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Can a Criminal Behavior Be Inherited?

Updated on October 2, 2019

Can a criminal behavior be inherited? Do you hold it in your genes, or it's simply the way a person decides to behave? Can you educate someone to behave against the law, or not?

Theirs and Yours brains are not the same.

The way your brain is structured, from an age as early as 3 years old can predict whether you are a possible psychopath or not. But how does it really differ?

In a recent study, scientists have examined 21 persons who have antisocial personality disorder, known as psychopath Persians. They found out that these persons who suffer from this particular disorder, cannot distinguish good from evil. [According to Mayo Clinic]
A scan performed in the brain of the anti-social persons [psychopaths], when compared to the control group without any mental illness, brought an interesting result: the brain of these persons, in the frontal lobe [located in the forehead part] had 18% less volume than the normal person's brain, and also even a 9% less volume in the side parts of the forehead.

Another study performed in the same field and with the same purpose, showed that the criminal minds have a deformed amygdala. The amygdala is the gray part of the brain, which covers the whole brain and its aim is to control emotions as well as perceive the emotions information. The amygdala has less volume in a psychopath brain compared to the normal person's brain.

A third study I want to show you is that taken in two different cities when were tested 1700 children of age 2-3 years old. The most part of children who did not react to the emotions of fear or anxiety, developed illegal behavior after, and most of them had even had a hard time in jail.

Even though it is obvious that these study's results cannot be taken into account for all the individuals who commit crimes out there, they are still worth studying and considering. These brain deformations are a thing that can be detected in an age as early as 3 years old. However, this, absolutely, does not mean that each and every individual with this brain mutation will perform criminal actions later in his/her life. The studies also show that these deformations may happen even when the person is an adult, and this is less explained by the effect that biology has than the affective education has.

An idea of brain surgery has been debated a lot among the scientists, but the experts do not approve. It is risky, there are not guaranteed results and most of all, these brain deformations can be cured if we well-educate our children. The children that do not react to fear and anxiety, do not feel the power of a "You're grounded for a week!" punishment, or something like that. Instead, you should always encourage these children, and reward them when they do a good deed. Another cure is to feed the children with fish oil capsules. These capsules contain omega-3 which is thought to help with brain development.

A problem that might come up when accepting and using this theory, it is the possibility of criminals to escape jail, or a long time imprisonment, or death sentence. Psychopaths know what is wrong and what is right, but they do not feel the right and the wrong. Anyway, these people did not choose this kind of life. An important case is that of Herbert Weinstein, who killed his wife. The experts found a cyst formed in his brain, which may have clouded his judgment. The cyst is thought to also make Mr. Weinstein 'immune' to emotions of fear, anxiety and other alike feelings. The experts' results were taken into account by the jury that convicted him with only 11 years of imprisonment.

A criminal mind it is hard to break into pieces, because not all of us can think like them. I am not talking only about psychopaths or people with other mental disorders. I am talking about normal, sane people too, who at a point of their life have performed an illegal action with their will or not. We should get into their minds, not judge them from the jury place, because that way, we will never catch them.

The most Disturbing Facts:

Can a criminal behavior be inherited? Do you hold it in your genes, or it's simply the way a person decides to behave? Can you educate someone to behave against the law, or not?

Somehow disturbing facts:

  • The tumor may be a reason - there is a famous case that may work as a proof for this theory. The case is that of Charles Whitman, who killed 16 persons in the University of Texas before he was killed by the policemen. Before committing the massacre, killing his wife and his mother, he wrote a suicide note stating among other things, that one of those wills before killing himself was that after his death, his brain would be scanned, or examined by specialists. He believed that something could have been going totally wrong with this brain, because lately he had been experiencing terrible headaches, plus terrible thoughts, as he mentions himself in his note. Then he went crazy. Anyway, the doctors did the examination, and they did find out that Charles had a tumor developing in his brain.
  • The neuron level is lower - neurons are the transmitters in your brain, of all kind of the information your cells gain, from the moment they gain it, all the way through your body, until the information reaches your brain, and you perceive the feeling. Studies have shown that criminal minds, in fact, have a low level of serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is a hormone, that in the right amount, does not allow people to behave aggressively when they are mad. Dopamine is another hormone, which, if kept in higher levels, can make people perform cruel acts because they get more satisfaction. Dopamine is responsible for the satisfaction feelings you get from a well done job.

  • A Criminal Mind does not react to face emotions - psychopaths cannot detect face emotions. They cannot detect fear or sadness in somebodies face, and this is the reason they are able to commit terrible acts in cold blood. They do not feel regret either. An experiment is done in this matter too. The scientists formed two groups, one with psychopaths, the other with sane people. They were told that a bell would ring before they would be hit in the body with a hard object which would cause them pain. While the sane people were anxious and frightened when the bell rang, the psychopaths, on the other hand, did not show any fear emotion at all.
  • The irrational and rational parts of the brain do communicate a lot with each-other - in the sane people, these two parts of the brain, which are divided in the two brain hemispheres, do communicate between them with the help of a bridge that connects them. But the rational side prevails. In a criminal mind, the bridge has very weakened and long, and the two hemispheres communicate so much, that these people either choose to behave irrationally or rationally.
  • A teenager brain is not yet formed - scientists have found that a young person's brain does not develop fully until in his mid s 20s. This is the reason that often teenagers are taken away by the policemen because they have behaved illegally, or simply misbehaved by breaking society rules. However, their brain has yet to develop, so these criminal acts do not always mean that are created by a criminal mind, nor that the teenager will become a criminal later, or a repetitive breaker of the law.
  • Smoking during pregnancy may affect the child's brain - the child will develop criminal tendencies, and he is more prone to break the law if his mother smokes during the pregnancy. The reason is that smoking damages the blood vessels in the mother, and the baby too, so the brain cannot get enough oxygen and blood, and it does not fully develop. This is another good reason to not smoke during pregnancy.

If you have read, or know about another interesting study in this field who share some light on questions for criminal minds and brain developments, I'd be happy to read them, and discuss them with you. Feel free to share. :)

Why do you think people do hurtful things?

See results

Do not make people fall into this kind of abyss.

© 2016 Ensorcelie


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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This was a very interesting study, Engel. Those "joker" pics and quotes add a very disturbing element as well. The article needs a little proof reading as I noticed a few errors but it was still a intriguing read. Well done. The Charles Witman case was particularly interesting, leaving a note asking for his brain to be scanned, and finding he had a tumor which could have caused him to commit the slaughter.


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