Causal Rewrite-shxrkbait

The Abnormalities of Serial Killers

What makes a person become a serial killer? There are numerous explanations for how serial killers develop, but we may never establish a singular cause. Psychologists and criminologists have made an effort to establish just one cause for serial killings by comparing a number of serial killers, their genetics, and their childhood but have been unsuccessful in their efforts. If we were to ask a group of criminologists and psychologists they would each credit a different cause for serial killings.

Factors that could make a serial killer, when co-occurring with each other, are: genetics, in which abnormalities before birth that cannot be controlled are present; environmental factors, such as abuse/neglect; and trauma/mental illness/traumatic brain injury, which can occur at any point in one‘s life for a number of reasons. The feelings of compulsion and gratification from a kill have been credited by serial killers when questioned on their motive for these strings of serial murders. Researchers have tried linking certain physical and mental conditions to a higher susceptibility to follow the compulsions that lead to killing. Those who have claimed to establish “an explanation” for the creation of serial killers are mistaken.

Gratification is a primary motivation for killing when serial killers are questioned as to why they committed their series of crimes. Gratification is defined as a source of pleasure or the feeling of pleasure from a certain act or object. Instant gratification is given immediately after committing a pleasurable act. This could mean instant gratification from things like food or drinking alcohol. Because the feeling hits instantly, many serial killers prefer to take action immediately to receive the feeling of instant pleasure. For serial killers, the power exerted in the murders of their victims creates immense feelings of instant gratification immediately after the kill.

Delayed gratification occurs when someone exhibits self-control and waits to complete the act that gives gratification. In return, the feeling of gratification is more intense and enjoyable. The deployment of delayed gratification leads to increased impulsiveness and can also off-balance the body’s dopamine levels over time. The article, “The neural basis of delayed gratification,” states “repeated exposure to instant gratification may disrupt this balance, thereby increasing impulsive decisions. These decisions contribute to numerous human disorders, such as addiction and obesity.” The release of delayed gratification is what creates addiction. The more intense “high” associated with delayed gratification keeps the user, or killer in this case, coming back to achieve that feeling again. Much as with drug and alcohol addiction, the dopamine levels in the brain will increase when serial killers execute their crime. Because of the increased dopamine levels, over time and the more kills the brain is unable to produce dopamine on its own and alternate sources of dopamine must be found to increase these dopamine levels. For an addict, alcohol/drugs increase the body’s dopamine. For serial killers, killing a person produces the dopamine levels that the body needs.

Like the cause for serial killings, the presence of free will in serial killers is hard to determine. Compulsion, which is a strong and overwhelming desire to act on what your brain is telling you, is used by serial killers to explain the reason for the murders. The article “What are Compulsions,” states “the individual experiences a sense of resistance to the act but this is overridden by the strong, subjective drive to perform the action. Most often the principal aim behind the compulsive behavior is to generate relief (usually only temporary) from the anxiety elicited by the preceding obsession.” The obsessive feeling of compulsion and the need to do what the compulsion tells the brain to do are seen in serial killers with abnormalities in the temporal lobe, specifically in the amygdala.

Numerous serial killers find it hard to explain why they commit these crimes besides crediting a pulling and nagging feeling to do so. When arrested and interviewed by a psychologist, Jeffery Dahmer pleaded to know why he was compelled to commit these crimes. He wanted to know why he felt these strong compulsions to kill and why he couldn’t contain them despite his best efforts. Like Jeffery Dahmer, many serial killers try to exert free will by retreating into a dormant period where they can go a certain amount of time without killing anyone.

Serial killers often credit fantasizing the crime as another reason for committing it. Many serial killers claim to experience intense fantasies of brutally killing someone and or having intercourse with their body. The research paper, “Genesis of a Serial Killer,” compares the serial killer to other addicts. “The serial killer, much like the chronic gambler and problem drinker, is addicted to the use of fantasy. So strong is this compulsion that the serial killer murders to preserve the addiction, in essence preserving his only remaining coping mechanism.” Jeremy Anderson illustrates that, like any other addiction (alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc.), the addiction to a fantasy can be so strong and compelling that one must act on the fantasy to fulfill the addiction. As stated prior, like an alcoholic who needs to drink more liquor to fulfill the craving, a serial killer must act on and fulfill their fantasy to feed the immense cravings.

Dysfunction of the amygdala is common in neuropsychiatric conditions [including] disorders such as ADHD, bipolar, and major depressive disorder. These conditions are personality disorders, which means they have effects that can impact/alter one’s personality and character. Ille Magdalena Iona in “No One is Born a Serial Killer” found that “two recent neuroimaging studies have confirmed that amygdala dysfunction is associated with psychopathy… high levels of psychopathy were associated with reduced amygdaloid volume.” These conditions can be caused by traumatic brain injuries, genetics, and environmental factors.

The amygdala, which processes the feeling of compulsion, empathy, and fear, appears to be damaged when researchers have conducted scans. When we fear getting in a car after a car accident, this associated fear is produced in the amygdala. The effect of a dysfunctional amygdala is that its owner lacks the natural human ability to generally process the feeling of fear and empathy thus creating an emotionally blank person. Dysfunction of the amygdala occurs from damage caused by a traumatic brain injury, PTSD, Schizophrenia, etc. The amygdala itself is not the problem, but the damage the amygdala endured leads to the repression of fear, anxiety, and empathy. A healthy and functioning amygdala is able to process emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, etc. in a healthy way. Due to the processing difficulty of a damaged amygdala, a person with amygdala dysfunction has trouble connecting feelings of empathy and fear to their actions. Ilie Iona in “No One is Born a Serial Killer” states, “the emotional side of their brain is damaged, and the absolute absence of any emotions makes them so dangerous. The more their aggressiveness increases, the more their blood pressure drops, which shows that violence has a calming effect on them… Located in the temporal lobes, the amygdala is responsible for the lack of emotions such as fear and anxiety.” The calming effect of violence produces immense feelings of gratification for the killer.

