Oddly enough, the brain can tell a lot about a person. So how does the brain chemistry of a serial killer differ from those of regular people? And what drives these people to do these awful things or are they just one in a million? After the execution of Ted Bundy and the murder of Jeffrey Dahmer, there were many studies conducted to figure out exactly what was so different about these seemingly ‘normal’ people. Although these notorious people were able to put on an act of normality, it has become obvious that their brain chemistry drastically differs from those of normal people.

Dr. Helen Morrison, a Chicago based forensic psychiatrist, has done extensive research on the differences in serial killers brains. After interviewing 135 serial killers, she found a shocking epidemic that was carried throughout all 135. What she found was a chromosome that was acting as a trigger to abnormal behavior. This chromosome usually becomes noticeable during puberty. After talking to them, she took brain scans and found that they never develop a sense of belonging and attachment to the world. Due to this lack of personal desire, these killers are unable to empathize with their victims which allows them to kill.

James Fallon, another neuroscientist, has studied the brain of serial killers and psychopaths for over 20 years. Through his extensive research, he has found that many killers have a very low orbital cortex activity. This is very important to understand because the orbital cortex is in charge of a lot of things that have to do with behaviors and feelings. The orbital cortex is mainly in charge of behaviors. These behaviors include decision-making, rational thought, reasoning, and the full expression of personality. If you have a low activity in this specific region of the brain, it means that there is less normal suppression of behaviors. This includes rage, violence, sex, and drinking. This change in the brain can be the result of many things. Sometimes this difference is from child abuse, and other times they are born with this imbalance. Many serial killers and psychopaths have experienced child abuse, psychological abuse, and/or maltreatment which may be one of the main ways that their brains lack activity in the orbital region. Fallon’s research made him come to the conclusion that childhood experiences can make all the difference in the formation of serial killer and psychopaths.

After Fallon’s expansive research, he got news that some of his relatives were, in fact, were psychopaths. He decided to do yet more research on this specific topic but used his family as the test subjects. He asked them all to submit CAT scans and what he came to find was bone-chilling. He found that his relatives have a major difference in the way their brain looked, but the weird thing was that his kids and wife had a very normal looking brains. There were three ingredients that he found to be the causes of this. The main thing that was alarming, was a gene called MAO-A gene, which is also known as the “warrior gene”. This gene makes it so that your brain doesn’t respond to the calming effect that serotonin has on your brain. All these things add up to the tendencies that psychopaths have.

You don’t have to be enlightened to realize that there is something wrong with the actions, thoughts, and mindset that serial killers have. Not only can we physically see these differences, there is also a ton of medical research that supports this argument. These include the disorders and disorders that were stated above. Evidently, there is a lot that plays into the formation of a serial killer. Sometimes it can be as simple as the passing down of genes, but other times, it can be as complicated as the way one is brought up.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Serial Killers and Their Brain Chemistry by Maggie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

5 Comments
  1. […] Serial Killers and Their Brain Chemistry by Maggie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. […]

  2. Caleigh 2 months ago

    Maggie,

    I loved this post, and found it very interesting. I loved the information and statistics you included in this post. I never really thought that a serial killer could have a different brain make up than the rest of us, but by reading this it makes sense how they never really feel like they have a connection in this world, and often times their makeup at home has a big impact on how the act for the rest of their lives. I loved how you brought up the story of James Fallon, and how he even found psychopaths in his own family, and how unaware someone can be about this issue. I found this article from the university of Toronto, and students were able to create a database for why people kill, and I thought this would help you

    http://www.westword.com/marijuana/anxiety-and-marijuana-why-i-chose-pot-over-antidepressants-9633709

    Thanks for sharing,
    Caleigh

  3. Ronnie 2 months ago

    Hey Mag!!
    I loved your post, this is such an interesting topic that you’re researching. Usually when I think of serial killers, I think of the environment they grew up in and their family life to be main factors in how they end up. It was very neat to read that all of these 135 serial killers had a common chromosome that acts as a trigger to their horrible behavior. I read an article about this topic called “Are Serial Killers Born or Made?” This was very interesting for me to read and to learn more about this important topic!
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/open-gently/201504/are-killers-born-or-made-both

    Ronnie 🙂

  4. Lexi 2 months ago

    Maggie,
    I really loved this. This was incredibly interesting to read, and I thought you wrote it really well. It makes sense when you think about it, but I really liked the extra information and facts backing it all up. I thought you had very clear arguements and great facts to back it up.
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/blame-the-amygdala/201304/what-would-we-find-wrong-in-the-brain-serial-killer
    This article is very interesting and a fun read, I hope you like it!
    Lexi

  5. Jenessa 2 months ago

    Maggie,
    This was a beautifully written start to your research essay. You have great sources of information, and included two arguments on what causes serial killers to act the way they do. I have always heard that serial killers brains are different than ours, but I never knew the real reason why. I assumed that it had to do with the chemical make-up of their brain because of their ability to just keep on killing. There was a time when I was super interested in serial killers documentaries, and learning about what led them to kill and how they were caught in the act. This website http://web.lemoyne.edu/~Freemams/index_files/psych_serial.htm was a very helpful source for background information and different ways serial killers are made. You should definitely check it out, it goes very in depth on Psychologist studies and ways of thinking that are connected with the serial killer’s brain.
    I that website helps guide your research!
    Jenessa

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