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CCJ5606 Theorist Paper – Adrian Raine Leigh A. Clark
Raine’s Theory of Psychopathology and Crime – Historical Perspectives
Adrian Raine is arguably one of criminology’s most exciting researchers seeking to implicate biological and physiological anomalies in antisocial, criminal behavior. His laboratory findings of physical brain and response-oriented differences between criminals and non-criminals permeate his clinical and applied theories regarding the etiology of the aforementioned behavior. As an interdisciplinary scientist, Dr. Raine seemingly seeks to integrate the ideas of all fields tangential to criminology rather than to pontificate about a biological predisposition to crime in a vacuum. Although novel in technology and approach, Raine’s work builds on very early suppositions about criminal predisposition surrounding physical appearance and evolution and incorporates modern knowledge of genetics, anatomy and physiology. It is more readily accepted to study the effects of drugs (including alcohol) on crime, but the pharmacology is based on underlying physiology and the functional anatomy of the human nervous and endocrine systems. Unlike a sociologist’s hypothetical approach, Raine isolates the brain and behavior component under all circumstances, drug laden and drug free.
Adrian Raine, D. Phil. completed his undergraduate work in Experimental Psychology in 1977 at Oxford University after a stint as an airline accountant. His formal education continued at York University ending in a doctoral in Psychology in 1982. Work as a prison psychologist, a decidedly clinical role, preceded his appointments within the world of academia, which eventually led him to the United States and a career with the University of Southern California in 1987, where he currently holds the honor of the Robert G. Wright Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychology. This juxtaposition of training in experimental psychology and clinical contact obviously played a role in the formation of his theories, which differed significantly from the prevalent sociological suppositions of the time during which they were formed and still hold weight amongst modern researchers. His text, The Psychopathology of Crime: Criminal Behavior as a Clinical Disorder (1993b), is a quintessential review of the body of knowledge on the biological basis of criminal behavior. From the consideration of basic science to environmental factors, he provides a complete argument for consideration of criminal behavior as disorder by presenting nomenclature, taxonomy, and elucidating interactions between biology and behavior. His work does not seek to isolate the brain, the body or the mind as a sole contributing factor. Ironically, it is this integrative approach that elicits controversy amongst his contemporaries who seem to cling to sociological, psychological or biological suppositions without falter.
Mid-century through the 1980’s saw the rise of Marxism, Labeling Theory and an emphasis on the “social response”. Authors such as Braithwaite wrote volumes about the subculture of deviance and how it mirrored “normal” culture in its structure. Control Theories and Environmental Crime Theories also spanned the past few decades concomitant with the emergence of new social theories derived from Feminism and Ethnocentricity. Fortunately, as the 1978 meeting of the America Society of Criminology’s theme “Criminology: International and Interdisciplinary” suggests, the field would begin to at least have a peek at tangential sciences (Jeffery, 1979:7). However, it should also be noted that surges of discovery in biology fueled by revelations about genetics and molecular cell biology from the 1950’s and 60’s were highly controversial in social, scientific and political arenas. Even today, attorneys and lawmakers embrace a conservative position steeped in classical criminology, whereas sociologists favor a positivist approach. Neither is integrative of psychobiological principles elucidated within the past few decades and both ignore the wealth of empirical research supporting the brain and body relationship in areas of aggressive, sexual, parental and stress-related behavior.
Another aspect of popular criminology that has permeated society and fought against those who share Raine’s understanding and theorization is the premise of social learning and crime as it relates to exposure to violence in the media. Sociologists tout correlations between watching graphic television shows and the commission of violent crime, making grandiose suppositions about race, gender, age and socioeconomic status and responsibility for subsequent behaviors (Gunter, 1998: 700; Hepburn, 1997: 244). Music lyrics and video games have also become targets, although the inability to tease out other environmental and social factors leaves these arguments wavering at best (Sherry, 2001: 427). Although such relationships are clearly defined, they ignore the biological aspects of sensory input, hormonal and autonomic regulation, mental illness, and aggression.
Although biological roots of criminology began in the 1800’s with Cesare Lombroso’s depiction of criminals as different in physical appearance and William Sheldon’s mid-century physical measurement projects, contemporary theorists such as Raine have grown to incorporate knowledge of genetics, physiology and pharmacology. Do they base their theories on fictional greats such as Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein Stevenson’s 1886 or The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? Arguably, although these historical stories are strangely ahead of their respective times in the disturbed criminal thriller genre, modern suppositions about the relationships amongst biological underpinnings and crime are significantly less far-fetched.
Whereas Dr. Raine’s initial publications in the field provided theoretical explanations for his findings and reasoning behind his approach to studying criminal behavior, his career seems to have grown into that of a more empirically minded researcher more involved in applied research than theory, per se. Early studies involving English prison populations sought to elucidate any similarities amongst offenders with respect to psychopathy as opposed to other more self-report oriented and offense-based surveys (Raine, 1985; Raine, 1987b). Within the same time frame, Raine sought to reveal relationships between the presentation of various personality disorders and socio-environmental backgrounds in prisoners while using electrophysiology and psychophysiology as indicators of the disorders themselves (Raine, 1987a). Given his work and that of other psychobiologists examining evoked potentials to date, Raine developed and published his Information Processing and Sensation Seeking models of psychopathy (Raine, 1989a; Raine, 1989b).
