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doc

To what extent is the


Creation of a Serial Killer
caused by Hereditary genetics
Or Environmental factors?
Word Count (excluding bibliography) 4957

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Abstract
This paper seeks to discuss and critically analyse the debate regarding the cause of
crime through sociological, psychological and biological theories. The paper explores
the conflict between genetic and environmental explanations of crime from a
theoretical perspective while considering how the conclusions drawn from the
research might be used practically to prevent crime. The hypothesis of this paper is
that genetics play a significant internal role in the final manifestation of criminal
behaviour. However, building on the raw genetic materials, the environment can
determine, the extent and type to which the manifestation takes shape. The
conclusion of this paper is that genetics play a powerful role in determining whether
an individual will be a criminal but also as demonstrated with the Orbital Frontal
Cortex behind the eyes can act as a preventative mechanism and an inhibiter to
such behaviour. The paper considers the extent to which the environment can
create a criminal through economic need or social necessity but equally, explores
how, in the right context it can act as a preventative mechanism.
I felt that my research should, if at all possible, be put to some practical use in
order to make time spent on it worthwhile. I considered that this could be achieved
if I linked the work to developing tools to aid crime prevention, for example, by
establishing a means for profiling individuals exhibiting psychopathic tendencies.

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Contents

Introduction

Pages
4-7

Chapter 1

Hereditary genetics

Pages
8 - 14

Chapter 2

Environmental Factors

Pages
16 - 19

Chapter 3

Application of Theories: Crime prevention

Pages
19 - 20

Chapter 4

Conclusion

Pages
21- 23

Bibliography

Pages
24-26

Introduction

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1. This paper looks specifically at serial murderers so it would be useful to


define what it is. A murder is "the unlawful killing of another person...
(with) an intention to cause death or grievous bodily harm to the victim" 1
A serial killer is typically defined as a person who murders three or
more people over a period of more than 30 days, with a "cooling off"
period between each murder, and whose motivation for killing is largely
based on psychological gratification.2
2. The paper tests the hypothesis that hereditary genetics provide the
capability for criminal behaviour but the environment shapes how that
manifests, if it manifests at all.
3. The hypothesis of this paper will test whether human behaviour is
predisposed by hereditary genetics to provide the individual with a set of
hard-coded behaviours that shape how the individual reacts to
experiences and other interactions with the external environment. The
proposition

is

that

through

influencing

each

other

internally,

predetermined behaviours, without any external influence, could manifest


to create a potential serial killer. The paper then considers how the
environment shapes intrinsic behaviours to manifest in alternative ways
depending on the experiences of that individual.
4. My research into this subject took on a wider focus, to cover criminal
behaviour more generally. This was to consider whether all criminal
behaviour demonstrated similar genetic and environment influences or
whether serial killers were different. This would help to establish if crime
prevention strategies are universally applicable or need to be tailored to
suit the type of criminal (e.g. serial killer).
5. The aim of this paper is to examine the theories and principles
surrounding the causes for criminal behaviour, and in order to make this
research practical and useful, the paper also looks at whether it is
1
2

Jonathan Herring, 'Criminal Law Text, Cases and Materials, Chapter 5' [238]
http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Serial_killer.html

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possible to establish a great enough understanding to create appropriate


crime prevention strategies.
6. The paper considers the key approaches in psychology looking at both
schools of thought; the determinists who consider the genetic approach
and the inherent pre-disposition of the individual to act in a violent way,
and those who are adherents of the free will principle where we have no
predetermination, and all of our actions are as a result of our interactions
with the environment.
Why I choose this subject
7. I have always been aware of the existence of serial killers through the
media and documentaries on the subject. Over the years I have
accumulated knowledge of specific serial killers cases and the way they
killed. Although, I have never had the chance to explore the factors that
would create a serial killer. I have also always been fascinated with the
nature/nurture argument in regards to human behaviour. I was always
conscious of terms such as psychopath and mentally ill when it came to
a serial killers mind set but not everyone with these issues resort to, or
feel the need to, kill.
8. This is what I wanted to investigate because it is clear that not only one
factor is at play here, but a collision of some specific factors that
produces a person who feels a compulsion to kill. I also believe that this
research will help me understand people in general because although
the topic is of an extreme situation the information I will be accumulating
will be applicable to the everyday as I will be investigating the working
mind as a whole as well as the impacts of events in a persons life.

