Criminal Psychology

Hans Gross

Part 2

Report Chapter

It is a mistake to suppose that it is enough in most cases to study that side of a man which is at the moment important--his dishonesty only, his laziness, etc. That will naturally lead to merely one-sided judgment and anyway be much harder than keeping the whole man in eye and studying him as an entirety. Every individual quality is merely a symptom of a whole nature, can be explained only by the whole complex, and the good properties depend as much on the bad ones as the bad on the good ones. At the very least the quality and quant.i.ty of a good or bad characteristic shows the influence of all the other good and bad characteristics. Kindliness is influenced and partly created through weakness, indetermination, too great susceptibility, a minimum acuteness, false constructiveness, untrained capacity for inference; in the same way, again, the most cruel hardness depends on properties which, taken in themselves, are good: determination, energy, purposeful action, clear conception of one's fellows, healthy egotism, etc. Every man is the result of his nature and nurture, i. e. of countless individual conditions, and every one of his expressions, again, is the result of all of these conditions. If, therefore, he is to be judged, he must be judged in the light of them all.

For this reason, all those indications that show us the man as a whole are for us the most important, but also those others are valuable which show him up on one side only. In the latter

case, however, they are to be considered only as an index which never relieves us from the need further to study the nature of our subject. The number of such individual indications is legion and no one is able to count them up and ground them, but examples of them may be indicated.

We ask, for example, what kind of man will give us the best and most reliable information about the conduct and activity, the nature and character, of an individual? We are told: that sort of person who is usually asked for the information--his nearest friends and acquaintances, and the authorities. Before all of these n.o.body shows himself as he is, because the most honest man will show himself before people in whose judgment he has an interest at least as good as, if not better than he is--that is fundamental to the general egoistic essence of humanity, which seeks at least to avoid reducing its present welfare. Authorities who are asked to make a statement concerning any person, can say reliably only how often the man was punished or came otherwise in contact with the law or themselves. But concerning his social characteristics the authorities have nothing to say; they have got to investigate them and the detectives have to bring an answer. Then the detectives are, at most, simply people who have had the opportunity to watch and interrogate the individuals in question,--the servants, house- furnishers, porters, corner-loafers, etc. Why we do not question the latter ourselves I cannot say; if we did we might know these people on whom we depend for important information and might put our questions according to the answers that we need. It is a purely negative thing that an official declaration is nowadays not unfrequently presented to us in the disgusting form of the gossip of an old hag. But in itself the form of getting information about people through servants and others of the same cla.s.s is correct. One has, however, to beware that it is not done simply because the gossips are most easily found, but because people show their weaknesses most readily before those whom they hold of no account. The latter fact is well known, but not sufficiently studied. It is of considerable importance. Let us then examine it more closely: n.o.body is ashamed to show himself before an animal as he is, to do an evil thing, to commit a crime; the shame will increase very little if instead of the animal a complete idiot is present, and if now we suppose the intelligence and significance of this witness steadily to increase, the shame of appearing before him as one is increases in a like degree. So we will control ourselves most before people

whose judgment is of most importance to us. The Styrian, Peter Rosegger, one of the best students of mankind, once told a first-rate story of how the most intimate secrets of certain people became common talk although all concerned a.s.sured him that n.o.body had succeeded in getting knowledge of them. The news-agent was finally discovered in the person of an old, humpy, quiet, woman, who worked by the day in various homes and had found a place, un.o.bserved and apparently indifferent, in the corner of the sitting- room. n.o.body had told her any secrets, but things were allowed to occur before her from which she might guess and put them together. n.o.body had watched this disinterested, ancient lady; she worked like a machine; her thoughts, when she noted a quarrel or anxiety or disagreement or joy, were indifferent to all concerned, and so she discovered a great deal that was kept secret from more important persons. This simple story is very significant--we are not to pay attention to gossips but to keep in mind that the information of persons is in the rule more important and more reliable when the question under consideration is indifferent to them than when it is important. We need only glance at our own situation in this matter--what do we know about our servants? What their Christian names are, because we have to call them; where they come from, because we hear their p.r.o.nunciation; how old they are, because we see them; and those of their qualities that we make use of. But what do we know of their family relationships, their past, their plans, their joys or sorrows? The lady of the house knows perhaps a little more because of her daily intercourse with them, but her husband learns of it only in exceptional cases when he bothers about things that are none of his business. Nor does madam know much, as examination shows us daily. But what on the other hand do the servants know about us? The relation between husband and wife, the bringing-up of the children, the financial situation, the relation with cousins, the house-friends, the especial pleasures, each joy, each trouble that occurs, each hope, everything from the least bodily pain to the very simplest secret of the toilette--they know it all. What can be kept from them? The most restricted of them are aware of it, and if they do not see more, it is not because of our skill at hiding, but because of their stupidity. We observe that in these cases there is not much that can be kept secret and hence do not trouble to do so.

