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Transcript of Serial Killers
Serial Killer? We aim to investigate what components and attributes make up a serial killer, and examine his motives, by investigating the sociology, neuropathology and genetic factors contributing to an individual’s descent into serial homicide. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2933872/ Typology of Serial Murderers Conclusion Bibliography "Serial murder is the killing of three or more people over a period of more than 30 days, with a significant cooling-off period between the killings."
- Holmes and Holmes, 1998 Psychopathy: Serial Killer: " ...the best current conceptual and scientific understanding is that psychopathy is a mental disorder marked by affective, interpersonal, and behavioral abnormalities. In particular, people with psychopathy demonstrate an incapacity for empathy and guilt, impulsivity, egocentricity, and chronic violations of social, moral, and legal norms."
- Legal Encyclopedia Website, 2012 1) Visionary Type What Makes
a Serial Killer? Genetics An individual murders due to pressure from hallucinations, delusions, or visions. The offender exhibits extreme psychopathy, and leaves the crime scene in disarray. 2) Mission-Orientated Type The offender has a goal to rid society of those seen as unworthy, undesirable and sub-human. The murders are typically quick, well-planned, and do not feature postmortem activities e.g. necrophilia. 3) Hedonistic Type These serial killers commit homicide to seek sensation or pleasure from the act. They can be broadly split into "lust-killers", driven principally by sexual gratification from the victim, and "thrill-killers", who murders for the excitement gained from sadistic torture period before the killing. 4) Power-Control Type The main motive for this type of killer is complete dominance over the victim; it is speculated that this is an attempt to compensate for perceived feelings of inadequacy or for a lack of control over themselves. The act of murder is often prolonged, heavily features restraints and is well-organised. This classification system, devised by Holmes and DeBurger in 1988, is a useful starting point for investigating the motives of a serial killer, but has some ambiguity between categories (particularly the Power-Control Type, which seems typical of many serial homicides), and does little more than group offenders according to similar traits and characteristics. We intend to delve deeper into the subject and explore why serial killers are created, by considering 3 main factors: sociology, neuropathology and genetics. Neuropathy Study 2 "Compared to normal rats, male alcohol-sired rats had significantly lower levels of testosterone, as well as disturbances in hormonal function, less beta endorphin, and lighter seminal vesicles. Female offspring from fathers who were exposed to alcohol had abnormal baseline levels of certain stress-related hormones, and responded differently to stress than normal control rats."
- Fasalaska Website http://fasalaska.com/DadsBirthDefects.html A possible idea that links this study to serial killers in this case (males) is a lack of beta endorphin could mean a reduction in ability to deal with stress (fustration) as this hormone is a natural pain and stress release. Study 1 "When children with FASD (fetal alcohol spectrum disorders) were compared to children whose mothers did not drink, but whose fathers consumed alcohol, they had both learning and intellectual problems and were more likely to have hyperactivity. Clearly the effects of the father's alcohol consumption are still apparent in later years of the child's development. However these studies did not examine quantities of alcohol consumed by the father or when the alcohol was consumed."
- Suite 101 website Sociology Torture Animals and/or Start Fires as a child Wet the Bed Beyond the age of 12 Abnormal IQ Many serial killers seem to have either an extremely high (>110) or low (<80) IQ. We believe those with low, are likely to have learning disabilities, and those with high are unable to fulfill mental stimulation, so seek fulfillment by homicide. These types seem to get satisfaction from these acts and some even progress to 'play games' with their victims and/or the police. An environmental explanation of this factor would be; due to a lack of opportunity to control their own lives (e.g. abuse) they seek to establish control over something else- which could be the torture of an animal or starting a fire. Alternatively, there could be a neurological defect, which releases a specific hormone/neurotransmitter, creating pleasure out of these acts. Our theory for this factor is mainly based on environment or upbrining. We believe a stressful childhood inhibits the development of voluntary control of the bladder. Cholesterol Seratonin Behaviour Shipley, S. L. & Arrigo, B. A. (2007) Serial Killers and Serial Rapists – Preliminary Comparisons of Violence Typologies. In: Kocsis, R. N. (Ed.), Serial Murder and the Psychology of Violent Crimes, Humana Press, Totowa, NJ, Pp. 119-139.
Holmes, S. T., Tewksbury, R. & Holmes, R. M. (1999) “Fractured Identity Syndrome – A New Theory of Serial Murder, Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 15 (3), Pp. 262-272. Common Traits http://explorable.com/social-learning-theory.html Case study: Ted Bundy Ted Bundy was a serial killer during the 1970's who killed 30-36+ women. He typically approached women in broad daylight, faking an injury but then overpowering and assaulting them. He decapitated at least 12 of his victims and kept their heads as mementos.
