Due to its primary role in processing memory and emotional reactions, over the last decade and a half psychologists have been linking the amygdala to psychopathy. It is involved in aversive conditioning and instrumental learning and is thus involved in all the processes that, when impaired, produce the same functional impairments displayed by psychopaths. Two famous studies conducted by Tiihonen and Kiehl respectively have confirmed this. Tiihonen used a volumetric MRI to test and confirm the positive correlation between low amygdaloid volume and a high degree of psychopathy in violent criminals (measured by the Hare checklist-revised) while Kiehl used a functional MRI to prove reduced amygdala response during an emotional memory task in individuals who scored high on the Hare checklist-revised. However, both these studies along with numerous others were conducted using violent offenders as subjects rather than individuals with psychopathy. Although many psychopaths do exhibit violent tendencies, not all violent offenders are necessarily psychopaths. A study conducted by Raine is one of the few that did focus only on individuals exhibiting psychopathy. In his study Raine was able to show reduced prefrontal grey matter in his test subjects. Unfortunately though, he was unable to differentiate between grey matter in different regions of the prefrontal cortex. It is however clear that there is one region of the frontal cortex that could be
Modern biology is focused more on understanding behavior, like violence and crime, through research on indicators and influences. Rather than attempting to determine a single root cause, researchers are discovering markers of predisposition and identifying factors of risk. In a recent interview about his new book, The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime, criminologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Adrian Raine asserts that there is a “biology of violence” that should not be ignored; “Just as there’s a biological basis for schizophrenia and anxiety disorders and depression… there’s a biological basis also to recidivistic violent offending” (Gross, 2013).
However, more recently, a study led by King’s College London has claimed that there are differences between the brains of psychopaths and other criminal offenders diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. Dr. Nigel Blackwood who led the research is quoted as saying “We describe those without psychopathy as 'hot-headed' and those with psychopathy as ‘cold-hearted’.” This statement shows a clear distinction between what should be interpreted as a lack of self-control and ability to repress impulses and what should be diagnosed as psychopathy. The study took MRI scans of 66 men, two thirds of which were offenders who had been diagnosed with antisocial personality whilst the other third were non-offenders considered to not have any personality disorders. Of the 44 offenders, 17 met the diagnosis criteria for psychopathy (ASPD+P) assessed by the guidelines stated in the DSM-IV. Researchers saw that the members of the study diagnosed as psychopaths had notably less grey matter in areas associated with moral behaviour and understanding other peoples’
Psychological theories of violence examine the internal characteristics that influence criminal behavior. From this perspective, criminal behavior is viewed as a product of psychological deficits in development, biological predispositions, psychopathic personality traits, environmental influences, learned behavior, and overall, one's mental processing of a situation. Though this theory ignores the situational factors of an event that might influence criminal behavior and focuses on the individual psyche. A crime of passion, for instance, is a crime motivated by situational factors. It is a type of violence committed in the moment as a result of anger, frustration, and anxiety. Although the described emotions are a form of internal expression which accumulated in reaction to the situation, the psychological theory of violence examines the perpetrators processing of the event leading to the crime itself rather than the external factors that might have been present to provoke the emotions.
The brain can be affected by damage and cause behavior to be expressed differently in every person. Events such as a car crash or childhood abuse can affect brain development and function. Damage to certain areas of the brain can have a variety of effects. The hippocampus controls emotions and is associated with memory, and the frontal lobe is a brain cortex that controls motor functions, problem solving, memory, language, judgments, social and sexual behavior and impulse. When the frontal lobe or hippocampus is affected, a person’s emotion can be out of their control. In criminal cases, brain damage can affect the sentencing of a violent criminal, but to what extent should these abnormalities play a role in their conviction? Much research has been conducted in order to determine the effect that brain abnormalities should have on the conviction of violent criminals. A psychiatrist at New York University, Dr. Lewis, has conducted a study on death-row inmates, how their brains work and what affect the damage had on their conviction. By doing so Dr. Lewis paved the way for other researchers, such as Kent Kiehl and Jonathan H. Pincus to study the brains of violent criminals looking for a answer as to whether or not these criminals should be incarcerated. Over time research has been conducted focusing on mental illnesses and brain damage as the cause of violent acts instead of it being just premeditated murder. Many believe brain damage or mental illness should have no affect on
The psychic of the young person is shaped by social interactions as well as the parental training. Often the young murderers were brought in pathological environments, they did not experience the parental love and acceptance, and they forced themselves to drown particular emotions so as not to appear weak. All these factors results in social dysfunctions that triggers violence and violence becomes the perfect self-defense mechanism, because it brings attention. According to the FBI’s list of traits that describe young murderers the most common syndromes are the feeling of isolation, the narcissist disorder, and depression6. A perfect example to support the above argument will be a background check of Jeff Weise, a young sixteen-year-old boy who killed 9 people and committed suicide in the Red Lake Senior High School in Minnesota in 2005. Weise’s family was the kind of pathological one, his parents were separated, his mother had a habit of drinking too much being an abusive alcoholic, what is more Weise himself was often bullied at school7.