Antisocial disorder is a psychiatric disorder[s] that is often associated with violence and homicidal tendencies similar to damage of the amygdala. Research has found that antisocial disorder can stem directly from amygdala damage, thus explaining the similarities in the lack of emotion and feelings for others. The amygdala can become damaged by traumatic brain injuries and mental illnesses such as PTSD, schizophrenia, depression, etc., which deteriorates the amygdala over a period of time.

The article ”Lower amygdala fatty acid . . . in violent offenders . . . .,” found that “we suggest that lower levels of amygdala FAAH may impair how ASPD (Anti-social personality disorder) individuals process negative emotional stimuli, such as fearful or angry facial expressions…We speculate that lower levels of amygdala FAAH expression may prevent persons with ASPD from responding appropriately to stress, making them more inclined to engage in reactive aggressive and impulsive behavior.” The term FAAH refers to the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase which is a controlling influence on socio-emotional behaviors like aggression and empathy. This finding supports that damage to the amygdala has been found to reduce levels of matter in the amygdala thus causing a lack of emotional response in situations where it would be appropriate. The decrease in FAAH allows for an intensified response to negative emotions controlled by the amygdala such as aggression and violence.

Those with antisocial disorder lack regard for those around them. Their lack of empathy allows them to commit crimes against humanity, such as killing, without realizing the brutality of such crimes. The American Association of Psychiatry defines antisocial disorder as “Individuals with antisocial personality disorder frequently lack empathy and tend to be callous, cynical, and contemptuous of the feelings, rights, and sufferings of others.”

It becomes easier for people suffering from antisocial disorder to disconnect from reality. This disconnection leads to traits such as deceitfulness and blaming others for the actions they receive. This blame can be on the victim for doing something or saying something that caused them to get killed. Again, this disconnection becomes dangerous as the individual thoughtlessly commits crimes without any remorse attached to them due to the nature of antisocial disorder.

A co-occurring disorder that is more likely to occur in individuals who suffer from antisocial disorder is psychopathy. According to Dr. Rhonda Freeman in “What is Psychopathy,’ ”some with psychopathy are predatory. They hunt or stalk other human beings for the purpose of: violation, control, release of perverse fantasies, additions to their collection, sex, image, money, and/or power gratification.” The incidence and purposes of psychopathy go hand in hand with the motivation for serial killers. Fredman states, “individuals with strong psychopathic traits tend to have dysfunctional reward, morality, bonding, and affective/emotional processing systems.”

Like psychopaths, serial killers enjoy the control of the kill, fulfilling the fantasy and torturing and killing a person, and collecting trophies to remember the kill. Not every person who has both of these disorders is a serial killer, but the chances are increased due to the perceived violent and unempathetic nature of these disorders. Because of the similarities in these actions, we can conclude a large number of serial killers are psychopaths.

Like amygdala dysfunction, neuro-chemical imbalances in the brain can occur from many factors like genetics and environment and lead to hormonal imbalances that are linked to increased aggression. These traits are seen more prominently in males. Kiran Hayes, the author of “An Exploration of Trauma Markers in the Artwork of Serial killers,” explains “Allely et al. also found associations between ‘neuro-chemical imbalance and aggression,’” such as low monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) activity, increased serotonin levels in the synapses and heightened levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. Furthermore, they assert that, “there may be a complex interaction between pre-existing neurodevelopmental problems (moderators), environmental insults experienced during development such as head injury or childhood maltreatment (mediators) and serial or mass killing.”

Other physical conditions such as genetic mutations have been linked to increased violence. A genetic mutation in the male XY sex chromosome adds an extra Y chromosome. The mutation of the XYY chromosome. This mutation is often referred to as the “crime chromosome” as it has been found that this mutation is found in criminals with a rate of five to 10 percent higher than the general population. The article, “No One is Born a Serial Killer, states “A rare genetic mutation in the XYY chromosome has been found in serial killers. This gene controls sexual behavior, violence, and lack of empathy.”

Not only can this gene be linked to criminal behavior[,] but it also has been found in those who display abnormal behavior and suffer from psychopathy and antisocial disorder. The finding that this gene is present more often in criminals and those suffering from mental disorders can account for the violent and sexually curious history of serial killers.

Although it is hard to pinpoint exactly why one goes on to kill numerous people, evidence suggests that co-occurring physical and mental abnormalities, whether they occurred before or after birth, may be as close as we will get to an explanation. The closest explanation we have from serial killers themselves is that they were unable to control the intense feeling of compulsion and unable to fulfill the bottomless pit of gratification that occurs from the effects of the crime.

References

American Psychiatric Association. (2022). “Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders : DSM-5-TR / American Psychiatric Association” (Fifth edition, text revision.). American Psychiatric Association Publishing.

Anderson, J. (1994). “Genesis of a Serial killer: Fantasy’s Integral Role in the Creation of a Monster“. 

Freeman, R. (2019, January 17). “What is psychopathy? – neuroinstincts: Dr. Rhonda Freeman. Neuroinstincts. Retrieved October 17, 2022.

Gao, Z., Wang, H., Lu, T., Froudist-Walsh, S., Chen, M., Wang, X.-J., Hu, J., & Sun, W. (2021, December 1). “The neural basis of delayed gratification | science advances“. Science Advances. Retrieved October 30, 2022.

Haynes, Kiran M., “An Exploration of Trauma Markers in the Artwork of Serial Killers” (2017). LMU/LLS Theses and Dissertations. 314. 

Ioana, Ilie. (2013). “No One is Born a Serial Killer!”. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. 81. 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.06.436. 

Kolla, N.J., Boileau, I., Karas, K. et al. “Lower amygdala fatty acid amide hydrolase in violent offenders with antisocial personality disorder: an [11C]CURB positron emission tomography study”Transl Psychiatry11, 57 (2021).

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27 Responses to Causal Rewrite-shxrkbait

  1. shxrkbait says:

    I would like feedback on my overall paper and if it stays on track with making clear claims. I would also like to know if this makes a good definition argument.

    • davidbdale says:

      Hmmmmm.
      At first glance, this is a Causal Essay, Shxrbait.
      Without intending to, most likely, you’ve run down a list of ways a person can become a serial killer; in other words, a series of CAUSES that RESULT in serial murder.