Raine, in his text The Psychopathology of Crime, reviewed concordance rates of twin studies and lends credit to behavioral genetics for input into the field (1993: 55). Raine himself, however, has concentrated on studies of the electrophysiology of the schizotypal or criminal brain and autonomic nervous system activity and functional brain anatomy in similar populations. Drawing from both psychology and sociology, Raine’s theories seek to relate social, environmental and adaptive ideas to biological and behavioral manifestations.
A significant collection of Raine’s published work examines psychophysiology and autonomic response with respect to comparing children’s behaviors at various stages and in comparing behavior of those with diagnosed mental illness versus criminals. Longitudinal studies conducted by Raine typically involve physiological testing in juvenile males followed by reassessment in the mid-20 age range (Raine, 1990; Raine 1991). These studies and the discussion thereof seem to summarize Raine’s belief in a genetic predisposition to crime. To support his theories, Raine has often used batteries and tests accepted in clinical fields (Ishikawa, 2001; Raine, 1985; Raine 1987). In keeping with many popular biosocial theories, Raine posits that a lack of stimuli and encouragement in children is associated with antisocial and/or violent behavior. He demonstrates a relationship between these givens and underlying autonomic nervous system characteristics (Raine, 1996; Raine, 1984). For example, he demonstrates a relationship between underarousal, hyporeactivity as measured by skin conductance and heart rate, and aggressiveness in young people (Raine, 1996: 58).
Studies assessing neuroanatomical deficits have lead to theories regarding relationships between the prefrontal cortex, which is predominantly responsible for human higher-order thought and judgment, and antisocial, schizotypal and criminal behaviors (Raine, 2002a; Raine, 1994; Raine, 1992; Raine, 1997; Raine, 2000). Specifically, Raine addresses the question of the criminally insane murderer by demonstrating reduced glucose utilization in the prefrontal cortex of murderers compared with a control group (Raine, 1997: 497). This same study also reports that the limbic system structures of murderers operate with less efficacy. The amygdale and septum are widely accepted as structures responsible for affect such as anger and social appropriateness. In a study utilizing Positron Emission Topography, Raine examined neural differences between predatory versus affective impulsive murderers (Raine, 1998). Theories regarding the types of deficits shared by killers with similar behavior that presumably preempted this study were supported. For example, prefrontal deficits were more pronounced in the affective impulsive murderers than predatory killers indicating that they may suffer from a lack of ability to control situation-specific anger (327). Similarly, antisocial personality disorder is frequently associated with criminal behaviors such as homicide. Raine posits that prefrontal brain matter also plays a role in both the illness and the action (Raine, 2000). Other brain structures, such as the temporal lobe and corpus callosum have been subject to Raine’s demonstration of the brain and criminality relationship (Gatzke-Kopp, 2001; Raine, 1989).
Although the incorporation of more sophisticated techniques has broadened Raine’s ability to assess various physiological and/or anatomical criteria, his method of elucidating relationships between the biological and behavioral is the underlying characteristic of his theories. The theories themselves appear to have evolved predominantly from biosocial principles. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Raine does not seek to disprove psychological or sociological discussions of criminal behavior, but rather he seeks to intercalate biological principles into those hypotheses.
Raine has received criticism from myriad disciplines, partially owing to the multidisciplinary style of his research and theory formulation. Proponents of the psychological roots of crime might propose that a person’s biology fluctuates whereas his personality remains static. A true Freudian might present the argument that criminals subconsciously wish to be caught and punished by society. Behavioralists and learning theorists may subscribe to a belief that criminal acts are conscious decisions based on modeling or learning and expectancies. Whereas traditional texts emphasize a one-sided argument or a particular discipline and its respective theories, modern texts written by academics provide a more balanced representation of theories (Jeffery, 1997; Cassel, 2001). These examples provide conflicting theories while encouraging the reader to maintain an open mind.
Social researchers criticize Raine’s theories of biological underpinnings by attacking the populations he uses in his electrophysiological and neuroanatomical studies. Authors such as Blumstein point to gender differences in the commission of crime as a social phenomenon (1986). Arguably, however, gender itself is based in biology. Psychological proponents will call upon research indicating that criminal behavior is voluntary, although much of the data are self-report. Likewise psychological theorists will find fault in Raine for discussing biological sources of criminal behavior for fear of a medical model of prevention.