Key Themes covered by the paper

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9. My research will focus on two main areas of study which is fundamental


to understanding the human condition. The first is experience what the
person has gone through as a young developing human being. This can
include how they have been treated by those around them as they
develop such as bullying, dealing with a loss or grief and the acts that
they have committed themselves and how this may equate to their desire
to kill.
10. This also considers how convicted murderers viewed these experiences
and how they have analysed and processed these events which may
lead to some identification of possible motives for their crimes, as well as
shedding light on a possible prevention.

11. The second factor to consider would be biological how the person is
mentally wired and what they are predisposed to do. This can consist of
inherited mental disorders or illnesses such as schizophrenia to
personality

disorders

such

as

psychopathy,

or

this

can

be

viruses/hormones that effect the brain such as manic depression or


Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

12. These are aspects of a persons personality that they may not control
entirely and may not even be aware of that can increase the chances of
them killing. These disorders or illnesses can make a person view the
world in a distorted way or can falsify the way events are analysed. One
potential

consequence

is

that

an

individual

may express

this

dysfunctional behaviour through a desire to kill. Although it should be


noted that the effects of these conditions can be mitigated to some
extend by treatment through drugs.

13. Although these mental issues cannot always be cured, they may be
partially treated if diagnosed early. If left undiagnosed, and therefore
untreated, the problem is more likely to spiral out control. Because these
problems cannot be helped, when tried in court some criminals, such as
serial killers, are able to plead an insanity case.

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14. This paper is divided into five chapters and those following this one will
cover:

Chapter 1 will explore the principles of hereditary genetics, looking at to


what extent the hardwiring of behavioural patterns can be determined in
individuals create a pre-disposition to, for example, commit extreme
crimes.

Chapter 2 will look at the socio-environmental factors, looking at how


context can influence or encourage an individual to commit, repeatedly,
the most extreme crimes.

Chapter 3 considers how understanding the root causes of extreme disfunctional behaviour can help society to manage those pre-disposed to
murder and other extreme crimes, and ultimately protect its citizens
through effective crime prevention.

Chapter 4 reaches a considered conclusion based on the evidence of the


previous chapters.

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Chapter 1
Hereditary genetics
15. This is a biological phenomenon that describes the coding inherent in the
DNA structures that we all inherit from our parents3. This sets out how the
person is mentally wired and what they are predisposed to do. This can
consist of inherited mental disorders or illnesses such as schizophrenia
to personality disorders such as psychopathy, or this can be
viruses/hormones that effect the brain such as manic depression or
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). These are aspects of a persons
personality that they will find difficult to control entirely and possibly
increasing the chances of dysfunctional behaviour, including killing.
16. These disorders or illnesses can make a person view the world in a
distorted way or can falsify the way events are analysed.

A possible

consequence of this distorted reality could be that, under exceptional


circumstances, which can lead to a person to desire to kill. Although
these mental issues cannot always be cured, they may be partially
treated through medication if diagnosed early. If left undiagnosed, and
therefore untreated, the risk that extreme behaviours develop in the
individual increases, and a severe problem is more likely to spiral out
control.
17. There has been extensive research into genetics as the main cause for
violent, murderous behaviour. Pennie Packard4 undertook research into
the Orbital Frontal Cortex behind the eyes area of the brain. The Orbital
Frontal Cortex behind the eyes area of the Cerebral Cortex is located
behind the forehead and is responsible for our speech, our thoughts, the
way we learn, how we react to emotions, and the control of our
movement. See Figure 1 below.