There is besides another reason for allowing subordinate or indifferent people to see one's weaknesses. The reason is that we

hate those who are witnesses of a great weakness. Partly it is shame, partly vexation at oneself, partly pure egoism, but it is a fact that one's anger turns instinctively upon those who have observed one's degradation through one's own weakness. This is so frequently the case that the witness is to be the more relied on the more the accused would seem to have preferred that the witness had not seen him. Insignificant people are not taken as real witnesses; they were there but they haven't perceived anything; and by the time it comes to light that they see at least as well as anybody else, it is too late. One will not go far wrong in explaining the situation with the much varied epigram of Tacitus: "Figulus odit figulum." It is, at least, through business-jealousy that one porter hates another, and the reason for it lies in the fact that two of a trade know each other's weaknesses, that one always knows how the other tries to hide his lack of knowledge, how deceitful fundamentally every human activity is, and how much trouble everybody takes to make his own trade appear to the other as fine as possible. If you know, however, that your neighbor is as wise as you are, the latter becomes a troublesome witness in any disagreeable matter, and if he is often thought of in this way, he comes to be hated. Hence you must never be more cautious than when one "figulus" gives evidence about another. Esprit de corps and jealousy pull the truth with frightful force, this way and that, and the picture becomes the more distorted because so-called esprit de corps is nothing more than generalized selfishness. Kant[1] is not saying enough when he says that the egoist is a person who always tries to push his own *I forward and to make it the chief object of his own and of everybody else's attention. For the person who merely seeks attention is only conceited; the egoist, however, seeks his own advantage alone, even at the cost of other people, and when he shows esprit de corps he desires the advantage of his corps because he also has a share in that. In this sense one of a trade has much to say about his fellow craftsmen, but because of jealousy, says too little--in what direction, however, he is most likely to turn depends on the nature of the case and the character of the witness.

In most instances it will be possible to make certain distinctions as to when objectively too much and subjectively too little is said. That is to say, the craftsman will exaggerate with regard to all [1] Menschenkunde oder philosophische Anthropologie. Leipzig 1831. Ch. Starke.

general questions, but with regard to his special fellow jealousy will establish her rights. An absolute distinction may never be drawn, not even subjectively. Suppose that A has something to say about his fellow craftsman B, and suppose that certain achievements of B are to be valued. If now A has been working in the same field as B he must not depreciate too much the value of B's work, since otherwise his own work is in danger of the same low valuation. Objectively the converse is true: for if A bulls the general efficiency of his trade, it doesn't serve his conceit, since we find simply that the compet.i.tor is in this way given too high a value. It would be inadvisable to give particular examples from special trades, but everybody who has before him one "figulus" after another, from the lowest to the highest professions, and who considers the statements they make about each other, will grant the correctness of our contention. I do not, at this point, either, a.s.sert that the matter is the same in each and every case, but that it is generally so is indubitable.

There is still another thing to be observed. A good many people who are especially efficient in their trades desire to be known as especially efficient in some other and remote circle. It is historic that a certain regent was happy when his very modest flute-playing was praised; a poet was pleased when his miserable drawings were admired; a marshal wanted to hear no praise of his victories but much of his very doubtful declamation. The case is the same among lesser men. A craftsman wants to shine with some foolishness in another craft, and "the philistine is happiest when he is considered a devil of a fellow." The importance of this fact lies in the possibility of error in conclusions drawn from what the subject himself tries to present about his knowledge and power. With regard to the past it leads even fundamentally honest persons to deception and lying.

So for example a student who might have been the most solid and harmless in his cla.s.s later makes suggestions that he was the wildest sport; the artist who tried to make his way during his cubhood most bravely with the hard-earned money of his mother is glad to have it known that he was guilty as a young man of unmitigated nonsense; and the ancient dame who was once the most modest of girls is tickled with the flattery of a story concerning her magnificent flirtations. When such a matter is important for us it must be received with great caution.

To this cla.s.s of people who want to appear rather more interesting than they are, either in their past or present, belong also those who

declare that everything is possible and who have led many a judge into vexatious mistakes. This happens especially when an accused person tries to explain away the suspicions against him by daring statements concerning his great achievements (e. g.: in going back to a certain place, or his feats of strength, etc.), and when witnesses are asked if these are conceivable. One gets the impression in these cases that the witnesses under consideration suppose that they belittle themselves and their point of view if they think anything to be impossible. They are easily recognized. They belong to the worst cla.s.s of promoters and inventors or their relations. If a man is studying how to pay the national debt or to solve the social question or to irrigate Sahara, or is inclined to discover a dirigible airship, a perpetual-motion machine, or a panacea, or if he shows sympathy for people so inclined, he is likely to consider everything possible--and men of this sort are surprisingly numerous. They do not, as a rule, carry their plans about in public, and hence have the status of prudent persons, but they betray themselves by their propensity for the impossible in all conceivable directions. If a man is suspected to be one of them, and the matter is important enough, he may be brought during the conversation to talk about some project or invention. He will then show how his cla.s.s begins to deal with it, with what I might call a suspicious warmth. By that token you know the cla.s.s. They belong to that large group of people who, without being abnormal, still have pa.s.sed the line which divides the perfectly trustworthy from those unreliable persons who, with the best inclination to tell the truth, can render it only as it is distorted by their clouded minds.