He reportedly chose victims that resembled his ex-girlfriend who had broken off their engagement. They had long straight hair, parted in the middle and were mostly college students aged 15-25.
Serial killers become conditioned to produce an anticipatory frustration response where they internalize cues from their environment which then affect their behaviour. It is this internalization which separates the behaviour of killers to that of a normal functioning societal member. In the case of Bundy, his crimes helped him overcome feelings of humiliation and loss of power he previously felt. MRI scans on the brains of highly psychopathic patients compared to the brains of unaffected individuals, showed a reduction in amygdala volume and a reduction in grey matter volume in the prefrontal cortex. This shows that there dysfunction in these areas in some psychopathic people, the cause of which is not yet known, however it does indicate some sign of neuropathy. Involved in decision making, and moderating social behaviour. It is this part of the brain that is the most enlarged in humans compared to animals, and gives us the ability to override automatic reflexes from the brain in response to stimuli (i.e. cognitive behaviour). Processes emotions such as fear, anger and pleasure http://mybrainnotes.com/memory-brain-stress.html http://suite101.com/article/effects-of-fathers-alcohol-use-on-pregnancy-a117588 http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v20/n5/full/1395294a.html http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/182/1/5.full.pdf+html http://btci.edina.clockss.org/cgi/content/full/7/2/151/ http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.webfeat.lib.ed.ac.uk/doi/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1997.tb52355.x/full http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022395600000248 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165178199001262 Hale, R. (1993) The Application of Learning Theory to Serial Murder, “You Too can Learn to Be a Serial Killer”, American Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. XVII, No. 2 http://www.deviantcrimes.com/serialmurder_sociallearning.htm Epigenetics Epigenetics is a relatively recent science field which could provide essential answers to the question of what makes us who we are as an individual. Thought to be the bridge between the environment and our genes, epigenetics could be the key explanation for what shapes us a person. This is why we believe that epigenetics might be a valuable tool in the analysis of the aetiology of serial killers.
Epigenetics describes how our genetic code gets expressed. In other words, which genes are switched on or off, or whether (and how) their expression is augmented or diminished;
"If you think of our DNA as an immense piano keyboard and our genes as keys—each key symbolizing a segment of DNA responsible for a particular note, or trait, and all the keys combining to make us who we are—then epigenetic processes determine when and how each key can be struck, changing the tune being played."
- National Geographic, 'Twins' (Peter Miller) Methylation of DNA is a common occurrence in the genome. Methylation causes up-regulation or down-regulation of gene expression. This mutation of genes has the potential to be reversed, meaning that we may be able to revert mutated genes to their original form in the future. If this could be used to correct abnormalities in the genome caused by epigenetic changes, we could treat serial murderers and other mentally ill people in this way. "The Psycho gene"
MAOA is a gene that encodes monoamine oxidise A, which degrades neurotransmitters e.g. dopamine, noradrenalin and serotonin. The low-expression variant of MOAO is MAOA-L.
MAOA mutation leads to an excess of monoamine neurotransmitters, resulting in Brunner syndrome.
Unlike Brunner syndrome, MAOA-L is common. These people often have a smaller limbic system, which participates in emotion, behaviour and long-term memory. However, some trigger is required for these people to tip towards violence.
Women appear to have some protection as the MAOA gene is linked to the X chromosome and are also protected by other genes from being disposed to violence.
- Philip Hunter. Pub Med 2010 Genetics are not the sole cause of psychopathy. They do play a role in the risk of an individual becoming psychopathic or violent, but environmental factors such as child abuse and head injuries play a larger role in triggering the expression of these higher risk genes. XYY
Past studies have shown a correlation between the presence of an extra Y chromosome in men and anti-social behaviour.
The first chromosome survey for XYY males (1965 by Jacobs, Brunton and Melville) discovered a high incidence of males with the extra chromosome among a criminal population described as dangerous and violent. These results were supported by later studies (1966, 1967 and 1968). In 1982, Behavioural Genetics concluded that "For the XYY, there seems to be little doubt. The extra Y does create some special risk for developing anti-social behaviour."