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Genetics/Pages/Facts.aspx, accessed 7 September 2014

http://penniepackard.hubpages.com/hub/Brain-Injury-in-Serial-Killers

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Figure 1: Cerebral Cortex: Orbital Frontal Cortex behind the eyes (located
behind the forehead)

Figure 2: Prefrontal Cortex: Orbital Frontal Cortex behind the eyes (located
behind the forehead) highlighted against a drawing of a mans head

18. She found that human beings have the largest Orbital Frontal Cortex
behind the eyes of all social primates. Packard concluded that it is
responsible for much of the behaviour that allows humans to live together
in stable social relationships. It is what stops most human beings from
acting on their inherent violent tendencies. It is responsible for selfcontrol, judgment, planning, and the balancing act that humans must
learn to do which determines the importance of an individual's needs
over the needs of society as a whole. 5
5

http://penniepackard.hubpages.com/hub/Brain-Injury-in-Serial-Killers

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19. Evidence for this theory is in the following article.


20. In an article entitled "Predestined Serial Killers", Annabelle Rutigliano
argues that every human may have the propensity to become a serial
killer. It is in her view, that in most cases, a person's Orbital Frontal
Cortex behind the eyes keeps this propensity in check 6, by acting as a
brake or stop button on urges or violent tendencies from getting out of
control. The inverse to this argument is therefore that killers, and
particularly serial killers, lack a fully functioning Orbital Frontal Cortex
behind the eyes, which prevents their brain from overriding criminal
tendencies. By contrast, the majority of the population has a fully
functioning Orbital Frontal Cortex behind the eyes that functions
effectively, enabling them to manage any extreme urges, including
criminal ones.

21. Following the argument to one conclusion, this may lead a person to kill,
because serial killers do not have the brain structure that allows them to
rationalise their emotions in a productive way. Instead they may use
killing as an outlet for the urges and emotions.
22. Reptiles are not equipped with the part of the brain that is responsible for
memories, socializing, emotions and even parental instinct. Therefore,
saying a serial killer is "cold-blooded" is a reference to the fact that the
part of their brain regulating emotion and socialization is not working
properly. Rather, it is performing in a way similar to a real reptilian brain
which allows its owner to kill without remorse.
23. Reptiles are not social animals however there are social creatures within
the animal kingdom that kill with remorse. An example of this is a recent
situation where a lioness is seen to show remorse after realising it had
killed a pregnant antelope. The lioness removes the unborn calf, tries to
revive the dead animal and even protects and hides it as if it is her own
cub.
6

http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/exchange/node/1698

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24. Photographed by reserve ranger Gerry Van Der Walt who described the
scene:
'Her body language was strange for a lioness in her situation and it
seemed that she was clearly perturbed by what had just happened and
kept on looking around as if to look for help. She stopped again and very
gently put the foetus on the floor, all the time looking around and looking
quite tense and nervous. 'She proceeded to nudge the foetus with her
nose, gently rolling it over, before she picked it up on the back of the
neck as if it was one of her own cubs. 7
25. This is evidence against the biological theory that suggests that killing is
an innate survival response. Because here we see an example of a
social animal much like humans that kills for survival. However, her
behaviour shows us that she is clearly uncomfortable with the killing of
the calf. Although she does it for survival, her behaviour suggests a
certain moral dilemma, which is similar to that experienced by humans.
26. Another example within the animal kingdom, and possibly more closely
related to humans, is of the news item in The Independent newspaper
(on the 18th of September 2014) that stated that chimpanzees have a
psychopathic violent tendency and are natural born killers The
article, written by John von Radowitz, reports that scientists are
researching the causes of these violent characteristics as they believe
this will aid the understanding of human violence. The research
conducted by the University of Minnesota found that as the population
density and number of Chimpanzee males increased, so did the amount
of killings. From this study it was concluded that killing is a means to
eliminate rivals when the costs of killing are low.
27. This is useful when explaining why a person may kill because in some,
their primal instincts tell them to kill at certain intervals, such as when
they feel they have been wronged, and they commit the act when there is
little importance or threat of consequence. This research linked with that
of the Orbital Frontal Cortex behind the eyes/ orbital cortex and how a
7

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1165832/The-lioness-showed-remorse-realising-killed-pregnant-antelope.html