These people are not to be confused with those specific men of power who, in the attempt to show what they can do, go further than in truth they should. There are indeed persons of talent who are efficient, and know it, whether for good or evil, and they happen to belong both to the cla.s.s of the accused and of the witness. The former show this quality in confessing to more than they are guilty of, or tell their story in such a way as to more clearly demonstrate both their power and their conceit. So that it may happen that a man takes upon himself a crime that he shares with three accomplices or that he describes a simple larceny as one in which force had to be used with regard to its object and even with regard to the object's owner; or perhaps he describes his flight or his opponents' as much more troublesome than these actually were or need have been. The witness behaves in a similar fashion and shows his defense

against an attack for example, or his skill in discovery of his goods, or his detection of the criminal in a much brighter light than really belongs to it; he even may describe situations that were superfluous in order to show what he can do. In this way the simplest fact is often distorted. As suspects such people are particularly difficult to deal with. Aside from the fact that they do more and actually have done more than was necessary, they become unmanageable and hard-mouthed through unjust accusations. Concerning these people the statement made a hundred years ago by Ben David[1] still holds: "Persecution turns wise people raw and foolish, and kindly and well disposed ones cruel and evil-intentioned." There are often well disposed natures who, after troubles, express themselves in the manner described. It very frequently happens that suspects, especially those under arrest, alter completely in the course of time, become sullen, coa.r.s.e, pa.s.sionate, ill-natured, show themselves defiant and resentful to even the best-willed approach, and exhibit even a kind of courage in not offering any defense and in keeping silent. Such phenomena require the most obvious caution, for one is now dealing apparently with powerful fellows who have received injustice. Whether they are quite guiltless, whether they are being improperly dealt with, or for whatever reason the proper approach has not been made, we must go back, to proceed in another fashion, and absolutely keep in mind the possibility of their being innocent in spite of serious evidence against them.

These people are mainly recognizable by their mode of life, their habitual appearance, and its expression. Once that is known their conduct in court is known. In the matter of individual features of character, the form of life, the way of doing things is especially to be observed. Many an effort, many a quality can be explained in no other way. The simple declaration of Volkmar, "There are some things that we want only because we had them once," explains to the criminalist long series of phenomena that might otherwise have remained unintelligible. Many a larceny, robbery, possibly murder, many a crime springing from jealousy, many s.e.xual offenses become intelligible when one learns that the criminal had at one time possessed the object for the sake of which he committed the crime, and having lost it had tried with irresistible vigor to regain it. What is extraordinary in the matter is the fact that considerable time between the loss and the desire for recovery. It seems as if the isolated moments of desire sum themselves up in the course [1] Etwas zur Charakterisierung der Juden. 1793.

of time and then break out as the crime. In such cases the explaining motive of the deed is never to be found except in the criminal's past.

The same relationship exists in the cases of countless criminals whose crimes seem at bottom due to apparently inconceivable brutality. In all such cases, especially when the facts do not otherwise make apparent the possible guilt of the suspect, the story of the crime's development has to be studied. Gustav Strave a.s.serts that it is demonstrable that young men become surgeons out of pure cruelty, out of desire to see people suffer pain and to cause pain. A student of pharmacy became a hangman for the same reason and a rich Dutchman paid the butchers for allowing him to kill oxen. If, then, one is dealing with a crime which points to *extraordinary cruelty, how can one be certain about its motive and history without knowing the history of the criminal?

This is the more necessary inasmuch as we may be easily deceived through apparent motives. "Inasmuch as in most capital crimes two or more motives work together, an ostensible and a concealed one," says Kraus,[1] "each criminal has at his command apparent motives which encourage the crime." We know well enough how frequently the thief excuses himself on the ground of his need, how the criminal wants to appear as merely acting in self-defense during robberies, and how often the sensualist, even when he has misbehaved with a little child, still a.s.serts that the child had seduced *him. In murder cases even, when the murderer has confessed, we frequently find that he tries to excuse himself. The woman who poisons her husband, really because she wants to marry another, tells her story in such a way as to make it appear that she killed him because he was extraordinarily bad and that her deed simply freed the world of a disgusting object. As a rule the psychological aspect of such cases is made more difficult, by the reason that the subject has in a greater or lesser degree convinced himself of the truth of his statements and finally believes his reasons for excuse altogether or in part. And if a man believes what he says, the proof that the story is false is much harder to make, because psychological arguments that might be used to prove falsehood are then of no use. This is an important fact which compels us to draw a sharp line between a person who is obviously lying and one who does believe what he says. We have to discover the difference, inasmuch as the self-developed conviction of the truth of a story is never so [1] A. Kraus: Die Psychologie des Verbrechens. Tbingen 1884.

deep rooted as the real conviction of truth. For that reason, the person who has convinced himself of his truth artificially, watches all doubts and objections with much greater care than a man who has no doubt whatever in what he says. The former, moreover, does not have a good conscience, and the proverb says truly, "a bad conscience has a fine ear." The man knows that he is not dealing correctly with the thing and hence he observes all objections, and the fact that he does so observe, can not be easily overlooked by the examining officer.

Once this fine hearing distinguishes the individual who really believes in the motive he plausibly offers the court, there is another indication (obviously quite apart from the general signs of deceit) that marks him further, and this comes to light when one has him speak about similar crimes of others in which the ostensible motive actually was present. It is said rightly, that not he is old who no longer commits youthful follies but he that no longer forgives them, and so not merely he is bad who himself commits evil but also he who excuses them in others. Of course, that an accused person should defend the naked deed as it is described in the criminal law is not likely for conceivable reasons--since certainly no robbery-suspect will sing a paean about robbers, but certainly almost anybody who has a better or a better-appearing motive for his crime, will protect those who have been guided by a similar motive in other cases. Every experiment shows this to be the case and then apparent motives are easily enough recognized as such.

