What Does Neuroscience and Psychology Tell Us About Serial Killers’ Minds

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Photo by Cottonbro; courtesy of Pexel.

YONKERS, NY — November 1, 2021 — Meta description: Serial killers are people who repeatedly murder others. At issue is whether neuroscience and psychology give us an insight into  what is going on in the minds of such individuals and why they actually do what they do?

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY — November 2, 2021 — News stories that we read about serial killers are unfortunately common, and almost every time, there is no apparent motive behind such a bloodbath. Which makes us wonder how do serial killers think and what makes them so different from the rest of us. What can trigger a person kill another human being in cold blood? Is it the abusive and dysfunctional families behind them, or is it in their genes? Do they feel an urge to kill that they cannot resist?

Modern neuroscience and psychology have provided us with much research about what is going on in the minds of serial killers. And nowadays, some of the best research essays and papers are even used to provide college students with at least the base knowledge about serial killers. Teachers even assign their students to occasionally write a serial killer research paper or read essay examples. This is because such essays can take students inside the mind of a serial killer and give them a better understanding of the topic.

Overall, the profile of a serial killer is described as a human who kills three or more people at separate events that are most often committed with a lapse of time between the murders. They mostly kill when they feel stressed, and they feel a temporary relief after they commit such atrocities. Their motivations can vary, but most of the time fall into the following categories:

·       A sense of power.

·       Experiencing the thrill.

·       Obtaining money.

·       Desire to get rid of evildoers.

What do we know about a serial killer’s  psychology, and why is it important to study their minds?

Characteristically serial killers have a lack of empathy and sympathy for others, without any guilt about the crimes they commit. While simultaneously, almost all of them are superficially charming, which allows them to lure victims. One explanation for that is that serial killers are people with two minds that are co-existing in one person, allowing them to successfully steer the complexity of behavior that is socially acceptable and even seduce and charm, and their other self is able to do the most violent and unspeakable acts.

Much research states that serial killers are actually suffering from DID or dissociative identity disorder, in which a person has more than two personalities in their mind, that are unaware of each other. However, there is not enough evidence supporting this.

Other facts about the minds of serial killers are that they cannot override or lack the emotional responses that permits a human being to identify suffering and pain in others and thereby also cannot empathize with that pain. This was proven due to new brain imaging studies. Those studies showed that serial killers have a reduced relat between the amygdala (which is a region in the brain that processes negative stimulations and raises the reactions of fear) and the prefrontal cortex (which clarifies the responses that the amygdala creates). 

So, because the connectivity between those regions is decreased, the negative stimuli is not recognized nor is it  translated into negative emotions. That may give an explanation as to why the psychopaths’ killers don’t feel sad when others are suffering or have any guilt about their  conduct.

Besides that, they are deemed to have an increased emotional drive that gives them the urge to kill or hurt others. Such emotional responses are still unknown and need further definition and explanations. But still, we shouldn’t ignore social influence as an important factor in forming such impulses. It can be possible that they learned to look at their victims as objects that need to be abused. This may be an explanation as to why some of them decide to turn their victims’ bodies into souvenirs or objects and even engage in sex with those bodies they killed.

Another explanation may be that many of them are actually insecure people who feel the urge to kill because they fear rejection. That fear, in most cases, is a result of being abused or abandoned by parents. Meaning that they think that destroying the person they want will eliminate the chance of them being hurt, humiliated, or abandoned as they once were.

Summation / Conclusion

It still remains unclear why some people react differently to trauma and why they later become serial killers. But, probably, new insights into the neurological or psychological basis of their actions may help us in the future. And hopefully, that can help identify potential serial killers and prevent them from committing such crimes.

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TribuneWhat Does Neuroscience and Psychology Tell Us About Serial Killers’ Minds

Comments 3

      1. Read the “Ultimate Evil” by Maury Terry. It’s out of print but you can get it online. Make sure that you get the most recent 90s version if you can not the 1987 version. You can read his fantastic old Herald Statesman articles about this lunacy online I lived close to Untermeyer park as a kid at the time and I’m a retired NYPD detective. The cult was very real. There’s pure evil out there.

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