      Don’t despair. You have a BIG HEAD START on your Causal argument. I’ll just treat this as 1000 words toward your overall research paper and you can revise it to be the best darn 1000 words you can. Maybe later, when your Causal essay is due, you can produce a Categorical argument and we’ll swap titles.

      One good categorical question would be along the lines we’ve discussed in Conference: What distinguishes a series of killings from a series of murders? Is the soldier who kills several enemy soldiers every day for a month a serial killer? Yes, by one definition, but not the one we usually apply. But if he sought military service to satisfy his blood lust, then, maybe . . . ?

      Is there a chance that of the many CAUSES you’ve identified, some fall into the “personal satisfaction” category of serial killing, while others fall into categories such as “mindless compulsion,” even “reflex,” or “psychotic delusion,” or . . . ?

  2. davidbdale says:

    On second thought, I’m going to grade this as if it were your Causal Argument. You’ll be the second student to receive a grade for an essay I haven’t assigned yet. Would you like feedback on how to make it a better Causal argument?

  3. shxrkbait says:

    Yes, I would find that very helpful!

  4. davidbdale says:

    In part, your Causal Argument will depend on the Categories you describe in your Categorical Argument.

    For example, “What makes a serial killer WANT to kill repeatedly?” would be a reasonable causal question if you determine that one TYPE of serial killer is driven by GRATIFICATION or some other MOTIVATION.

    For another TYPE of serial killer, the appropriate question might be, “What COMPELS a killer to kill, even DESPITE his own conscious wishes?”

    What turns someone into a serial killer?

    Some killers experience a flaw in the temporal lobe that stems from dysfunction at birth.
    —COMPULSION?

    Other evidence suggests some serial killers are born evil due to faulty genetic abnormalities.
    —COMPULSION? Or is it GRATIFICATION? (Evil suggests choice.)

    While others suffer brain damage that physically alters the tissue and chemicals of the brain.
    —Sounds like COMPULSION to me.

    Many studies have explained sadistic and brutal killings by the abusive and neglectful childhoods one endures.
    —The words “sadistic” and “brutal” prejudice readers to consider the killings DELIBERATE and CONSCIOUS, don’t they? It’s hard to excuse a deliberately sadistic killing as a COMPULSION, but does evidence prove that COMPULSIVE killings provide no GRATIFICATION?

    There are many explanations for what causes one to follow fate in the form of brutal kills but all evidence points to a sick and twisted person.
    —Sure, but . . . is sickness evil? Does twisted mean WANTS to kill? Or might sick killers kill despite their wishes and against their will?

    We often are led to believe human nature is inherently good, which means that it is in our nature to feel compassion, sympathy, and emotion. It can be hard to believe a child could be born into the world and be set on a path to evil and destruction, but this path is one that stems from genetic, physical, and mental disorders.
    —This still doesn’t answer the question, does it? Could a person who feels compassion nonetheless be driven to kill? \
    —I’m not sure I agree that “it is hard to believe” a child could be set on a path by fate, by genetics, by mental disorder. In fact, it’s more comforting to believe THAT than to believe that she was BORN EVIL.

    Physical conditions stemming from genetics and abnormalities in the temporal lobe have been linked to increased violence and a lack of empathy. Iona in “No One is Born a Serial Killer” states,
    —Call her Ilie Ioana the first time. After that, call her Ioana.

    “the emotional side of their brain is damaged, and the absolute absence of any emotions makes them so dangerous. The more their aggressiveness increases, the more their blood pressure drops, which shows that violence has a calming effect on them… Located in the temporal lobes, the amygdala is responsible for the lack of emotions such as fear and anxiety.” The effect of a destroyed amygdala is that its owner does not feel any thrill of nervousness when he makes the others suffer.
    —This sounds scientific and might have some value, but alone isn’t persuasive. One person says “the amygdala is responsible,” but you say “a destroyed amygdala” represses “nervousness.” Are you equating fear, anxiety, and nervousness? And which is the culprit: the amygdala or the damage to the amygdala?

    When we associate car accidents with driving after an accident,
    —Not sure what you mean by this. Is it the anxiety we feel at the wheel after we’ve suffered a car accident?

    this association stems from fear in the amygdala.
    —So the amygdala creates or processes or produces fear and anxiety?

    Those with amygdala dysfunction are not capable of this fear-associated connection and memories.
    —Does the damage to the amygdala prevent ALL FEAR, or only the fear associated with trauma and the memory of trauma? And what does THAT have to do with the anxiety anyone would experience watching a fellow human suffer, or CAUSING a fellow human to suffer?

  5. davidbdale says:

    Did that help? Is there something else I can do?

  6. shxrkbait says:

    Yes, I found this to be very helpful!
    If my definition/categorical argument will discuss the differences between serial killers and mass murderers, is this an appropriate causal argument?
    I noticed in your feedback you mentioned compulsions and gratification to explain different reasons for the killings. Should I be adding/discussing these terms when explaining abnormalities that are linked to serial killers?
    I will take your feedback into consideration and revise my argument. I look forward to revising and receiving more feedback!

    • davidbdale says:

      I’ve already graded this post AS IF it were your Causal Rewrite. When the deadline comes for a Causal post, you can rename this one and title your next 1000 words as your Definition/Categorical argument.

      Since this is now your Causal argument, yes, you should lean in hard on WHAT CAUSES people to become serial killers (or what CAUSES people to kill in series, which I don’t think is quite the same thing: hence the need for a careful Categorical argument).

      Cool with that?

  7. shxrkbait says:

    Is it okay if my argument is over 1,000 words? How many words is too many for this assignment?

  8. shxrkbait says:

    I have made revisions to my argument and would like another round of feedback. I would like feedback on the content of my argument and the effectiveness.

  9. davidbdale says:

    What makes a person become a serial killer? Is it abuse, trauma, genetics, or mental illness? The answer to this long-desired question may lie in the DNA of a killer. The question of, are serial killers born or made, comes up often when debating the motive for these gruesome kills. Feelings of compulsion and gratification play a large and rewarding role for the serial killer. Studies have linked certain physical and mental conditions to the susceptibility to follow the compulsions that lead to killing.

