the boys reached eighteen years old, Raine and his team conducted a national search of all court records in Denmark to find out which of these boys were arrested for violent crime(s). They were classified in four groups. Boys that did not experience birth complications and were not rejected by their mothers were the normal controls. Another group was of the boys that had birth complications but were not rejected by their mothers. The third group was of rejected boys that had a normal birth. The final group was of boys who were rejected and had difficult child births. As you can see, the fourth group of boys who were rejected and had complications at birth had over twice the violent percentage than the other three groups. This shows that having a difficult birth has a significant impact on boys and could lead to a violent future.
I am not completely convinced this is accurate. It is a hard pill to swallow that birth, an experience you do not remember, has that much of an impact. A person’s first four years of life has a huge impact on them emotionally and developmentally. I can sort of comprehend Raine’s theory. Birth is probably a very traumatic, painful experience. My son was induced and faced up instead of face down like he was supposed to be. I was pushing forever and Adrian kept bouncing off my pelvic bone and wasn’t able to come out. The doctor, who I admire to this day, grabbed the forceps (which looked like huge metal salad spoons) and stuck them up there. I was frightened and confused. He placed them around Adrian’s head and twisted him around. I felt Adrian flip and turn slowly inside me; it was alienistic and very weird. Then the vacuum, I’ll spare you the details on that one. Adrian had a huge bruise and hematoma on the top of his head. My poor baby.
His birth was very traumatic, not to mention when I was 5 months pregnant, my appendix busted and I had emergency surgery to get it out. It was right on the wound, but since I was put under anesthesia, Adrian was also put under. He had not only a traumatic child birth, but also a traumatic time in the womb. I would hope that this would not precursor him to violence.
If this were in fact a precursor to violence, and in the future, the government could use this as a way to guess who will commit crimes. They may use surveillance techniques to keep an eye on these people. Legally, this could be another reason for the government to use unnecessary surveillance on innocent people.

VII. A Recipe for Violence: Malnutrition, Metals, and Mental Health
Malnutrition and Violence
The Dutch Hunger Winter (1944-1945) was a difficult starving time for people in Holland. The Dutch government ordered railway workers in the Netherlands to strike and German troops had blown up bridges and docks and canals froze over, making it very difficult to find food. The land was barren from warfare which made it impossible to feed the people of the Netherlands. It was a very strenuous and tough time for the Dutch, especially pregnant women.
These babies were born extremely malnourished. This strenuous circumstance was a starting point into antisocial behavior for these babies. These male babies grew up and when they turned eighteen, had to undergo compulsory military service which subjected them to psychiatric examination that included formal assessment of antipersonality disorder (p.207). A study on the effects of prenatal malnutrition on later behavior was jumpstarted by this data.
Colleagues at New York Psychiatric Institute had a breakthrough when they conducted a detailed analysis on this data. They concluded that those who were exposed to famine were two and a half times more likely to develop antipersonality disorder in adulthood than those who were exposed to famine. These results were especially true if the food shortage occurred during the first and/or second trimester.
Environmental effects have a strong influence in causing brain impairments that can contribute to crime. This book explains how nutrient deficiencies can cause violent behavior later in life. Iron deficiency is especially important to look at. Iron is involved in DNA synthesis, neurotransmitter production and functioning and white matter formation in the brain. Studies show that children who’s diet were supplemented with iron, showed improved cognitive functioning. Poor nutrition raises the odds of behavior problems in a growing child.
VIII. The Biosocial Jigsaw Puzzle: Putting the Pieces Together Pioneering and brilliant researcher Sarnoff Mednick conducted a study on minor physical abnormalities (markers of fetal neural maldevelopment), family stability and violence. He concluded that twelve year old boys with more minor physical abnormalities committed more violent offences in adulthood. A biosocial interaction was found when he compared subjects from unstable homes with those from stable homes. This combination of minor physical abnormalities and being raised in an unstable home environment dramatically increases the rate of violent convictions at age twenty one. As you can tell from the graph below, being brought up in an unstable environment gives a 20% chance of committing violent acts. However, when minor physical abnormalities are also a factor, then the rate is three times bigger and jumps to 70%.
