Criminal Psychology; a Manual for Judges, Practitioners, and Students

Author: Hans Gustav Adolf Gross

Section 75. (C) Love, Hate and Friendship.

If Emerson is right and love is no more than the deification of persons, the criminalist does not need to bother about this very rare paroxysm of the human soul. We might translate, at most, a girl’s description of her lover who is possibly accused of some crime, from deified into human, but that is all. However, we do not find that sort of love in the law courts. The love we do find has to be translated into a simpler and more common form than that of the poet. The sense of self-sacrifice, with which Wagner endows his heroines, is not altogether foreign in our work; we find it among the lowest proletarian women, who immolate themselves for their husbands, follow them through the most tremendous distress, nurse and sustain them with hungry heroism. This is more remarkable than poetical self-sacrifice, but it is also different and is to be differently explained. The conditions which cause love can be understood in terms of the effects and forces of the daily life. And where we can not see it

[1] Sergi: Archivio di Psichologia. 1892. Vol. XIII.

differently we shall be compelled to speak of it as if it were a disease. If disease is not sufficient explanation, we shall have to say with the Italians, "l’amore <e’> une castigo di Dio."

Love is of greater importance in the criminal court than the statutes allow, and we frequently make great mistakes because we do not count it in. We have first of all to do our duty properly, to distinguish the biological difference between the human criminal and the normal human being, rather than to subsume every criminal case under its proper statute. When a woman commits a crime because of jealousy, when in spite of herself she throws herself away on a good-for-nothing; when she fights her rival with unconquerable hatred; when she bears unbelievable maltreatment; when she has done hundreds of other things—who counts her love? She is guilty of crime; she is granted to have had a motive; and she is punished. Has enough been done when the jury acquits a jealous murderess, or a thrower of vitriol? Such cases are spectacular, but no attention is paid to the love of the woman in the millions of little cases where love, and love only, was the impulse, and the statute sentencing her to so and so much punishment was the outcome.

Now, study the maniacally-clever force of jealousy and then ask who is guilty of the crime. Augustine says, that whoever is not jealous is not in love, and if love and jealousy are correlate, one may be inferred from the other. What is at work is jealousy, what is to to be shown is love. That is, the evil in the world is due to jealousy, but this cause would be more difficult to prove than its correlate, love. And we know how difficult it is to conceal love,—so difficult that it has become a popular proverb that when a woman has a paramour, everybody knows it but her husband. Now, if a crime has been committed through jealousy it would be simply na<i:>ve to ask whether the woman was jealous. Jealousy is rare to discover and unreliable, while her love-affair is known to everybody. Once this becomes an established fact, we can determine also the degree of her jealousy.

Woman gives the expression of her jealousy characteristic direction. Man attempts to possess his wife solely and without trouble, and hence is naturally jealous. The deceived woman turns all her hatred on her rival and she excuses the husband if only she believes that she still possesses, or has regained his love. It will therefore be a mistake to suppose that because a woman has again begun to love her husband, perhaps after a long-enduring jealousy, thatno such jealousy preceded or that she had forgiven her rival. It may be that she has come to an understanding with her husband and no longer cares about the rival, but this is only either mere semblance or temporary, for the first suspicion of danger turns loose the old jealousy with all its consequences. Here again her husband is safe and all her rage is directed upon her rival. The typical cases are those of the attacks by abandoned mistresses at the weddings of their lovers. They always tear the wreath and veil from the bride’s head, but it never is said that they knock the groom’s top-hat off.

Another characteristic of feminine love which often causes difficulties is the passion with which the wife often gives herself to her husband. Two such different authors as Kuno Fischer and George Sand agree to this almost verbatim. The first says: "What nature demands of woman is complete surrender to man," and the second: "Love is a voluntary slavery for which woman craves by nature." Here we find the explanation of all those phenomena in which the will of the wife seems dead beside that of the husband. If a woman once depends on a man she follows him everywhere, and even if he commits the most disgusting crimes she helps him and is his loyalest comrade. We simply catalogue the situation as complicity, but we have no statutes for the fact that the woman naturally could do nothing else. We do not find it easy to discover the accomplices of a man guilty of a crime, but if there is a woman who really loves him we may be sure that she is one of them.

