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Serial Killer Research Papers

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In the world of psychology, there are numerous controversies on the debate of whether serial killers are nature or nurture. Nature refers to all genes and hereditary factors, meaning they are natural-born serial killers (Cherry 1). Nurture refers to all environmental variables, meaning they are impacted by their surrounding culture ...

(Cherry 1). Many think that serial killers are driven by instinct and desire to kill, while others think they are born to kill. Serial killers typically perform horrible crimes and rarely leave evidence behind at the crime scene. They maul their victim like an animal would maul its prey (Cornwell 2). Studies of serial killers’ minds make it easy for one to say nurture beats nature (Cornwell 1). Factors such as behavior, personality, and culture form a serial killer.

The behavior of a serial killer is influenced by childhood memories, illness, abuse, and other negative circumstances. Childhood memories reflect on behaviorism of a serial killer due to an unusual experience with a parent, often the mother. In an effort to keep their children chaste, some mothers have linked sexuality with death (Maria 1). For example, Ed Gein’s extremely religious mother convinced him that women were vessels of sin and caused disease (Maria 1). In a sick and twisted way, Ed misinterpreted what his mother was saying. He made literal vessels out of women, using their skulls for bowls, and other domestic objects (Maria 1). People in the psychological world examine childhood abuse as a possible key to serial killers’ behavior (Maria 1). At an early age, some children have the tendency to hurt small animals (Pemment 1). Childhood trauma, abuse, and acting out are a part of a serial killer’s actions. Many say this is a reason to believe that they are natural born killers, but there is usually more to the story such as said abuse or trauma. (Maria 1). One could argue that children across the world have suffered horrible and sickening abuse at the hand of their parents, but did not grow up to be lust murderers (Maria 1). Even though this is true, it can also be said that people cope with things differently because of other influences such as how they were raised, what they have been through, friendships, and other similar factors.

The personality of a serial killer is a distant, distinct personality. Serial killers normally have a dark realm personality (Cornwell 2). They isolate themselves from the world around them. Serial killers have tendencies of violent behavior, do poorly in school, have low IQs, and have poor social skills (GoodTherapy 1). By lacking these skills, they normally have trouble managing or holding jobs (GoodTherapy 1). They mostly work as unskilled laborers. Personality disorders such as antisocial personality disorder (APD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), schizophrenia, and narcissistic traits are what contribute to a serial killer’s personality (Pemment 1). APD is characterized by a pattern of disregard and violation of the rights of others (Pemment 1). BPD is characterized by emotion, instability, anxiety, and schizophrenia (Pemment 1). For example, serial killer Jeffery Dahmer suffered from BPD. When Dahmer was young he was disengaged, tense, and had no friends. Jeffery blamed his BPD for his violent kills (Bio 1). Jeffery killed seventeen men in all between the times of 1978 to 1991 (Bio 1). Another serial killer is David Berkowitz, better known as the son of Sam. Berkowitz suffered from schizophrenia (Bio 1). In his early life, he created terror in the hearts of the residents where he stayed (Bio 1). He was a troubled child when growing up. He developed schizophrenia after the death of his mother (Bio 1). He targeted single women and couples (Bio 1). Throughout his life, he went on many killing sprees and severely injured many. For someone who did well in school and grew up in a working-class family, Ted Bundy is a primary example of nurture. He suffered from APD, but he was shy and did not do well with his peers (Bio 1). He was someone many did not expect to be a serial killer. He was connected to thirty-six cases but he committed more (Bio 1). Throughout each one of this serial killer life, they choose to become a serial killer, even though they were impacted by personality or personality disorders. One who believes that serial killers are natural born may argue that this serial killers were made to do these wicked crimes. One also can include that it is a hereditary factor if personality problems are genetic in their families.

The aspect of a serial killer’s culture can influence them to become killers. Many serial killers’ characteristics come from their surroundings. Serial killers do not murder people they know, they tend to murder strangers. Mostly 90 percent of their victims are strangers (Maria 1). Not only are these victims strangers but are mostly outside of their culture and cultural beliefs (Maria 1). The variable of the culture is related to where the serial killer grew up (Maria 1). Serial killers are exposed to many things in their culture, like guns at an early age, knives, and extreme use of violence (Cornwell 6). Serial killers with friends who have wicked fantasies about things influence them (Maria 1). For example serial killer Charles Manson, now he is a notorious serial killer. Charles was a cult leader who follows carried out several crimes (Bio 1). He was connected to the murder of the actress Sharon Tate and other Hollywood residents (Bio 1). Manson’s mother was an alcoholic and prostitute (Bio 1). Charles’s mother wanted nothing to do with him, so he started his life of crime due to his surroundings (Bio 1). He started his cult and influenced the people around him to start doing the evil things he was doing. They first started out by doing little things then it expanded to murder after murder, eventually they become serial killers and killed people they did not know (Maria 1). Another serial killer that led cultural beliefs is Jeffrey Lundgren. He is a cult leader who murders a five-family cult (Bio 1). He started out as a Christian but later turn into a wicked cult leader. He grew up in a strict and well-civilized home. Lundgren’s family was a church-going family. He became a religious fanatic, he preached about the apocalypse and trained his followers for war (Bio 1). Lundgren misconception of religion was evil and unjust. He convinced his followers to murder the cult (Bio 1). Both Manson and Lundgren are primary examples of the influence of culture and cultural beliefs, their followers did exactly what their cult leader wanted.

The question of rather a serial killer is nature or nurture is still not solved, but many have concluded their thought and opinion on it. Besides behavior, personality, and culture there are many more factors to contribute to a serial killer being nature or nurture. One firmly believes that serial killers are nurtured. They experience things throughout childhood that influence them to become a serial killer, but it is not what makes them one. Each serial killer ultimately chose to do the deed that they have done. They may have had outside influences that encouraged them to commit their wicked and sick fantasies. Parents, society, and other things can bring a child down, but it does not make them grow to become evil.

Work Cited

  1. Cherry, Kendra A. ‘The Age Old Debate of Nature Versus Nurture.’ Health. Web. 29 Oct. 2017.
  2. ‘Infamous Serial Killers.’ A&E Networks Television. Web. 28 Oct. 2017.
  3. Maria. ‘Traumatic Childhood Experiences | Twisted Minds – a Website about Serial Killers.’ Twisted Mind is a Website about Serial Killers RSS. 2007. Web. 29 Oct. 2017.
  4. ‘Nature vs. Nurture.’ Therapy Blog. 31 Aug. 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2017.
  5. Patricia, Cornwell. “Journey Into A Serial Killer’s Mind.” Sunday Telegraph, The (Sydney) (n.d): Newspaper Source. Web. 29 Oct.2017.
  6. Pemment, Jack. ‘What Would We Find Wrong in the Brain of a Serial Killer?’ Psychology Today. 05 Apr. 2013. Web. 30 Oc. 2017.
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