    —The “question of” sentence serves no purpose here. It’s confusing. But you might be able to work in the choice of “born or made” another way. Answer questions; don’t ask them. Is it genetics (something that happened before birth); abuse (that occurred in youth); or trauma/brain damage/mental illness (which can happen at any time)?Answer: all three.

    We often are led to believe human nature is inherently good, which means that it is in our nature to feel compassion, sympathy, and emotion. We, oftentimes, refuse to accept the answer that people who commit horrific crimes are genetically born that way. An explanation that is often given is the crime stems from abuse and neglect. While many serial killers do experience abuse as a child, studies have proven abnormalities in physical and mental conditions that can be credited to the sick mind of a serial killer. Although abuse does play a role, making the symptoms of these genetic mistakes worsen, abuse is not the primary cause of the killings. Compulsions to kill and the gratification after are the leading causes.

    —Trust in your evidence and stop caring about what other people think. Delete: “An explanation that is often given is the crime stems from abuse and neglect.”
    —Why does this paragraph have to weigh the RELATIVE IMPORTANCE of two real causes? Two or three times you SUBORDINATE the importance of abuse and neglect. Won’t you be championing it later as an important factor?

    Gratification is a primary motivation for killing when serial killers are asked why they committed their series of crimes. Gratification is defined as a source of pleasure or the feeling of pleasure from a certain act or object. The article, “The neural basis of delayed gratification”, states “Repeated exposure to instant gratification may disrupt this balance, thereby increasing impulsive decisions. These decisions contribute to numerous human disorders, such as addiction and obesity.”

    —This leap is too fast.
    —We’re barely introduced to gratification when you muddy the water with a distinction between the immediate and delayed types.

    For serial killers the power exerted in the murders of their victims creates immense feelings of instant gratification immediately after the kill. The continued deployment of instant gratification leads to increased impulsiveness and can also off-balance the body’s dopamine levels. Much like drug and alcohol addiction, the dopamine levels of a serial killer increase when a kill is executed. Because of the increased dopamine levels, over time the brain is unable to produce dopamine on its own and alternate sources of dopamine must be found to increase these dopamine levels. For an addict, alcohol/drugs increase the body’s dopamine. For serial killers, killing a person produces the dopamine levels that the body needs.

    —You describe this causal chain nicely.

    The presence of free will in serial killers is hard to determine. Compulsion, which is a strong and overwhelming desire to act on what your brain is telling you, is often brought up by serial killers. Many don’t know why they commit these crimes besides a pulling and nagging feeling to do so. The research paper, “Genesis of a Serial Killer,” compares “the serial killer, much like the chronic gambler and problem drinker, is addicted to the use of fantasy. So strong is this compulsion that the serial killer murders to preserve the addiction, in essence preserving his only remaining coping mechanism.” Jeremy Anderson illustrates that the compulsion to kill becomes so overwhelming that one acts on this compulsion to preserve the feeling of gratification.

    —You’re often vague when you describe the opinions/positions others. Here you say killers “bring up” compulsion, when you mean, much more specifically, that they cite it as an explanation or excuse.
    —I don’t understand what Anderson means by “the serial killer murders to preserve the addiction,” and your explanation (repetition), that “[acting] on this compulsion [preserves] the feeling of gratification” just echoes the confusion.

    Among the explanations for what makes a serial killer tick, physical conditions in the brain stemming from genetics and abnormalities in the temporal lobe have been examined to play a role. The obsessive feeling of compulsion and the need to do what your compulsion tells you are seen in serial killers with abnormalities in the temporal lobe. Compulsions are something that many serial killers try to conceal for a period of time but often the compulsion is too strong to control. These conditions have been linked to increased violence and reduced feelings of empathy.

    —This is a bit too much to accept without evidence. So many claims. Both genetics and physical abnormalities create compulsions, violent tendencies, and lack of empathy. That’s two broad ranges of causes for three sets of consequences. Maybe you should signal us that this is just am Introductory paragraph for a section on “born that way.”

    The amygdala, which processes the feeling of compulsion, empathy, and fear, appears to be damaged when researchers have conducted scans. Ilie Iona in “No One is Born a Serial Killer” states, “the emotional side of their brain is damaged, and the absolute absence of any emotions makes them so dangerous. The more their aggressiveness increases, the more their blood pressure drops, which shows that violence has a calming effect on them… Located in the temporal lobes, the amygdala is responsible for the lack of emotions such as fear and anxiety.” The effect of a dysfunctional amygdala is that its owner lacks the natural human ability to generally process the feeling of fear and empathy. The amygdala is not the problem but the damage the amygdala endured leads to the repression of fear, anxiety, and empathy. Due to the processing difficulty, a person with amygdala dysfunction has trouble connecting feelings of empathy and fear to their actions. When we fear getting in a car after a car accident, this associated fear is produced in the amygdala. Those with amygdala dysfunction are not capable of feeling the fear that we may experience in some situations. The calming effect of violence produces immense feelings of gratification for the killer.

    —I have trouble following this sequence.
    —I’ve reorganized the sentences making no other changes:
    1. The amygdala, which processes the feeling of compulsion, empathy, and fear, appears to be damaged when researchers have conducted scans.
    7. When we fear getting in a car after a car accident, this associated fear is produced in the amygdala.
    4. The effect of a dysfunctional amygdala is that its owner lacks the natural human ability to generally process the feeling of fear and empathy.
    8. Those with amygdala dysfunction are not capable of feeling the fear that we may experience in some situations.
    5. The amygdala is not the problem but the damage the amygdala endured leads to the repression of fear, anxiety, and empathy.
    6. Due to the processing difficulty, a person with amygdala dysfunction has trouble connecting feelings of empathy and fear to their actions.
    2. Ilie Iona in “No One is Born a Serial Killer” states, “the emotional side of their brain is damaged, and the absolute absence of any emotions makes them so dangerous.
    3. The more their aggressiveness increases, the more their blood pressure drops, which shows that violence has a calming effect on them… Located in the temporal lobes, the amygdala is responsible for the lack of emotions such as fear and anxiety.”
    9. The calming effect of violence produces immense feelings of gratification for the killer.
    —I hope the reorganization makes the repetitions obvious. We need to understand the function of the amygdala AND the fact that it’s damaged in serials killers BEFORE we will understand the RESULT of amygdala damage in them.

