Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime” as Want to Read:
The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  702 Ratings  ·  95 Reviews
With a 4-page full-color insert, and black-and-white illustrations throughout

Why do some innocent kids grow up to become cold-blooded serial killers? Is bad biology partly to blame? For more than three decades Adrian Raine has been researching the biological roots of violence and establishing neurocriminology, a new field that applies neuroscience techniques to investigate
ebook, 528 pages
Published April 30th 2013 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2013)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Anatomy of Violence, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Anatomy of Violence

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Augustin Erba
May 12, 2013 Augustin Erba rated it it was ok
Sometimes one comes across a non-fiction book where the author, however eloquent and entertaining, have managed to misunderstand a key concept that unfortunately thwarts a lot of his ideas. Adrian Raine presents some interesting scientific research, and presents some controversial suggestions at the end of the book.

Unfortunately the text is deeply flawed with his lack of understanding of basic statistical and probability concepts. A non-fiction writer who leans heavily on mathematic results mus
May 07, 2013 Olga rated it did not like it
Why does this type of book continue to be published after literally centuries of debate? Shouldn't phrenology have put an end to it?

This book is mostly about bad evolutionary psychology ("Men are warriors; women are worriers"), plus genetic studies that can't prove anything because they don't look at noncriminal individuals. Except when they do and find a whole lot of normal people who have no inkling of criminality despite possessing the same gene.

Knowing that people will read this anyway, I r
May 22, 2013 Lou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The information contained within, the evidences and theories, may help us have a safer and more humane society in the future or it may not, but you will read some shocking facts found in piecing together the anatomy of violence.
Have you ever wondered at the evil that men do and the theories why?
Behind the fictional characters like Donald Draper of Mad Men, Norman Bates of Psycho, and Rambo of First Blood there is an unseen tapestry, of thinking and behaviour.
Behind the shocking truths that hit
Darcia Helle
First, I want to emphasize that this is not a light, pop science kind of read. This is one of those detailed books requiring commitment and attention.

Adrian Raine gives us an in-depth look at brain functions, linking specific factors to the cause of violent behavior. Along with the scientific research, Raine offers fascinating case studies of violent criminals whose behavior can be explained by brain anomalies. In closing, he offers intriguing and controversial ideas for a new approach in dealin
Sep 01, 2014 Ali rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
There is an excerpt from this book on The Guardian's site

In the excerpt, the author tells about his vacation in Turkey in 1989, where his girlfriend and him become the victim of a burglary. The story seems more or less plausible until you read the last paragraph.

"After the verdict, one of the judges ushered me and my translator over to the bench. He told us that the defendant would be brought back later for sentencing and that it would be a prison sentence
Jan 01, 2014 Carolyn rated it did not like it
“Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime” by Adrian Raine. This farrago of pseudoscience written by a criminologist is everything that’s wrong with “evolutionary” theories about human behavior wrapped up and deposited between two covers. Jam-packed with dubious speculation based on misperceptions of how evolution works, “Anatomy of Violence” is all the more alarming because Raine seems to think the ideas in it ought to have a role in public policy. Not just a bad book, but a potential ...more
Tim Petersik
Jun 07, 2013 Tim Petersik rated it it was amazing
I'm amazed by some of the low ratings this book received. I found Raine's arguments to be balanced in that he always provided the counterarguments and pointed out how far you could "push" the findings he reported. The literature covered was comprehensive. I was especially surprised by the suggestion that Raine didn't have a good grasp of his statistics. He frequently mentioned the percentage of variance accounted for by a finding and compared it to other medical phenomena. Some of the stories he ...more
I give this book a 2.5 stars, sure some information in this book is very interesting but other times I feel like the author confused correlation for causation, and many times felt like he completely ignored certain aspects of the equation.

One large problem I had was that most of these studies are on white men with criminal records, and I am assuming that a majority of the controls in the studies cited are with white men with no history of violence. Where are the women? I don't know if the author
Jul 11, 2013 Pawel rated it liked it
I have to say I found this book quite offensive. Author boasts about his IQ implies he is the best specialist there is and then he asks reader bunch of rhetorical questions implying he is talking to someone without basic knowledge and understanding. However quite a lot of stuff in his book does not seem to be right. I started checking facts and page by page it was all so terribly wrong. At the beginning author describes his trip to Turkey - he then mentions a city in Greece (Iraklion). He claims ...more
Kevin Bessey
Jun 26, 2013 Kevin Bessey rated it it was amazing
Excellent and exhaustive look at the neuroscience of violence! Raine did an incredible job compiling his research, along with others in the field, and presenting it in a reasonable and topical format.

"The Anatomy of Violence" spends a majority of the time examining aspects and structures of the brain that are correlated with violence; however Raine takes it a step further to examine the heart, sweat glands, and other minor organs of offenders to look for correlations and patterns.