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lack of development in this can lead to an impulsive nature is evidence


that shows the innate and genetic (passed down from predecessors)
nature of killing within your species.
28. Dr. James Fallon, a neuroscientist at the University of California-Irvine
argued that - there are 12 genes related to aggression and violence of
which MAO-A-gene was the most common. Dubbed the warrior gene it
has been found in many serial killers DNA. Dr Fallon was convinced that
a version of the warrior gene suffer from irregularities of serotonin in the
brain, which means that affected brains cannot respond to the calming
effects of serotonin experienced in much of the population 8. This could
prevent someone from being able to control their primal urges and
emotions or base instincts, and may make them dangerous within
society.
29. Fallon also undertook a study of a Russian murderer which supported
the theory of a 'Murder Rhythm'. This considers that neurons build up to
such an extent, and much like addicts, convinces the individual that s/he
must kill, after which he is sedated 9. The process is similar to that of an
addict, and hormonal biological rhythms can model hormonal influence
on behaviour, and may uncover a rhythm 10.

This follows the principle

that serial killers, like other addicts have a compulsive need to act to
address their urges.
30. In his research of genetics, the brain and criminals, Dr Fallon turned
inwards and used himself, his family and his ancestors as test subjects.
The results were remarkable.

His research revealed that one of his

direct great-grandfathers, Thomas Cornell, was hanged in 1667 for


murdering his mother. And the evidence did not stop there. The genetic
line of Cornells produced seven more alleged murderers. This included
8

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-neuroscientist-who-discovered-he-was-apsychopath-180947814/
9

Natalie Wolchover, 'Math Formula May Explain Why Serial Killers Kill', http://www.livescience.com/17983math-formula-explain-serial-killers-kill.html?
utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Livesciencecom+
%28LiveScience.com+Science+Headline+Feed%29
10
Natalie Wolchover, 'Math Formula May Explain Why Serial Killers Kill',
http://www.livescience.com/17983-math-formula-explain-serial-killers-kill.html?
utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Livesciencecom+
%28LiveScience.com+Science+Headline+Feed%29

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Lizzy Borden, who was accused (and acquitted) of killing her father and
stepmother with an axe in Fall River, Mass., in 1882. 11 [add diagram of
scan and genetics tests here]

Figure 2: Dr Fallons Scan of normal vs Psychopathic brain: side view

Figure 3: Dr Fallons scan of normal vs Psychopathic brain: top down view

31. After learning his violent family history, he examined the images of his
brain and compared them with the brains of psychopaths. Dr Fallon
focussed particularly on the orbital cortex, which he argues puts a brake
on another part of the brain called the amygdala, which is involved with
aggression and appetites, ethical behaviour, moral decision-making and
11

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-neuroscientist-who-discovered-he-was-apsychopath-180947814/

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impulse control. Dr Fallons theory was that "People with low activity [in
the orbital cortex] are either free-wheeling types or sociopaths."
32. Along with brain scans, Fallon also tested each family member's DNA for
genes that are associated with violence. He looked at 12 genes related
to

aggression

and

violence

and

particularly the

MAO-A gene

(monoamine oxidase A). Everyone in his family had the low-aggression


variant of the MAO-A gene, except for DR Fallon himself. "I have the
pattern, the risky pattern," he says, "In a sense, I'm a born killer." 12
According to scientists who study this area, brain patterns and genetic
makeup are not enough to make anyone a psychopath. You need an
additional environmental factor: abuse or violence in one's childhood.
Dr Fallon argues that he had a very good childhood and did not suffer
from this additional factor.
33. Nonetheless, he believes that his childhood did play some part in
influencing his character.

13

This is very important in understanding what

creates a serial killer because this is evidence for the most recent theory
that the two factors must work as one.
34. There is significant evidence from the examples above to support the
view that a pre-disposition to kill is hard-wired into the brain through
genetic coding, or a breakdown in the behavioural inhibitors or regulators
that limit the more extreme moods, and inclinations in the majority of the
population. However the extent to which the behavioural predeterminants are channelled or enabled by contextual factors is
discussed in the next chapter.

