Last Updated 14 Apr 2020

Serial Killers: Biology or Upbringing

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As people in today's society, we are constantly being bombarded with the crazy actions that mankind is capable of. We watch the news and hear about murders, or even read a book about a mysterious killer. As we go through these pieces of reality, one can't help but be struck by the thought--what causes a person to act so violently? There have been many studies done to try and find an answer. For a crime such as serial killing, there are two thoughts. The first idea is that serial killing is caused by an abnormality in the frontal lobe of the brain.

The other is that serial killers are bred by circumstance which means they have certain genes that make them prone to becoming a killer. With some analysis, the evidence for both theories can serve to prove that serial killers are genetically different. Serial killers have been named many different names over the years by experts. “In the 19th century, psychopathology was considered to be ‘moral insanity’” (Scott, par. 2). Moral insanity is when ones emotions are damaged, causing them to be carried away by furious instinct. That shows why experts would consider calling serial killers morally insane.

Current experts call serial killers a biological disaster” (Scott, par. 2). This means they are born into this world already marked as a disaster. A former psychologist says there are two types, “They are known as ‘Antisocial personality disorder’ or ‘Social pathology’” (Scott, par. 2). Antisocial personality disorder killers usually do not interact with people which can be their reason for becoming a killer. Social pathology killers are disorganized in the world which makes them uneasy and more tempted to becoming a serial killer.

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These names can simply describe every type of serial killer in the world. The most serial killings have occurred in California. According to Michael Stone who has a Ph. D. in psychology, “California leads in the US with the most Serial Homicide cases that have occurred” (Stone 293). Another true statement that Michael has stated is, “The USA has 76% of the world’s serial killers” (Stone 293). This is showing that if the USA has 76% of the world’s serial killers, than California has more than half. This is an important thing that Michael Stone has found out.

Getting to the bottom of why these serial killers kill can help solve the massive amounts of serial killing not only in California, but in the United States as well. It has been said that, “Europe in second, has 17%. England has produced 28% of the European total of serial killings” (Stone 293). Not only is the Untied States being threatened by massive amounts of Serial Homicides, but so is Europe. Looking at these numbers and percentages can be frightening that’s why understanding serial killers can possibly get rid of this problem. Most of the serial killers in the Untied States are males.

Michael Stone has also came to find this out, “Less than 1% of female population are psychopaths and between 3-5% of men are psychopaths” (Scott, par. 3). Men are more likely to have an antisocial personality disorder or social pathology disorder. Men are genuinely stronger than women which can be another reason why there are more men serial killers than women. “…massive amounts of the frontal lobotomy’s done in the 40’s and 50’s, has been shown to factor into about 64% of male murders housed on death row right now in the United States” (“A Look Inside Serial Killers,” par. ).

Frontal lobotomy was a form of psychosurgery to check the brain for abnormalities. So due to the abnormal frontal lobe section of the brain, males have struck out in violence and the United States is leading 64% on death row. Thus, another frightening situation that should be stopped. “Most serial killers are males under 50” (Scott, par. 8). This is probably because with age, the brain begins to mature. Also, people over 50 are getting old and don’t have the stamina or ability to kill anymore. The way serial killers feel can be the cause of why they become a serial killer.

Phychophysiologist Adrian Raine, Ph. D. has stated, “A lack of remorse is the hallmark of the psychopath” (Stone 320). Having no care in the world about what they do is the main cause of serial killers. They feel nothing for the people they kill nor will they ever feel something. Serial killers show no emotion for the wrong they do. “They feel less fear and anxiety than normal people” (Scott, par. 5). Thus, the reason why they kill. Having less anxiety than a normal person means if and when they kill, they will not be scared of their consequences.

Also stated by Adrian Raine, “‘Callous unemotional’ children seem in many instances to be the psychopaths of the future” (Stone 319). Children that show no emotion are known as Callous unemotional. This is a way of determining a psychopathic trait in children. Showing little or no emotion is a huge trait in serial killers. Serial killers are caused by biology rather than upbringing. “If you’re antisocial but come from a good home, the reasons for violent behavior may have more to do with biology than the upbringing” (Raine, par. 2). Meaning a good home can mean nothing if that person already prone to becoming a serial killer.

Also means serial killing can be passed down the family tree. “Dysfunctional brain—not dysfunctional families—explains murders, especially when the murderer comes from a ‘good’ home” (Raine, par. 1). Something in these murderer’s brains triggers them to kill, not their environment. It’s obvious if they come from a good home/environment that it has to do with a dysfunctional brain. “Some people have biological systems that make it hard. If an individual has a right orbital cortex that is not functioning well, they’re biologically disadvantaged in developing a conscience” (Raine, par. 5).

People with no conscience feel no remorse for the bad things they do, which is a trait of a serial killer. So in conclusion dysfunctional brains are the majority of the reason why serial killers kill. Genetics contribute to the building of a serial killer. A Genetic scientist once said, “On a Genetic level some people are more prone to becoming a serial killer” (“A Look inside Serial Killers,” par. 3). Just like any gene the serial killer gene can be brought down and passed around the family tree.

