Psychological And Social Aspects Of Becoming A Serial Killer
They live among everyone and many times no one knows it. Possibly someone’s neighbor, co-worker, or a friend. But all too often when a serial killer is finally discovered people hear the words, “I would have never guessed, he was such a nice guy. ” According to the article, “What Would We Find Wrong in the Brain of a Serial Killer?” by Jack Pemment, “Serial killer itself is not a diagnosis, but the term serial murder has been defined by the F. B. I as ‘the unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender(s) in separate events. ” Mental illnesses, genetics, and the adolescent life are all factors of the psychological and social aspects that can contribute to becoming a serial killer. Serial killers are generally linked to having some type of mental illnesses. A mental illness that is commonly seen in serial killers is Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD). Adults who have APD can show symptoms, such as aggression towards people and animals, destruction of property, deceitfulness, theft, and serious violation of rules.
Ted Bundy who has confessed to thirty murders in the 1970s had APD. Also, John Wayne Gacy, known as “Killer Clown,” and Charles Manson, who was the leader of the “Manson family” cult, had APD. Another mental illness a serial killer could have is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). BPD can be described as someone who has severe abandonment issues, violent impulses, and mood swings. Examples of serial killers who had this disorder include Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed seventeen boys and men between 1978 and 1991, and Aileen Wuornos, who confessed to killing seven men. Wuornos was also diagnosed with APD. Jim Fallon, a neuroscientist at the University of California, states that the biological standpoint of what makes a serial killer comes from the gene that controls violence, the MAO-A. This gene can only be received from a female because it is found on the X chromosome, making it more dangerous in boys because there is no second X chromosome to dilute it. This is why men, rather than women more commonly become psychopathic killers. In the Ted Talk, “Exploring the Mind of a Killer,” Jim Fallon explains that the brains that he looked at “had damage to their orbital cortex, which is right above the eyes, the orbits, and also the interior part of the temporal lobe. ”
Furthermore, in respects to genetics, the argument of nature (biology) versus nurture (environment) comes in to play when considering the makeup of a serial killer. According to the article, “Nature vs. Nurture: Serial Killers and Social Psychology” by Kira Wissman, “it has been estimated that up to 60% of what makes a person a serial killer is biological. However, the remaining 40% would then be attributed to the environment. ” For example, Aileen Wuornos faced a traumatizing experience at a young age. Her father killed himself why serving prison time for child molestation and her mother abandoned Aileen and her older brother. Wuornos then went to live with her grandparents. Her grandmother was an alcoholic and her grandfather was very violent. Additionally, according to the article “Serial Killers: Nature vs. Nurture,” it explains, “it is true that many children who are victims of abuse become violent in their adult lives but to cross into the category of a serial killer one must be born with a different biochemical makeup. ” Which means that although Wuornos was abused repeatedly during childhood, this experience alone cannot be solely linked to her becoming a serial killer. Speculation may conclude, that Wuornos may have had the MAO-A gene, which coupled with her traumatic past eventually caused her to be a serial killer.
Although there is no clear-cut blueprint of a serial killer, there are many factors that can contribute to the making of one including mental illness, environmental factors, biological anomalies, and childhood trauma. Even though not one serial killer has the same composition, many have similar stories such as Gacy, Bundy, and Manson all having been diagnosed with APD. In spite of their varying stories and the extreme unknown of the complex psyche, the unfortunate endings are the same; the death of many innocent victims.
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