Corporal Punishment as of the Main Cause Behind Serial Killers 

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Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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This essay investigates the relationship between corporal punishment in childhood and the development of serial killer behavior in adulthood. It will examine case studies and psychological theories to understand how early exposure to physical punishment and abuse can contribute to pathological behavior later in life. The piece aims to provide an insightful analysis of the potential long-term psychological impacts of corporal punishment, exploring its role as a contributing factor in the psychological development of serial killers. PapersOwl offers a variety of free essay examples on the topic of Child Abuse.

Category: Child Abuse
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Are serial killers born or raised?

With this topic, the age-old question of genetics vs. environment arises. It has been thought for a long time that people become violent because they are “crazy.” Others believe that this violent behavior is because of a horrendous childhood that included abuse. Though countless years have been dedicated to the research of this topic, there is still no concrete answer. Serial killers are psychopaths, but that does not make all psychopaths serial killers. Although serial killers and other such psychopaths may have brain abnormalities or dysfunctions, personal experience, and environment also play a large role in the making of a monster.

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Normally homicides are committed due to disputes that range from family affairs, gang violence, financial difficulties, and disputes between lovers and between friends. Unlike normal homicide, serial killers are only driven by instinct and a desire to kill. These sexual desires and the need to fulfill their arousing fantasies often drive these individuals to murder those who are complete strangers. These killers are subject to constant research. Not only are people fascinated by their ruthlessness, but they also want to know what exactly makes them the way they are.

Serial murder is neither a new phenomenon nor is it strictly American. Dating back to ancient times, serial murderers have been active around the world. One reason people tend to think that serial murder is a frighteningly new occurrence is that it was unheard of until about forty years ago. In 1970 FBI Special Agent Robert Ressler, one of the founding members of the Bureau’s elite Behavioral Science Unit, coined the term serial killer. This phenomenon of multiple killings has only recently come to light, quite simply escalating as time goes by. The struggle to decipher the inner workings and motives of these killers continues as more research is conducted. Despite different reasoning regarding this topic, a person developing into a serial killer is caused by an unfortunate, traumatic, and abusive childhood.

Main cause behind serial killers 

The first article looks at neurodevelopmental and psychosocial risk factors in serial killers and mass murderers. A study reported that among a group of 62 male serial killers, 48% had been rejected as children by a parent or some other important person in their lives. Research into the impact of childhood abuse and neglect on the violent behavior of adults who became serial killers concluded that adults who had been physically, sexually, and emotionally abused as children were three times more likely than non-abused adults to act violently as adults. If we could gain enough knowledge through research, then it may be possible to reprogram these violent people.

While a case in point is child abuse leading to serial killing, others tend to argue against that fact. As stated before, all serial killers are psychopaths. A true psychopath has certain characteristics in his/her personality that classify them as one. They are as follows: crime is unplanned, and no gain from it; crime is caused by wild mood changes and no clear pattern of the type of behavior; offenses are committed on a whim; and acts are chaotic and repetitious and occur in quick succession. With that being said, psychologists argue that the reason behind serial killing is not necessarily child abuse. There are cases of the person being a sociopath, suffering untreated mental illness, or feeding an addiction.

Sociopaths are described as being asocial and therefore feel no guilt in breaking the rules of society. They are driven by selfish, powerful, and uncontrolled desires which require immediate gratification. The sociopath is often aggressive and impulsive. Sociopaths believe the world and people are not “real” and exist only in their own minds. To them, if they cease to exist, then the world ceases to exist. Sociopaths learn to mimic feelings and reactions, but they don’t really feel them, and interestingly, when sociopathic killers are caught, they are not typically angry. They know the world is run by rules, and they know if you break a rule and get caught, you’re in trouble.

Oftentimes, knowing that people are likely to expect a history of child abuse, sociopaths may please that they were, in fact, abused as children, and that is the reason they are the way they are. In a study of sixty-two male serial killers, Eric Hicky, a criminologist, found that forty-eight percent of them had been rejected as children by a parent or some other important person in their lives. Though this happens to many children, it certainly represents a turning point for those who become serial killers. Once rejected, many of these killers begin to dive into their self-indulgences and are unable to understand how and who they are when going through puberty. ‘The social experiences which make people dangerous, violent criminals are the significant experiences rather than the trivial ones in their lives.”

