Are Serial Killers Born or Made? Research Paper

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Evidence that was gathered from books such as “Inside the Minds of Mass Murderers” and “Inside the Minds of Serial Killers,” both written by Kathertine Ramsland, provide information and evidence that killers are in fact made, not born. Some of the reasons that people believe that killers are made and not born are due to research by many psychiatrists on serial killers and mass murderers who are on death roe that have committed some of the most heinous crimes. One argument is that there is a set of factors that make people kill which are neurologic damage, abuse, and paranoid thinking (Pincus, Base Instincts).

Another argument that follows the same guidelines was perceived from examining the many murders and serial killings in American history. It is believed that the childhood that a psychopath had says a lot about the person they become because we as humans learn from the environment that we are constantly in (Kelleher, 127). Overall, though there are many arguments on this thesis there was a lot of proof that people kill due to a number of factors throughout their lives and are in fact not born as murderers.

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The two most established types of killings in America would be mass murdering and serial killing. When we hear of a crime like this we never hear about the motives or the mindset of the killer so people automatically think that the killer must have snapped and impulsively killed. Another generalization of psychopaths is that they were born that way and their brain is significantly different than ours. Although, the generalization that makes the most sense is that killers strike due to a cluster of different factors including brain damage, environmental factors, and mental illnesses. Brain damage from physical abuse has been the most surprising and possibly the most significant finding of the research into the causes of violence” (Pincus, 27).

Cynthia Williams was in her early teens when she stabbed a girl on the school bus and killed her. When a psychologist did a neurological and medical exam on her he found that not only did her mother drink during her pregnancy but, within the first few years of her life she had 33 ER visits due to “trauma. This was a clear indication that she was abused, which caused her brain damage and seizures throughout her entire childhood. The same psychiatrist, Johnathan H. Pincus examined 14 other death row inmates who had murdered when they were under the age of 18 and realized that they all had the same factors of neurologic damage, abuse, and paranoid thinking (Pincus, 29). A study done by Lisa Marshall and David Cooke shows the differences between the childhoods of psychopath criminals and non-psychopath criminals.

They used the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised and the Childhood Experience of Care and Abuse to show how much the environment your surrounded with as a child can affect your adult life. Not only did they study the results of familial childhood factors such as neglect, physical abuse, and psychological abuse but they also looked into societal factors such as negative school experience and negative school performance. Results showed that “Inadequate or incompetent parenting leads to insecure attachment bonding that forecasts low levels of empathy, compliance, cooperation and self control. (Lykken,199). The most obvious differences in the childhoods of psychopath criminals and non-psychopath criminals were in parental discipline, parental neglect, and negative school performance. (Marshall and Cooke, The Childhood experiences of psychopaths). Another environmental factor that should be taken into consideration when people kill is mental illnesses. Most of the time serial killers and mass murderers are severely depressed or extremely mentally ill and either won’t take their medicine or refuse to be diagnosed with the mental illness.

A lot of the time children who develop ADHD at a young age and are not being treated for it due to neglect from their parents they progress into worse mental illnesses such as depression (Pincus,145). Other very common mental disorders that a murderer may have are schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder. The mental illness alone is rarely enough to make someone kill though. People are triggered to kill when someone has endured a terrible childhood or experiences along with a mental illness (Ramsland,Inside the Minds of Serial Killers,58).

Although many people believe that a psychopath is born to kill and all it takes is one trigger, it is actually a build up of emotions, stress, and most likely a lifetime of disappointments starting early in their childhood. Another reason that it is argued that mass murderers and serial killers are not born as murderers is due to the motivations that they have behind each killing. Although there are some differences between the motivations behind a mass murderer and a serial killer such as how they choose their victims, hey all have something that triggers them to kill for once and for all. There is an obvious intent behind every murderer, which forms over time and virtually becomes their sick obsession.

The motivations of a murderer are based upon the experiences they have throughout their life. Throughout childhood, the brain is still developing in different ways. When we are younger the brain keeps track of our experiences through “chemical codes,” and with every interaction that we as humans have, our neurochemical profile is updated. The development of violence thus results from a cumulative exchange between a person’s experiences and the nervous system”(Niehoff, 149). Basically the interactions we have with people get put into our bodies neurochemistry as an emotional record. Therefore if every interaction you have as a child is negative or violent you lose sight of how to form a good relationship with people. This turns into a domino effect because when you feel a lack of social skills it affects your schoolwork, relationships, and is basically a handicap right from the start.

At an early age children are suffering from antisocial behavior, which typically results in violence as a way to solve problems. The problem with this is that when people grow older and something triggers them such as revenge or politics and hate that is enough to push them over the edge because they blame society for their failures (Ramsland, Inside the Minds of Mass Murderers, 150). Another way that the childhoods of psychopaths affect their brain development is through their conscience.

Our conscience develops in layers so if a child is treated with neglect and abandonment the conscience never has the chance to mature. Without a mature conscience boundaries between him or her self and the world aren’t defined properly making them feel superior over others and the need to be in control (Simon, 451. ) It becomes clear that many different areas of the brain are developed at a young age so if a child receives punishment instead of love in these crucial years of their life, the brain develops differently causing them to act out thinking that is the only way to solve their problems.

The counter argument against this is that everyone is a natural born killer. David Brooks said “We’re natural born killers and the real question is not what makes people kill but what prevents them from doing so. ” Brooks along with many other people believe that since we were all derived from animals that learned that the only way to survive was to kill everyone has thoughts about murder and fantasies about killing people. David Buss, a professor at the University of Texas had his students write out any homicidal fantasies they had through an essay.

To his surprise he found out that 91% of men and 84% of women had well thought out and detailed fantasies about killing someone during some point in their lives. Although none of this people may become murderers, the power to do it lives within each of us. Buss states “even a formerly good man is capable of monstrous acts that shock the soul and sear the brain. ” (Brooks, When the Good Do Bad) Another reason people believe that killers are born and not made is based off of a theory on brain stimulation. Some people are born with a need for greater brain stimulation than the average person.

Due to this they make killing their addiction and their brain only feels stimulated after doing so (Ramsland, Inside the Minds of Serial Killers,18). People who argue that killers are born not made don’t believe that experiences and the environment that people live in are enough to trigger a murder they instead think that someone must be born with different brain chemistry. In conclusion, there are many examples and evidence that show that psychopaths such as serial killers and murderers are made by the environmental factors that they much endure throughout their lives.

Whether they kill for revenge or to satisfy their addiction their motivations erupt from different factors such as abuse or a slow brain development through their childhood. Serial killers and mass murderers have become one of the most interesting and talked about people in America because no matter what anyone argues, no one will ever truly understand what can possibly trigger someone to kill. Regardless of the mystery, researchers try to solve the unknown lives that murderers carry with them and what makes them snap once and for all.

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