IX. Curing Crime: Biological Interventions Preventing violence, although sounding farfetched, seems like the best idea; especially when compared to waiting until your child is thrown into juvenile detention. Prevention starts at pregnancy. Raine reminds us of research which showed us that mothers who smoke during pregnancy are three times more likely to have offspring who become adult violent offenders. Now, maybe they become violent because mothers, who smoke while pregnant, are obviously uneducated and/or irresponsible; and this could ultimately be the reasoning behind how their children became violent offenders later in life. Regardless, smoking should always be avoided while pregnant. Poor nutrition during pregnancy may double the rate of antisocial personality disorder in adulthood. Eating well and taking prenatal vitamins is a good idea on all accounts, not just for preventing violence. Birth complications are another risk factor. Drinking alcohol while pregnant is another factor that is associated with later adult crime and violence. These are all biosocial issues that can be avoided in order to not only better children’s lives, but perhaps prevent people from becoming violent criminals. David Olds is an expert in these landmark studies that tackled all of the above biosocial influences with his research. He conducted a sample of 400 low social-class pregnant women who entered a random controlled trial (p.227). The group of pregnant women (called the Intervention group) had nine home visits with nurse practitioners during pregnancy, along with twenty-three follow up visits during the first two years of the child’s life- a critical time window in child development. These nurses gave advice on reducing smoking and alcohol use, improving their nutrition, and meeting the social, emotional and physical needs of the infant. The control group received standard care prenatal and postnatal. Follow-ups were done on the offspring for the first fifteen years of their lives. The results were remarkable. The children from the intervention group showed a 52.8% reduction in arrests and a 63% reduction in convictions, compared to the control group. They found a 56.2% reduction in alcohol use and 40% reduction in smoking. Amazingly, a whopping 91.3% reduction in truancy and destruction of property was seen as well. Why was this intervention experiment so effective? Babies were less likely to be of low birth weight by the mothers who were visited by nurses. At age four, the children and mothers were more sensitive and responsive toward each other. Less domestic violence was seen and more of the mothers entered their children in preschool. The mother’s executive functioning and mental health also improved. These improvements were especially seen with mothers who were not as intelligent and less competent. Supportive early learning helps development and can prevent violent behavior in children whose mothers were educated, supported with advice and healthier. This intervention costs $11,511 per mother (2006) but the government saved more in food stamps, Medicaid, and other financial aid for families. The government actually spent less on the intervention group than the control group; and this is not even including the savings from reduced crime and the priceless benefits of improving peoples’ lives.
A variety of medications have been found to be effective in reducing aggression. Newer antipsychotics show a large effect size of .90. Stimulants like methylphenidate are also extremely effective with .78 effect size. Mood stabilizers have a mid effect size of .40. Antidepressants have an effect size of .30. Drug treatment is effective in reducing aggression across many psychiatric conditions in childhood and adolescence such as ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder, mental retardation, and schizophrenia (p.291). Cognitive behavior therapy, which is known to be effective in treating numerous clinical disorders, is a well-accepted treatment for aggression and has an overall size effect of .30. Medications may seem easier and some may look more effective than non-medicinal therapy, but non-prescription tactics are always in the best interest in the child if it works. Medications have many side effects.
X. The Brain on Trial: Legal Implications This chapter began with the story of Michael Oft. His behavior started to change dramatically at the age of forty. He all of a sudden began frequenting massage parlors, collecting child pornography, pulled a chunk of his wife’s hair out, and he molested his step daughter while putting her to bed one night. After being convicted and sent to a psychiatric hospital, he solicited sexual favors from female staff and other clients at the rehabilitation center. The night before he was about to be kicked out of the center and thrown in prison, he complained of a head ache. They at first turned him away, but after he threatened his life, urinated on himself, and threatened to rape his landlord, a neurologist noticed, put clues together, and ordered a brain scan. Mr. Oft’s scan revealed a huge tumor growing at the base of his orbitofrontal cortex and compressing the right prefrontal region of his brain (p.304). After the tumor was extracted, Mr. Oft’s emotion, cognition, and sexual activity returned to normal. He felt extreme guilt and anguish for what he had done to his step-daughter, no longer propositioned female staff members and no longer wanted to rape his landlady or to commit suicide. His behavior was entirely appropriate for a long time until his headaches came back. Mr. Oft began to collect child pornography again. After a re-scan, the neurologist found that the tumor had grown back. Once again, Oft got it removed and recovered. His behavior and sexual urges went back to normal again. This case is important in demonstrating that there is a casual link between brain dysfunction and deviant behavior. Mr. Oft went from a normal behaving man to having pedophilic urges due to having a tumor on his brain, twice. This raises a very important legal question: Was Mr. Oft responsible for his behavior?