(d) Somatic Character-Units.

Section 14. (1) General Considerations.

When we say that the inner condition of men implies some outer expression, it must follow that there are series of phenomena which especially mold the body in terms of the influence of a state of mind on external appearance, or conversely, which are significant of the influence of some physical uniqueness on the psychical state, or of some other psycho physical condition. As an example of the first kind one may cite the well known phenomenon that devotees always make an impression rather specifically feminine. As an example of the second kind is the fact demonstrated by Gyurkovechky[1] that impotents exhibit disagreeable characteristics. Such conditions find their universalizing expression in the cruel but true maxim [1] V. Gyurkovechky: Pathologie und Therapie der m

"Beware of the marked one." The Bible was the first of all to make mention of these evil stigmata. No one of course a.s.serts that the bearer of any bodily malformation is for that reason invested with one or more evil qualities--"Non c.u.m hoc, sed propter hoc." It is a general quality of the untrained, and hence the majority of men, that they shall greet the unfortunate who suffers from some bodily malformation not with care and protection, but with scorn and maltreatment. Such propensities belong, alas, not only to adults, but also to children, who annoy their deformed playfellows (whether expressly or whether because they are inconsiderate), and continually call the unhappy child's attention to his deformity. Hence, there follows in most cases from earliest youth, at first a certain bitterness, then envy, unkindness, stifled rage against the fortunate, joy in destruction, and all the other hateful similar qualities however they may be named. In the course of time all of these retained bitter impressions summate, and the qualities arising from them become more acute, become habitual, and at last you have a ready-made person "marked for evil." Add to this the indubitable fact that the marked persons are considerably wiser and better-instructed than the others. Whether this is so by accident or is causally established is difficult to say; but inasmuch as most of them are compelled just by their deformities to deprive themselves of all common pleasures and to concern themselves with their own affairs, once they have been fed to satiety with abuse, scorn and heckling, the latter is the more likely. Under such circ.u.mstances they have to think more, they learn more than the others to train their wits, largely as means of defense against physical attack. They often succeed by wit, but then, they can never be brought into a state of good temper and lovableness when they are required to defend themselves by means of sharp, biting and destructive wit. Moreover, if the deformed is naturally not well- disposed, other dormant evil tendencies develop in him, which might never have realized themselves if he had had no need of them for purposes of self-defense--lying, slander, intrigue, persecution by means of unpermitted instruments, etc. All this finally forms a determinate complex of phenomena which is undivorceably bound in the eyes of the expert with every species of deformity: the mistrusting of the deaf man, the menacing expression of the blind, the indescribable and therefore extremely characteristic smiling of the hump-back are not the only typical phenomena of this kind.

All this is popularly known and is abnormally believed in, so that we often discover that the deformed are more frequently suspected of crime than normal people. Suspicion turns to them especially when an unknown criminal has committed a crime the accomplishment of which required a particularly evil nature and where the deed of itself called forth general indignation. In that case, once a deformed person is suspected, grounds of suspicion are not difficult to find; a few collect more as a rolling ball does snow. After that the sweet proverb: "Vox populi, vox dei," drives the unfortunate fellow into a chaos of evidential grounds of suspicion which may all be reduced to the fact that he has red hair or a hump. Such events are frightfully frequent.[1]

Section 15. (2) Causes of Irritation.

Just as important as these phenomena are the somatic results of psychic irritation. These latter clear up processes not to be explained by words alone and often over-valued and falsely interpreted. Irritations are important for two reasons: (1) as causes of crime, and (2) as signs of identification in examination.

In regard to the first it is not necessary to show what crimes are committed because of anger, jealousy, or rage, and how frequently terror and fear lead to extremes otherwise inexplicable--these facts are partly so well known, partly so very numerous and various, that an exposition would be either superfluous or impossible. Only those phenomena will be indicated which lie to some degree on the borderland of the observed and hence may be overlooked. To this cla.s.s belong, for example, anger against the object, which serves as explanation of a group of so-called malicious damages, such as arson, etc. Everybody, even though not particularly lively, remembers instances in which he fell into great and inexplicable rage against an object when the latter set in his way some special difficulties or caused him pain; and he remembers how he created considerable ease for himself by flinging it aside, tearing it or smashing it to pieces. When I was a student I owned a very old, thick Latin lexicon, "Kirschii cornu copia," bound in wood covered with pigskin. This respectable book flew to the ground whenever its master was vexed, and never failed profoundly to reduce the inner stress. This "Kirschius" was inherited from my great-grandfather and it did not suffer much damage. When, however, some poor apprentice tears the fence, on a nail of which his only coat got a bad tear, or [1] Cf. N

when a young peasant kills the dog that barks at him menacingly and tries to get at his calf, then we come along with our "damages according to so and so much," and the fellow hasn't done any more than I have with my "Kirschius."[1] In the magnificent novel, "Auch Einer," by F. T. Vischer, there is an excellent portrait of the perversity of things; the author a.s.serts that things rather frequently hold ec.u.menical councils with the devil for the molestation of mankind.

How far the perversity of the inanimate can lead I saw in a criminal case in which a big isolated hay-stack was set on fire. A traveler was going across the country and sought shelter against oncoming bad weather. The very last minute before a heavy shower he reached a hay-stack with a solid straw cover, crept into it, made himself comfortable in the hay and enjoyed his good fortune. Then he fell asleep, but soon woke again inasmuch as he, his clothes, and all the hay around him was thoroughly soaked, for the roof just above him was leaking. In frightful rage over this "evil perversity," he set the stack on fire and it burned to the ground.

