What is evil? What triggers evil intentions? Evil is the act or intent of harming someone whether it is mentally or physically. It is being unethical and wicked, in addition to harming others for pleasure or profit. Evil is throughout the world, whether it is natural evil or moral evil. It does not matter if it is big or small, old or young, evil things and wicked people exist all around us. Some people who believe that people are born inherently good and later develop into a worse or better person. While others believe that it is impossible to be born evil. The odds of being born evil are very slim for people and even serial killers. Considering that most serial killers have been abused as a child. Serial killers and most people are not born evil but made evil due to the traits they possess from a traumatic childhood involving childhood abuse.
The movie Monster is about the infamous female serial killer Aileen Wuornos. She was a prostitute her entire life until she murdered seven men. Her case brought up the topic of whether people are born evil or made evil. Some may agree that people are born evil, that we are inherently evil, and that is why we have laws to prevent our underlying evil intentions. What would you do if there were no punishments for a day? Individuals may believe that in their religion that people’s fate has already been determined. As an example, going down a certain path and not being able to deter from it whether it is good or evil. Also, to be born evil, some believe genes may contribute to committing evil acts. Geneticists have discovered that chemical imbalances can cause intensified emotions including rage and you could eventually lose control. However, others and I believe that people are not born evil but instead nurtured to become evil. Individuals become evil through child abuse and/ or sexual and physical abuse. They grow, evolve, and adapt to the world and society. Potential factors are surrounding them to make them commit criminal or evil acts that supply them with satisfaction. An event so horrific in people’s childhood or past (such as any abuse) could create a powerful thought of evil and things that can not be undone or taken back. Due to societal issues and our environment, our lives are affected daily by our surroundings. Naysayers would claim people are born evil due to religion and genetics. However, people are not born evil but instead nurtured to become evil. Individuals may become evil because of childhood abuse and societal issues surrounding their lives and the environment.
Damaging experiences that one may encounter in life such as childhood abuse can lead to instability. It could lead to someone becoming evil or a killer as seen in Aileen Wuornos life. Aileen’s life is a prime example of her innocence developing into psychopathy. Her childhood was very unstable, comprising sexual and physical abuse in addition to homelessness and hitchhiking at a young age. Aileen’s father, a convicted rapist, went to prison for sex offenses against children. Her mother abandoned her just at the age of two years old with her grandparents. As she lived with her grandparents, she endured years of abuse and abandonment. Her grandmother was a terrible alcoholic, along with her grandfather. Her grandfather was immensely abusive, physically and sexually towards Aileen. From the age of 49, until he was in his 60s, he abused and raped her, while the grandmother drowned herself in alcohol. In her childhood, she had a child at 14 years old by her brother. After she had the child, the grandfather kicked her out, leading her down the path to prostitution at 15. Her youth consisted of instability, and it gives a slight justification as to why she turned out the way she did, why she turned to prostitution and even murder. Aileen was a sociopath in the making because of everything she had gone through. She was never taught how to protect herself or guide herself through life. She never had anyone that loved her, and lacking those feelings with no parental guidance can lead anyone down the path of self-destruction.
So the real question is, was Aileen Wuornos born evil or was she made evil? Aileen’s circumstances were not good at all and as a result of that, she became a killer. Richard Mallory, a 51-year-old, convicted rapist who raped and brutally attacked Aileen on November 30th, 1989, was Wuornos’s first victim. His intentions from the start were to rape, assault, beat and kill her. So she did what any other woman would have done to survive, and that was to kill him before he got to her first. The effect of Richard attacking her could have potentially triggered her emotions such as PTSD from her childhood and grandfather. Individuals may think she was born with this sadistic, evil behavior. However, how would one explain as to why she would wait until Richard to start killing when she has been in prostitution her entire life? Why did she murder victims all over the age of 40 after Richard? Those men fit the profile of her grandfather, who had severely abused her until he kicked her out. Therefore, he left her with trauma and PTSD from the mistreatment he put her through. With this information, you can make out that people become evil. Olivia Goldhill states, “Essi Viding, professor of developmental psychopathology at University College London, says that nobody’s born a killer, but that there are individual differences that affect the likelihood of developing murderous traits’’ (Goldhill). Having something horrific or traumatic happens could lead you to commit evil acts. When your past or childhood was mainly abuse and hardship, you, later on, could develop mental illnesses, relationship problems, and even suicidal thoughts. The lack of parental attentiveness, mental issues, or brain diseases can change the behavior, making people do evil things. It could lead to various breakdowns with psychological problems included. Nancy Szokan stated, “Environmental factors are overwhelmingly important, she writes, and quotes Deborah Denno, director of the Fordham University Neuroscience and Law Center: “While genes influence behavior, they do not govern nor determine it” (Szokan). A person is born with no characteristics or qualities, and they begin to grow and mature from their childhood into adulthood. This means the brain is still evolving and forming so, therefore, genes do not decide your behavior. An individual is evil through a violent act(s) inflicted by surrounding factors such as abuse whether it is sexually, physically, or mentally. Being evil is committing harm intentionally, and being born evil is unlikely since one does not have the mental capacity to harm anyone once they are born. Individuals with harsh upbringings, feeling powerless in situations, craving power and enjoying the rush of doing cruel things make a psychopath. As a result, that is what evil human beings are.
