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The Genetics Of Violence Essay

2452 words - 10 pages

The Genetics of Violence

Introduction
     We, in the 1990’s, are slowly and inevitably being faced with the
sociological and biological implications of impending genetic power. This power
is analytical, in such cases as the Human Genome Project, which will hopefully
succeed in mapping out the genetic code for the entire human genetic composition.
Moreover, this power is preventative and participatory in that it can be, and is
being, used to control the behavior of humans and other animals. This new power,
in the eyes of many, is as risky and potentially hazardous as atomic energy: it
must be treated carefully, used under close supervision, performed under
professional consent and observation, otherwise, people will begin to see this
new genetic power as a dangerous drawback, rather than an advancement of human
culture.
     One of the most highly contested and objectionable topics of genetic
power is the analysis of crime, violence, and impulsivity. Doubtless, most will
agree that children are not born with a natural affinity for violence and crime;
yet, new genetic studies are beginning down a long road of finding the
hereditary basis for impulsivity. While these studies continue to search for the
genetic source of aggression, child testing programs, drug manufacturers, civil
rights activists, lawyers, and anxious citizens await the resulting testimony of
the scientists. The social implications of the genetic search for aggressive
tendency is seen by some as a great step forward, by others as a dangerous power
with the ability to give birth to another Holocaust, and by still others as
racist.
     At one time, it was believed that one’s character could be determined
from the bumps in one’s skull. Much later, in the 1960’s, as science marched on
in its regular pace, it was theorized that carriers of an extra Y (male)
chromosome were predisposed to criminality. Today, we are faced with the power
to determine and alter one’s character through genetics. We must collectively
decide whether the ultimate price, not of money but of natural evolution, is
worth the ultimate result.

Behavioral Genetics and Aggression
     One day in 1978 a woman entered the University Hospital of Nijmegen, the
Netherlands, with complaints regarding the men in her family. Many of the men
seemed to have some sort of mental debility, including her brothers and her son.
In time, a pattern of strange behavior of the men emerged: one had raped his
sister, and, upon being institutionalized, stabbed a warden in the chest with a
pitchfork; another tried to run over his boss in an automobile after he had
criticized the man’s work; a third had a regular habit of making his sisters
undress at knife point, and two more were convicted arsonists. Additionally, the
known IQ’s of the men were typically around 85. The history of this sort of
behavior was found to be typical, as nine...

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