What Makes a Serial Killer a Serial Killer?

Serial killer Ted Bundy

Serial killer Ted Bundy

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“I didn’t know what made people want to be friends. I didn’t know what made people attractive to one another. I didn’t know what underlay social interactions. I don’t feel guilty for anything. I feel sorry for people who feel guilt.”

This is just one of the chilling quotes we have from the famous serial killer, Ted Bundy. According to Dr. Berit Brogaard, this quotes exhibits common traits of a serial killer: callous reactions, blunted emotions, and an inability to feel guilt or remorse.

Serial killers, no matter how horrible, have become a large part of American culture. Americans have exploited them and the awful things they do and have turned them into famous icons whose legacy will live on in our society. While serial killers are fascinating to many people, they aren’t born murderers. Usually, something significant happened in their life that shaped the person they became in their future. Knowing this, a new question has been brought to light: what makes a serial killer a serial killer?

The causes of psychopathy remain a world renowned mystery. Doctors don’t even have a real answer to the question of whether or not psychopathy is just a simple product of mother nature and time, or is related to certain features of a child’s upbringing. A good source of information comes from the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart, a study lead by Professor of Psychology Thomas Joseph Bouchard Jr. The study showed that psychopathy is sixty percent heritable. This study heavily suggests that psychopathy is more due to DNA than to upbringing.

Social factors may also play a role in causing psychopathy. Early childhood abuse and neglect often leads to post-traumatic stress disorders or phobias. Researchers have been investigating the minds of psychopaths for years, and while they have been unable to find any factors that have a solid link that could contribute to psychopathy, they still refuse to rule it out as a reason. However, even though there are serial killers who have been abused, the list of killers with normal childhoods in healthy homes is long.

So what does make a serial killer a serial killer? Is it a genetic mutation that has been passed on through families, or is it the way the child was raised, where something significant took place in their life that made them the person they are? No one truly knows. Scientists have offered many of their theories but none of them have been proved correct, or they don’t have enough information to back up their statements. While the cause of psychopathy may remain unknown, it is still a dangerous personality disorder that has been around for generations, and will continue to terrorize the world for centuries to come.

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