Humans may be hardwired for violence.
While the atrocious acts of serial killers might seem a distant reality to the average person, a new book argues that this behaviour is ‘coded into our DNA,’ and can be traced all the way back to the Stone Age.
According to author Peter Vronsky, serial killers weren’t always the outliers in society; instead, Vronsky claims humans are murderous by nature, but have largely unlearned these ways in recent centuries with the rise of civilization, NY Post reports.
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Humans may be hardwired for violence. According to a new book from Peter Vronsky, all humans – not just the few that have come to be known for their disturbing actions – are genetically predisposed to becoming serial killers. Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is pictured
The new argument comes from Vronsky’s latest book, ‘Sons of Cain: A History of Serial Killers from the Stone Age to the Present,’ a nod to the biblical story of Cain, who murdered his brother, Abel.
Vronsky says humans’ propensity towards killing dates back tens of thousands of years to the ‘total-war death clash’ between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens, according to NY Post.
‘Our brains had to be hardwired to sustain that kind of constant homicidal aggression toward “others” through countless generations,’ Vronsky writes.
‘Rather than temporarily condition ourselves for war or train to become warriors for a few months or even a few years, as we do today, in the Stone Age we had to kill and kill constantly, for tens of thousands of years, as a way of life, until we emerged as an unchallenged (serial killing) species.’
Vronsky’s new work explores the long history of serial killers, which begins well before the term itself was coined in 1981, focusing on the unique violence of ‘sexual serial killers’ – or those who engage in murder, rape, torture, cannibalism, and necrophilia for the ‘thrill.’
These horrors can be seen in everything from the killings of Jeffrey Dahmer to the folklore of vampires and werewolves, created to blame ‘monsters’ for the wrongdoings of humankind.
But, Vronsky argues, all humans – not just the few that have come to be known for their disturbing actions – are wired to be killers.
In modern times, however, the constructs of society have curbed this behaviour in most people.
While the atrocious acts of serial killers might seem a distant reality to the average person, a new book argues that this behaviour is ‘coded into our DNA,’ and can be traced all the way back to the Stone Age
ARE SOME PEOPLE BORN KILLERS?
Recent research suggests some people may be genetically predisposed to becoming killers.
The largest forensic neuroscience library in the world claims there are surprising similarities between the abnormal brain structures of mass murderers.
What’s more, the differences are ‘at least 50 percent caused by genetics’, raising the disturbing possibility that people can be born killers.
The discovery followed research that claims there are certain genetic triggers than can create a murderer.
One of them is a variant of cadherin 13 (CDH13), which is involved in neural connectivity, and has been linked to impulse control in extremely violent offenders.
Previous studies have linked other genes to violent crime, including a gene called monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) that contributes to less recycling of the neurotransmitter, dopamine.
Kent Kiehl, a psychologist who has been interviewing and brain-scanning imprisoned psychopaths for decades, found that psychopaths tend to have less gray matter and smaller amygdalas.
But while the research may pave the way for screening methods and treatment, Lois Parshely, writing in Popular Science in 2016, warns it also raises worrying questions of Nazi-like eugenics.
‘When food was scarce in the Stone Age, we sometimes combined what we killed in fear and anger with what we killed for food, and sometimes even with what we had sex with,’ Vronsky writes, according to the Post.
The new book makes a nod to the biblical story of Cain, who murdered his brother, Abel
‘In times of distress, combat, conquest, or famine, our species easily slipped into a mindless, instinctual cocktail of sexualized aggression, cannibalism and necrophilia.’
The author points to Yale neuroscientist Paul MacLean’s theory of the triune brain, which argues that the human brain is made up of three layers – at the base of which lies the primitive, ‘reptilian’ brain that drives our will to survive.
According to Vronsky, this region took the reins for at least 100,000 years, giving rise to a violent race of early humans.
And, the author says it’s still in us deep down.
‘It lurks and it’s coded into our DNA,’ Vronsky told the NY Post.
‘It’s like a bug in an updated piece of software.
‘Every once in a while that bug pops up and it’s like an obsolete piece of coding, essentially.’
According to author Peter Vronsky, serial killers weren’t always the outliers in society; instead, Vronsky claims humans are murderous by nature. Above are serial killer Ted Bundy (left), who was executed in 1989, and Joseph DeAngelo (right), suspected Golden State Killer
Vronsky isn’t the first to suggest humans are violent by nature.
A study published in 2016 argued that lethal violence is ‘deeply rooted’ in great apes and even in Homo sapiens.
At the time, study co-author Jose Maria Gomez Reyes told AFP the data showed there was ‘an evolutionary component to human violence.’
But, the researcher noted, environmental pressures play a major role too.