Psychological Self-Help

Navigation bar
  Home Print document View PDF document Start Previous page
 26 of 173 
Next page End Contents 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31  

Another example: Little is known about the thrill-like reactions some people report
during vicious, seemingly senseless crimes, such as murder. There are cases in
which the killer seems to really enjoy the killing process, even experiencing an
emotional high. We don’t know if that is just a physical thrill or if it is the
psychological/emotional consequence of exercising the ultimate power of one person
over another person. Perhaps there is some confusion of physical brutality with a
sexual thrill. But it seems likely that the high, when it actually happens and
regardless of its source, could be a reinforcement for violence. In a similar way
psychotic disorders or brain disorders may lead to strange and violent urges,
sometimes taking the form of seeming like instructions from God to do bad things. A
common outcome is that such a violator is judged by a court to be a bad or evil
person (see above discussion of evil) responsible for his/her actions and, at the
same time, is judged to have a psychotic brain disease with crazy thoughts,
despicable urges, and abnormal physical conditions that he/she can hardly seem
responsible for. Our better legal minds have not yet solved this logical conflict
between “the person” and the “the disease” or between “the mind” and “the brain.”
In all of these possibilities--instinct, heredity, hormones, or brain
dysfunction--the aggression occurs without apparent provocation from the
environment (although there is almost always a "target"). According to some
of these theories, the need or urge to be aggressive is boiling within each of
us and seeks opportunities to express itself. There is also clear evidence that
alcohol consumption and hotter temperatures release aggression, but no one
thinks there is something in alcohol or heat that generates meanness. The
socialization process, i.e. becoming a mature person, involves taming these
destructive, savage, self-serving urges that probably helped us humans
survive one million years ago but threatens our survival today. 
Is it just man’s nature? Or his raging hormones? In any case, it is not
his fault?
Some psychologists believe that the evolutionary development of males
resulted in their being genetically programmed to feel an urgent need to have
status and children—to reproduce his genes and to build resources within his
control. One way to be successful at that is to be violent, i.e. to take what he
wants, to kill other men who are competing for the females one desires, to kill
the women who are leaving them, are uncooperative, or are unable to have
desirable children, etc. Men kill their mates much more often than women.
David Buss (2005) says these self-serving drives became man’s nature
because they paid off to the murderers for thousands of years. His theory is
based in part on 400,000+ FBI files of men who have killed. For example,
Buss found that 50% of the women killed by their husbands were murdered
within 2 months of separating. And that “the other man” is also at high risk
when he tries to take another man’s mate. The focus is more on acquiring
some very aggressive urges, rather than on controlling irrational impulses.
Another explanation of bad men is based on the rather unscientific sounding
notion of “just being born bad.” Yet, this is a psychiatrist writing about the
con or cheat or psychopath or irresponsible “black sheep” of the family being
diagnosed as an Antisocial Personality Disorder. Dr. Donald Black (2000) has
written a book trying to explain in more scientific detail the genetic and
biological causes of the “criminal mind” and the sociopaths’ lack of a
Previous page Top Next page

« Back