Statistically, the average serial killer is a white male from a lower-to-middle-class background, usually in his twenties or thirties. Many were physically or emotionally abused by parents. Some were adopted. As children, fledgling serial killers often set fires, torture animals, and wet their beds (these red-flag behaviors are known as the “triad” of symptoms.) Brain injuries are common. Some are very intelligent and have shown great promise as successful professionals. They are also fascinated with the police and authority in general (Scott).
Serial murder is one of the most baffling crimes that occur in the U.S. and all over the world. Knight (2006) defines serial murder as the killing of three or more people over a period of more than 30 days, with a significant cooling-off period. The cooling off period may be weeks, months or even years long. Researchers have proposed various psychological, biological and sociological theories that offer a partial understanding of the nature of serial murder. Some propose that the basis for criminal behavior is a predisposition to violence as well as a mix between environment, personality traits and biological factors. Serial killers are predominantly male. Only 3 percent of serial murders are committed by women (U.S. News and World Report,
This essay aims to examine weather serial killers are born a certain way and their genetics define their psychotic tendencies or whether they're a product of a bad environment that they grew up. This essay looks at recent killings in the late 20th century as there is more information on the killers from this period and it's easier to gain details about their childhoods. Whilst I will look at various different killers to reach more rounded conclusions (see appendix for comparison table), this essay will focus on four in detail to examine the debate; Ted Bundy (1946-89), Jeffery Dahmer (1960-1994), John Wayne Gacy (1942-1994) and Gary Ridgway (1949-present).
What causes an individual to become a serial killer? Bio-psychologists believe that starting from birth the human mind is a “tabula rasa” or blank slate, and the individual learns behaviors and socio-cultural norms from individuals around them. This concept of nature versus nurture was based upon the idea that it is how you are brought up (nurture) that governs the psychologically significant aspects of child development and the concept of maturation applies only to the biological. The theory that explains the nature aspect of the nature versus nurture principle is called the attachment theory, which views the bond between mother and child as being an innate process that ensures survival. It is a biological need that has ensured the survival of many species including the human race; because of the need to protect and be protected humans as a species has been able to endure. It is also a psychological need to want to be cared for as well as care for others a study done by Harry Harlow (1950s). The concept of nurture focuses mainly on the effect that the environment has on the development of human beings and whether it is more important than nature. Several studies have been generated to try and settle the ongoing debate of nature versus nurture.
The nurture part of the debate is how the person was raised. The national center for crisis posted article “Serial killers: nature vs. nurture. How serial killer are born” going into detail about the crimes that have happened and if it was connected to their past and if they were abused at a young age. The serial killer may have been beat when they were young and they learned from their parents.
In an article called “The Traits of A Serial Killer,” by Simon (2004), psychopaths are not “created” over night, but rather their behavior can be connected all the way to their childhood. What trauma a child experiences plays a major role in the rest of his or her life. A serial killer, most of the time,
There are many theories as to why people become serial killers. Almost all of these concepts are associated with the Nature vs. Nurture theory. Are serial killers born with the need to kill, or is it something that they learn to long for as they grew up? Many believe that the nurture theory is the likely concept to believe; that serial killers are created from bad childhood experiences including being abused by their parents, or molested at an early age. Psychologist and sociologist have interviewed serial killers and picked apart their minds, to find out what it is that makes them feel the need to perform these heinous crimes. It is the nature theory that they are looking for when
Serial killers are the byproduct of many different things: trauma, death of loved ones, abuse, neglect, adoption, and even witnessing abuse (Are Serial). Serial killers have had to endure a massive amount of something such as trauma or abuse to an unimaginable extent to become what they are; the extent of the abuse, the trauma, the psychological damage they endure is incomprehensible to many. The destruction of one’s innocence can occur at any given time in his or her life, but he or she is more impressionable in his or her youth by the negativism of someone else’s actions (Scott, Shirley L. What Makes Serial Killers Tick ~ Childhood Event). People are susceptible to what they endure in their adolescence, and cruel upbringings, such as
