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Serial Killers` Brain

SerialKillers’ Brain



Theresearch investigates the relationship between serial killing andbrain abnormalities. A wide range of researches are collaborated todetermine whether the brain of serial killers is different from thatof normal people. From the review of the different researchesconducted by university professors and experts in the field, it wasconcluded that there is a connection between brain abnormalities andserial killings. Serial killers lack the ability to control theiremotions or behaviors owing to under developed brains or brains withother abnormalities like tumors and additional chromosomes. However,for a person to fully qualify as a serial killer, brain abnormalitiesmust be accompanied by behavioral abnormalities. These are people whoare stressed and haunted by past experiences. Owing to the nature ofthe brains of serial killers, it is imperative to avoid punishment asa solution. This is because they do not respond to punishment andcannot learn from mistakes.

SerialKiller’s Brain

Murdercan be explained as the killing of a person by another, and there maybe premeditation or not. Murderers mainly constrain their activitiesto only a single victim. This is different when it comes to masskillers who involve more than one victim in any single activity. Ascompared to murderers, serial killers’ victims spread over aprolonged period of time and sometimes this can go up to years unlessthey are arrested early. Attempts to accurately estimate the numberof serial killer victims have not succeeded over the past years owingto a number of factors (Allely et al., 2014). Sometime researcherstend to overestimate the number of kills made, there is no properrecords kept by the authorities to ascertain the number of deaths,and it is difficult to access serial killers for purposes ofinvestigation (Lee &amp Choi, 2014). The question that most peopletend to ask is whether serial killer’s brains are different thanthose of normal people. There are a wide range of researches thathave been conducted to establish whether the brains of serial killersare different than those of normal people.


Intheir research Allely, Minnis, Thompson, Wilson, and Gillberg (2014),used a total of 239 eligible killers after collecting informationfrom different existing literatures in the subject. They found outthat about 28% of the killers had registered autism spectrum disorderand also had head injuries in their lifetime. The research goesfurther to illuminate that about 55% of the sample population used inthe study had illustrated signs of psychological stressors. Thepsychological stressors in this case included traumatic stressbrought about by childhood experiences, major surgery, and sexualabuse. In their research the authors point out that serial killersare impacted by behavioral factors that tend to clot their emotionalperspective. These are people haunted by past experiences thatnegatively impacted their daily activities, and in a bid tocompensate for the losses that they incurred they resort into tortureand killing other innocent people. Similarly conditions like AutismSpectrum Disorder and head injuries have been associated with serialkillers. The impact accrues from the fact that such conditions andinjuries harm the brain and impair its normal functioning. However,the researchers conclude that this is an area that needs moreresearch in order to clearly point out that serial killers have adifferent brain as compared to that of normal people.

Inher article “A Neuroscientist Uncovers a Dark Secret” Hagerty(2016) discusses a study conducted by James Fallon. Fallon tried toestablish whether there is a link between brain abnormalities andserial killers. Since Fallon came from a lineage of people chargedwith serial killing he decided to make use of himself as a sample forthe research process. From his research he established that his brainhad same patterns as those of serial killers. The corecharacteristics included lack of the orbital cortex, lack of thelimbic system and temporal lobes. Jim goes further to illustrate thatan abnormal brain has yellow and red sections. At the same time, heclarifies that people with a low orbital cortex lack the ability tocontrol their impulses, moral decision making and are mostly involvedin unethical decision making. The orbital cortex is tasked with theresponsibility of halting aggression and appetites which arecontrolled by the amygdale. Theresearch conducted by Fallon indicates clearly that having brainstructure precursor for something does not necessary shut the fate ofa human being (Hagerty, 2016). Many people expected Fallon to be aserial killer because of the similarity of gene and brain structure.The brain functions can definitely be used to predict the behavior ofa person, but brain’s plasticity is likely to cause differentoutcomes.

Inhis article “The Evil Brain: What Lurks inside a Killer’s Mind”Kluger Jeffrey discusses the link between serial killing and brainabnormalities. Kluger points out the case of Charles Whitman who washomicidal and killed about 17 people. His family allowed an autopsyto be done on his brain after he was killed by security officers forhis random shooting and murdering people. The investigatorsestablished that his brain had a tumor and a vascular malformationthat pressed his amygdala. As discussed before the amygdala is asmall and primitive area of the brain that controls emotions.According to the commission of inquiry on the case, it was concludedthat the tumor might have contributed immensely to his actions.Michael Koenigs neuroscientists in the University ofMadison-Wisconsin depicts that a psychopath who commits a crime maybe knowing that he or she is committing a crime, however, that doesnot mean that he or she is in control of her/his behaviors. BothFallon and Koenigs tend to agree that it takes more than just thebrain for one to become a serial killer. However, more concentrationor the trigger is often an abnormality in the brain that slowly getsmixed up by improper behavioral activities that make people snap(Kluger, 2016).

