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The Characteristics Of Serial Killer Mind

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Have you ever wondered what goes on in a serial killer’s mind? Why do they do what they do? Serial killers typically have a different functioning brain than an average person’s brain. Everyone should have a full functioning brain, but for most killers that is not the case. Most serial killers are very different from other people. They do horrible things without sympathy or remorse. Some things that may lead them to these horrible acts are some effects of their brain may cause lack of emotion, certain genes they may be born with, lack of behavior skills, and traumatic experiences.

Most serial killers’ brains do not function correctly. They do not have full brain activity, causing the part of the brain affected to be unbalanced; this causes them to have lack of certain abilities. When a serial killer dies, whether it be by execution or natural causes, their brains are usually sent to autopsy to be studied. When tested, most of the brains show issues in the orbital cortex or frontal lobe. Therefore, most of them do not feel guilty for their actions. As you may know, serial killers are very wicked and evil. A normal person feels emotional when they hear of someone being murdered. Serial killers murder people and feel no sadness whatsoever. The University of Wisconsin-Madison did a study and wrote an article of serial killer brains. The article states “The study showed that psychopaths have reduced connections between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), the part of the brain responsible for sentiments such as empathy and guilt, and the amygdala, which mediates fear and anxiety.” This illustrates that serial killers do not feel any emotion for killing their victims. Because of the lack of brain activity to the amygdala, the killer lacks the ability to have any emotion or remorse. This makes murdering easy to them. Human beings with an average functioning brain has full ability to feel all emotions, and know when something is wrong. Average humans feel guilty when they have committed a crime, unlike serial killers. Eve Glicksman published an article about how normal brains process guilt and shame. In her article, she claims “In the guilt state, there was activity in the amygdala and frontal lobes but less neural activity in both brain hemispheres.” This describes that humans feel guilt due to the amygdala activity. Since serial killers have lower activity to their amygdala, their ability to process guilt or emotion is not the same as if their brains were average functioning.

Unlike normal people, some serial killers have a gene that make them more likely to be violent. Claire Warner wrote an article about Jim Fallon’s TED Talk, which was a speech he performed informing the public about serial killers. Her article about this states “Genetics also came into play: Fallon goes on to note the existence of a ‘major violence gene’ called MAO-A, which regulates the neurotransmitter serotonin during fetal development. In the past, the gene has been associated with antisocial behavior, which, according to Fallon, could be because it desensitizes babies to serotonin by providing too much of the neurotransmitter in the womb. (Seratonin has been implcated in the perception of morality.) Additionally, MAO-A could explain why the vast majority of psychopaths are men; it’s a sex-linked gene, which means that it’s passed through the X chromosome. Women have two of those, so their psychopathic tendencies might be ‘diluted out’ by the other parent’s chromosome, but men only have one.” This can explain why there is an existing gene in some people that influence them to enjoy violence and perform it. This gene is very rare, but as explained by Claire’s article, has been found in serial killers.

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Unlike most human beings, psychopaths have poor behavior skills. Although serial killers can be very deceiving, such as Ted Bundy, they lack behavior skills, which can be noticed by their gory and hideous crimes. However, the lack of these skills can also be caused by their brain activity. The amygdala processes behavior, if this is damaged, the behavior of the person affected will not be the same as a person who has normal brain function.

Lastly, almost every serial killer has experienced some type of traumatic events throughout their lives, including trauma to the brain. When someone has a bad childhood, their outlook on life may become a little twisted. Sometimes they even get so twisted, they choose victims that look a lot similar to the people they associate the traumatic experience with. Most serial killers have a bad background history such as abuse, abandonment, neglect, or taking blunt force so hard it resulted in permanent damage. These can all trigger violence. John Gacy was beaten as a child, and when he grew up, he murdered a lot of boys. Another well-known serial killer, Richard Ramirez, also known as “The Night Stalker”, had an accident as a child causing an injury to his brain. Both criminals mentioned turned out to be horrible killers. Not all people who have a scarring childhood resort to violence, but those who do often feel violence can cure their pain. Humans who do not have these experiences are often average people who do not have urges to inflict pain on someone else.

Serial killers have many different characteristics than normal people. Although serial killers have different brain activity, different genetics, little behavior skills, or traumatic experiences, their crimes will never be justified. They violently committed unspeakable acts that can never be understood, nor forgotten. Serial killers are very different from normal human beings, and hopefully someday these things mentioned will be decreased so there will be less evil in the world.

Works Cited

  1. “PSYCHOPATHS’ BRAINS SHOW DIFFERENCES IN STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION.” University of Wisconsin-Madison, 7 Nov. 2017,
  2. Glicksman, Eve. “Your Brain on Guilt and Shame.”, 12 Sept. 2019, https://
  3. Warner, Claire. “What Psychopaths Tend To Have In Common.” Bustle, 11 Oct. 2016,

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The Characteristics Of Serial Killer Mind. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from
“The Characteristics Of Serial Killer Mind.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
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