A pivotal flaw in human nature is that in some, there is an urge to kill. Numerous of studies have been dedicated to understanding the reasonings behind these urges, whether it be abandonment, genetics or environment. Most studies have come up empty handed or have reached the same conclusions that have already been founded.Because of this Doctors and scientists find themselves in a rut, the elaborate setup of the human mind has proven it’s a worthy maze yet; everyday we learn small fragments of something new about our species and not only the chemical but physical changes we as humans go through. This itself is a natural phenomenon that one day with the right technology we will be able to understand, but as of now Doctors and scientists alike will continue to break their backs in search of answers. This bibliography looks at the point of views of several professionals who have their own take on the art of murder and why people commit their heinous crimes.
On April 8th 2015, psychologist Pascal Molenberghs of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, recruited 48 subjects and asked them to consent to functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), which would scan their brains while they watched three different scenarios on video loops. In one, a soldier would be killing an enemy soldier; in the next, the soldier would be killing a civilian; and in the last, used as a control, the soldier would shoot a weapon but hit no one. In all cases, the subjects were in the shooter’s point of view. At the end of each loop, the subjects were asked the golden question of “Who did you shoot?” They were then asked to press one of three buttons on a keypad stipulating civilian, soldier or no one—a way of making them aware of their choices. After the scans, they were asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 7 of how guilty they felt in each scenario.
Before setting up the study , Molenberghs knew that when the scans were cleared he would have to focus first on the activity in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), a region of the forebrain that has been known to be involved with moral sensitivity, judgments, and making choices about how one should behave. The temporoparietal junction (TPJ), also in the web of moral code, approaches the sense of activity — the act of doing something deliberately and therefore owning the responsibility for it.
In Molenbergh’s study, there was a steady amount of activity in the lateral portion of the OFC when subjects envisioned shooting civilians. The connection between the OFC and the TPJ also spiked — with the OFC effectively creating the feeling of guilt and the TPJ adequately supporting that feeling. Significantly, the degree of OFC activation also correlated well with how bad the subjects reported they felt on their 1 to 7 scale, with greater activity in the brains of people who reported feeling greater guilt.
The OFC and TPJ weren’t alone in this moral processing. Another region, known as the fusiform gyrus, was more active when subjects imagined themselves killing civilians—a telling discovery, since that portion of the brain is involved in analyzing faces. This suggests that the subjects were studying the expressions of their imaginary victims and, in so doing, humanizing them. When subjects were killing soldiers, there was greater activity in a region called the lingual gyrus, which is involved in the much more dispassionate business of spatial reasoning — just the kind of thing you need when you’re going about the colder business of killing someone you feel justified killing.
Soldiers and psychopaths are, of course, two different emotional species. But among people who kill legally and those who kill criminally or promiscuously, the same brain regions are surely involved, even if they operate in different ways. In all of us it’s clear that murder’s neural roots and moral roots are deeply entangled. Learning to untangle them a bit could one day help psychologists and criminologists predict who will kill — and stop them before they do.
People around the world often experience the commonplace emotions of anger, disappointment, frustration, and sadness as they interact with peers, government officials, and even family. While most know how to control these feelings, a smaller percent tends to subject themselves and others to violence. These acts of hostility show that sometimes the cognitive control mechanism is corrupted, nonexistent, or being ignored, which can result in disastrous consequences.
What turns anger into action? A lack of self-control is likely the source most commonly stumbled upon; discipline, either intrinsic or extrinsic, is missing in all cases of vicious emotional outburst. It is the key to a well-functioning life, because our brains are easily susceptible to all influences. Watching a movie showing violent acts predisposes one to act violently. The same mirror neurons that make us empathic make us vulnerable to all influences to the throes of negative feelings which are not easily reigned in, especially if one is already deficient in the ability to distinguish between the inclination to uphold moral correctness and the desire to turn unreasonable thoughts into manifest behavior.
The signs that a person is —– to take action are easily visible, although difficult to explicate without context. These actions are prone to unfold quickly, and unfortunately go unnoticed by witnesses and potential victims. The action itself is said to be a distressed form of communication.
Researchers have been working years to find what causes a person to murder, but still there is no concrete answer. Serial killers are always psychopathic, but not all psychopaths are serial killers. However, both share the same traits. These traits involve genetics, environment, experience or even family history. Most research has concluded that there is no single cause for violence, but a series of brain abnormalities, personal experiences, and unhealthy environmental factors that mold the brain into detrimental conditions.
