Natural Born Killers...
Fact or Myth?
Do natural born killers exist?
Notorious serial killer Carl Panzram wrote about himself "When I was very young at 5 or 6 years I was a
thief and a lier and a mean despisable one at that... The older I got the meaner I got".
While Ted Bundy (convicted of 37 homicides but estimated to have killed anywhere from 50 to 100 people) confided "I
just liked to kill. I wanted to kill".
So it seems likely that natural born killers do exist.
Now there's a thought to make the stomach churn... and something to always keep in the back of your mind.
Born of a Bad Seed?
A number of factors have been suggested for producing criminal psychopaths, including:
"I grew up in a wonderful home, with two dedicated and loving parents... we were the focus
of our parent's lives... regularly attended church". Ted Bundy, Serial Killer.
- A Genetic Link.
In their article "Natural born killers:
The genetic origins of extreme violence, 2009" Ferguson & Beaver explain that
"...studies which have been based on thousands of sibling pairs, have pointed to the inescapable
conclusion that genetic factors are implicated - at least to some degree - in the etiology
of violence... approximately 50% of the variance in anti-social phenotypes is the result
of genetic factors".
A study by Hur & Bouchard in 1997 also found a strong genetic link for sensation-seeking and acting-impulsively...
traits "found to be higher in drug abusers, delinquents, and psychopaths."
- Biological Factors like Hormone or Heavy Metal Imbalances.
High levels of Testosterone and low levels of Serotonin can lead to aggressive behavior and mood swings, as can
high levels of lead, manganese, copper and cadmium. Interestingly, psychopathic serial killers are
almost invariably male.
- Head Injuries especially to the brain's Frontal Lobe.
Many researchers believe damage to the Hypothalamus (which regulates the hormonal system and emotions)...
the Frontal Lobe (which controls behavior & decision making)... or the Temporal Lobe, can cause abnormality and
This in turn can lead to increased aggression, anti-social behavior, and changes in
emotions like guilt, conscience, empathy, self-control, and remorse.
- Traumatic Childhood.
In 1984 FBI agent Robert Ressler told the International Assoc. of Forensic Sciences that many serial killers
had a history of a troubled childhood which resulted in characteristics such as:
- came from a dysfunctional family
- were abused mentally, physically or sexually
- often were abandoned by father, raised by domineering mothers
- did poorly at school
- usually hated their parents
- over 60% wet their beds past 12 years of age
- displayed a fascination with fire & destruction
- practised sadistic torture of animals
- often developed an early interest in porn
- developed early psychiatric problems
- had spent time in institutions.
Many serial killers are thought to sadistically dominate their victims in a quest for control, sexual
gratification, and power (e.g. power of life or death) as a way of making up for their own deficiencies and
While other offenders seek retribution or pay-back for abuse, neglect, or victimization inflicted upon
them earlier in their lives.
*No history here of a traumatic childhood or brain injury.
Serial killer Ted Bundy describes how he murdered one of his victims.
So do Natural Born Killers exist?
It seems there is definitely a Genetic Component involved in some cases, and this can be greatly modified
even further by both Biological Factors, Head Injuries, and an Abusive/Deprived Childhood.