Ever heard of the zodiac killer? He was a serial killer who operated in northern California in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The killer's identity remains unknown. The Zodiac murdered victims in 5 states between December 1968 and October 1969. The general profile for a serial killer is a person who commits a series of murders, often with no apparent motive and typically following a characteristic, predictable behavior pattern. There are many types of serial killers. There are natural born killers who are born willing to kill someone, insane killers which have mental and physical disorders and criminaloids who do not exhibit specific traits. The childhood of a serial killer would typically be someone who is neglected by their family mainly their mothers. They tend to be antisocial and have anger issues. Poor families often cannot provide what the child always wants so they might commit crimes to get want they want. Abused children have a higher chance of being killers also because they have a lot of built up aggression and anger. All can lead to substance abuse which is never a good thing to mix in with a potential serial killer in the making. General behavioral progression from pre-crime to post-crime are that they use killing as a source of relief. Before committing a serious crime they could have built up anger and hatred. They is a high possibility that they are suffering from depression and anxiety too. After killing someone the killer feels relieved. They also feel
Several serial killers have a definitive and common personality profile. Almost every major social, biological, psychological behavioural influence that has been seriously suggested as playing a role in causing crime has been thoroughly thought as potentially
This literature review focuses on serial killers from a psychological viewpoint while trying to answer the question, “Are serial killers born to kill or are they bred to kill?” Firstly, this review will define a serial killer and the different kinds of killers, then it will take a look at different case studies of children who fantasized about mass killing and identify similarities between the cases attempt to find a way to possibly prevent their fantasies from becoming reality. The debate of nature vs. nurture is also discussed as psychologists and researchers come to the conclusion that environmental factors play a bigger role in the developmental character of a person than genetics, but there is still no definite answer as to why some individuals grow up with the urge to murder other people and/or animals.
Throughout time many have had a fascination with serial killers and with help from the media they have become celebrities within our culture. There are many books, movies, television shows, and news coverage to introduce viewers to their lives. With all the interest behind serial killers, many wonder how they come to be this violent. The question is often asked, are serial killers born or made?
The question of whether or not man is predetermined at birth to lead a life of crime is a question that has been debated for decades. Are serial killers born with the lust for murder, or are their desires developed through years of abuse and torment? Many believe it is impossible for an innocent child to be born with the capability to commit a horrible act such as murder. But at the same time, how could we have corrupted society so much as to turn an innocent child into a homicidal maniac? Forensic psychologists have picked apart the minds of serial killers to find an answer as to what forces them to commit such perverse acts. Their ultimate goal is to learn how to catch a serial killer before
This documentary specifies that there is no easy answer to what is going on inside the mind of killers, and we cannot simply place these individuals into “neat diagnostic boxes” that explain why their actions turned so violent. However, the investigators present research studying different avenues regarding ways to “predict” the likelihood that an individual will commit violent crime, will maintaining that no method is perfect. Throughout the presentation, viewers are offered mountains of research highlighting a mix of nature and nurture ranging from neurologists from Harvard studying brain patterns affected by genetics, to psychologists studying maternal care and attachment during infancy.
There are many traits that make a serial killer, with abuse during childhood playing a major factor. The four main aspects of abuse that seem to make killers are: emotional, psychological, sexual and physical abuse. The serial killer group has six times more reported physical abuse during childhood than the general population. Research has demonstrated that many serial killers have much in common when it comes to their childhood experiences Emotional abuse often diminishes a child’s self-esteem, making it hard for them to adapt to their surroundings, such as situations involving school or work. Due to this factor, most serial killers often find it hard to keep jobs and intimate relationships for longer than a very short period of time. Emotional neglect also impairs a child’s ability to develop empathy, therefore lacking compassion. If the child grows up to become a murderer, having no empathy means they are able to kill someone without