“Serial killers are human black holes; they scare us because they mirror us,” spoke Shirley Lynn Scott, known author and psychologist. This stands true throughout history, as most serial killers blend in with society. Serial killing is formally defined by the FBI as “a series of three or more killings, having common characteristics such as to suggest the reasonable possibility that the crimes were committed by the same actor or actors.” But what exactly drives someone to kill another human being? What plays as a more drastic motivator for their actions, nature or nurture?
Nature refers, in this case, to how the subject is genetically made-up. It is the belief of many researchers that damage to the brain or front lobe causes the violent behavior demonstrated by serial killers. The frontal lobe is in charge of social relations and maintaining adequate relationships with others. Damage to the temporal lobe can result in hair-trigger violent reactions and increased aggressive responses. Damage to the limbic system can also be a cause of serial killers’ ‘dysfunction’. The limbic system controls emotional responses and motivation. MRI scans of known serial killers show damage to the limbic system, or inactivity. When the limbic brain is damaged, it may account for uncontrollable aggression.
In 2000 an article was published in Science by Dr. Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. It showed a study conducted by Davidson on those who had previously committed violent crimes versus those who are considered for the most part, “normal.” The results showed distinct brain activity in the more violent offenders in the frontal lobe and limbic system. This leads us to conclude that those who are violent could potentially have something wrong with them biologically.
An example of this can be found in one of the most notorious killers ever to have lived; Theodore Bundy. Ted Bundy is known for charismatic personality, good looks, and charm; he is also known as the most organized murderer to have lived. Bundy would lure woman to his car using a number of excuses; he was handicap or else lost. Because he was so charming women would feel at ease around him and go where he asked. Once at his car, Bundy would grab and restrain the woman. He would then drive to a different location where he would beat and rape the woman until death. Finally he would drive to yet ANOTHER location to dispose of the body. In February 1978, Ted Bundy was finally captured and interviewed. As a child, raised by his grandparents, he showed no signs of previous abuse or neglect. He was raised well and sociable during high school where classmates report that he was well liked. After further analysis, Bundy was presumed to have low activity to his orbital frontal cortex; this is the part of the brain in charge of the conscious, and the “right or wrong” factor. This is not to say that Bundy had a deficiency that prevented him from knowing what he was doing. Just merely...