It may be said that the fact of the man's anger is as much a motive as any other and should have no influence on the legal side of the incident. Though this is quite true, we are bound to consider the crime and the criminal as a unit and to judge them so. If under such circ.u.mstances we can say that this unit is an outcome natural to the character of mankind, and even if we say, perhaps, that we might have behaved similarly under like circ.u.mstances, if we really cannot find something absolutely evil in the deed, the criminal quality of it is throughout reduced. Also, in such smaller cases the fundamental concept of modern criminology comes clearly into the foreground: "not the crime but the criminal is the object of punishment, not the concept but the man is punished." (Liszt).

The fact of the presence of a significant irritation is important for pa.s.sing judgment, and renders it necessary to observe with the most thorough certainty how this irritation comes about. This is the more important inasmuch as it becomes possible to decide whether the irritation is real or artificial and imitated. Otherwise, however, the meaning of the irritation can be properly valued only when its development can be held together step by step with its causes. Suppose I let the suspect know the reason of suspicion brought by his enemies, then if his anger sensibly increases with the presentation of each new ground, it appears much more natural [1] Cf. Bernhardi in H. Gross's Archiv, V, p. 40.

and real than if the anger increased in inexplicable fashion with regard to less important reasons for suspicion and developed more slowly with regard to the more important ones.

The collective nature of somatic phenomena in the case of great excitement has been much studied, especially among animals, these being simpler and less artificial and therefore easier to understand, and in the long run comparatively like men in the expression of their emotions. Very many animals, according to Darwin, erect their hair or feathers or quills in cases of anxiety, fear, or horror, and nowadays, indeed, involuntarily, in order to exhibit themselves as larger and more terrible. The same rising of the hair even to-day plays a greater rle among men than is generally supposed. Everybody has either seen in others or discovered in himself that fear and terror visibly raise the hair. I saw it with especial clearness during an examination when the person under arrest suddenly perceived with clearness, though he was otherwise altogether innocent, in what great danger he stood of being taken for the real criminal. That our hair rises in cases of fear and horror without being visible is shown, I believe, in the well known movement of the hand from forehead to crown. It may be supposed that the hair rises at the roots invisibly but sensibly and thus causes a mild tickling and p.r.i.c.king of the scalp which is reduced by smoothing the head with the hand. This movement, then, is a form of involuntary scratching to remove irritation. That such a characteristic movement is made during examination may therefore be very significant under certain circ.u.mstances. Inasmuch as the process is indubitably an influence of the nerves upon the finer and thinner muscle-fibers, it must have a certain resemblance to the process by which, as a consequence of fear, horror, anxiety, or care, the hair more or less suddenly turns white. Such occurrences are in comparatively large numbers historical; G. Pouchet[1] counts up cases in which hair turned white suddenly, (among them one where it happened while the poor sinner was being led to execution). Such cases do not interest us because, even if the accused himself turned grey over night, no evidence is afforded of guilt or innocence. Such an occurrence can be evidential only when the hair changes color demonstrably in the case of a witness. It may then be certainly believed that he had experienced something terrible and aging. But whether he had really experienced this, or merely believed that he had experienced it, can as yet not be discovered, since the [1] Revue de deux Mondes, Jan. 1, 1872.

belief and the actual event have the same mental and physical result.

Properly to understand the other phenomena that are the result of significant irritation, their matrix, their aboriginal source must be studied. Spencer says that fear expresses itself in cries, in hiding, sobbing and trembling, all of which accompany the discovery of the really terrible; while the destructive pa.s.sions manifest themselves in tension of the muscles, gritting of the teeth, extending the claws: all weaker forms of the activity of killing. All this, aboriginally inherited from the animals, occurs in rather less intense degrees in man, inclusive of baring the claws, for exactly this movement may often be noticed when somebody is speaking with anger and vexation about another person and at the same time extends and contracts his fingers. Anybody who does this even mildly and unnoticeably means harm to the person he is talking about. Darwin indeed, in his acutely observing fashion, has also called attention to this. He suggests that a man may hate another intensely, but that so long as his anatomy is not affected he may not be said to be enraged. This means clearly that the somatic manifestations of inner excitement are so closely bound up with the latter that we require the former whenever we want to say anything about the latter. And it is true that we never say that a man was enraged or only angry, if he remained physically calm, no matter how noisy and explicit he might have been with words. This is evidence enough of the importance of noticing bodily expression. "How characteristic," says Volkmar[1] "is the trembling and heavy breathing of fear, the glowering glance of anger, the choking down of suppressed vexation, the stifling of helpless rage, the leering glance and jumping heart of envy." Darwin completes the description of fear: The heart beats fast, the features pale, he feels cold but sweats, the hair rises, the secretion of saliva stops, hence follows frequent swallowing, the voice becomes hoa.r.s.e, yawning begins, the nostrils tremble, the pupils widen, the constrictor muscles relax. Wild and very primitive people show this much more clearly and tremble quite uncontrolled. The last may often be seen and may indeed be established as a standard of culture and even of character and may help to determine how far a man may prevent the inner irritation from becoming externally noticeable. Especially he who has much to do with Gypsies is aware how little these people can control themselves. From this fact also spring the numerous [1] v. Volkmar: Lehrbuch der Psychologie. Cthen 1875.

anecdotes concerning the wild rulers of uncultivated people, who simply read the guilt of the suspect from his external behavior, or even more frequently were able to select the criminal with undeceivable acuteness from a number brought before them. Bain[1] narrates that in India criminals are required to take rice in the mouth and after awhile to spit it out. If it is dry the accused is held to be guilty--fear has stopped the secretion of saliva--obstupui, stetetuntque comae, et vox faucibus haesit.

