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Serial Killers - Nature Vs. Nurture

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The question of whether or not man is predetermined at birth to lead a life of crime is a question that has been debated for decades. Are serial killers born with the lust for murder, or are their desires developed through years of abuse and torment? Many believe it is impossible for an innocent child to be born with the capability to commit a horrible act such as murder. But at the same time, how could we have corrupted society so much as to turn an innocent child into a homicidal maniac? Forensic psychologists have picked apart the minds of serial killers to find an answer as to what forces them to commit such perverse acts. Their ultimate goal is to learn how to catch a serial killer before he commits his first crime.

In many cases, serial killers began their lives as remotely normal human beings. Most, however, have detectable characteristics of murderers before they hit puberty. Otis O'toole, for example, started a neighbourhood fire when he was six. George Adorno was even younger when he first displayed his pyromaniac tendencies by setting fire to his own sister when he was four. Along with pyromaniac behavior, other often-cited warning signs are enuresis (bed-wetting) and cruelty toward animals. Often, serial murderers are abused physically, psychologically, and sexually as children, sometimes from a stranger, but in most cases from a trusted family member or friend. Typically, they come from broken families, usually abandoned by their fathers and raised by domineering mothers, with histories of alcoholism.

William March coined the term 'bad seed' in reference to serial killings. Researchers in the 1960's pursued men with "XYY syndrome", or a surplus male chromosome. Studies show that males with an extra chromosome are generally more aggressive, violent, and it is statistically proven that men with this extra 'maleness' have a far greater tendency towards criminal activity. There is an estimated 100,000 males with this 'alpha male disease' in the United States alone, and a larger percent of those men are in prison, than the population at large. Richard Speck, a seaman with a murder count above nine, was diagnosed with the XYY syndrome, and sentenced to 400 years in prison.

In one specific case, being a serial murderer appears to be hereditary. An 8 year-old girl murdered more than her fair share of people before graduating from elementary school. Her mother, with whom



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