Nature, Nurture, Murder?

Miranda Dean, THE CURRENT HUMAN CONDITION

It has been found in many studies that male children who abused or experience violence are more likely to be violent when they grow up – but not all male children who experience violence whilst growing up turn out to be violent people. Some may ask, well what about alcohol abuse or drug abuse? Finances, education, or up-bringing? While all of these environmental factors have been linked to aggressive behavior, behaviorists are having a difficult timing creating strong correlations between aggressive/ violent behavior and environment alone. This has forced geneticists to ask the question that many had been hoping to avoid – is there a gene for violent behavior?

Stephen King begins his (very well-known) article Why We Crave Horror Movieswith a very bold claim, “I think that we’re all mentally ill…”. He goes on to explain that he believes that insanity is a spectrum of control that spans from mumbling unintelligibly to yourself (when you’re frustrated) to cutting off people’s faces and wearing them as your own (a reference to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre); From nervous ticks to serial murder, we all possess insanity and different levels of controlling it (the action the we display outwardly is the portion that we struggle to suppress). He breaks down emotions into two categories, civilized emotions and anticivilization emotions. The former is accepted and positively rewarded by society (love, kindness, loyalty, etc.) and the latter are punished and suppressed. However, this does not make them go away – and like all of your other emotions (similar to muscles) they need to be exercised in order to stay toned. King argues that watching horror films is a way to exercise that emotion. It allows our brain the freedom to think about and experience these things that society tells us not. He relates it to feeding the alligators to keep them from coming out of the water. It is a way to live out our darkest desires without actually having to commit any act – and for most of us, that method works. But there are those on the more extreme end of the spectrum that don’t get release from viewing but instead feel a drive to experience first-hand the horrible things our anticivilization emotions demand.

via Nature, Nurture, Murder? | The Current Human Condition

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