Concerning the characteristic influence of timidity see Paul Hartenberg.[2]

Especially self-revealing are the outbreaks of anger against oneself, the more so because I believe them always to be evidence of consciousness of guilt. At least, I have never yet seen an innocent man fall into a paroxysm of rage against himself, nor have I ever heard that others have observed it, and I would not be able psychologically to explain such a thing should it happen. Inasmuch as scenes of this kind can occur perceivably only in the most externalized forms of anger, so such an explosion is elementary and cannot possibly be confused with another. If a man wrings his hands until they bleed, or digs his finger-nails into his forehead, n.o.body will say that this is anger against himself; it is only an attempt to do something to release stored-up energy, to bring it to bear against somebody. People are visibly angry against themselves only when they do such things to themselves as they might do to other people; for example, beating, smashing, pulling the hair, etc. This is particularly frequent among Orientals who are more emotional than Europeans. So I saw a Gypsy run his head against a wall, and a Jew throw himself on his knees, extend his arms and box his ears with both hands so forcibly that the next day his cheeks were swollen. But other races, if only they are pa.s.sionate enough, behave in a similar manner. I saw a woman, for example, tear whole handfuls of hair from her head, a murdering thief, guilty of more or fewer crimes, smash his head on the corner of a window, and a seventeen year old murderer throw himself into a ditch in the street, beat his head fiercely on the earth, and yell, "Hang me! Pull my head off!"

The events in all these cases were significantly similar: the crime was so skilfully committed as conceivably to prevent the discovery of the criminal; the criminal denied the deed with the most glaring [1] A. Bain: The Emotions and the Will. 1875.

[2] Les Timides et la Timidit. Paris 1901.

impudence and fought with all his power against conviction--in the moment, however, he realized that all was lost, he exerted his boundless rage against himself who had been unable to oppose any obstacle to conviction and who had not been cautious and sly enough in the commission of the crime. Hence the development of the fearful self-punishment, which could have no meaning if the victim had felt innocent.

Such expressions of anger against oneself often finish with fainting. The reason of the latter is much less exhaustion through paroxysms of rage than the recognition and consciousness of one's own helplessness. Reichenbach[1] once examined the reason for the fainting of people in difficult situations. It is nowadays explained as the effect of the excretion of carbonic acid gas and of the generated anthropotoxin; another explanation makes it a nervous phenomenon in which the mere recognition that release is impossible causes fainting, the loss of consciousness. For our needs either account of this phenomenon will do equally. It is indifferent whether a man notices that he cannot voluntarily change his condition in a physical sense, or whether he notices that the evidence is so convincing that he can not dodge it. The point is that if for one reason or another he finds himself physically or legally in a bad hole, he faints, just as people in novels or on the stage faint when there is no other solution of the dramatic situation.

*** You are reading on ***

When anger does not lead to rage against oneself, the next lower stage is laughter.[2] With regard to this point, Darwin calls attention to the fact that laughter often conceals other mental conditions than those it essentially stands for--anger, rage, pain, perplexity, modesty and shame; when it conceals anger it is anger against oneself, a form of scorn. This same wooden, dry laughter is significant, and when it arises from the perception that the accused no longer sees his way out, it is not easily to be confused with another form of laughter. One gets the impression that the laugher is trying to tell himself, "That is what you get for being bad and foolish!"

The second suggestive circ.u.mstance is the fact that even habitual reflexes may under certain conditions, especially when a particularly weighty different impression comes at the same time, *not

take place. It is a reflex, for example, to withdraw the hand when it feels pain, in spite of the fact that one is so absorbed with another matter as to be unaware of the whole process; but if interest in this other matter is so sufficiently fixed as to make one forget, as the saying goes, the whole outer world, the outer impression of pain must have been very intense in order to awaken its proper reflex. The attention may, however, not be disturbed at all and yet the reflex may fail. If we suppose that a reflex action is one brought about through the excitement of an afferent sensory nerve which receives the stimulation and brings it to the center from which the excitement is transferred to the motor series (Landois[1]), we exclude the activity of the brain. But this exclusion deals only with conscious activity and the direct transition through the reflex center can happen successfully only because the brain has been consciously at work innumerable times, so that it is coperating in the later cases also without our knowing it. When, however, the brain is brought into play through some other particularly intense stimuli, it is unable to contribute that unconscious coperation and hence the reflex action is not performed. On this point I have, I believe, an instructive and evidential example. One of my maids opened a match-box pasted with paper at the corner by tearing the paper along the length of the box with her thumb-nail. Apparently the box was over-filled or the action was too rapidly made, for the matches flamed up explosively and the whole box was set on fire. What was notable was the fact that the girl threw the box away neither consciously nor instinctively; she shrieked with fright and kept the box in her hand. At her cry my son rushed in from *another room, and only after he had shouted as loudly as possible, "Throw it away, drop it," did she do so. She had kept the burning thing in her hand long enough to permit my son to pa.s.s from one room into another, and her wound was so serious that it needed medical treatment for weeks. When asked why she kept the burning box in her hand in spite of really very terrible pain she simply declared that "she didn't think of it," though she added that when she was told to throw the thing away it just occurred to her that that would be the wisest of all things to do. What happened then was obviously this: fear and pain so completely absorbed the activity of the brain that it was not only impossible for it consciously to do the right thing, it was even unable to a.s.sist in the unconscious execution of the reflex.