People have good and bad behaviors based on nature and nurture combined. Believing that people are born evil is irrational due to the fact that their brains are not fully developed yet. However, there has been research proving linking genetics to being born evil. The study of genetics takes place in many areas throughout the world. People inherit traits being passed down genetically from both sides of our parents. Bradley Waldroup was drinking heavily one night and shot his wife’s friend, Leslie Bradshaw, eight times. Then he chased and attempted to murder his wife in front of their kids. Geneticists had proven Waldroup to have a genetic mutation on his X chromosome called Monoamine Oxidase – A, also known as the “warrior gene”. As you can see a genetic mutation such as the “warrior gene” is an argument for people being born evil. The gene’s purpose is to break down neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin through oxidation. If it is not checked, the chemicals can build up in the brain and can lead to increased violence and a loss of control. The gene is most likely to be triggered in people who were mistreated or abused in childhood. Which in this case Bradley was heavily abused and beaten as a child leaving him at a greater risk of violent behavior. However, with the gene, it is not specifically proven that everyone that has it is born with evil tendencies. Some may take that gene and use it to benefit their lives in a good way such as increasing their ambition, leadership skills, and so on. The genetic mutation is one of the most debatable topics of many genes that are linked to psychopathic behaviors. Lois Parshley states, “Mental illnesses have also been linked to genetic causes” (Parshley). MAOA leads to chemical imbalances that cause them to lose control of emotions and developmental illnesses. Genes can alter brain function and there is scientific evidence for it. Oxytocin is another gene that affects the way people act, it is also called the “moral molecule”. The gene makes individuals feel what other people may feel. It allows people to feel empathetic towards others. Paul J. Zak states, “My experiments have shown this both by measuring oxytocin release in blood after an act of kindness and by manipulating oxytocin levels in human brains to show that oxytocin directly causes virtuous behaviors” (Zak). It allows people to avoid doing harmful things to others. Since it causes us to feel empathetic it makes us behave in a right or wrong behavior. Therefore, without it, people tend to develop psychopathic behavior. Psychopaths are people who have no empathy, so it derives from genetics. According to Berit Brogaard, “But if the genes play an insignificant role, this would mean that the wrong environment might suffice for a person to turn into a barbaric killer” (Brogaard). Genes’ roles are not significant which means being in the wrong environment serves the purpose as to why one might turn into a killer or become evil.
Everyone is born sinful and even a newborn baby is damaged by sin. That is what most might say when asked if people are born evil. Sin describes things like war, cruelty, abuse, etc. Members of a church may believe that all humans are born selfish. Furthermore, it is in our nature to put the needs of ourselves before we do unto others. However, it is nonsense. Saying people are inherently born evil is like saying people are born racist. Neither of the two situations makes any sense. Cindy Brandt stated, “according to Tripp, the problem begins with the fact that a child’s heart is oriented towards evil. The solution to this problem is for parents to, acting as a representative of God, bring the child back into the “circle of blessing” (Brandt). Tripp believes the child is born a sinner and the only way of altering that is if the parent brings the child back to God. Being religious and having faith affects the way people think about being good or evil. Tripp assumes that people are inherently evil and need to be redeemed by their parents, however, everyone is born innocent and free of sin. Individuals believe that even a newborn baby who has not even begun to live life yet is damaged by sin. Meaning that people are born with a built-in urge to perform evil actions and to disobey God. According to Tripp, “the sinfulness of a child is extreme. Citing Psalms 58:3 and 51:5, he writes, “even a child in the womb and coming from the womb is wayward and sinful.” Before a child is born, she is a sinner. “Folly or foolishness is bound up in his heart…It may be imperceptible in the smile of a baby, [but] their natural state is to have a heart of folly” (Brandt). Tripp is trying to emphasize or get across is to not be fooled. He is implying that when you first see a child you see the good but the child is indeed evil to the core. Tripp’s claims against the innocence of a child when born is absurd. Every human being is born innocent with no flaws, they are pure. As people grow they are exposed to environmental influences that form their lives and behaviors. Furthermore, good influences will become or remain good. However, bad influences will become or remain bad. The impact can come from our parents and through our extended family. They can experience the impact of peers and society. In addition, the church and that can be one of the worst impacts on anyone’s life. This religious perspective on why people are or can be born evil goes to show how illogical the concept is.
Nature versus nurture has been an ongoing debate as far as time goes back. The controversy on the issue has been between whether or not individuals’ environmental surroundings or their genes have a greater influence on their personality and development. Many people go through many behavioral and personality growth during childhood and that is where nature versus nurture comes into play. Various qualities that are confirmed biologically by genetics. While other qualities are impacted by our surroundings. These are known to be nature and nurture. Nature is our behavior and genes within the individual; it’s biological. Nature is responsible for producing well-developed people, which plays a big part in the development of people. Nurture is our environment. It plays both the mental and environmental side of things. When you are in a harsh environment and it worsens over time, it changes you for the worst. Growing and learning around the people or things that have hurt you physically or mentally causes you to develop into an inhumane character. It causes you to alter your behavior and personality. Nature and nurture affect our differences in behavior and personality. People are not born with an innate desire to be neither good or evil since people are capable of developing into either of the two. However, the majority of the outcome is the environment that in time will determine the outcome. Aileen’s difficult childhood counts more for being nurtured than genetics (nature) towards the killings she had committed. Aileen’s childhood is an example that people’s dispositions do not come from a gene but comes from a person’s upbringing, which in this case is nurture.
Evil is not inherent. It is something we are taught, learned, and driven to. We are turned into evil, and it is not something we already are. People can not be born good or bad because what defines them as a person are their choices and what they have done. Individuals are made to become evil and nothing else. It is long known that childhood abuse alone is one of the biggest risk factors for violence. It is based on the environment that they live, grow and evolve in that eventually changes them into what they may become. Parenting and surroundings are the keys to behavior. Mental illnesses or diseases can alter their behavior, making people do evil things. People are nurtured into killing from the circumstances of their lives such as abuse. Being abused leads someone to develop into complicated thinking patterns different from those who had not been abused before. Abuse makes one traumatized and leads to mental problems. The harsh upbringing people go through that causes them to commit evil acts is the real monster.