Raine also spen
Raises important red flags on what makes some people more susceptible to a life of crime and full-fledged monster-dom than others: 'black holes' in prefrontal cortex, subjugation of amygdala and hippocampus, genetic abnormalities, abusive family, poor nutrition (Omega-3, zinc deficiency) and excess of metals in blood (lead, cadmium) that contribute to a personality disorder ripe for a life of crime.

Whether the effect that each of these has on a person's choice and free will should impact the sen
Jan 04, 2014 Anne rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
The slavish devotion to Richard Dawkins and evolutionary psychology made me skeptical, but to be honest, it was the purple prose that pushed me over the edge.
George Bishop
Jan 01, 2014 George Bishop rated it it was amazing
My broken brain made me do it! That might be one big takeaway from reading Adrian Raine’s recent book on The Anatomy of Violence. But it would be a gross simplification of a compelling, neurobiological case for the root causes of violence and a straw man at best. A leading authority on the biology of crime, violence, and antisocial behavior, Raine rattles the standard sociological paradigm in criminology with a wealth of evidence from behavioral genetics showing that at least half of our aggres ...more
Eoin Flynn
Nov 09, 2016 Eoin Flynn added it
Shelves: favorites
Phenomenal piece of pop science writing. Fascinating subject brilliantly presented.

Raine goes to great lengths to emphasise causal versus correlational links, and experimental controls. in any of the work referenced. A disappointingly rare effort made in pop science books, but lends much credibility when done so well as this.

For a book focussed primarily on neurology, Raine doesn't do that irritating thing common in popular neurology - publishing interesting work that couldn't pass peer review
Peter Mcloughlin
I had to read this book slowly and chew over its contents for some time. I didn't do updates because the thesis is controversial and I didn't want to express hasty judgments. The books thesis flies in the face of the social model exclusively explaining crime. This model dominated in the wake of the holocaust when biological theories of "born criminals" was part of the thinking that was behind the gas chambers. That said the author marshals a lot of evidence for Criminal brains having abnormaliti ...more
Byron Edgington
May 12, 2013 Byron Edgington rated it it was amazing
Though highly technical, The Anatomy of Violence is an engaging, provocative and necessary book for anyone striving to understand the genesis and rationale for much of the violent actions of individuals in this society. Without claiming them as THE causes of violent crime, Raine offers his theories as highly probable explanations for much of the headline grabbing, astonishingly inhumane murders and maimings, especially gun violence, that wrack this nation. Bordering on eugenics at times, the aut ...more
Jul 29, 2013 Anna rated it it was ok
Where to start with this book? First, it quite poorly written. The style basically involves dumping facts and then repeating cliches. I heard this author speak on NPR, and I was quite impressed with his tone and erudition, so I was really disappointed. The author never lets the reader know that brain scans are quite inaccurate; the science simply isn't that advanced yet. Although I ultimately agree with many of the author's conclusions (i.e., that crime is often the result of bio-social forces), ...more
Sep 22, 2014 Deborahanndilley rated it did not like it
To say that I struggled with this book would have been an understatement. I so wanted this to be good and I held out hope all the way to the end. Looking at crime from a purely biological point of view is bad and lazy science. Causation is not correlation and vice versa. This book was also filled with victim blaming myths....if a parent does the best that they can, it is not their fault if their child decides to shoot them in the head. If a man has a tumor and knows that it is wrong to get into ...more
Oct 09, 2013 Charbel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This book contains some very convincing arguments regarding the nature of violence. I like the idea that violent tendencies can be hereditary, that there maybe a genetic factor involved. I was also intrigued by the notion that natural selection favours violent tendencies induced by sexual factors, but I wasn't completely convinced by it. The physiological concepts in this book appealed to me, and I thought they were adequately presented. However, the book lacked charisma; after reading Stephen ...more
Pat Pujolas
Jan 03, 2015 Pat Pujolas rated it it was amazing
I can't think of a more important subject for 2013: the most current brain-imaging technology applied to the minds of killers (and other deviants). You'll see what makes their brains different--structurally and functionally. How and why do they lose empathy for other human beings? If we can understand the genetic and biological roots of violent behavior, there is hope to preventing it and treating it. Required reading for the human species.
Jul 15, 2013 Lisa rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed how Raine utilizes the narrative style of murder cases along with neuroscience research from the past to the present to engage the reader in an understanding of violent offenders. This book is certainly thought provoking regarding what our future may hold when considering the delicate balance nature and nurture play in the bio social growth of a human being and how certain combinations can help or hurt that process.
Molly Octopus
May 27, 2013 Molly Octopus rated it did not like it
Couldn't even get into this book. The author was far too narrative. I want facts, clear statistical interpretations, credible explanations. The author couldn't convince me that he had a good enough grasp of the material he was writing about. Also, conjecture about violence and criminality is dangerous territory, perhaps offensive if not nuanced enough. And this book was not. Discover magazine, you led me astray.
Louise Strutzenberg
Oct 12, 2016 Louise Strutzenberg rated it it was ok
Largely unsubstantiated claims and startlingly weak data analysis led to interesting discussion while reading this with a group. As a result of these obvious shortcomings, the book served more as a cautionary tale than an inspiration regarding an interesting area of research.
Jun 15, 2014 Jenna rated it liked it
Interesting premise and extremely persuasive. However, there's an undercurrent of pervasive sexism throughout this book that I just couldn't get entirely past. Glad I read it but won't be re-reading.
Nov 27, 2016 Zoe rated it liked it
The Anatomy of Violence is a book written by Adrian Raine that takes a look into the minds of criminals. It explores the motives and thought processes that might take place in the brains of criminals and connects them to modern brain studies.
Raine starts off by introducing the idea that criminal traits can be passed down genetically. It shows findings from researches and the data collected from experiments and criminals. Next, the author takes a look at past and recent criminals and compares th
Are we all as confused as I am on how to bring about all our better natures? The Anatomy of Violence is a very provocative book that tentatively outlines a biologically functional and structural map of the criminal mind. The key to this map is backed by solid scientific findings focused on the origins of the seeds of violence.

