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Psychology of Serial Killer

To understand how a serial killer is formed is a challenge for the researchers who seek comprehensive and confident conclusions. There are many theories regarding the numerous factors that compose the accepted serial killer profile. However, a complete theory based upon the science remains obscure. Nevertheless, the work of researchers points to a better understanding of how a serial killer is created. Those theories will be explored herein.

The prerequisite debate of nature versus nurture results in unresolved questions regarding psychopathology, but it gives clues regarding how a serial killer may be formed. Studies of twins raised separately provides insight. The Minnesota Twin Study found that nature is preeminent, concluding that sixty percent of psychopathological traits passed by genetic inheritance. Therefore, if it is accepted that genetics have a primary effect upon psychopathology, it would be expected to find different physical traits in the brains of psychopaths. A study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison may indicate this.

Psychopaths lack empathy for the suffering of others and lack feelings of embarrassment or shame for extreme behavior, such as murder, torture and mutilation of innocent people. The Wisconsin study utilizedbrain imaging of psychopathic and non-psychopathic criminals and found that there were deficiencies in the connections between important areas of the brain in the psychopathic subjects.This data was interpreted to demonstrate that the psychopathic mind lacks adequate processing of significant negative emotions which would inhibit most people from committing the heinous acts associated with violent criminal behavior. Yet, there is still limited knowledge regarding whether structural or functional abnormalities of the brain are the cause of psychopathy.

On the nurture, or post-birth, side of research there is evidence that brain injuriesor lesions may cause psychopathy. Furthermore, a significant lack of nurturing, abandonment, adoption, abuse and many other dysfunctional family dynamics duringthe formative years of childhood among many serial killers is common knowledge. Yet, many serial killers have nurturing and supportive families, where little can be criticized. It appears that the majority of researchers conclude that social factors may contribute, but are not the primary cause of the creation of a serial killer. Nevertheless, there is still much uncertainty and it becomes difficult to conclude any one factor causes psychopathy. Certainly, more research is needed and it is expected that a combination of factors create a serial killer.