Free Will
Early biological and genetic mechanisms along with social and environmental factors play important roles. Donta Page was abused as a child and suffered from a substantial head injury when he was two years old. He was in and out of the emergency room throughout his childhood. He “fell out of a car window,” knocked unconscious by a swing, and at six months old he fell off the top bunk bed. When Donta was three, he moved into one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Washington D.C. He was sent back and forth between his mother and aunt, which made it hard to form connections and bond with them. This also prevented Donta from having sustained stability. He was left home alone to fend for himself quite often. Donta was found sleeping in old abandoned houses rather than go home to face more abuse. This is how bad he had it.
Donta was beaten for wetting his pants, punched in the head so hard it caused him to have severe headaches, burned with cigarettes, as an infant he was repeatedly shaken vigorously because he was crying, he was whipped with electrical cords, beaten for having bad grades and it was documented that by the time he was ten, his mother was hitting him with closed fists. His mother once beat him because his teacher suspected he had ADHD. His mother wasn’t the only one abusing Donta; he had been violently raped by a next door neighbor when he was ten.
At thirteen, he was admitted into the ER again because his mother hit him on the side of his head with an iron. He had welts all over his arms and body from being whipped with the cord. This was documented child abuse, but no action was taken and went home with his abusive mother.
Donta was committing property crimes by sixteen and was sent to juvenile detention center. He was later being tried for homicide, as an adult. During this trial, his defense attorney pointed out that Donta had been referred by teachers and probation agents for psychological treatment but never received one treatment session.
Since Donta had no intervention and no therapy was given to him, it is no surprise he lived a life of violence and crime. He robbed and killed Peyton Tuthill in Denver, Colorado. Raine had been contacted before the trial and set up a PET scan for Donta. Raine had Donta conduct the same type of cognitive test and scans he had done with many murderers for his research project. Actually, Donta Page was brought across state lines from Colorado to California in order to use the same PET scan and methodology that was used for the previous research experiment. His brain scan was presented by Raine at his trial and compared to fifty-six normal controls. Raine gave his opinion to the court: Donta showed clear evidence of reduced functioning in the medial and orbital regions of the prefrontal cortex, as well as the right temporal pole.
The medial prefrontal cortex, especially the frontal pole, is involved in behavior control, moral decision making, empathy, social judgment, and insight onto one’s self. The ventral prefrontal cortex, including the orbitofrontal cortex, is critically involved in emotion regulation, impulse control, fear conditioning (the ability to switch behavioral response strategies, compassion and caring for others, and sensitivity to others’ emotional state. Patients with damage to these areas of the brain show impulsivity, loss of self-control, immaturity, lack of tact, inability to modify and inhibit inappropriate behavior, poor social judgment, loss of intellectual flexibility, and poor reasoning, and problem solving skills, as well as psychopathic like personalities and behavior. These are strong predispositions to violent and antisocial behavior. “Prefrontal dysfunction is especially characteristic of impulsive killers”, says Raine.
Family member’s testimonies explained how Page’s mother repeatedly shook Page because he cried too much. When a baby is shaken, their brain hits the inside of the skull, with the orbitofrontal and frontal-temporal pole areas rubbing against bony protuberances. The PET scan was quite consistent with Donta’s history of abuse.
Donta’s resting heart rate was 60 beats per minute which puts him at the bottom three percent when compared to other males his age. Raine believes that a low resting heart rate is one of the best-replicated biological correlates of anti-social behavior. It shows fearlessness and is an indicator of low arousal that can turn into stimulation-seeking behavior.