With respect Raine’s critics, they include those who attack his methodology and/or interpretation in addition to those with divergent theories. The September 1989 volume of the ^ offers a candid group of reviews and commentaries stemming from Raine’s evaluation of evoked potential (EP) models of psychopathy. These studies are interpreted by Raine as being indicative of a dysfunctional arousal, cortical augmentation, and criminal manifestation of enhanced EPs for certain tasks. It is the last component that comes under the most scrutiny. Whereas Raine feels research should address the performance proficiencies of criminals in addition to their social and biological deficits. Jutai’s writing in this volume argues that Raine’s suggestion of an information-processing model of psychopathy is better explained by cortical immaturity on behalf of the individual criminal (Jutai, 1989: 22). Furthermore, Jutai argues that Raine did not include sufficient evidence from the studies of event-related potentials in psychopathic adults in formulating his theories (17). In the same issue, Howard argues that Raine’s information-processing theory is based on data confounded by the presentation of multiple modalities (Howard, 1989:23). Similar to the critique supplied by Jutai, Howard prefers a maturational explanation to Raine’s processing deficit theories (26).
Raine’s theories regarding the relationship between psychopathology or biology and crime are currently popular. Although many criminologists identify with or develop research within the realms of social sciences, they can appreciate the boundaries between brain and mind that Raine breaches. This is due partly to the novelty of the techniques he uses in elucidating physiological differences and variations of functional anatomy between criminals and non-criminals. Additionally, because Raine’s experiments date only back to the mid 1980’s, his theories are considered somewhat novel in criminology, which is more deeply rooted in sociology. More widely considered are his suppositions about characteristics of juveniles, which may preempt later criminal behavior in those aged 20 to 30 (Brennan et. al., 1997b; Raine, 2002c; Raine, 1990a; Raine1990b; Raine, 1995). The 1980’s held a place for considering the relationships between biology and antisocial behaviors as demonstrated by MacMillan (1984), and a trend of including considerations of biology in reviews of crime or behavior and biosocial theory, as seen in af Klinteberg’s writing in the journal Neuropsychobiology (1996) perpetuates. However, studies of the specificities of these relationships have not yet arisen in criminological literature. In a tangential field, numerous studies regarding the biopsychology of victims exist (Bromet, 1998; Resnick, 1997; De Bellis, 1994). Numerous suppositions have been made about the altered neuropsychological and autonomic function of victims as being directly related to their experiences, whereas few studies exist examining the reversal, that criminals act due to altered function.
In 1994, the highly revered journal Science published a letter penned by Raine, Brennan, and Mednick entitled “Violence and Biology”. A search of the National Institute of Health’s Medline database reveals at least 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals on this same topic or relationship since 1994. A similar query incorporating mental illness and crime reveals equally as many publications. One particularly interesting area of research tangential to Raine’s physiological theories of autonomic responsiveness and criminal behavior stems from research in toxicosis in certain neurons due to suppression of reactions to autonomic stimuli (Van Winkle, 2000). Although criminology is becoming an increasingly popular underlying theme to biological research, the interest does not seem to be reciprocated. Not only does a search of abstracts from meetings of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences yield few papers of relevant to biology, the call for papers for 2003 lacks a topic area appropriate to this type of research and models. The American Society of Criminology does, however, index both biological factors and biosocial approaches in their publication, Criminology and Public Policy. Additionally, abstracts from their meetings may fall under these same two headings, although only two representative studies appear, in 1990 and 1993 respectively.
Genetics has crept onto the scene in areas concerned with policy and ethics concerning the mental health system’s duty to warn of the likelihood of criminality, although criminal behavior in and of itself is still not considered a mental disorder. Interdisciplinary research centers, for example consider the University of South Florida’s Department of Mental Health Law and Policy, seem to be spring up under the auspices of the behavior sciences, but investigators who lean toward the biological end of the research spectrum seem to have less involvement in these think tanks. Although most psychologists and biologists greatly appreciate classic studies that undoubtedly link biology and behavior as demonstrated by the popularity of the text Behavioral Endocrinology, which devotes entire chapters to the brain as an endocrine gland and aggressive behavior, the stress response, and cognitive function, the illicit behaviors accepted as being at least biologically governed never seem to be cumulatively grouped as criminal (Becker, 1993).
Obviously, a degree of fear emanates from sociologists and policymakers when confronted with theories that suggest criminal behavior is not necessarily conscious or influenced solely by factors that may be controlled by society. Others ponder the nature versus nurture question with regards to nervous system lesions, instant evolution, and biological predispositions. These fears combined with a seemingly imminent medical model based on these principles make theories such as Raine’s somewhat unattractive. Conversely, data are being collected daily by medical professionals and biological researchers that indicate this is not transient area of study. Battles over data analysis and inference are popular between social and biological scientists, but the presence of some definitive relationships cannot be ignored.
Behaviors outlined as being associated with various lesions, abnormalities and deficiencies of the central and autonomic nervous systems are clearly criminal. The 1990s were earmarked as the “decade of the brain” and brain research; however, the volume of research surfacing in the new millennium may prove to earn it the title of the decade of the criminal brain within many circles, indicative of the popularity of theorists such as Adrian Raine.
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