Psychological deficits in serotonin levels have been associated with excessively aggressive behavior. Serotonin also offsets the violent and aggressive effects of testosterone. Violent personality disorders often have both low serotonin levels and high testosterone levels. It seems to make sense that testosterone could be related to violent behavior and psychopathy since most severe cases of psychopathology occur in men. Physical brain trauma has also been associated with violent tendencies.

In addition to ASDS, a head injury has been shown that this is more prevalent in serial killers, with one study suggesting that one in four serial killers had suffered either a head injury or (more rarely) a condition affected the brain — such as meningitis during their early years . Certain brain structures control certain things. For example, the hypothalamus contains the brain’s center for sexual response and aggression, so hypothalamic damage can produce violent and destructive behavior. This can be centered on an abnormal psychological connection between sexual instinct and social instincts. If this brain system is damaged, an individual may no longer have the ability to react appropriately to social expectations. This can cause someone to lash out violently in inappropriate settings.

Long ago, we believed that children should be beaten for minor infractions. People believed in “spare the rod, spoil the child.” They thought they were doing the right thing; they believed they were good parents. An article found in psychology today asks, “Why have we made it permissible for an adult to strike a child? Whether or not a governing body could devise a permissible set of standards, the truth is, striking any individual, whether young or old, should be a violation of human rights?” The use of corporal punishment has no effective behavioral features. In fact, there is no substantive evidence or research to support the use of corporal punishment. Furthermore, whether the use corporal punishment is being used in an academic environment or a familial domain, it has no positive, constructive benefit or feature for those enduring this type of behavioral intervention. The bottom line is, beating a child does not correct the behavior but rather creates a cycle of child abuse.

In a paper for the International Association of Forensic Sciences in 1984, FBI Special Agent Robert Ressler and some of his colleagues listed ten characteristics of a serial killer. They tend to come from highly unstable or dysfunctional families, usually abandoned by their fathers and raised by controlling mothers. They usually hate their parents. Almost every serial killer is abused as a child, whether it is sexually, emotionally, physically, or psychologically. This abuse may come from a stranger or a family member, but many serial killers try to lie about this history of abuse.

Most serial killers have records of early psychiatric problems and often spend time in institutions as children. They have an intense interest in voyeurism, fetishism, and sadomasochistic porn at a very early age, and they also have a very high rate of suicide attempts. Future serial killers share three or other traits in their childhoods. More than 60 percent of serial killers wet their beds past the age of 12. They also have a fascination with fire, which may be an early manifestation of their fondness for mass destruction. In addition, almost every serial killer starts his abuse and sadistic torture of animals.

Once a serial killer is caught, or at least accurately profiled, one can begin to think deeper into the issue. What causes a person to become a serial killer? A look into private database articles, biographical books, and first-hand interviews ultimately uncovers different childhood traumas developing into triggers in traumatic experiences as a child.

This taps into the emotional instability of these people. Granted, there is no justification for what they do, but this sheds light on the psychological happenings within the mind of a killer. They are grown up constantly feeling threatened or attacked. However, while this is happening, they are young and helpless. As time goes by, they further develop their unstable personalities; they can begin to defend themselves the only way they know how which is by lashing out violently at their opponent with no boundaries.

A horribly destructive and volatile home is more than likely not going to have strict rules and boundaries for each person to adhere to. In that type of household, the abuser is always right and ethical or not; you will do as they say or suffer unreasonable consequences. Accepting actual abuse to be the main reason behind a serial killer becoming one is not easy. Many people clearly fabricate stories and mental illnesses for easier sentencing. There is no knowing for certain what the exact cause of a serial killer is because no one can fully enter the mind of one, and no one can take what the killers say as credible information either.

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Corporal Punishment as of the Main Cause Behind Serial Killers . (2023, Mar 27). Retrieved from