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The physical and biological abnormalities are generally responsible for criminal behaviour. In other words, the criminal is viewed as a biological organism characteristically different, abnormal, defective and inferior, both biologically and physiologically.
The physio-biological explanation of criminal behaviour inspired Prof. Franz Joseph Gale to develop the doctrine of phrenology showing relationship between head conformation and personal characteristics of a person. He first published his work on this topic in 1791. His disciple John Gapser Spurzheint carried this doctrine to England and United States in early twenties of nineteenth century.
An American criminologist Dr. Caldwell showed keen interest in phrenology and published his Elements of Phrenology’ in 1824. The doctrine underlined three basic propositions:—
(i) The exterior of the skull conforms to the interior, and to the shape of the brain;
(ii) The mind consists of faculties; and
(iii) These faculties are related to the brain and skull.
Dr. Caldwell emphasised that sentiments control the propensities and are aided by will to govern the whole conduct or act of a person. Thus, ‘will’ and ‘spirit’ were supreme in controlling the human behaviour. The theory has, however, been disapproved being purely hypothetical in nature and has now fallen into disuse.
Bio-chemical researches have tried to show that hormonal imbalances have an adverse effect on criminality. In other words, hormonal imbalances affect the thinking power of the brain and control over nervous system and this may lead to criminality. But the general consensus does not accept these findings.
The more accepted view is that hormonal imbalances may act as catalyst for criminal behaviour and provide a favourable biological environment for crime causation but criminality cannot be attributed to these imbalances alone. However, imbalances in sex hormones does affect human behaviour. Particularly, great hormonal changes usually occur in women just before and during menstruation period commonly referred to as PMT and MT.
Likewise, physiological factors such as age, sex and certain endocrinal imbalances also seem to have a correlation with the criminality of offenders. Adolescents and juveniles are more prone to offences like stealing, vandalism and sexual assaults as they readily fall a prey to the urges of sex and other lustful activities because of their tender age.
The offences of theft, gambling, drunkenness, breach of traffic rules etc., are more common with young persons who are normally between the age group of 18 to 30 years. This is probably because of the fact that these offences involve considerable display of courage, boldness and adventure which these young person’s normally possess.
Persons advanced in age and experience is more prone to offences like white collar crime, fraud, cheating, embezzlement etc., because the nature of these crimes requires maturity of mind and tact to handle intricate situations in case of detection.