    Dysfunction of the amygdala is common in neuropsychiatric conditions. Neuropsychiatric conditions include disorders such as ADHD, bipolar, and major depressive disorder. These conditions are personality disorders which means they have effects that can impact/alter one’s personality and character. Iona in “No One is Born a Serial killer found that “two recent neuroimaging studies have confirmed that amygdala dysfunction is associated with psychopathy… high levels of psychopathy were associated with reduced amygdaloid volume.” These conditions can be caused by traumatic brain injuries, genetics, and environmental factors.

    —And now I think this entire paragraph belongs BEFORE the previous one.

    Like amygdala dysfunction, neurochemical imbalances in the brain can occur from many factors like genetics and environment and lead to hormonal imbalances that are linked to increased aggression. These traits are seen more prominently in males. Kiran Hayes, the author of “An Exploration of Trauma Markers in the Artwork of Serial killers”, explains “Allely et al. (2014) also found associations between “neuro-chemical imbalance and aggression” (p. 290), such as low monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) activity, increased serotonin levels in the synapses and heightened levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. Furthermore, they assert that, “there may be a complex interaction between pre-existing neurodevelopmental problems (moderators), environmental insults experienced during development such as head injury or childhood maltreatment (mediators) and serial or mass killing.”

    —That long fuse paid off.

    Other physical conditions such as genetic mutations have been linked to increased violence. A genetic mutation in the male XY sex chromosome adds an extra Y chromosome. The mutation of the XYY chromosome. This mutation is often referred to as the “crime chromosome” as it has been found that this mutation is found in criminals with a rate of five to 10 percent higher than the general population. The article, “No One is Born a Serial Killer”, states “A rare genetic mutation in the XYY chromosome has been found in serial killers. This gene controls sexual behavior, violence, and lack of empathy.” Not only can this gene be linked to criminal behavior but it can also be linked to abnormal behavior described by psychologists. This type of abnormal behavior can also be linked to psychopathy.

    —Not clear what your last two sentences add to the argument and evidence.
    —What’s the point of distinguishing “criminal behavior” from “abnormal behavior”?
    —What’s the meaning of the extremely vague “linked” to psychopathy?

    Psychiatric disorders can also contribute to the making of a serial killer. Some psychiatric disorders can be genetic which means there is a family history such as antisocial disorder, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. Other psychiatric disorders stem from trauma and environmental factors such as conduct disorder.

    —There’s an intrinsic limit to the number of times readers will be satisfied by another item in a list, Shxrkbait. This exceeds the limit. I for one have little confidence that psychiatric disorders can be genetic, and you saying they can doesn’t convince me.

    Antisocial disorder is one of the psychiatric disorders stemming from genetics that is often associated with violence and homicidal tendencies when made worse with other concurrent disorders such as substance abuse. The American Association of Psychiatry in “Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders” states “Antisocial personality disorder is more common among the first-degree biological relatives of those with the disorder than in the general population. Biological relatives of individuals with this disorder are also at increased risk for somatization disorder (a diagnosis that was replaced in DSM-5 with somatic symptom disorder) and substance use disorders.” Concurrent disorders such as substance abuse mixed with psychiatric disorders like antisocial disorder heighten the symptoms of the disorder.

    —The more time you give readers to wonder about all the many ways a serial killer can be created, the more you invite them to speculate about theories of their own. The mention here of the dangerous influence of “first-degree biological relatives” makes this reader wonder whether living with anti-social parents, for example, is a better explanation of a childhood development of sociopathy than genetics or brain damage.

    Those with antisocial disorder lack regard for those around them and are incapable of feeling empathy. The lack of empathy allows them to commit crimes against humanity such as killing without realizing the brutality of such crimes. The American Association of Psychiatry defines Antisocial disorder as “Individuals with antisocial personality disorder frequently lack empathy and tend to be callous, cynical, and contemptuous of the feelings, rights, and sufferings of others.” It becomes easier for people suffering from Antisocial disorder to disconnect from reality. This disconnection leads to traits such as deceitfulness and blaming others for the actions they receive. This blame can be on the victim for doing something or saying something that caused them to get killed. Again, this disconnection becomes dangerous as the individual thoughtlessly commits crimes without any remorse attached to them due to the nature of antisocial disorder.

    —As you describe antisocial disorder (and its root in lack of empathy), it sounds so much like what you observed about amygdala damage that readers will wonder why you identify genetics as the cause.

    A disorder that can be directly linked to antisocial disorder is psychopathy. According to Dr. Rhonda Fredman in “What is Psychopathy”, “some with psychopathy are predatory. They hunt or stalk other human beings for the purpose of: violation, control, release of perverse fantasies, additions to their collection, sex, image, money, and/or power gratification.” The incidence and purposes of psychopathy go hand in hand with the motivation for serial killers. Dr. Rhonda Fredman states, “individuals with strong psychopathic traits tend to have dysfunctional reward, morality, bonding, and affective/emotional processing systems.” Like psychopathy, serial killers enjoy the control of the kill, fulfilling the fantasy and torturing and killing a person, and collecting trophies to remember the kill. Because of the similarities in these actions, we can conclude a large number of serial killers are psychopaths.

    —The “linking” and “hand in hand” are weak connectors, Shxrk. What does linkage mean? One causes the other? They both result from the same set of causes? They result in serial murder ONLY WHEN they’re both present? Something else?

    There are many motivations for serial killings that we do not understand, but these motivations stem from internal problems such as genetic, psychiatric, and physical abnormalities. Although it is hard to pinpoint exactly why one goes on to kill numerous people, evidence suggests that it is not a matter of will but a matter of physical makeup. Neuropsychiatric disorders suggest that chemical imbalances and psychological disorders occurring in the brain contribute to violent, unempathetic, and homicidal tendencies.

