Inventing the Criminal: A History of German Criminology, 1880-1945

By Richard F. Wetzell | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER FIVE

VARIETIESOFCRIMINALBIOLOGY
INTHEWEIMARYEARS

Despite the considerable advances in criminal sociology discussed in the previous chapter, research in this field was overshadowed by what came to be known as "criminal biology" during the Weimar years. The predominance of medico‐ biological over sociological research on the causes of crime that had begun with the late nineteenth-century reception of Lombroso was bolstered by an enormous expansion of psychiatric research on the causes of crime in the 1920s.

The great interest in criminological research among psychiatrists was closely connected to several broader developments in early twentieth-century German psychiatry. Most fundamentally, psychiatrists became increasingly concerned with the welfare and protection of society as a whole rather than the individual patient. 1. Moreover, psychiatric research on the connection between crime and mental abnormalities was part of psychiatry's expansion beyond full-fledged mental illness into the vast area of borderline abnormalities. 2. Both of these developments had begun in the prewar years, but they were greatly accelerated by the role that German psychiatry played in the war effort and therefore became more salient during the Weimar Republic. 3. In addition, psychiatric

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1.
Heinz-Peter Schmiedebach, "The Mentally Ill Patient Caught between the State's Demands and the Professional Interests of Psychiatrists," in Medicine and Modernity: Public Health and Medical Care in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Germany, ed. Manfred Berg and Geoffrey Cocks (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 114, 118.
2.
Henry Werlinder, Psychopathy: A History of the Concepts (Uppsala: University, 1978); German Berrios, "Personality Disorders: A Conceptual History," in Personality Disorder Reviewed, ed. Peter Tyrer and George Stein (London: Gaskell, 1993), 17-41; Heinz-Peter Schmiedebach, "Zum Verständniswandel der `psychopathischen' Störungen am Anfang der naturwissenschaftlichen Psychiatrie in Deutschland," Der Nervenarzt 56 (1985): 140-45.
3.
Paul Lerner, "Rationalizing the Therapeutic Arsenal: German Neuropsychiatry in World War I," in Medicine and Modernity, ed. Berg and Cocks, 121-48; Doris Kaufmann, "Science as

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