For the same reason women often bear interminably long maltreatment at the hands of their husbands or lovers. We think of extraordinary motives, but the whole thing is explained if the motive was really feminine love. It will be more difficult for us to believe in this love when the man is physically and mentally not an object of love. But the motives of causes of love of woman for man, though much discussed, have never been satisfactorily determined. Some authorities make strength and courage the motives, but there are innumerable objections, for historic lovers have been weak and cowardly, intellectual rather than foolish, though Schopenhauer says, that intelligence and genius are distasteful to women. No fixed reasons can be assigned. We have to accept the fact that a most disgusting man is often loved by a most lovely woman. We have to believe that love of man turns women from their romantic ideals. There has been the mistaken notion that only a common crime compels a woman to remain loyally with a thoroughly worthlessman, and again, it has been erroneously supposed that a certain woman who refused a most desirable heirloom left her by a man, must have known of some great crime committed by him. But we need no other motive for this action than her infinite love, and the reason of that infinity we find in the nature of that love. It is, in fact, woman’s life, whereas it is an episode in the life of man. Of course, we are not here speaking of transitory inclinations, or flirtations, but of that great and profound love which all women of all classes know, and this love is overmastering; it conquers everything, it forgives everything, it endures everything.

There is still another inexplicable thing. Eager as man is to find his woman virgin, woman cares little about the similar thing in man. Only the very young, pure, inexperienced girl feels an instinctive revulsion from the real rou<e’>, but other women, according to Rochebrune, love a man in proportion to the number of other women who love or have loved him. This is difficult to understand, but it is a fact that a man has an easy task with women if he has a reputation of being a great hand with them. Perhaps this ease is only an expression of the conceit and envy of women, who can not bear the idea that a man is interested in so many others and not in themselves. As Balzac says, "women prefer most to win a man who already belongs to another." The inconceivable ease with which certain types of men seduce women, and at whose heads women throw themselves in spite of the fact that these men have no praiseworthy qualities whatever, can only be so explained. Perhaps it is true, as is sometimes said, that here is a case of sexuality expressing itself in an inexplicable manner.

Of course there are friendships between men and women, although such friendships are very rare. There is no doubt that sexual interests tend easily to dominate such relations. We suppose them to be rare just because their existence requires that sexual motives be spontaneously excluded. There are three types of such friendships. 1. When the age of the friends is such as to make the suspicion of passion impossible. 2. When from earliest childhood, for one reason or another, a purely fraternal relationship has developed. 3. When both are of such nature that the famous divine spark can not set them afire. Whether there is an electrical influence between couples, as some scientists say, or not, we frequently see two people irrationally select each other, as if compelled by some evil force. Now this selection may result in nothing more than a friendship. Such friendships are frequently claimed in trials, andof course, they are never altogether believed in. The necessary thing in treating these cases is caution, for it will be impossible to prove these friendships unlikely, and hence unjust to deny them without further evidence. It will be necessary to discover whether the sexual interest is or can be excluded. If not, the friendship is purely a nominal one.

Friendship between women is popularly little valued. Comedies, comic papers, and criticisms make fun of it, and we have heard all too often that the news of the first gray hair, or the disloyalty of a husband, has its starting-point in a woman friend, and that women decorate themselves and improve themselves in order to worry their friends. One author wanted to show that friendships between two women were only conspiracies against a third, and Diderot said that there is a secret union among women as among priests of one and the same religion—they hate each other, but they protect each other. The latter fact we see frequently enough in the examination of women witnesses. Envy, dislike, jealousy, and egoism play up vividly, and he is a successful judge who can discover how much of the evidence is born of these motives. But beyond a certain point, women co-operate. This point is easy to find, for it is placed whereever feminine qualities are to be generalized. So long as we stick, during an examination, to a concrete instance, and so long as the witness observes no combination of her conduct and opinions with that of the object of her testimony, she will allow herself to be guided partly by the truth, partly by her opinions of the woman in question. But just as soon as we expressly or tacitly suggest common feminine qualities, or start to speak of some matter in which the witness herself feels guilty, she turns about and defends where before she had been attacking. In these cases we must try to find out whether we have become, "general." If we have, we know why the witness is defending the accused.

We may say the same things of feminine hate that we have said of feminine love. Love and hate are only the positive and negative aspects of the same relation. When a woman hates you she has loved you, does love you, or will love you,—this is a reliable rule for the many cases in which feminine hatred gives the criminalist work. Feminine hatred is much intenser than masculine hatred. St. Gregory says that it is worse than the devil’s, for the devil acts alone while woman gets the devil to help her, and Stolle believes that a woman seeking revenge is capable of anything. We have here to remember that among women of the lower classes, hate,anger, and revenge are only different stages of the same emotion. Moreover, nobody finds greater joy in revenge than a woman. Indeed I might say that revenge and the pursuit of revenge are specifically feminine. The real, vigorous man is not easily turned thereto. In woman, it is connected with her greater sensibility which causes anger, rage, and revenge to go further than in men. Lombroso has done most to show this, and Mantegazza cites numberless examples of the superior ease with which woman falls into paroxysms of rage. Hence, when some crime with revenge as motive is before us, and we have no way of getting at the criminal, our first suspicion should be directed toward a woman or an effeminate man. Further, when we have to make an orderly series of inferences, we will start from this proposition into the past, present, and future, and shall not have much to wonder at if the successful vengeance far exceeds its actual or fanciful occasion, and if, perhaps, a very long time has elapsed before its accomplishment. Nulla irae super iram mulieris.