- Stephen J. Giannangelo Chromosomal abnormalities Alcoholic Father This is a very common theme in serial killers. If we class it as a possible contributing factor, it can be explained in 2 ways: The social argument for this factor is that the alcoholic father results in a bad male role model for the child. This can be either by inflicting abuse toward the child, or allowing the child to become accustomed to violence and aggression, which is perceived as normal, or a way of getting what you want. Social Physiological Alcohol in the blood can enter the testes, and studies have show that it can cause mutations to the sperm cells including hand and/or tail deformities.
Studies have shown that these mutated sperm
could cause possible birth defects and even miscarriage. These birth defects caused by paternal alcohol could contribute to the psychopathy of serial killers however enough research has not been done in that much depth to date. Social learning theory Social learning theory is derived from the work of Albert Bandura and states that social behaviour is learnt by watching and imitating the behaviour of others. The behaviour is also influenced by being rewarded and/or punished for it. Social learning begins early on in life, babies are able to recognise emotions and as they progress to toddlers they are able to begin developing basic social skills.
There are 4 processes that are involved when applying social learning:
Attention – An individual must pay attention to the features of behaviour in order to learn from it.
Retention – The details of the behaviour must be remembered in order for the individual to learn and later reproduce it
Reproduction – Physical reproduction of learned actions. This is more likely to occur if the learner looks up to the teacher.
Motivation – There must be an incentive in order for an individual to reproduce certain behaviour. This must be present for the behaviour to be replicated.
This theory can be used to understand what makes a serial killer. The principles behind theory explain that children learn aggressive behaviour through role models or from members. Hale applied this theory to serial murder and stated that during childhood serial killers experience humiliation and form a conditioned anticipatory frustration response and go on to anticipate humiliation in every situation they come across.
Serial killing is a learned response, is logical and makes sense to the killer; therefore this behaviour can theoretically be unlearned. Serial killers use killing as a way to overcome humiliation and lost power, the killer justifies the act as a way to right previous wrongs. Many serial killers report being humiliated by parents or by women at an earlier stage of life and go on to kill as a way of a delayed release of aggression. An example of this is Ted Bundy; a serial killer, rapist and kidnapper who murdered 30-36+ women. Fractured Identity Syndrome Developed by Holmes, Tewksbury & Holmes in 1999, this theory provided a new way of looking at the creation of serial killers.
Fundamentally, it is the joining of two accepted theories; Cooley's "Looking Glass Self" - where an individual makes a subjective assessment of the worth of his own personality - and Goffmans concept of "Actual and Virtual Social Identity" - the creation of an individual's virtual identity which he presents to the world, shielding his actual personality from view. This hidden, fractured identity leads the subject to homicide as they perceive it as the only way to remedy their "abomination". Often, it is speculated, the outlet of murder is the only one through which the individual can reveal his actual social identity. It is believed he displays his hidden fracture to the victim, providing a relief of the energy and stress used to maintain his virtual identity. The "privileged" individual, who has been witness to the serial killers fractured personality, then must be killed as this revelation of true self causes feelings of vulnerability of the murderer. The comfort felt by revealing his actual identity lasts after the act, until the energies expended in maintaining the virtual social identity are exhausted, and the offender seeks to kill again for release.
Clearly, not everyone who suffers a traumatic emotional experience in their childhood or adolescence descends to serial murder as a coping mechanism. It is believed that the crucial aspect of the fracturing event is actually how the individual views it, and whether he believes it is some great wrong done to himself. The sequence of events around the fracturing event, and the timing of it, also seem to be important factors in investigating whether it will irreversibly fracture the individuals identity. The theory suggests that a certain event, or series of events, in the subjects childhood or adolescence irreparably "breaks" a part of their personality. The individual then looks at themselves and determines that a dreadful wrong has occurred in their identity, and seeks to hide this from the rest of the world, presenting a normal "virtual" social identity to their peers. Typically, the avoid long conversations and intimate relationships to reduce risk of discovery of their fractured identity. However, they always feel the pain of the broken fragment. "...a part of me was hidden all the time." - Ted Bundy, 1989 Please zoom out to full triangle while watching Giannangelo, S. J. (2012) Real-Life Monsters: A Psychological Examination of the Serial Murderer. Printed in the USA. P34-38 Although not a serial murderer, Beth Thomas, was severely traumatised child with; very deep emotional scarring, no ability to relate to others, no conscience and no concept over what is morally right or wrong. Her early childhood was reminiscent of those suffered by adult serial killers (her role model was lost and she was abused and neglected) and she is a perfect illustration of what can happen to a person who is treated in this way. She was given no opportunity to develop loving relationships or to trust anyone. We are including this video because we believe it epitomises the childhood of the majority of serial killers.