    —You’ll have a hard time distinguishing Compulsions from Motivations if you’re sloppy with the terms, Shxrk. Readers will hear Motivations as “I wanted to kill the person who had insulted me.” They will hear Compulsions as “I obeyed an overwhelming impulse to kill the first person I saw.”
    —There’s too little of this sort of detailed distinguishing of your killer types.
    —It’s fine if you want to devote an entire argument to the Compulsion side.
    —But I thought an important part of your research was going to be devoted to people who kills serially but whose behavior is neither Compulsive nor Compelled, those who can be said to have Chosen their behavior.

  10. shxrkbait says:

    Thank you for taking the time to give me this detailed feedback. I found this particularly helpful and will be making some changes as you suggest.

  11. shxrkbait says:

    I would like to know if I have made the necessary corrections to clarify my findings and claims.

  12. davidbdale says:

    Your first two paragraphs both serve as “catch-alls” that don’t focus on a single cause or even a single type of causes, so that the answer to your opening question seems to be “a whole buncha stuff.” You may want to pursue that as your actual answer, but your approach so far is not to boldly acknowledge how many answers there are to your question.

    What makes a person become a serial killer?

    According to your paragraph, it could be DNA.
    —But also pre-birth genetic abnormalities (which might not sound different, but is).
    —But also childhood abuse
    —But also trauma, mental illness, brain injury
    —Childhood trauma, mental illness either inherent or achieved, brain injury at any age
    —On the “motivation” side, compulsion fulfillment can also be a cause
    —Also gratification
    —Not to mention unspecified physical and mental conditions that LEAD TO compulsion

    You don’t appear ready to embrace this utterly bewildering and varied array of causal factors. Maybe you should. “People kill, viciously kill, methodically kill, serially kill, for as many reasons as they adopt children or stray animals, fall in love, or help their neighbors raise a barn. Anyone who pretends to have discovered ‘the explanation’ for serial murder is mistaken.”

    People who commit horrific crimes are genetically born that way.
    —But also “certain physical and mental abnormalities”
    —Also childhood abuse
    —Mixed with traumatic brain abnormalities
    —And mental illness
    —And finally, again, compulsion and gratification

    So the second paragraph is a repeat of paragraph one.

    This listing and relisting of possible causes depletes your readers’ interest, Shxrkbait, not because there are many causes, but because you neglect to MAKE USE OF the fact that there are many causes.

    If you insist early on that we’ll never “solve” the problem of serial killing by trying to eliminate the causes (there are too many!), then the sheer number of ways a killer can be made becomes evidence. But you have to boldly claim the premise.

  13. davidbdale says:

    Stop trying to indent your paragraphs, Shxrk. WordPress discourages it, and it’s not necessary.

    Also, link your source urls to just the title, as I have done for you on the Haynes item.

  14. shxrkbait says:

    I would like feedback on the revisions I have made.

  15. davidbdale says:

    There are certainly many (WordPress sent me an email every time you changed a word), they’re not overwhelmingly transformative, Shxrk. Your introduction is far easier to follow, and the transitions from Cause to Cause are by and large smooth and helpful.

    If you’re willing to spend some substantive effort on revisions, I have two to recommend.

    One is to examine your longest paragraphs (most stretch the limit of good paragraph length) for changes in tone or focus that suggest you have introduced a new main idea worthy of its own paragraph.

    The other is to consider the order in which you provide your Evidence and your Explanations. Here’s a case in point:

    Gratification is a primary motivation for killing when serial killers are question as to why they committed their series of crimes. Gratification is defined as a source of pleasure or the feeling of pleasure from a certain act or object. The article, “The neural basis of delayed gratification”, states “Repeated exposure to instant gratification may disrupt this balance, thereby increasing impulsive decisions. These decisions contribute to numerous human disorders, such as addiction and obesity.” For serial killers the power exerted in the murders of their victims creates immense feelings of gratification immediately after the kill. The deployment of gratification leads to increased impulsiveness and can also off-balance the body’s dopamine levels. Much like drug and alcohol addiction, the dopamine levels in the brain will increase when a serial killer executes their crime. Because of the increased dopamine levels, over time the brain is unable to produce dopamine on its own and alternate sources of dopamine must be found to increase these dopamine levels. For an addict, alcohol/drugs increase the body’s dopamine. For serial killers, killing a person produces the dopamine levels that the body needs.

    You ask us to consider Gratification.
    We are happy to do so.
    It’s identified as a motivation for serial murders for the pleasure they provide.

    To convince us, you provide a quote about DELAYED gratification that depends on a reference for IMMEDIATE gratification that you haven’t provided. So, before we believe in the gratification theory, you ask us to consider another, more complex theory about how DELAYS to gratification cause obsession or addiction. NOW you begin an explanation of the basics of the immediate gratification provided by the kill. You never clearly deploy the quote about delayed gratification or even mention delay again.

    It’s frustrating to read.

    So. Now that you have your causal material organized into a sequence of explanations of the MANY potential causes for serial killing, devote some time to nailing down the best-phrased evidence that each of them is plausible. You’re within easy range of a strong A grade now, Shxrk, but you’ll have to make the right sort of revisions to get there.

  16. shxrkbait says:

    I would like a final round of feedback for my grammar

  17. shxrkbait says:

    I would also appreciate feedback on the overall content of my paper and the points I make to determine if I will need another round of feedback.

  18. davidbdale says:

    LOOK FOR CORRECTIONS INSIDE BRACKETS [like these]
    Deletions are used for the Banned 2nd Person [2nd person]

    What makes a person become a serial killer? There are numerous explanations [for] how serial killers develop[,] but we may never establish a singular cause. Psychologists and criminologist[s] have made an effort to establish just one cause for serial killings by comparing a number of serial killers, their genetics, and their childhood but have been unsuccessful in their efforts. If we were to ask a group of criminologist[s] and psychologists they would each credit a different cause for the reason of serial killings.