12

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-neuroscientist-who-discovered-he-was-apsychopath-180947814/
13

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2512640/Meet-neuroscientist-married-father-discoveredPSYCHOPATH-accidentally-studying-brain-scans.html

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Chapter 2: Environmental Factors


35. Killers and in particular serial killers are shaped by their environment. As
discussed in the previous chapter, even academics who are proponents
of the nature theory, concede that environmental factors play a part. A
key element of this is the experience that serial killers had navigating
their way through early life and young adulthood. Significant and
traumatising experiences and how this affect killers is of particular
interest.
36. Recently, psychologists have spoken to a number of convicted serial
killers about their actions, how they felt and what motivated them. Many
are in denial or have an in-built behavioural trait to manipulate and
attempt to lie to the test psychologists. Look at how they speak about it
if possible. Argue how this would affect them.

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37. Many who have grown up to be serial killers were abused, either
physically, mentally, or both, by their parents, especially their own
mothers. For example, Ed Geins mother caught him wearing her shoes
and she burned them, making him watch. This may not be typically, very
traumatising, however, Gein was very young at the time, so very
vulnerable to these experiences. This could be considered as a form of
emotional abuse.

While abuse alone may be enough to turn certain

individuals into murderers, it can also be the cause of the Orbital Frontal
Cortex behind the eyes injuries sustained by many of these killers.

38. Lombroso was an Italian physician and psychologist who developed a


theory dedicating a wealth of time to the influence of geographical
conditions, the influence of race, of civilizations, of the density of
population, of alcoholism, of education, of economic conditions, of
religion, of sex and age, of civil status, of prisons and of political
conditions but not all together a social theory14.

39. Sigmund Freud was an Austrian Neurologist who developed the


psychodynamic theory. This theory posits that our behavior and feelings
are powerfully affected by unconscious methods. Freud argues that our
childhood experiences frame and shape our feelings as adults, this
includes psychological problems, incorporating extreme criminal activity.
Freuds theory was that our personalities are forged by a wide range of
different conflicts occurring at different times in our childhood. Freud saw
that our behaviour was therefore determined by environmental factors
and how we responded to, and interacted with it.

40. Freuds theory argued that our Personality is made up of three parts (i.e.
tripartite): the id, ego and super-ego.15 The id governed our primitive
desires and need for gratification, superego determined our moral and
social constraints and the ego governed our reality and ability to delay
gratification.
14

Charles A. Ellwod, 'Lombroso's Theory of Crime', 1912, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology,
Volume 2, Issue 5, http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?
article=1128&context=jclc
15
http://www.simplypsychology.org/psychodynamic.html

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41. In terms of Freuds theory, behaviour deemed deviant by society is an


abnormality in the psyche16 and characterised in the following groupings:
a) a weak superego: manifested by the inability to development anxiety
when considering or participating in an immoral act.
b) a deviant superego: abnormality in same sex parent as moral
regulator. The principle being that a criminal parent is most likely to
spawn a criminal child.
c) a strong superego: criminal behaviour to get caught to get punished 17

42. According to the MacDonald triad there are three specific behavioural
traits that can be directly correlated to a serial killer. They are as follows.
Animal Cruelty the torturing of animals
43. This is seen as practice to perfect the techniques to be used on humans.
For example, Jeffrey Dahmer was known to cut off dogs heads and
keeping them placed in sticks behind his house. Serial killer Dennis
Neilson couldnt bear to face his dog after being arrested as he believed
it would be traumatised.
Pyromania the obsession with fire.
44. This is linked to the need to destroy another Joseph Kallinger once said:
"Oh, what ecstasy, setting fires brings to my body! What power I feel at
the thought of fire! ... Oh, what pleasure, what heavenly pleasure!" as
expressed in this example, pyromania is seen as a sexually stimulating
activity.
Bed Wetting past adolescence
45. Because this is such an intimate subject serial killers are less likely to
wilfully divulge this symptom. Although it has been estimated that 60% of
multiple murderers wet their beds post adolescence for example,
Kenneth Bianchi was subject to this particular symptom.
16
17

http://www.psychlotron.org.uk/newResources/criminological/A2_AQB_crim_psychodynamicTheories.pdf
http://www.simplypsychology.org/psychodynamic.html

