Definition – Rowanluver29

Childhood trauma paved the way for a lot of widely known serial killers to begin their murder sprees. Researchers have noted that a lot of the most known serial killers came from childhood trauma, or an unstable home. FBI profiler Robert Ressler, had interviewed 36 convicted murderers, in the interviews he conducted he found out about the murderers’ histories, motives, as well as their psychological and behavioral characteristics. He found that all murderers he interviewed had a traumatic childhood involving specific types of abuse. 40% of the murderers he interviewed were physically beaten or abused, while the other 70% had witnessed abuse growing up. Proving that some of the most notorious people to walk the Earth, became the way they are because they were not given enough care in the most vital years of their life.

Robert Ressler is a very prominent researcher and source in the article, “Serial Killers and Child Abuse: Is There A Link?” by Fiona Guy. The following quote Ressler stated sums up a lot of what fellow researchers and readers think about this counterintuitive topic: “Let me state unequivocally that there is no such thing as the person who at age thirty-five suddenly changes from being perfectly normal and erupts into totally evil, disruptive, murderous behavior. The behaviors that are precursors to murder have been present and developing in that person’s life for a long, long time – since childhood.” Along with Ressler, researchers from Radford University in Virginia, Mitchell and Aamodt, continued to further the studies in 2005 about the relation between an abusive childhood and a tendency of serial killing later in life. Mitchell and Aamodt focused their studies on the different types of abuse that these serial killers can encounter, and the probability that related their actions to their backgrounds. The groups consisted of physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse and neglect. After collecting data that compared the general population compared to the serial killers, it is found that serial killers are six times more reported physical abuse during childhood compared to the rest of the general population. The biggest difference between the general population and serial killer population fell underneath the psychological abuse category. When it came to the general population, the rates of psychological abuse were only 2%. But the serial killer group studied was 50%. This shows us that childhood abuse is strikingly more widespread amongst serial killers versus a normal population.

Although abuse can be the direct source (a retaliation against the encounters of their own violence), of serial killers committing their actions, it also can be the first step in a three-step process. This three-step process includes 1.) the inflicted abuse, 2.) the mental illness resulting from the abuse and 3.) the murder tendencies/actions. So not only can child abuse drive children to have violent tendencies and eventually reenact that abuse onto other people, they can also receive mental illnesses because of this abuse, which can cause their actions to be even more savage in the long run. All starting at the root, that being child abuse. In the article “The Dark Psychology of Serial Killers: Unpacking the Factors Behind their Brutal Behavior” by author Dennis Relojo-Howell, Howell states that child abuse can lead to mental disorders including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Antisocial Personality Disorder (ASPD), narcissistic personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder. All of these mental disorders increase the probability of a child becoming a serial killer. PTSD increases the violence in a child due to an uneasy and unsafe feeling depending upon different settings and/or situations. Personality disorders also play a role in a serial killer’s development. This includes ASPD, which is characterized by a severe lack of empathy, and an urge to get involved in illegal activities. Personality disorders often cause people to disengage from reality and connect with forms of violent behavior to cope. Sometimes, the abuse that children grow up with do not have to be personal to their physical or mental well-being. Social and environmental factors also can take a toll and encourage the psychological development of a killer. Growing up around violence, whether that be in the home or community, or even watching violent media such as tv shows, video games or movies have been linked to an increase in violent behaviors starting at very young ages. The exposure to violence at a young age makes children think that these actions are normal. Growing up with this sort of mental state that makes children believe it is okay to intentionally inflict pain on others on a day to day, can only get worse as they get older.

In psychology, there is an ongoing argument that discusses nature vs nurture, and which one has more of an influence in who we are as people. Nature is the genetic and hereditary factor that goes into one’s personality. While nurture are the external variables, that include childhood experience, family life, social surroundings, etc. When it comes to the mind of a serial killer, we need both 50% nature and 50% nurture to create a murderer. According to Dr. Adrian Raine in the article “From Abused Child to Serial Killer: Investigating Nature vs. Nurture in Methods of Murder” by author Nicole Davies, those with a specific variant of the enzyme monoamine-oxidase are more prone to displaying severely violent behavior if they have had an abusive upbringing. Or those who suffer from mentally illness in general may have more violent actions. But those who have this gene, or a mental illness does not mean they are born to be a criminal; it goes hand and hand with their personal environmental factors. Both of these works together to shape a violent person, or a murderer. For example, murderer Richard Ramirez suffered from adolescent deviant behavior. This mental disorder includes antisocial behaviors, anti-disciplinary tendencies, delinquent likelihood, and unlawful and self-harming/suicidal actions. Not only did he suffer with a mental disorder, but he also suffered severe personal traumas whilst growing up. He endured many beatings from his father, and also had a cousin who would murder women and show Ramirez pictures of deceased bodies. Both of these leading Ramirez to romanticize acts of violence and murder. Ramirez’s case only proves Dr. Adrian Raine’s theory that nature and nurture go hand and hand to create a serial killer.

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