Donta had many social and biological predispositions toward a life of violence. His mother was a teen when she got pregnant, had birth complications, gave Donta a uncaring horrific, abusive childhood, and there was no father present. He also lived in a impoverished neighborhood. A disconnection between the frontal cortex and the limbic system most likely occurred because of vigorous shaking he endured as a baby. Total neglect, physical and sexual abuse was present in his life as well. He had learning disabilities, multiple head injuries, a family history of mental illness and depression, ADHD and had impaired executive functioning and memory. Donta had low physiological arousal, poor functioning orbitofrontal and medial prefrontal cortex and reduced temporal-pole functioning. This shows Donta was a walking time bomb waiting to go off. These are all risk factors towards a recidivistic violent criminal. Page was found guilty but was spared the death penalty. The court agreed that biosocial circumstances predisposed Page towards violence.
United States law says that legal responsibility is defined in terms of mental capacity, (the capacity of rational thought). A person must know what they are doing and that it is wrong in order to be responsible for their act. A person who has a physical abnormality on his/her brain which is causing them to act, think, and feel different; where they cannot tell right from wrong, should not have to be accountable for his/her actions. If this person did not know what they were doing or they did not know that it was wrong, then they are not responsible for their actions. But, where do we draw the line?
XI. The Future: Where Will Nuerocriminalology Take Us? Raine believes that repeated violent offending is a clinical disorder just like cancer, depression, and anxiety are viewed today (p.336). He expressed this view in his 1993 book, The Psychology of Crime: Criminal Behavior as a Clinical Disorder. He warns that he is not referring to someone who loses his temper one day and slaps someone, but to the violent individuals who repeatedly commit major criminal violence offences. He also would include non-violent antisocial criminal offenders in this category
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders defines a disorder as a Mental Disorder that is a health condition characterized by significant dysfunction in an individual’s cognitions, emotions, or behaviors that reflects a disturbance in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning. Some disorders may not be diagnosable until they have caused clinically significant distress or impairment of performance.
Violent offenders function abnormally, including in the way they think, feel, and behave. With more research we can better understand why and how this happens so that we have better ways of dealing with people who have a violent demeanor. The research in this book raises a lot of questions. If we can understand violent behavior better, then we can try to prevent it from happening. Better psychology programs and genetic analysis to better prepare the parents so they can raise them accordingly.
The Anatomy of Violence was an interesting read, even though Raine repeated himself quite a bit. I did not enjoy the final chapter, for it was set in the future and was a bit of a long shot. However, the first half of the book was great. I was intrigued and it brought up important issues in law as well as science; both of which I thoroughly enjoy. Neurobiology, social sciences and law have to be my favorite subjects to read about and study. Raine’s writing technique is very easy to follow and read and I would recommend this book, but wouldn’t include the final chapter. The stories, definitions and his examples give the reader a better understanding on violent behavior and the law.

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...Mythology Name Institution Mythology Ancient Greeks were a highly religious people. They believed in many gods who had superhuman powers and strength and appeared in human form. Prometheus was an ancient Greek god, son of Lapetis and Themis. He was brother to Atlas, Menoetius and Epimetheus. He became considered as the god of wily intelligence, craftsmanship and forethought. His main work was to create mankind out of clay (earth and water). It is from this work that Prometheus developed his fond liking for mankind (Jone, 2009). He strived to make mankind have more power than the liking of Zeus who was the supreme ruler of the gods. Ancient Greek viewed Prometheus as the god who championed mankind’s interest. Prometheus is famous for a couple of incidences discussed below. THE STORY OF FIRE According to classic Greek mythology; at some point in the reign of Zeus, mankind and gods were disputing and to settle the dispute, Zeus and Prometheus devised a ceremonial party in the form of animal sacrifice. Once slaughtered, Prometheus divided the animal parts into two. In one part, he wrapped up ox-bones in fat of the slaughtered animal while the other part he wrapped up the main ox-meat using its stomach lining. To rival Zeus judgment ability, he presented both parts of the sacrifice to Zeus while wrapped and proceeded to ask Zeus to choose from the two. Zeus proceeded to choose the part covered in fat not knowing it only contained bones in......

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