Feminine cruelty is directly connected with feminine anger and hatred. Lombroso has already indicated how fundamental woman’s inclination to cruelty is. The cases are well known, together with the frequent and remarkable combination of real kindness of heart with real bestiality. Perhaps it would be proper to conceive this cruelty as a form of defence, or the expression of defence, for we often find cruelty and weakness paired elsewhere, as among children, idiots, etc. It is particularly noticeable among cretins in the Alps. The great danger of the cretin’s anger is well known there. Once, one of these unfortunates was tortured to death by another because he thought that his victim had received from the charitable monks a larger piece of bread than he. Another was killed because he had received a gift of two trousers buttons. These instances, I should think, indicate the real connection between cruelty and weakness. Cruelty is a means of defence, and hence is characteristic of the weaker sex. Moreover, many a curious bit of feminine cruelty is due to feminine traits misunderstood, suppressed, but in themselves good. Just as we know that frugality and a tendency to save in housekeeping may often lead to dishonesty, so we perceive that these qualities cause cruelty to servants, and even the desire to put out of the way old and troublesome relatives who are eating the bread that belongs to husband and children.

These facts serve not only to explain the crime, but to reveal the criminal. If we succeed, other things being equal, in adducinga number of feminine characteristics with one of which the cruelty of the crime may be connected and explained, we have a clew to the criminal. The instances mentioned,—the motherly care of house and family, frugality, miserliness, hardness to servants, cruelty to aged parents,—seem rare and not altogether rational, yet they occur frequently and give the right clew to the criminal. There are still other similar combinations. Everybody knows feminine love for trials at court, for the daily paper’s reports of them, and for public executions. While the last were still common in Austria, newspapers concluded regularly with the statement that the "tender" sex was the great majority of the crowd that witnessed them. At public executions women of the lower class; at great trials, women of the higher classes, make up the auditors and spectators. Here the movement from eagerness, curiosity, through the desire for vigorous nervous stimulation, to hard-heartedness and undeniable cruelty, is clear enough.

There would be nothing for us to do with this fact if we had not to deal with the final expression of cruelty, i. e., murder; especially the specifically feminine forms of murder,—child-murder and poisoning. These, of course, in particular the former, involve abnormal conditions which are subjects for the physician. At the same time it is the judge who examines and sentences, and he is required to understand these conditions and to consider every detail that may help him in drawing his conclusion.

That poisoning is mainly a feminine crime is a familiar fact of which modern medico-legal writers have spoken much; even the ancient authors, not medical, like Livy, Tacitus, etc., have mentioned it. It is necessary, therefore, carefully to study the feminine character in order to understand how and why women are given to this form of murder. To do so we need consider, however, only the ordinary factors of the daily life; the extraordinary conditions, etc., are generally superfluous.

Every crime that is committed is committed when the reasons for doing it outweigh the reasons for not doing it. This is true even of passional crimes, for a and must have presented themselves in spite of the lightninglike swiftness of the act. One appeared and then the other, the won and the deed was done. In other crimes this conflict lasts at least so long as to be definitely observable, and in the greater crimes it will, as a rule, take more time and more motive. The principles of good and of evil will really battle with each other, and when the individual is so depraved as no longer tohave good principles, their place is taken by fear of discovery and punishment, and by the question whether the advantage to be gained is worth the effort, etc. The commission of the crime is itself evidence that the reasons for it were all-powerful. Now suppose that a woman gets the idea of killing somebody. Here for a time and will balance each other, and when the latter are outweighed she will think that she commit murder. If she does not think so she will not do so. Now, every murder, save that by poison, requires courage, the power to do, and physical strength. As woman does not possess these qualities, she spontaneously makes use of poison. Hence, there is nothing extraordinary or significant in this fact, it is due to the familiar traits of woman. For this reason, when there is any doubt as to the murderer in a case of poisoning, it is well to think first of a woman or of a weak, effeminate man.

