Sociology Index


Physical signs of some special moral position. While having Christian origins, Lombroso used the term stigmata to refer to physical signs of the state of atavism, a morally and biologically inferior person. Lombroso applied the term "atavistic stigmata" to the "criminal" characteristics that had been identified in the study of physiognomy. The stigmata of criminality for Lombroso were things like the shape of ears, length of fingers, large jaws, sloping foreheads, large chins, large noses and flattened noses. The Italian criminologist Lombroso seized Darwin's ideas and termed the phrase "stigmata of degeneration" to predict criminal behavior. Stigmata are also the bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus. An individual bearing stigmata is referred to as a stigmatic.

People who looked "less evolved" were perhaps not thinking with the higher brain functions of homo sapiens and therefore more likely to act on criminal impulses that cultural training requires most of us to forgo, Lombroso speculated. Further research showed Lombroso's stigmata of degeneration were present in noncriminals in almost equal proportion to the criminal population, and Lombroso was forced to revise his theory. 

What he ended up hypothesizing was that "in almost all cases, it was not the unfavorable environment which led to the commission of crime, but the biological predisposition to commit it, externally advertised by the presence of stigmata," wrote biologist and social scientist M. F. Ashley Montagu in "The Biologist Looks at Crime." 

ABSTRACT: The persecution of homosexual men, transvestites, and "race defilers" in Nazi Germany carried the traditional religious and psychiatric stigmatization of sexual nonconformists in Europe to its logical extreme. The system of prisoner markings in Nazi concentration camps and its stigmatizing function are described.

The present study failed to demonstrate increased frequencies in occurrence of certain stigmata of mongolism in 59 children with acute leukemia. The stigmata investigated were brachycephaly, dermatoglyphic patterns, hypoplasia of middle fifth phalanx and congenital cardiac anomalies.

Religious Stigmata, Magnetic Fluids and Conversion Hysteria: One Survival of ‘Vital Force’ Theories in Scientific Medicine? - Roland Littlewood, Goffredo Bartocci.
A study of Natuzza Evolo, a contemporary Roman Catholic stigmatic in southern Italy, raises certain questions of mechanism and evidence. Was this a miracle, hysterical conversion or contrived? The medical interpretation of the phenomenon as conversion disorder raises questions about the popularity of hysteria as a medical diagnosis and the ways in which it functions like ‘vital forc', as a metaphoric mediator between the natural world, human agency, and the ultrahuman.

Social Concerns of Post-Mastectomy Women: Stigmata and Clothing 
Betty L. Feather, Dept. of Textile and Apparel Management, University of Missouri-Columbia, MO 65211 
Margaret Rucker, Susan B. Kaiser.
This paper explains post-mastectomy women's use of clothing as a method of coping with the negative social connotations of malignancy and disfigurement. We suggest that to avoid being stigmatized, post-mastectomy women employ techniques of "covering/passing" as described by Goffman (1963). Attitudes toward sexuality were significantly related to concerns about presenting a good appearance in both swimwear and nightwear, whereas attitudes toward concealment were only significantly related to concerns about nightwear.

Stigmata by Phyllis A. Perry (1998) 
Die drei Stigmata des Palmer Eldritch. by Philip K. Dick (2002).
Degeneracy stigmata as basis of morbid suspicion: A study of Byron and Sir Walter Scott by James George Kiernan (1898).
The mystery of stigmata, from Catherine Emmerich to Theresa Neumann, by Martha Bordeaux Ponet (1934) 
The riddle of stigmata (Faith and fact books) by Rene Biot (1962) 
The Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi: A Critical Investigation in the light of Thirteenth Century sources (Franciscan Institute Publications) by Octavian Schmucki (1991).

Pulsating enophthalmos and choroidal hamartomas: two rare stigmata of neurofibromatosis
PJ Savino, JS Glaser and MN Luxenberg - British Journal of Ophthalmology, 1977, Vol 61.
A young girl with neurofibromatosis demonstrated two rare stigmata of this disease--pulsating enophthalmos and multiple pigmented choroidal hamartomata. Fundus photographs of the latter are believed to be the first of their kind to be published.

Smaller Nasal Volumes as Stigmata of Aberrant Neurodevelopment in Schizophrenia 
Paul J. Moberg, David R. Roalf, B.S., Raquel E. Gur, and Bruce I. Turetsky.
OBJECTIVE: Anatomical and functional deficits of the olfactory neural system have been identified in patients with schizophrenia. CONCLUSIONS: The lower observed posterior nasal volume likely reflects a specific developmental craniofacial abnormality. This finding confirms an early disruption in embryological development in males with schizophrenia and may represent a genetic or environmental "first hit" that leaves the individual vulnerable to subsequent pathology.