Insanity and Crime: Early American Positivism
Prior to the early 1800s, insanity was commonly viewed as the by-product of both weak intellect and free will. Physicians who subscribed to the Classical School of criminology simply did not see insanity as a disease. With the emergence of the Positivist School, this perception began to change. Positivism provided the foundation for an empirical examination of insanity as well as evidence that insanity was the result of pathology. The impact of positivist ideas on the study of insanity is vital to a discussion of criminology. Positivist tenets led to the birth of evidence-based ideas and practices, which have resulted in the development of the theories discussed in this encyclopedia. The Positivist School of criminology was officially conceived in 1876, with Italian Cesare Lombroso's publication of The Criminal Man . Lombroso earned the prestigious title “father of positive criminology” by ingeniously applying the scientific method to the study of criminals. ...