Nature vs. Nurture
By Renatta Simpson
English Composition II
Professor Kristi White "I was completely swept along with my own compulsion. I don't know how else to put it. It didn't satisfy me completely so maybe I was thinking another one will. Maybe this one will, and the numbers started growing and growing and just got out of control, as you can see (Dahmer Quotes).” This is how the famous Jeffrey Dahmer explained what he did to 17 innocent people. He described a desire that he could not control and his guilt over killing those people. He claimed that he killed not in anger, not for revenge; but because he had this uncontrollable desire to. Was his desire predetermined by his genes, or did his surroundings as a child lead him down this ugly path? The answer to that question is both, serial killers are not only created by their childhood but also by their DNA.
Research shows that serial killers only make up one percent of the murderers in the United States however "nearly a dozen account for one hundred to two hundred murders annually" (nc-cm.org, P. 1). Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka; these names are infamous in the United States. Each of these killers had their own unique profile, and each had their own reasons for killing. Dahmer's deepest desire was to create a completely submissive human that would help him fulfill his sexual fantasies. He attempted this by drilling holes in their heads and pouring a stream of acid, boiling water, and other liquids into their brain. He ultimately failed each time, resulting in the death of seventeen young men. While in college Bundy fell in love with a woman who had everything he wanted. After being devastated by their break up he began kidnapping women that looked like her. These women were raped and then beaten to death.
Were these two men destined to become serial killers? In a study done by Dr. Richard Davidson over 500 brain scans were compared, these brain scan included normal brains and the brains of serial killers. This study showed that convicted serial killers tended to have very distinct brain activity that was not found in those who are considered normal. The abnormal brains scans showed a relationship between the orbital frontal cortex, the amygdale, and the anterior cingulated cortex, which plays a large part in the control of negative and violent emotions (nc-cm.org). All of these parts of the brain deal with how we control our emotions. For instance the orbital frontal cortex has been found to control and restrain the impulse of emotional outbursts, the anterior cingulated cortex was found to deal with responses to conflict, and the amygdale is known to control reactions to fear (nc-cm.org). Davidson and his colleagues reviewed the brain images and found that “brain activity in the orbital frontal cortex and the anterior cingulated cortex had diminished or was nonexistent compared to the amygdale which controls reactions to fear which stayed at the same activity level or went higher” (Nc-cm.org, Paragraph 7).
With this new information you might be thinking that serial killers are born. However if you look back into the cases of Ted Bundy, Karla Homolka, and Paul Bernardo you will see that they all had a trigger. For instance Ted Bundy went on a killing rage after his college girlfriend randomly broke up with him, and Karla Homolka wanted her husband to love her so much that tried to help him rape her own sister and ended up accidently killing her (Trutv). They each had triggers that caused them to lash out in the wrong way. Other triggers that serial killers have is abuse, whether that be sexual, emotional, or physical. For instance, Ted Bundy was told for years that his mother was his sister and that his grandparents were his parents. When he found out the truth he flew into a rage, this combined with his college girlfriend…