A serial killer: a person who commits a series of murders, often with no apparent motive and usually following a similar characteristic pattern or behavior. A popular argument that frequently arises is whether a serial killer is naturally born with the “serial killer” gene, or is a serial killer raised? In other words it’s an argument of nature versus nurture. There is much controversy in this topic and there have been many different articles that have been written discussing and arguing about these this argument. In the article A Killer Brain: A Look Inside Serial Killers by an unknown author and the article What Makes Serial Killers Tick? y Shirley Lynn Scott are two articles that compare and contrast whether serial killers are born to be serial killers or whether they’re raised in to becoming serial killers. In the article What Makes Serial Killers Tick? Shirley argues that “there is no such thing as a “kill gene”.
On the other hand the unknown author from the article A Killer Brain: A Look Inside Serial Killers argues that all serial killers are with “A gene called Monoamine Oxidase-A (MAOA) also known as the violent gene, and is something that has been found in almost all serial killers and many violent offenders. So according to the unknown author all serial killers are born with the MAOA gene that naturally makes them become serial killers, while Shirley argues that there is no such thing as a killer gene. Shirley believes that “bad seeds blossom in bad environments” therefore she proceeds to try to explain that serial killers are created through nurture. The way someone is treated and raised while growing up determines the effects of the outcome of how he or she will turn out to be like and how he or she will act when he or she grows up.
In the other article, the unknown author argues that almost all of the serial killers have been born with the new gene Monoamine Oxidase-A. According to the unknown author the MAOA is a brain enzyme that helps clean up neurotransmitters after the gene has done its job. The unknown author explains that there are two different types of cleaners. One of the cleaners does its job and gets all of the neurotransmitters out while the second cleaner does a poor job and leaves a lot of neurotransmitters sloshing around in one’s brain driving a person insane.
The unknown author says “if you have the bad enzymes cock-tailed with a history of violence such as abuse or even being bullied as a kid you will have an 85% chance of being violent and having violent tendencies. ” This explains why we have so many more serial killers that are men rather than women. Shirley argues back saying that their was a case where a multiple murderer named Bobby Joe Long had “an extra X (female) chromosome, otherwise known as Klinefelter’s syndrome, which meant he had the female hormone estrogen circulating higher amounts in his system. According to Shirley, Long had an abundance of other serial killer prerequisites such as that he suffered traumatic and repeated head injuries.
Shirley also says that “Conversely, an extra Y (male) chromosome was once in vogue as an explanation to violenece. Mass murderer Richard Speck’s legal defense said he had an XYY genetic makeup, but further tests proved wrong. While an extra male chromosome seems like a logical explanation for mutant-aggressive behavior, there is not much evidence that links the X or Y chromosome to serial killers. This argument that Shirley arises sort of contradicts the unknown authors’ argument about serial killers having the gene MAOA that is suppose ably the “violent gene”, because genes aren’t find in all serial killers, therefore it can’t be the reason why serial killers are the way that they are. Shirley and the unknown author do agree on one subject though, they both believe that all serial killers suffer from brain defects and that it’s most likely one of the reason why serial killers are the way they are. Shirley says that “According to many researchers, brain defects and injuries have been an important link to violent behavior.
When the hypothalamus, the temporal lobe, and/or the limbic brain show damage, it may account for uncontrollable aggression. ” While according to the unknown author “…after the brains of 70 notorious serial killers were examined. It showed that all seventy had some frontal lobe damage which would have been caused when they were children, by either abuse or accidental trauma. Now understand why this is important you need to understand what this part hemispheres, and has been concluded by scientists to act as your conscience. It’s essential functions are self-control.
Planning, judgment, the balance of individual versus social needs, and many other essential functions underlying effective social intercourse are mediated by the frontal structures of the brain. ” So both authors agree that all serial killers have some sort of brain defect, they might not argue that it’s in the same region but they do agree that something is wrong with these people’s brains. While the unknown author believes that there are only two reasons that someone could be a serial killer, Shirley believes and explains to us that there have been many hypothesis that have been concluded about how someone can become a serial killer.
Shirley says that testosterone could be a reason of why serial killers are so violent. Shirley says “High testosterone in itself is not a dangerous thing, but when it is combined with low levels of serotonin, the results might be deadly. Testosterone is associated with the need for dominance. But since not everyone can be to dog, serotonin keeps the tension from peaking, and mellows us out> When serotonin levels are abnormally low, however, frustration can lead to aggressive, even sadistic behavior according to a study by Paul Bernhardt. Shirley’s example of testosterone making people more aggressive is sort of like the example that the unknown author gave about the gene MAOA. Another argument that Shirley gives us is that “Some research has shown that violent offenders have higher trace levels of toxic heavy metals (manganese, lead, cadmium and copper) in their systems. Excess manganese lowers the level of serotonin and dopamine, which contributes to aggressive behavior.
Alcohol increases the effects. James Huberty, the mass murderer, had excessive amounts of toxic substance cadmium in his system. Shirley’s argument once again relates to the unknown authors argument about the MAOA gene making people more violent. Since both authors give good arguments about their being a lot of different reasons of why a serial killer becomes so violent, it brings to wonder whether all these substances are causes for a serial killer being the way he is, or is it only one. Back to the argument between nature versus nurture, Shirley leans more towards the argument of nurture, while the unknown author leads more towards the argument of nature. Shirley gives us many more examples of nurture.
Another good example Shirley gives us is sensory deprivation. Shirley says that “Studies show that the lack of physical touch can be harmful to the child’s development. In a study of chimpanzees, the babies who were not handled became withdrawn, and later began to attack others. Some serial killers had been separated from parents at early age, or were denied their mother’s love and physical touch. ” In this argument Shirley is trying to say that if a child is rejected or withdrawn from physical touch, that child will become more violent and can lead to them becoming serial killers.
In the end of her article Shirley comes to the conclusion that “These physiological characteristics, however, do not guarantee a serial killer. Many, who are not violent, have brain injuries and biological abnormalities. A lump on the head is no singular forecast for a serial killer. Can evil be reduced to a chemical equation? Perhaps it is a combination for environment and chemical predispositions. What we do know is that no singular pattern emerges for serial killers. Many of these biological studies are new, so perhaps in the future the chemical profile of serial killers will be revealed. With this conclusion Shirley says that all the examples that she gave in her article were only possibilities and explanations as to why serial killers are serial killers, but it doesn’t mean that if someone has one of these characteristics they’re going to automatically become serial killers.
While the unknown author concludes “If we combine these two problems; damage to the frontal lobe with the dysfunction of the MAOA gene, we can certainly conclude that we have someone who is genetically pre-disposed for violence. So according to the unknown author these two characteristics are almost for sure factors that mean that someone will be violent. Both of these authors give good arguments, but who is correct and which theory is most accurate is a complete mystery.
“A Killer Brain: A Look Inside Serial Killers. ” Socyberty RSS. N. p. , n. d. Web. 06 Dec. 2012. Axelrod, Rise B. , and Charles R. Cooper. The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing. Boston, New York2010. Print. Scott, Shirley Lynn. “What Makes Serial Killers Tick? ” What Makes Serial Killers Tick? CrimeLibrary on TruTV. com. N. p. , n. d. Web. 06 Dec. 2012.