    Factors that could make a serial killer, when co-occurring with each other, are[:] genetics[,] in which abnormalities before birth that cannot be controlled are present[;] environmental factors[,] such as abuse/neglect[;] and trauma/mental illness/traumatic brain injury[,] which can occur at any point in one[‘]s life for a number of reasons. The feelings of compulsion and gratification from a kill have been credited by serial killers when questioned on their motive for these strings of serial murders. Researchers have tried linking certain physical and mental conditions to a higher susceptibility to follow the compulsions that lead to killing. Those who have claimed to establish [“]an explanation[“] for the creation of serial killers are mistaken.
    —When creating long, complicated series such as the “causes cluster” you wrote above, you need MORE punctuation than just commas. The semicolons separate individual items that contain commas of their own.

    Gratification is a primary motivation for killing when serial killers are question[ed] as to why they committed their series of crimes. Gratification is defined as a source of pleasure or the feeling of pleasure from a certain act or object. Instant gratification is given immediately after committing a pleasurable act. This could mean instant gratification from things like food or drinking alcohol. Because the feeling hits instantly, many serial killers prefer this method. [Instant gratification is not a method. And I don’t think anybody gets to choose it.] For serial killers[,] the power exerted in the murders of their victims creates immense feelings of instant gratification immediately after the kill.

    Delayed gratification occurs when someone exhibits self-control and waits to complete the act that gives gratification. In return[,] the feeling of gratification is more intense and enjoyable. The deployment of delayed gratification leads to increased impulsiveness and can also off-balance the body’s dopamine levels over[ ]time. The article, “The neural basis of delayed gratification[,”] states “repeated exposure to instant gratification may disrupt this balance, thereby increasing impulsive decisions. These decisions contribute to numerous human disorders, such as addiction and obesity.” The release of delayed gratification is what creates addiction. The more intense “high” associated with delayed gratification keeps the user[,] or killer in this case[,] coming back to achieve that feeling again. Much [as with] drug and alcohol addiction, the dopamine levels in the brain will increase when serial killer]s] execute their crime. Because of the increased dopamine levels, over time and the more kills the brain is unable to produce dopamine on its own and alternate sources of dopamine must be found to increase these dopamine levels. For an addict, alcohol/drugs increase the body’s dopamine. For serial killers, killing a person produces the dopamine levels that the body needs.

    Like the cause for serial killings, the presence of free will in serial killers is hard to determine. Compulsion, which is a strong and overwhelming desire to act on what your brain is telling you, is used by serial killers to explain the reason for the murders. The article “What are Compulsions[,”] states “the individual experiences a sense of resistance to the act but this is overridden by the strong, subjective drive to perform the action. Most often the principal aim behind the compulsive behavior is to generate relief (usually only temporary) from the anxiety elicited by the preceding obsession.” The obsessive feeling of compulsion and the need to do what your compulsion tells you are seen in serial killers with abnormalities in the temporal lobe, specifically in the amygdala.
    —You need to find a way to eliminate the Banned 2nd Person.

    Numerous serial killers find it hard to explain why they commit these crimes besides crediting a pulling and nagging feeling to do so. When arrested and interviewed by a psychologist, Jeffery Dahmer pleaded to know why he was compelled to commit these crimes. He wanted to know why he felt these strong compulsions to kill and why he couldn’t contain them despite his best efforts. Like Jeffery Dahmer, many serial killers try to exert free will by retreating into a dormant period where [they can] go a certain amount of time without killing anyone.

    Serial killers often credit fantasizing the crime as another reason for committing it. Many serial killers claim to experience intense fantasies of brutally killing someone and or having intercourse with their body. The research paper, “Genesis of a Serial Killer,” compares [the serial killer to other addicts]. “The serial killer, much like the chronic gambler and problem drinker, is addicted to the use of fantasy. So strong is this compulsion that the serial killer murders to preserve the addiction, in essence preserving his only remaining coping mechanism.” Jeremy Anderson illustrates that[,] like any other addiction (alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc.), the addiction to a fantasy can be so strong and compelling that one must act on the fantasy to fulfill the addiction. As stated prior, like an alcoholic who needs to drink more liquor to fulfill the craving, a serial killer must act on and fulfill their fantasy to feed the immense cravings.

    Dysfunction of the amygdala is common in neuropsychiatric conditions [including] disorders such as ADHD, bipolar, and major depressive disorder. These conditions are personality disorders[,] which means they have effects that can impact/alter one’s personality and character. Iona [Is Iona her first name? Use both the first time. Last name only after that.] in “No One is Born a Serial Killer” found that “two recent neuroimaging studies have confirmed that amygdala dysfunction is associated with psychopathy… high levels of psychopathy were associated with reduced amygdaloid volume.” These conditions can be caused by traumatic brain injuries, genetics, and environmental factors.

    The amygdala, which processes the feeling of compulsion, empathy, and fear, appears to be damaged when researchers have conducted scans. When we fear getting in a car after a car accident, this associated fear is produced in the amygdala. The effect of a dysfunctional amygdala is that its owner lacks the natural human ability to generally process the feeling of fear and empathy thus creating an emotionally blank person. Dysfunction of the amygdala occurs from damage caused by a traumatic brain injury, PTSD, Schizophrenia, etc. The amygdala itself is not the problem[,] but the damage the amygdala endured leads to the repression of fear, anxiety, and empathy. A healthy and functioning amygdala is able to process emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, etc. in a healthy way. Due to the processing difficulty of a damaged amygdala, a person with amygdala dysfunction has trouble connecting feelings of empathy and fear to their actions. Ilie Iona in “No One is Born a Serial Killer” states, “the emotional side of their brain is damaged, and the absolute absence of any emotions makes them so dangerous. The more their aggressiveness increases, the more their blood pressure drops, which shows that violence has a calming effect on them… Located in the temporal lobes, the amygdala is responsible for the lack of emotions such as fear and anxiety.” The calming effect of violence produces immense feelings of gratification for the killer.

    Antisocial disorder is a psychiatric disorder[s] that is often associated with violence and homicidal tendencies similar to damage of the amygdala. Research has found that antisocial disorder can stem directly from amygdala damage[,] thus explaining the similarities in the lack of emotion and feelings for others. The amygdala can become damaged [due to] [by] traumatic brain injuries and mental illnesses such as PTSD, schizophrenia, depression, etc[.,] which deteriorate the amygdala over a period of time.