That same Genetic scientist also said, “The biological relatives of psychopaths were 4-5 times more likely to be psychopathic than the average person” (Scott, par. 7). Meaning if a person’s family member is a serial killer, that person is more likely and at a huge disadvantage of becoming a serial killer. According to Adrian Raine, “…we may even encounter a child with such genetic disadvantage, that his aggression cannot be curbed even by the most tender and devoted parents” (Stone 320). This kid has too many bad genes to even try and help him not become violent or even a serial killer.

This shows that not even the best therapy can help change a serial killer because it’s all in their genes. A certain gene can cause a person such as a serial killer to become violent to the point where they murder. “A gene called Monoamine Oxidase-A also known as the violent gene, is something found in almost all serial killers…” (“A Look Inside Serial Killers,” par. 4).

This shows that this gene is very dangerous and the cause of almost all serial killers. This should be widely viewed by doctors and scientists to help the growing problem of this Monoamine Oxidase-A gene. Mothers pass down the dysfunction in the form of the MAOA gene to their sons” (“A Look inside Serial Killers,” par. 4). There are more male serial killers than females because of this dysfunctional gene passed down by mothers. So as Adrian Raine has discovered, “Damage to the frontal lobe with the dysfunction of the MAOA gene, we can certainly conclude that they are genetically pre-disposed for violence” (“A Look inside Serial Killers,” par. 5). Dysfunctional brains and dysfunctional genes are the leading reasons of why serial killers kill. Certain brain activity can cause a person to become violent.

Research has found an increased propensity for aggressive behavior among individuals with lower function in areas of the brain (Raine, par. 21). This means people with aggressive behavior have lower brain functions in certain parts of the brain. Researchers have also found that, “…more impulsive killers showed lower prefrontal functioning and heightened sub cortical function” (Stone 319). The killers that kill on impulse have uneven functions in the brain which causes them to kill. They have high functions in some parts and low functions in the other parts.

Adrian Raine says, “The need for higher levels of stimulation makes the psychopath seek dangerous situation” (Scott, par. 6). The result for higher levels of stimulation results in killing. Less activity in the brain is another reason why serial killers kill. “Killers who came from a good background averaged 5. 7% less activity in the medial prefrontal cortex” (Raine, par. 10). Less activity in the prefrontal cortex leads to violence. “Murderers from good backgrounds are more likely to have reduced activity in two key brain areas than murderers from bad backgrounds” (Raine, par. 3).

A murderer with reduced activity means more violence, because they are constantly seeking danger. “When the kids come from a good home, a biological deficit may be to blame” (Raine, par. 11). Meaning genes that are passed down are to blame when a serial killer came from a good home. Serial killers have lower brain functions that make them kill. Founded by Adrian Raine, “The first evidence for structural changes in the brain of antisocial men explained the low arousal in these men, along with their inadequate response to fear, their lack of conscience, and their poor decision-making skills” (Stone 319).

Antisocial men have three structural changes in their brain. These men are more likely to get caught because of their poor decision-making skills. The predatory killers were more able to plot and scheme successfully, lowering their risk of getting caught (Stone 319). These killers are a lot smarter than the antisocial men and often don’t get caught. People with lower prefrontal functioning, their ability to monitor and inhabit violent ambitions was weaker (Stone 319). Meaning the lower the prefrontal functioning is in the brain, makes killers want to kill without the slightest chance of stopping and realizing that it’s wrong.

Damage to the prefrontal brain is the most common amongst all serial killers. Prefrontal cortex is involved in long-term planning as well as judgment; the statistics show that approximately 70% of brain-injured patients develop aggressive tendencies (Packard, par. 1). Damage to the prefrontal cortex affects judgment and judgment is always affected in a serial killers brain. They don’t know right from wrong, which has to do with their judgment skills. The prefrontal cortex is a far deeper area of the brain that gives rise to aggressive behavior (Raine, par. 12).

So damage to this area can result in the worst aggressive behavior such as serial killing. “50-58% of psychopaths show abnormal brain wave patterns” (Scott, par. 8). This shows that more than half of the serial killers in the world have abnormal brain waves. Another part of the brain if damaged may make you violent is the frontal lobe. A former psychologist said, “The frontal lobe acts as the conscience” (“A Look inside Serial Killers,” par. 3). Without a conscience people act out in violent behavior because they have nothing in their brain to tell them it’s wrong.

Thus, they become cold blooded killers. According to Michael Stone, “…children with psychopathic traits showed abnormal responses in the frontal lobe cortex…” (Stone 320). This shows that even in children their brains can be abnormal and lead to serial killings later in life. “In humans, the frontal lobe of the brain is responsible for much of the behavior that allows humans to live together in stable social relationships. It is what stops most human beings from acting on their inherent violent tendencies” (“Brain Injuries,” par. 3).

So damage to the frontal lobe makes it hard for that person to commit to a stable social relationship and may act very violently. In conclusion, serial killers are biologically different then regular people. They have lower brain functions and are genetically prone to becoming a serial killer. They tend to act upon violent actions due to their abnormal brain waves in their frontal lobe and prefrontal cortex. As everyone can see from this research, serial killers kill not because of their upbringing, but because of biology. This is why they are known by many experts as biological disasters.

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