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The General Theory of Crime

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Biochemical Conditions and Crime

Many factors can contribute to the activities linked to crime, some criminologists turned to the biological basis of criminology. Research efforts have been made to better understand the areas of biochemical and neurophysiologic factors that have been associated to crime.

There are several areas of interest in biochemical factors such as diet, sugar, hormonal imbalances, and environmental contaminations. What people eat and take into their bodies may control their behaviors. In some instances, excessive amounts of harmful substances such as food dyes and artificial colors and flavors seem to provoke hostile, impulsive, and otherwise antisocial behaviors (Siegel 137). Vitamin deficiency and dependency can also have an effect on behavior, studies show that a major problem proportion of all schizophrenics and children with learning and behavioral disorders are dependent

on vitamins B3 and B6 (Siegel 138). Another suspected nutritional influence on behavior is a diet high in sugar and carbohydrates. Diets high in sugar and carbohydrate have been linked to violence, high aggression, and associated with attention span deficiencies. Research shows that among adolescent males, iron deficiency is directly associated with aggressive behavior. Furthermore, one study found that iron deficiency was nearly twice as prevalent in a group of incarcerated adolescents as among their non- incarcerated peers ( ). Research has also linked hypoglycemia to outbursts of antisocial behavior and violence (Siegel 140). These biocriminologists, who believe that food and crime are associated, think that if diet can be improved then the frequency or violent behavior would be reduced.

Biosocial theorists also have been looking at the link between hormonal levels and violent behavior. Hormones exert a strong influence on behavior testosterone, and other androgens, are probably the most important hormones in criminology. Testosterone has been related to aggressive criminal behavior in a number of studies, almost as many as those linking crime to the female menstrual cycle. It is believed that high levels of testosterone reduce a person's social integration, making them more of a loner, and freeing them up to deviate from society's norms. Female menstrual cycles have been linked to irritability, aggression, and a patterned increase in hostility. Some 70% of women in prison claim to have committed their crimes while experiencing PMS (53% before menstruation; 17% during) ( ).

Recent studies have linked dangerous substances in the environment such as lead, copper, and mercury to emotional and behavioral disorders. For example, on a macro-level, when criminologists Paul Stretesky and Michael Lynch examined air led concentrations across countries in the United States, they found that areas with the highest concentrations of lead also reported the highest levels of homicide (Siegel 141).

While some research focus on the biochemical conditions of crime, others may focus on neurophysiologic conditions and crime. Neurophysiology is the study of brain activity, and some believe that neurological and physical abnormalities are acquired as early as the fetal or prenatal stage or through delivery trauma and that they control behavior throughout the life span (Siegel 142). In studying the brain and the areas involved with violent criminals, impairment were found in the; prefrontal lobes, thalamus, hypothalamus, medial temporal lobe, superior parietal and left angular gyrus areas of the brain.

Tumors, lesions, injury, and disease have also been linked to a wide assortment of psychological problems, including personality changes, hallucinations, and psychotic episodes. People with tumors are susceptible to depression, irritability, temper outbursts, and even homicidal attacks. A

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