The Creation of a Serial Killer: Nature vs. Nurture Essay

The Creation of a Serial Killer: Nature vs. Nurture Essay

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“Serial killers are human black holes; they scare us because they mirror us,” spoke Shirley Lynn Scott, known author and psychologist. This stands true throughout history, as most serial killers blend in with society. Serial killing is formally defined by the FBI as “a series of three or more killings, having common characteristics such as to suggest the reasonable possibility that the crimes were committed by the same actor or actors.” But what exactly drives someone to kill another human being? What plays as a more drastic motivator for their actions, nature or nurture?
Nature refers, in this case, to how the subject is genetically made-up. It is the belief of many researchers that damage to the brain or front lobe causes the violent behavior demonstrated by serial killers. The frontal lobe is in charge of social relations and maintaining adequate relationships with others. Damage to the temporal lobe can result in hair-trigger violent reactions and increased aggressive responses. Damage to the limbic system can also be a cause of serial killers’ ‘dysfunction’. The limbic system controls emotional responses and motivation. MRI scans of known serial killers show damage to the limbic system, or inactivity. When the limbic brain is damaged, it may account for uncontrollable aggression.
In 2000 an article was published in Science by Dr. Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. It showed a study conducted by Davidson on those who had previously committed violent crimes versus those who are considered for the most part, “normal.” The results showed distinct brain activity in the more violent offenders in the frontal lobe and limbic system. This leads us to conclude that those who are violent could potentiall...


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Ramsland, Katherin M. Inside the Minds of Mass Murderers: Why they Kill. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2005. Print.
Jeffrey, Ray C. Biology and Crime. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, 1979. Print.
Athens, Lonnie H. The Creation of Dangerous Violent Criminals. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992. Print.
Egger, S. A. Why serial murderers kill: An overview. In Gerdes, L. I. Contemporary Issues Companion: Serial Killers. (2000) San Diego: Greenhaven Press.

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