The weakness of woman will help us in still another direction. It is easily conceivable that all forms of weakness will seek support and assistance, whether physical or moral. The latter is inclined in cases of need to make use, also, of such assistance as may be rendered by personal inward reflection. Now this reflection may be on the one hand, dissuasion, on the other hand persuasion, selfpersuasion; the first subduing self-reproach, the latter, fear of discovery. Hence, a woman will try to persuade not only herself, but others also that she was justified in her course and will assign as reason, bad treatment. Now there might have been some bad treatment, but it will have been altered and twisted so utterly as to lose its original form and to become imaginatively unbearable. Thus, a series of conclusions from the reactions of the suspect to her environment may be easily found, and these are the more convincing if they have occurred within a rather long period of time, in which they may be chronologically arranged, and from which a slow and definite intensification, usque ad ultimum, can be proved. Such an analysis is, of course, troublesome, but if done systematically, almost always rich in results.

The tricks of persuasion which are to suppress the fears of discovery are always helps of another sort. As a rule they are general, and point to the fact that the crime contemplated had occurred before without danger, that everything was intelligently provided for, etc. Now these circumstances are less dangerous, but they require consideration when they count on certain popular views, especially superstitions and certain customs and assumptions. Suppose, for example, that a young wife wants to get rid of herold husband whom she had married for the sake of his money. Now certain proverbs point to the fact that old men who marry young women die soon after marriage. This popular view may be entirely justified in the fact that the complete alteration in the mode of life, the experience of uncustomary things, the excitement, the extreme tension, then the effort , finally, perhaps also the use of popularly well-known stimulants, etc., may easily cause weakening, sickening, and as conclusion the death of the old man. But the public does not draw this kind of inference, it simply assumes, without asking the reason, that when an old man marries a young woman, he dies. Therefore a young wife may easily think, "If I make use of poison nobody will wonder, nobody will see anything suspicious about the death. It is only an event which is universally supposed to happen. The old man died because he married me." Such ideas may easily seduce an uneducated woman and determine her conduct. Of course, they are not subject to observation, but they are not beyond control, if the popular views concerning certain matters are known as the views which determine standards. Therefore their introduction into the plot of the suspect may help us in drawing some useful inference.[1]

With regard to child-murder the consideration of psychopathic conditions need not absolutely be undertaken. Whether they are present must, of course, be determined, and therefore it is first of all necessary to learn the character of the suspect’s conduct. The opportunity for this is given in any text-book on legal medicine, forensic psychopathology, and criminal psychology. There are a good many older authors.[2] Most of the cases cited by authorities show that women in the best of circumstances have behaved innumerable times in such a way that if they had been poor girls child-murder would immediately have been assumed. Again, they have shown that the sweetest and most harmless creatures become real beasts at the time of accouchement, or shortly after it develop an unbelievable hatred toward child and husband. Many a childmurder may possibly be explained by the habit of some animals of consuming their young immediately after giving birth to them. Such cases bind us in every trial for child-murder to have the mental state of the mother thoroughly examined by a psychiatrist, and to

[1] Cf H. Gross’s Archiv. I, 306, III, 88, V, 207, V, 290.

[2] Wigand: Die Geburt des Mensehen. Berlin 1830. Klein <U:>ber Irrtum bei Kindesmord, Harles Jahrbuch, Vol. 3. Burdach Gerichts<a:>rtztliche Arbeiten. Stuttgart, 1839.

interpret everything connected with the matter as psychologist and humanitarian. At the same time it must not be forgotten that one of the most dangerous results is due to this attitude. Lawmakers have without further consideration kept in mind the mental condition of the mother and have made child-murder much less punishable than ordinary murder. It is inferred, therefore, that it is unnecessary to study the conditions which cause it. This is dangerous, because it implies the belief that the case is settled by giving a minimum sentence, where really an infinity of grades and differences may enter. The situation that the law-maker has studied is one among many, the majority of which we have yet to apprehend and to examine.


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Chicago: Hans Gustav Adolf Gross, "Section 75. (C) Love, Hate and Friendship.," Criminal Psychology; a Manual for Judges, Practitioners, and Students, trans. Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron, 1800-1859 in Criminal Psychology; a Manual for Judges, Practitioners, and Students (London: Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1831), 351–359. Original Sources, accessed October 4, 2022,

MLA: Gross, Hans Gustav Adolf. "Section 75. (C) Love, Hate and Friendship." Criminal Psychology; a Manual for Judges, Practitioners, and Students, translted by Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron, 1800-1859, in Criminal Psychology; a Manual for Judges, Practitioners, and Students, London, Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, 1831, pp. 351–359. Original Sources. 4 Oct. 2022.

Harvard: Gross, HG, 'Section 75. (C) Love, Hate and Friendship.' in Criminal Psychology; a Manual for Judges, Practitioners, and Students, trans. . cited in 1831, Criminal Psychology; a Manual for Judges, Practitioners, and Students, Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, London, pp.351–359. Original Sources, retrieved 4 October 2022, from