One part of me is in favour of neuro-profiling as a protectionist measure against violence committed by those predisposed towards aggression. It is another thing entirely
Apr 01, 2014 Tony rated it really liked it
THE ANATOMY OF VIOLENCE: The Biological Roots of Crime. (2013). Adrian Raine. ****.
Raine is a Professor of Criminology, Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written several books covering the interaction of biology and violence. This book is essentially a review of all of the work that has been done in this area to date, and what use it might be put to in the future. To keep this blurb manageable, I will try to limit myself to only one quote per chapter. Ready?...
I heard the author on NPR Fresh Air a few months ago and was intrigued enough to pick up the book when I saw it at my local library. I suspected that it might fall into the "pushing the science too far" trap, especially with brain imaging and neuroscience, but pushed ahead anyway. Biology must have some role, somewhere along the line, to play--culture didn't spring fully formed without it.

The book opens really, really badly with a trip down the evolutionary psychology wormhole. The problem with
May 28, 2015 Colin rated it liked it
It's easy for those of us in humanities and social sciences to respond with knee-jerk antipathy to Raine's thesis, so let me start by saying that I regard it as far from impossible that genetic, neurological and developmental factors play a part in aggressive behaviour. The notion that low levels of certain enzymes or under-developed brain regions are to some extent causative of certain kinds of impulsive violence is not at all implausible, and some of the research Raine documents here is intere ...more
Warum rauben, vergewaltigen und töten manche Menschen ohne das geringste Anzeichen von Reue? Adrian Raine, einer der führenden Kriminologen unserer Zeit, erforscht seit 35 Jahren die biologischen Grundlagen des Verbrechens und seine Ergebnisse sind spektakulär: Mit den neuesten Methoden der Neurowissenschaften sind bei vielen Gewaltverbrechern Abweichungen in den Arealen des Gehirns nachweisbar, welche die Gefühle steuern. Gibt es also das Killer-Gen? Ja, doch die tröstliche Einschränkung lautet ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Book of Woe: The DSM and the Unmaking of Psychiatry
  • Great and Desperate Cures: The Rise and Decline of Psychosurgery and Other Radical Treatments for Mental Illness
  • Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter
  • Why God Won't Go Away: Brain Science and the Biology of Belief
  • Pieces of Light: The New Science of Memory
  • Permanent Present Tense: The Unforgettable Life of the Amnesic Patient, H. M.
  • The Anatomy of Evil
  • Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience
  • Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason, and the Gap Between Us and Them
  • Soul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain--and How it Changed the World
  • Denial: Self-Deception, False Beliefs, and the Origins of the Human Mind
  • The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease
  • Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend
  • The Folly of Fools: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life
  • The Other Side of Normal: How Biology Is Providing the Clues to Unlock the Secrets of Normal and Abnormal Behavior
  • The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience
  • Reflections on the Dawn of Consciousness: Julian Jaynes's Bicameral Mind Theory Revisited
  • The Archaeology of Mind: Neuroevolutionary Origins of Human Emotions

Share This Book

“Spouse-abusers have a reactive aggressive personality that makes them more likely to lash out when provoked. Emotional words inordinately grab their attention. They are less able to inhibit the distracting emotional characteristics of stimuli, resulting in impaired cognitive performance. When presented with aggressive stimuli their brains overrespond at an emotional level and underrespond at a cognitive control level. Spouse-abusers are constitutionally different from other men.” 0 likes
More quotes…