Sociology Index

STIGMATA

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 as well as other characteristics that he identified while studying the corpses of known violent criminals. 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. 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." 

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.

"STIGMATA OF DEGENERATION": PRISONER MARKINGS IN NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMPS - Erwin J. Haeberle, Ph.D, Ed.D - Journal of Homosexuality, vol. 6 (1/2), Fall/Winter 1980/81, pp. 135-139
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.
There is a long tradition in Europe and America of branding men who engage in same sex erotic behavior as wicked, dangerous, and inferior, and of referring to them only in negative terms. In medieval and early modern times the motive for this verbal stigmatization was mostly religious. When a man was called a sodomite or bugger (a corruption of Bulgar), he was thereby defined as an enemy of the people because, as everyone knew, sodomy (the sin of Sodom) and buggery (the heresy of Bulgaria) were aberrations from the path of righteousness and insults to God that invited His retribution. By ostracizing and persecuting sodomites and buggers, the faithful duly protected themselves.

INCIDENCE OF STIGMATA OF MONGOLISM IN CHILDREN WITH ACUTE LEUKEMIA - Wataru W. Sutow, The Univ of Texas M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor institute - PEDIATRICS Vol. 21 No. 6 June 1958, pp. 958-962
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, University College London 
Goffredo Bartocci, World Psychiatric Association, Transcultural Psychiatry Section 
Transcultural Psychiatry, Vol. 42, No. 4, 596-609 (2005).
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, Dept. of Textiles and Clothing, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616 - Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, Vol. 17, No. 4, (1989)
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 to ward sexuality and concealment were examined along with attitudes toward appearance satisfaction as related to the most problematic garments-swimwear and nightwear. 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.

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. 
Am J Psychiatry 161:2314-2316, December 2004.
OBJECTIVE: Anatomical and functional deficits of the olfactory neural system have been identified in patients with schizophrenia. Since olfactory structures develop in conjunction with both the palate and ventral forebrain, the authors hypothesized that schizophrenia patients might have structural abnormalities of the nasal cavity, which could represent specific markers of embryological dysmorphogenesis underlying schizophrenia. METHOD: A measurement of nasal volume was acquired by acoustic rhinometry for 40 male schizophrenia patients and 24 healthy male comparison subjects. RESULTS: The patients had smaller posterior nasal volumes than the comparison subjects but did not differ in anterior nasal volumes. This difference persisted after covarying for height and smoking history. 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.

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´┐Ż 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).