[1] L. Landois: Lehrbuch der Physiologie des Mensehen. Vienna 1892.

This fact suggests that the sole activity of the spinal cord does not suffice for reflexes, since if it did, those would occur even when the brain is otherwise profoundly engaged. As they do not so occur the brain also must be in play. Now this distinction is not indifferent for us; for if we hold that the brain acts during reflexes we have to grant the possibility of degrees in its action. Thus where brain activity is in question, the problem of responsibility also arises, and we must hold that wherever a reflex may be accepted as the cause of a crime the subject of the degree of punishment must be taken exceptionally into account. It is further to be noted that as a matter of official consideration the problem of the presence of reflexes ought to be studied, since it rarely occurs that a man says, "It was purely a reflex action." He says, perhaps, "I don't know how it happened," or, "I couldn't do otherwise," or he denies the whole event because he really was not aware how it happened. That the questions are here difficult, both with regard to the taking of evidence, and with regard to the judgment of guilt, is obvious,-- and it is therefore indifferent whether we speak of deficiency in inhibition-centers or of ill-will[1] and malice.

Section 19. (6) Dress.

It is easy to write a book on the significance of a man's clothes as the expression of his inner state. It is said that the character of a woman is to be known from her shoe, but actually the matter reaches far beyond the shoe, to every bit of clothing, whether of one s.e.x or the other. The penologist has more opportunity than any one else to observe how people dress, to take notes concerning the wearer, and finally to correct his impressions by means of the examination. In this matter one may lay down certain axioms. If we see a man whose coat is so patched that the original material is no longer visible but the coat nowhere shows a hole; if his shirt is made of the very coa.r.s.est and equally patched material but is clean; and if his shoes are very bad but are whole and well polished, we should consider him and his wife as honest people, without ever making an error. We certainly see very little wisdom in our modern painfully attired "sports," we suspect the suggestively dressed woman of some little disloyalty to her husband, and we certainly expect no low inclinations from the lady dressed with intelligent, simple respectability. If a man's general appearance is correct it [1] Cf. H. Gross's Archiv, II, 140; III, 350; VII, 155; VIII, 198.

indicates refinement and attention to particular things. Anybody who considers this question finds daily new information and new and reliable inferences. Anyway, everybody has a different viewpoint in this matter, a single specific detail being convincing to one, to another only when taken in connection with something else, and to a third when connected with still a third phenomenon. It may be objected that at least detailed and prolonged observations are necessary before inferences should be drawn from the way of dressing, inasmuch as a pa.s.sing inclination, economic conditions, etc., may exert no little influence by compelling an individual to a specific choice in dress. Such influence is not particularly deep. A person subject to a particular inclination may be sufficiently self-exhibiting under given circ.u.mstances, and that he was compelled by his situation to dress in one way rather than another is equally self-evident. Has anybody seen an honest farm hand wearing a worn-out evening coat? He may wear a most threadbare, out-worn sheep-skin, but a dress-coat he certainly would not buy, even if he could get it cheap, nor would he take it as a gift. He leaves such clothes to others whose shabby elegance shows at a glance what they are. Consider how characteristic are the clothes of discharged soldiers, of hunters, of officials, etc. Who fails to recognize the dress of a real clerical, of democrats, of conservative-aristocrats? Their dress is everywhere as well defined as the clothing of Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans, and Americans, formed not by climatic conditions but by national character in a specific and quite unalterable way. Conceit, carelessness, cleanliness, greasiness, anxiety, indifference, respectability, the desire to attract attention and to be original, all these and innumerable similar and related qualities express themselves nowhere so powerfully and indubitably as in the way people wear their clothes. And not all the clothes together; many a time a single item of dress betrays a character.

Section 20. (7) Physiognomy and Related Subjects.

The science of physiognomy belongs to those disciplines which show a decided variability in their value. In cla.s.sical times it was set much store by, and Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Pythagoras were keenly interested in its doctrines. Later on it was forgotten, was studied in pa.s.sing when Baptista Porta wrote a book about human physiognomy, and finally, when the works of Lavater