    The article ”Lower amygdala fatty acid . . . in violent offenders . . . .,]” found [that] “we suggest that lower levels of amygdala FAAH may impair how ASPD (Anti-social personality disorder) individuals process negative emotional stimuli, such as fearful or angry facial expressions…We speculate that lower levels of amygdala FAAH expression may prevent persons with ASPD from responding appropriately to stress, making them more inclined to engage in reactive aggressive and impulsive behavior.” The term FAAH refers to the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase which is a controlling influence on socio-emotional behaviors like aggression and empathy. This finding supports that damage to the amygdala has been found to reduce levels of matter in the amygdala thus causing a lack of emotional response in situations where it would be appropriate. The decrease in FAAH allows for an intensified response to negative emotions controlled by the amygdala such as aggression and violence.
    —You can abbreviate those overlong titles in your paragraphs as long as you provide the entire title in your References list and the connection is clear.

    Those with antisocial disorder lack regard for those around them and [are incapable of feeling empathy. The] [their] lack of empathy allows them to commit crimes against humanity[,] such as killing[,] without realizing the brutality of such crimes. The American Association of Psychiatry defines antisocial disorder as “Individuals with antisocial personality disorder frequently lack empathy and tend to be callous, cynical, and contemptuous of the feelings, rights, and sufferings of others.”
    —I see no need to capitalize Antisocial disorder in this paragraph or others.

    It becomes easier for people suffering from [a]ntisocial disorder to [disconnect] from reality. [This disconnection] leads to traits such as deceitfulness and [blaming] others for the actions they receive. [This blame] can be on the victim for doing something or saying something that caused them to get killed. Again, this disconnection becomes dangerous as the individual thoughtlessly commits crimes without any remorse attached to them due to the nature of antisocial disorder.
    —You do a lot of what I call “Heaven. Heaven is a place. A place where nothing. Nothing ever happens,” a Talking Heads lyric. You end a sentence with a term and then start the next sentence with the same term. It’s a disconcerting, jerky rhythm. I’ve placed some terms into brackets for your consideration.

    A co-occurring disorder that is more likely to occur in individuals who suffer from anti-social disorder is psychopathy. According to Dr. Rhonda Fredman [Fredman or Friedman?] in “What is Psychopathy[,’ ”]some with psychopathy are predatory. They hunt or stalk other human beings for the purpose of: violation, control, release of perverse fantasies, additions to their collection, sex, image, money, and/or power gratification.” The incidence and purposes of psychopathy go hand in hand with the motivation for serial killers. [Dr. Rhonda Fredman] Fredman states, “individuals with strong psychopathic traits tend to have dysfunctional reward, morality, bonding, and affective/emotional processing systems.”
    —Use just last name the second time.

    Like [psychopathy] [psychopaths], serial killers enjoy the control of the kill, fulfilling the fantasy and torturing and killing a person, and collecting trophies to remember the kill. Not every person who has both of these disorders [are serial killers] [is a serial killer,] but the chances are increased due to the perceived violent and unempathetic nature of these disorders. Because of the similarities in these actions, we can conclude a large number of serial killers are psychopaths.

    Like amygdala dysfunction, neuro-chemical imbalances in the brain can occur from many factors like genetics and environment and lead to hormonal imbalances that are linked to increased aggression. These traits are seen more prominently in males. Kiran Hayes, the author of “An Exploration of Trauma Markers in the Artwork of Serial killers[,”] explains “Allely et al. (2014) also found associations between [‘]neuro-chemical imbalance and aggression[,'”] such as low monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) activity, increased serotonin levels in the synapses and heightened levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. Furthermore, they assert that, “there may be a complex interaction between pre-existing neurodevelopmental problems (moderators), environmental insults experienced during development such as head injury or childhood maltreatment (mediators) and serial or mass killing.”
    —Your trouble with quotation marks is even more severe when you have to include quotes within quotes. Check your other short papers for similar problems.
    —And PLEASE keep your commas and periods INSIDE the close quotes.

    Other physical conditions such as genetic mutations have been linked to increased violence. A genetic mutation in the male XY sex chromosome adds an extra Y chromosome. The mutation of the XYY chromosome. This mutation is often referred to as the “crime chromosome” as it has been found that this mutation is found in criminals with a rate of five to 10 percent higher than the general population. The article, “No One is Born a Serial Killer[,] states “A rare genetic mutation in the XYY chromosome has been found in serial killers. This gene controls sexual behavior, violence, and lack of empathy.”

    Not only can this gene be linked to criminal behavior[,] but it also has been found in those who display abnormal behavior and suffer from psychopathy and anti-social disorder. The finding [of this gene being] [that this gene is] present more often in criminals and those suffering from mental disorders can account for the violent and sexually curious history of serial killers.

    Although it is hard to pinpoint exactly why one goes on to kill numerous people, evidence suggests that co-occurring physical and mental abnormalities, whether they occurred before or after birth, may be as close as we will get to an explanation. The closest explanation we have from serial killers themselves is that they were unable to control the intense feeling of compulsion and were unable to fulfill the bottomless pit of gratification that occurs from the effects of the crime.
    —Grammar and punctuation aside, that’s a very satisfying final paragraph, Shxrkbait. 🙂

  19. davidbdale says:

    You comply with most of the Fails For Grammar Rules, Shxrkbait, so I don’t think you’ll need me to review your other short arguments for FFG. You don’t use as many commas as good grammar requires. Maybe those I’ve inserted will help you recognize where they’re needed. Please apply the corrections I’ve made here to your other arguments.

  20. shxrkbait says:

    Thank you for your feedback! I very much appreciate the time and effort you put into revising my paper to ensure it is held to a higher standard.

    • davidbdale says:

      You’ve earned my attention and assistance by being conscientious and clearly committed to your own achievement, Shxrk.

      You don’t earn another Regrade for applying MY corrections to your work, but you can pick up a few points on your other arguments when you apply the same corrections to them.

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