Inhis article “Serial Killers Have Under-Developed Brains, Says NewStudy” Timur Moon discusses the differences in brain structure ofnormal people and serial killers. He cites a research conducted byAdrian Raine who is a professor in Criminology. Raine establishedthat there is diminished activity in the brain of serial killers andmore specifically when it comes to self awareness. Raine goes furtherand reiterates this in his book he shows the connection betweenviolence and under-developed brains. The research shows that manypeople punished for serial killings are not in control of theirbehaviors. Adrian’s work closely corresponds with the studyconducted by Fallon and Koenigs. Both professors agree that serialkillers lack the same ability as normal people. Serial killing oftenoccurs due to lack of self awareness and emotional control aspectsthat tend to make it easier for murderous activities in the society(Moon, 2016).

AdrianRaine’s research also shows that habitual criminals lack or have anunder developed dorsolaterial cortex that is mainly involved inlearning from mistakes. This means that such people will repeat thesame mistake over and over again without realizing that they arewrong or need to change. Thus, it is not worthy to punish serialkillers on the premise of their crimes and expect them to change. Theonly solution that can be provided in such circumstances is to ensurethat serial killers and psychopaths are treated of brain relatedailments. In his article “Inside the brain of a Serial Killer:Scientists study mass murderers to understand what lies behind theircrimes” Richard Gray elucidates that the brain of serial killers isdifferent from that of a normal person. Gray cites the work of Dr.Hellen Morrison. Morrison interviewed about 135 serial killers andcompiled a report. In her research she argues that serial killershave chromosomal abnormalities that tend to make them have extrachromosomes. She also connects serial killing to lack of attachment(Gray, 2016). Serial killers detach from other people from an earlystage and the impact is that they lack empathy or emotionalconnections. The combination of the researches conducted over a longtime illustrate that there is a connection between serial killing andbrain abnormalities. However, this is not the only catalyst to serialkilling as behavioral activities can also push individuals to becomeserial killers.


Thereis no doubt that there is a strong connection between serial killingand brain abnormalities. As illustrated serial killers tend toexhibit unique behaviors that may originate from the brain. However,brain abnormalities are not the only factors that will breed a serialkiller. Lack of emotional connection and lack of empathy are alsoimportant behavioral factors that can lead to serial killing. Oftentime’s people kill because they lack empathy and this explains whyserial killers never exhibit emotions even after they have beenarrested. Compounding brain abnormalities and negative or abnormalbehaviors can easily depict whether a person is bound to be a serialkiller or not. Some of the lead scientists like Fallon and Raineargue that punishment of serial killers is not a solution to curb themenace. Thus, there is a need to adopt a better mechanism that seeksto help serial killers because they cannot adequately control theiractions.


Allely,C., Minnis, H., Thompson, L., Wilson, P., &amp Gillberg, C. (2014).Neurodevelopmental and psychosocial risk factors in serial killersand mass murderers.&nbspAggressionAnd Violent Behavior,19(3),288-301. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2014.04.004

Gray,R. (2016).&nbspInsidethe brain of a SERIAL KILLER.&nbspMailOnline.Retrieved 21 November 2016, fromhttp://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3466057/Inside-brain-SERIAL-KILLER-Scientists-study-mass-murderers-understand-lies-crimes.html

Hagerty,B. (2016).&nbspANeuroscientist Uncovers A Dark Secret.&nbspNPR.org.Retrieved 21 November 2016, fromhttp://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127888976

Kluger,J. (2016).&nbspTheEvil Brain: What Lurks inside a Killer’s Mind | TIME.com.&nbspTIME.com.Retrieved 21 November 2016, fromhttp://science.time.com/2013/05/03/evil-brain/

Lee,J. &amp Choi, K. (2014). Serial Murder: An Exploration andEvaluation of Theories and Perspectives. AmericanInternational Journal of Contemporary Research,&nbsp4(3),100-105.

Moon,T. (2016).&nbspSerialKillers Have Under-Developed Brains, Says New Study.&nbspInternationalBusiness Times UK.Retrieved 21 November 2016, fromhttp://www.ibtimes.co.uk/criminal-psychology-neoroscience-adrian-raine-459614