Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/854

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
830
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tween ideas and sentiments in the genesis of homicide. In this place Ferri recapitulates his famous classification of homicides into madmen born; homicides habitual, by occasion, and by passion; and finds that among these types the most characteristic and marked are the homicides born and the insane homicides, with whom alone he is occupied in this volume.[1]

He then exposes with a large array of facts the most marked psychological characteristics of the born homicide which constitute his psychic condition before committing his crime. These characteristics are moral insensibility; insensibility toward the victim, toward the sufferings of others, a cold ferocity in the execution of crime, which is sometimes pushed to cannibalism; an apathetic impassibility after committing the crime and even in sight of the corpse of the victim; quiet sleep after the committal of the deed. These characteristics—indifference at sight of the sufferings and death of others—are extended to the personality of the murderer himself. Such persons are noted for their moral and physical insensibility with regard to themselves, which is sometimes pushed to the point of analgesia, to impassibility to their own punishment, to indifference to death, and which also manifests itself in the frequency of suicides among delinquents. They are also cruel and insensible toward their own accomplices, whom they will betray and even kill. This ferocity, this indifference, this insensibility, of born homicides, serve as a psychological explanation of other characteristics which are conjoined to these and which help to support these views. Indifference is chronic, manifesting itself also in a preoccupation with most trifling things quite outside of the crime committed or of a diverse character, and which certainly can not by any means be attributed to a supposed corruption during confinement. They feel no repugnance to the idea or to the act of homicide before the crime. They have no moral sense, they use expressions which pertain to honest work or expressions which ridicule their crime, which they regard as a simple transgression. They do not hesitate to boast beforehand of the crime they intend to commit, as though it would do them credit; and even admit that they are disposed to commit many more; they have not, in short, any remorse concerning their offense. To this absence of remorse, of which Ferri traces the differential characteristics, must be added the obstinate denial, the disinclination to repair the injury done or to repent, the indifference to escape punishment, the easy adaptation to prison life.


  1. The invention of this gradation and variety of types among criminals, certainly the most fecund and fundamental, so cleverly carried into the camp of criminal anthropology, has already been put forward by Ferri before the publication of this his latest work, and he has every right to be proud of it.