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46. Formative years may play a role in the moulding of a serial killer, but they
cannot be the sole reason in every case. Many killers blame their families
for their behaviour, seeking sympathy. In true psychopathic fashion,
serial killers are blaming someone else for their actions. If their bad
childhood is the primary reason for their homicidal tendencies, then why
don't their siblings also become serial killers? And if these conditions
truly created them, serial killers would probably be unionized by now,
there would be so many of them (a sad commentary on our continuing
neglect of children.) We must look at other components to see what
pushes a serial killer over the edge.

Paulhus, D. L., Williams, K. M. (2002). "The Dark Triad of personality:


narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy".
Jakobwitz, S., Egan, V. (2006). "The 'dark triad' and normal personality
traits". Personality and Individual Differences
Chapter 3: Crime Prevention
47. Crime prevention is the ultimate goal for many societies, all using
psychological, sociological, philosophical and biological reasoning to
create crime prevention techniques to ultimately rid society of murderous
crime. However, the various perspectives and a relatively new
understanding of human nature and biology means that finding the
ultimate solution can be futile. However, there are theories and methods
currently being discussed that may further an understanding of crime and
how to quash it.
48. Each method must however be critically analysed against ethics and
morals, and also of course human rights to ensure that result driven
methods do not ignore fundamental human rights.
Sociological Approach

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49. The first crime prevention technique submitted is education. The


argument presented is that continued education of children throughout
their education system in this area of psychology at a younger age will
produce self-awareness and make individuals aware to prevent them
from becoming a victim.
50. Raising public awareness of the psychology of these individuals and the
environmental factors that act as catalysts for murder can help make the
public more aware. Circero, a Greek philosopher, stated that at a young
age any potential criminal tendencies can be crushed, however if left the
'evil' grows stronger and is more difficult to get rid of 18, this reflects the
attitude that preventative action can be taken to shape a potential
criminals attitude and behaviours.
51. This approach resembles the social learning theory 19 in which societys
history, attitudes and culture shapes the criminal and non-criminal
persons20. Childhood experiences have proven to play a significant role
in an increased risk of violence or mental disorders 21. Fallon has more
recently championed this as the defining period of an individual's life.
Biological Approach
52. Genetics however also demonstrate a strong influence in the
manifestation of criminal activity22. As discussed in Chapter 2, clearly
biology plays a significant role in criminal behaviour and therefore
consideration must be given to a wholly biological solution. Firstly as a
general public policy it is submitted that an anonymous annual public
amnesty is conducted for individuals who feel murderous tendencies to
seek anonymous profession rehabilitation therapy.
18

Craufurd Tait Ramage, 'Beautiful thoughts from Latin Authors', [1864] Circero Pg. 19

19

Review of the Roots of Youth Violence: Literature Review, Volume 5, Chapter 8,


http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/topics/youthandthelaw/roots/volume5/chapter08_social_l
earning.aspx
20

Daniel Glaser, 'The Sociological Approach to Crime and Correction',


http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2773&context=lcp
21

William Bernet, Cindy L. Vnencak-Jones, Nita Farahany, J.D, Stephen A. Montegomary, 'Bad Nature,
Bad Nurture, and Testimony regarding MAOA and SLC6A4 Genotyping at Murder Trials', Pg.
1http://thesciencenetwork.org/docs/BB3/Farahany_BadNatureBadNurture.pdf
22

http://thesciencenetwork.org/docs/BB3/Farahany_BadNatureBadNurture.pdf

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53. Creating a judgement free environment encouraged by government


campaigns may enable individuals to take the step towards ownership of
their mental health issues of which would include murderous thoughts or
tendencies. This could include, through using the biological knowledge of
individuals who commit murder, preventative or maintenance therapies to
quash criminal tendencies. Packard and Fallon 23 have discovered
biological factors contributing to criminal behaviour that appear to
demonstrate a pattern or tangible biological factor.