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.
The researchers, based at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, said the differences in psychopaths' brains mark them out even from other violent criminals with anti-social personality disorders (ASPD), and from healthy non-offenders. The study showed that psychopaths, who are characterised by a lack of empathy, had less grey matter in the areas of the brain important for understanding other people's emotions.
Some questions that I am sure has passed through everyone’s mind at least once is why are people violent? Why do people murder or hurt other people? The answers to these questions are not easily answered. It is clear that not everyone is violent, and perhaps some are only violent under certain circumstances. Which then leads us to addition questions on whether we all have the capacity to be violent. Are we all naturally violent creatures with those violent tendencies buried deep beneath the surface just waiting for something to set us off? Even so, where do these come from? Perhaps it is learned behavior from our society through the media, movies, and music we are constantly surrounded by. Or do we have our genetics to blame? Though we may never find complete concrete answers to the above questions, nature, and nurture, or our biology and our society in which we live, surely provide evidence as to the cause of why we are violent as humans. I see them both being equally important in playing a role in why
Violence is one of humanity’s oldest problems, but the neural pathways that underlie violence are not well understood. Aggression stems from evolutionary roots, ranging from simplistic behaviors such as defending offspring to potentially more complicated human mental disorders. The study of aggression should improve not only our understanding of the properly-functioning mind, but also characterize poorly-understood mental disorders.1
Criminology has chosen to concentrate on the social influences that contribute to criminality, instead of concentrating on the neurological and genetic factors of violent behavior. For many years, psychologists have attempted to fathom the idea of murder and what it truly takes for someone to become a ruthless killer. There is an ample amount of factors that can lead to an act of violence, like murder, or the creation of a murderer such as nurture (the way one is raised or the type of environment one grows and matures in), nature (environmental factors or the psychological aspects of one’s mind), and motivation(a goal obtainable only through murder.) Every murderer is different; some kill for the thrill of it, to put money in their wallets
Violence take multiple forms, many of which are covered in the nightly news. Murder, rape, familial abuse, bullying, workplace hostility, armed robbery—all of these are societal problems with far-reaching repercussions. There have long debates and discussions regarding whether nature or nurture influences individual violent behavior. People are concerned about what makes an individual to engage in violent behavior such murder or burglary among other types of crimes. They are also concerned about what makes people stop such behavior. However, there is no precise conception whether nature, nurture or both influence violence. Some people assume that, violent behavior results from individual’s life experiences or upbringing also known as nurture. Others feel that violent behavior is more complex and results from individual’s genetic character or nature. In other words, it is not clear whether violent behavior is inborn or occurs at some point in persons’ lives, but even it’s hard, emphasizing one and ignoring other influences is always an unwise way to go.
Risky behavior by children and young adults can include violence against others or lack of remorse for consequences. The type of faulty thinking creates stressors in children which can lead to the onset of many symptoms. Children who partake in video game violence are more likely to have increased feelings of hostility, decreased emotional response to the portrayal of violence, and injury that lead to violent behavior through imitation. A new study employing state-of-the-art brain-scanning technology says that violent video games can cause an individual to become violent. Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine say that brain scans of kids who played a violent video game showed an increase in emotional arousal and a corresponding decrease of activity in brain areas involved in self-control, inhibition, and attention. In short, when playing a violent game, an individual’s brain processes the game playing as “fictional”, but later can project some of the unknown effects as violence or aggression.
According to studies led by King’s College researchers, it has been confirmed that “psychopathy is a distinct subgroup of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD)” (Gregory et. al n.p) and similarly to psychopathy, the more severe ASPD behavioral patterns are, the symptoms can be referred to as sociopathic or psychopathic. Furthermore, according to Nigel Blackwood, Ma, MD.MRCPsych, “MRI scans...found that psychopaths had structural brain abnormalities in key areas of their ‘social brains’” (Gregory et. al n.p). The areas of the brain, in which are deficient in psychopaths, are important when comprehending an individual emotions’, intentions, and moral
The Anatomy of Violence presents the latest findings in the field of biological psychology and human behavior, focusing on brain chemistry, as it relates to human behavior, and offers great insight on how brains of those who commit acts of violence or crime differ from those who do not. Mr. Raine provides solid scientific data regarding the ways in which brain chemistry differs and how injuries can alter personality using medical MRI and fMRI and various neurotransmitter studies. A clear connection between human biology and behavior emerges, bringing