This quote was said by David Berkowitz, better know as Son of Sam (for those of you who are not well versed in serial killer history, he was the guy who, in the ’70’s, shot and killed people in NY City mostly at random–he would leave notes signed Son of Sam).
During our discussion on Wednesday, I was most interested in Natasha’s articles on pedophiles-not because I think they are worthy of interest, per se, but because I am incredibly interested in deviant behavior. I was never a ‘deviant’ child, nor did I, or do I, know any noteworthy deviants today (though, who knows, some deviants could be your next door neighbor of the nice lady who bags your groceries). I became enthralled by the ‘serial killer pathology’ starting in high school, after I saw a book about serial killers at the store and thought it sounded pretty interesting. This book (the name eludes me at the moment, but I have it in my dorm room if you are interested) has chapters dedicated to some of America’s most noteworthy killers, including Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Son of Sam, and Charles Manson, to name a few. The entire time I read this book, the only thing I could think of was WHY?! Why on earth would anyone have the compulsion to kill? I mean, I am sure we’ve all had moments in our life when we’ve been angry or thought things would be better without a certain crazy individual in the world, but the difference is we would never act on these thoughts-in fact, we are repelled and appalled by them. That is what separates us from these killers-we are able to realize what is an appropriate reaction-we feel guilt, we feel our concscious guiding us, and we understand the consequences of our actions. These individuals, these killers, they feel no remorse. They understand what they did, and they consciously committed these acts, but they do not see where it is wrong. WHY? What is different about these individuals? What drives them? What causes this terrifying behavior? Is it biology? Is it environment? Is it psychology? Are there structural differences? I feel like answers to these questions are practically unattainable.
I found this youtube video of a Professor of Neuroscience, James Fallon, giving a talk about serial killers and their brain morphology. I thought it was fascinating, and I encourage all of you to listen to what he has to say. He’s been studying serial killers for years, and has even had the opportunity to do brain scans and interviews. I learned a lot through this video:
What are your opinions regarding his talk? Do you agree with him? Do you feel like his argument falls apart in certain places? I think that he is very correct when he says that there is a ‘recipe’ for certain behavior: an interesting dichotemy between nature and nurture; the biological and the environmental.
I believe that we have only touched the surface when it comes to the nature of these individuals (well, most things in psychology, actually). It amazes me how unreal these stories of killers sound. I find it hard to believe that such evil can exist-that someone would feel no fear or remorse while committing such acts.