23

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-neuroscientist-who-discovered-he-was-apsychopath-180947814/?no-ist

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Chapter 4: Conclusion
54. The purpose of this paper was to consider whether creation and cause
of serial killers can be linked, through supporting evidence, to a particular
theoretical model. The areas covered were: a) the view that a predisposition to kill is hard-wired into the brain through genetic coding, or a
breakdown in the behavioural inhibitors or regulators that limit the more
extreme moods, and inclinations in the majority of the population; b) We
are products of our environment, and killers are created through their
interaction with their environment; c) A complex interaction between
genetic pre-disposition and environmental impact create the killer.
55. The research of Packard (page 8) and Rutilgliano (page 9), focused on
the role of the cerebral cortex in moderating behaviour. In particular, the
impact of a dysfunctional cerebral cortex in creating the killer. In effect,
overriding our natural tendency to manage our impulses. Dr Fallon (page
11) undertook specific research to link genetics and brain patterns to a
serial killer type. His evidence supported the existence of a discernible
pattern which, through supporting data, enabled researchers to map the
brain of a serial killer.

56. There is clear evidence that a pattern exists and genetics plays a clear
role in the creation of a serial killer. Wider research into the animal
kingdom also supports the theory that there is an innate ability to kill built
into some of the population. However, even advocates, such as Doctor
James Fallon, concede that genetics alone are not the answer, and an
element of interaction with the environment is crucial.

57. Another school of thought suggests that the unique set of experiences
and interactions with the environment creates the serial killer. Examples
cited included Ed Gein and Ted Bundy, who both experienced significant
trauma at a young age, particularly in relation to their parents. A number
of killers blame their families for their behaviour, seeking sympathy. In
true psychopathic fashion, serial killers refuse to take full responsibility
for their actions. MacDonalds Triad (page 15) argued that three

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behavioural traits can correlate to serial killer behaviour. Examples


include Jeffrey Dahmer who displayed characteristics of animal cruelty.
However the counter to this argument is Dennis Neilson, who had
extreme empathy with his pet dog. So, using a simple checklist to
determine a serial killer would be difficult. On the evidence, behaviours
may indicate that an individual falls into a group that could have a
tendency towards serial killing, but no more than that.

58. While the evidence suggests the causal effect of early childhood on the
development of adult personality traits including propensity to extreme
violence, a raft of evidence also suggests that cannot be the only cause.
Two factors seem to support this; first the inconsistency of outcome
between siblings who have experienced the same things, and second,
the relative rarity of serial killers. This being despite the continued
reporting of child neglect cases. Overall, it seems that an additional
factor is required, one that when mixed with experience, combines in
extreme cases to create a serial killer.

59. The Formative years may play a role in the moulding of a serial killer, but
they cannot be the sole reason in every case. Genes are necessary but
environment is the key that unlocks the killer. Sigmund Freud (page 14)
argued that profound childhood experiences shaped our personalities as
adults. Citing a theory that interaction between internal elements of our
personality clashed, interacted and created friction that creates a
behaviour abnormality in our psyche. However, Freud clearly argued the
case for the cause of deviant or abnormal behaviour being created
through the interaction between individual and the environment. But
Freud (page 15) saw that at the heart of things, lay an inherent predisposition in ones psyche to act in a certain way, including murder.

60. In conclusion, there are strong arguments posited for both arguments.
The evidence and the views expressed by key experts and practitioners
(e.g. Dr Fallon) suggest that the real cause of serial killers is unknown.
However, the truth seems to lie somewhere in the mix of genetic predisposition and traumatic experience, particularly when experienced at a

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very young age, in the formative years of life.

Quite what those

conditions are and why the fuse to create an abnormal disposition and
range of behaviours is unclear. However the research in both behavioural
and biological sciences inches ever closer to an answer.

61. This was a very interesting and informative piece of research and
analysis. It has stimulated my interest even further in the field of
psychology, biology and sociology. I plan to take this knowledge with me
to my degree course in psychology and a future career in this field.

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