The History of Criminal Profiling

“Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities…truth isn’t.”  Mark Twain. 

Did you know…The FBI doesn’t actually have employees with the job title FBI profiler?

However, special agents at the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC)  is located at Federal Bureau of Investigation, Training Division, FBI Academy, Behavioral Science Unit- Quantico, Virginia,  do construct profiles of unknown offenders. It is a job of investigation and research—a job of inductive and deductive reasoning; crime-solving experience; and knowledge of criminal behavior, facts, and statistical probabilities.

Men like Cesare Lombroso (criminologist), Dr. Hans Gross (founding father of modern criminal profiling), Dr. George B. Phillips (forensic pathologist), Dr. James A. Brussel (psychiatrist), Howard Teten (FBI agent who taught Applied Criminology courses and gave the FBI’s first profile on a case), Jack Kirsch (started the BSU), John Douglas and Bob Ressler (interviewed serial killers for analysis). These were the men who gave us what we now know as modern-day criminal profiling.

Criminal Profiling had been called many names such as, behavioral profiling, crime scene profiling, criminal personality profiling, psychological profiling and more recently criminal investigation analysis.

The truth is Criminal Profiling is multidisciplinary practice. Its history comes from the study of criminal behavior (criminology), the study of mental illness (psychology and psychiatry), and the examination of psychical evidence (forensic science).

The first publication on criminal profiling was, The Malleus Maleficarum (The Witches’ Hammer).  This was published in 1486 as a professional manual for witch hunters.  It was used as a guide for Spanish Inquisition, to assist in the identification, prosecution and punishment for witches.

Men in the  History of Criminal Profiling

CESARE LOMBROSO   

Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909), Italian criminologist

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Cesare Lombroso an Italian physician is generally thought of as the first criminologists. He studied 383 Italian prisoners and compared information on race, age, sex, physical characteristics, education and geographic region. Lombroso reasoned that criminal behaviors could be understood and predicated.  In 1876 he published a book called; The Criminal Man and suggested there were three types of criminals:

Born criminals-degenerates, primitive offenders who were lower evolutionary reversions in terms of physical characteristics. 

Insane criminals-who suffered from mental and/or physical illness and deficiencies. 

Criminaloids- The larger general class of offenders without specific characteristics. They were not afflicted by a recognizable mental disorder, but their mental and emotional make-up predisposed them to criminal behavior. Lombroso theory of criminal anthropology had 18 point characteristics indicative of a born criminal.

These 18 points all associate with the biology of a man’s face and body types. Lombroso felt, based on his research, he could recognize the psychical features that he had correlated with criminality. And thus criminology was born. (Turvey, 2005).