In 1984, FBI special agent Robert Ressler and his colleagues came up with a list which included the top ten characteristics of a serial killer. Over 90% were white males with normal IQ points. Though intelligent, they seemed to do poorly in school and found it hard to keep a job. Most came from dysfunctional families, usually abandoned by their fathers and raised by an overly controlling mother. The majority hated their parents and/or were abused as a child, whether it be sexually, physically, psychologically, or emotionally. This abuse may have come from a stranger or a family member, but many serial killers try to lie about this history of abuse. “Most serial killers have records of early psychiatric problems and often spent time in institutions as children. They have an intense interest in voyeurism, fetishism, and sadomasochistic porn at a very early age, and they also have a very high rate of suicide attempts. Future serial killers share three other traits in their childhoods. More than 60% of serial killers wet their beds past the age of 12. They also have a fascination with fire, which may be an early manifestation of their fondness for mass destruction. In addition, almost every serial killer starts his abuse and sadistic torture on animal victims.” (Fisher and Fisher, 2003).
“Psychopathy is associated with abnormalities in attention and orienting.” (Kiehl, Bates, Laurens, Hare, & Liddle, 2006). The authors of this article conducted a study of incarcerated men that were classified as either psychopathic or non-psychopathic. When these men processed the targets, the psychopaths had a larger amount of frontocentral negativities than non-psychopaths did. Psychopaths also showed an enlarged N2 and reduced P3 during target detection. Similar results have been found in patients with temporal lobe or amygdala damage. These results show that psychopathy may be linked to dysfunction of the paralimbic system — a system that includes part of the temporal and frontal lobes.” (Kiehl, Bates, Laurens, Hare, and Liddle, 2006).
After evaluating the research at hand, one can conclude that there are unavoidable factors that can cause one to become a s psychopath or serial killer. Family history, hormones, brain chemicals, disorders and brain damage seem to the the base of these problems. However, the golden question is; why are the characteristics of serial killers and psychopaths always childhood neglect and abuse. If psychopath or serial killer is born, why do they share these traits? Why do they all come from connected backgrounds instead of intersecting all social and economical boundaries?
Dr. Dorothy Lewis, a professor of psychiatry at NYU Medical School notes environments that have excessive violence. “ They are the combination of a history of extraordinary, early ongoing abuse, some kind of brain dysfunction and psychotic symptoms, particularly paranoia. The more serious the neurological and psychotic symptomology, if the individual has been abused, the more violent the individual seems to be. Also, the assumption that mental illness necessarily results in violent, antisocial behavior is a false one” (as quoted by White, 2001).
Debra Niehof, a neuroscientist, concurs with the belief that psychopathic behavior isn’t linked to a single source.Psychopaths and serial killers are equally complicated individuals. Both environment and genetics alter one another so that the retaliation of violence is unique to an individual. To put it simply, exact stimuluses will not cause the same response in every person.
The affinity of hostility is associated with that of attitude. One’s capability to evaluate a condition that can be disabled Niehof says, “It is important to understand that violence has no one single cause. It can come from any part of the psychological structure. Everything that we encounter or experience in our lives has the potential to affect us, and there is no single factor to target for blame. Violence is the result of a complex feedback loop, but it’s one that can be broken. Biology is not destiny.” Niehof has finalized that the brain is pliable and can actually relearn patterns with new experiences.
Although one can see that a history of mental problems, brain dysfunction. damage or chemistry can cause one to become a psychopath. But there is more to the checklist than just this, children who grew up in a home of violence do not develop the social skills to speak to fellow children which tends to carry into adulthood. This has been proven to be a compelling factor in antisocial behavior.
With all the research being done, there should be all answers and no with standing questions. However, in order for something that that to happen we would need to stay the brains and lives of every serial killer/psychopath from birth until death to completely understand why they turned out the way they did.
The most important of all research i that these people can be “redesigned” by a nurturing and caring environment; this theory is proven by animal breeders. For example, a fierce rottweiler that comes from a strenuous line of fighting dogs is bread for is viciousness but with the right amount of care there is a high possibility that this breed meant for ferociousness cant turn into a sweet and loving lapdog.
The right environment can recreate and animal, and because humans are a form of animal. It would seem that the same rules would apply to people, and recent research has proven that it does. In my opinion, it is not practical to believe that all of serial killers and and psychopaths in can be saved, but if signs were caught early, while still in the childhood phase. There could be a real chance, even though their brain may have abnormalities, we could attempt to change their environment and redirect their deviations.