and the closely related ones of Gall appeared, the science came for a short time into the foreground. Lavater's well known monograph[1] excited great attention in his day and brought its author enthusiastic admiration. How much Goethe was interested in it is indicated in the popular book by Von der h.e.l.len and the exchange of letters between Goethe and Lavater. If Lavater had not brought the matter into relation with his mystical and apodictic manner, if he had made more observations and fewer a.s.sertions, his fame would have endured longer and he would have been of some use to the science; as it was it soon slipped from people's minds and they turned to the notorious phrenology of Gall. Gall, who to some degree had worked with his friend Spurzheim, committed the same error in his works[2] as Lavater, inasmuch as he lost himself in theories without scientific basis, so that much that was indubitably correct and indicative in his teaching was simply overlooked. His meaning was twice validated, once when B. v. Cotta[3] and R. R. Noel[4] studied it intensively and justly a.s.signed him a considerable worth; the second time when Lombroso and his school invented the doctrine of criminal stigmata, the best of which rests on the postulates of the much-scorned and only now studied Dr. Gall. The great physiologist J. Mller declared: "Concerning the general possibility of the principles of Gall's system no a priori objections can be made." Only recently were the important problems of physiognomy, if we except the remarkable work by Schack,[5] scientifically dealt with. The most important and significant book is Darwin's,[6] then the system of Piderit[7] and Carus's "Symbolik,"[8] all of them being based upon the earlier fundamental work of the excellent English anatomist and surgeon, Bell.[9] Other works of importance are those of LeBrun, Reich, Mantegazza, Dr. d.u.c.h.enne, Skraup, Magnus, Gessmann, Schebest, Engel, Schneider, K. Michel, Wundt, C. Lange, Giraudet, A. Mosso, A. Baer, Wiener, Lotze, Waitz, Lelut, Monro, Heusinger, Herbart, Comte, Meynert, Goltz, Hughes, [1] J. K. Lavater: Physiognomische Fragmente zur Befrderung des Menschenkentniss und Mensehenliebe. Leipzig 1775.

[2] F. J. Gall: Introduction au Cours du Physiologie du Cerveau. Paris 1808. Recherehes sur la systme nerveux. Paris 1809.

[3] B. v. Cotta: Geschichte u. Wesen der Phrenologie. Dresden 1838.

[4] R. R. Noel: Die materielle Grundlage des Seelenbens. Leipzig 1874.

[5] S. Sehack: Physiognomisehe Studien. Jena 1890.

[6] Darwin: Expression of the Emotions in Men and Animals.

[7] Th. Piderit: Wissensehaftliches System der Mimik und Physiognomik. Detmold 1867.

[8] Carus: Symbolik der Menschlichen Gestalt. Leipzig 1858.

[9] C. Bell: Anatomy and Philosophy of Expression. London 1847.

Bore,[1] etc. The present status of physiognomies is, we must say, a very subordinate one. Phrenology is related to physiognomies as the bony support of the skull to its softer ones, and as a man's physiognomy depends especially upon the conformation of his skull, so physiognomies must deal with the forms of the skull. The doctrine of the movement of physiognomy is mimicry. But physiognomics concerns itself with the features of the face taken in themselves and with the changes which accompany the alterations of consciousness, whereas mimicry deals with the voluntary alterations of expression and gesture which are supposed to externalize internal conditions. Hence, mimicry interests primarily actors, orators, and the ordinary comedians of life. Phrenology remains the research of physicians, anthropologists and psychologists, so that the science of physiognomy as important in itself is left to us lawyers. Its value as a discipline is variously set. Generally it is a.s.serted that much, indeed, fails to be expressed by the face; that what does show, shows according to no fixed rules; that hence, whatever may be read in a face is derivable either instinctively by oneself or not at all. Or, it may be urged, the matter can not be learned.

[1] Le Brun: Conferences sur l'Expression. 1820. Reich: Die Gestalt des Menschen und deren Beziehung zum Seelenleben. Heidelberg 1878. P. Mantegazza. Physiognomik u. Mimik. Leipzig 1890. d.u.c.h.enne: Mechanismus des Menschlichen Physiognomie. 1862. Skraup: Katechismus der Mimik. Leipzig 1892. H. Magnus: Die Sprache der Augen. Gessmann: Katechismus der Gesichtslesekunst. Berlin 1896. A. Sehebest: Rede u. Geberde. Leipzig 1861. Engel: Ideen zu einer Mimik. Berlin 1785. G. Schneider: Die tierische Wille. 1880. K. Miehel: Die Geberdensprache. K61n 1886. Wundt: Grundzge, etc. Leipzig 1894. C. Lange: ber Gemutsbewegungen. 1887. Giraudet: Mimique, Physiognomie et Gestes. Paris 1895. A. Mosso: Die Furcht. 1889. D. A. Baer: Der Verbreeher. Leipzig 1893. Wiener. Die geistige Welt. Lotze. Medizinisehe Psychologie. Th. Waitz. Anthropologie der Naturvlker. Leipzig 1877. Lelut: Physiologie de la Pense. Monro: Remarks on Sanity. C. F. Heusinger: Grundriss der physiologischen u. psychologisehen Anthropologie. Eisenach 1829. Herbart: Psychologische Untersuchung. Gttingen 1839. Comte: Systeme de Philosophie Positive. Paris 1824. T. Meynert: Mechanik der Physiognomik. 1888. F. Goltz: ber Moderne Phrenologie. Deutsehe Rundschau Nov. - Dec. 1885. H. Hughes: Die Mimik des Menschen auf Grund voluntariseher Psychologie Frankfurt a. M. 1900. A. Bore: Physiognom. Studien. Stuttgart 1899.

Such statements, as ways of disposing of things, occur regularly wherever there is a good deal of work to do; people do not like to bother with troublesome problems and therefore call them worthless. But whoever is in earnest and is not averse to a little study will get much benefit from intensive application to this discipline in relation to his profession.

*** You are reading on ***

Popular Novel