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Does Violence and Adult Content in Media Create a Serial Killer?
Beginning at the end of the nineteenth century, taboo subject matter had become more accessible to the public through the use of media, including literature, radio, film, and television. The increasing coverage of violence and sexual violence have led to heated arguments among scholars over the consequences of the themes on individuals. Both scientists and cultural theorists have agreed that the content correlates to the actions of a serial killer, a perpetrator who murders three or more people over a period of time (Dogra et al, 2012, p. 4). Some analysts argue that the psychotic behavior had already been present within the individual, claiming that the mass murderer had been born with no capacity for empathy and a complete disregard for the suffering of others (Cullen, 2012). While opposing researchers argue that the individual was an average citizen until the graphic content corrupted and transformed them into serial killers, claiming that many multiple murders blame our violent culture for feeding their appetites (Scott, 2014).
In this research study, my aim is to investigate mass murderers, as well as, discovering what essentially corrupted the individual. By doing this study, my objective is to disprove the misconception of graphic content negatively transforming any individual who is exposed to it. My hypothesis is that certain individuals are more prone to psychopathic tendencies, whether they are exposed to or sheltered from violent and sexual violent media.
Beginning my research, I came across an academic journal that thoroughly investigated the first Indian serial killer in literature (Dogra et al, 2012, p. 4). In 2007, thirty-two year old, Surinder Koli, was found guilty on accounts of murdering and defiling the corpses of children and women. Being the third of five siblings, Koli came from an average lower-class family. In 2004, while working as a family servant, he allegedly began seeing a female apparition in a white suit with long hair. From 2005-2007, he began having episodes where he would allegedly lose consciousness and awake to murders committed and defiled, where he would then dispose the corpse by consumption and burial. When captured by the authorities, Koli was further questioned about the meaning behind his behavior. The study, based on the results of conducted tests and in depth questioning, came to the conclusion that Koli appeared to have a personality disorder, most consistent with Antisocial Personality Disorder (Dogra et al, 2012, p. 13).
I came across a supporting article were scholars classified mass murders into the three categories, psychopaths, the delusionally insane, and the suicidally depressed (Cullen, 2012). The psychopathic individuals are skilled manipulators that create a generous and trustworthy disguise. The delusional individuals are the most obvious killers due to their violent interactions in social settings. While the suicidal individuals are indefinitely depressed and blame society for their strong negative emotions.
Continuing my research, I came across an opposing view through the transcript of the serial killer, Ted Bundy, who was found guilty murdering and defiling the corpses of children and women. Before his execution, authorities had recorded his last words within an interview. When questioned, he recounted experiences from his childhood that he believed had lead him to becoming a mass murder. Being one of ten siblings, Bundy came from a devout Christian family. When he was a twelve years old, he began rummaging the garbage of neighbors and local grocery stores, obtaining detective magazines, which contained violence and adult violence. Bundy claimed that those materials were the most damaging to an individual, as well as, fueling a violent thought process, where eventually, he began acting upon these thoughts (Pricep, 2015). Bundy compared these violent thoughts to an addiction, where you keep looking for more potent, more explicit, more graphic kinds of materials (Pricep, 2015).
The last article I came across expanded on the theory Bundy had explained in his interview. The author expressed that mass murderers were raised in a civilization which legitimized violence as a response to frustration (Scott, 2014). As a society, individuals have distanced themselves. The more of a strangers we become, the more we begin to see others as objects and less as human beings (Scott, 2014).
While reviewing these articles, I have discovered that violence and sexual violence does in fact play a role in transforming psychotic individuals into serial killers, but does not automatically transform average individuals into developing psychopathic behaviors.
Although there was no reported family history of psychiatric or chronic physical illnesses, the case study conducted on Surinder Koli revealed that he had fantasies about defiling and cutting female corpses since childhood (Dogra et al, 2012, p. 8). It was also revealed that he was molested by an older male when he was ten years old (Dogra et al, 2012, p. 8). Due to the background information of India being religious, and Koli being a poverty-stricken individual who would rarely indulge in television, had me questioning where he would have developed violent tenancies if it had not already been there since birth or through the interaction between individuals. Although Ted Bundy had claimed that the violent and sexual violent materials transformed him into being a mass murderer, it is questionable as to why he would have had violent thoughts to begin with. Both men seem to fall under the description of a psychopath, being able to skillfully mask their hatred (Cullen, 2012). While disposing the corpses, Koli would be anxious, due to the fear that he would be caught rather than guilt of the action, therefore showing that he was indeed conscious while committing the crimes (Dogra et al, 2012, p. 10). Both men acknowledge to committing the crimes, but did not show remorse or concern.
Although I did not find out the exact cause for an individual to become psychopathic, I do know that an individual is born with those tendencies. Violence and sexual violence does influence these, already psychotic, individuals to become mass murderers, but it does not transform average individuals, otherwise there would be more serial killers. I also think negative experiences in the childhood of an individual may contribute to misdeeds, but I do not think it would entirely amount to a mass murderer. The contemporary graphic content the majority of individuals are exposed to can be used as an educational tool, to shock and teach viewers of what not to do.
Cullen, Dave. "What A Killer Thinks." Newsweek 160.6 (2012): 30-34. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Feb.
Dogra, T. D., et al. "A Psychological Profile Of A Serial Killer: A Case Report." Omega: Journal Of Death & Dying 65.4 (2012): 299-316. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.
Princep, Tiffany. "A Transcript of Ted Bundy's Final Interview." A Transcript of Ted Bundy's Final Interview. Academia, 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2015. <http://www.academia.edu/4921305/A_Transcript_of_Ted_Bundys_Final_Interview>.
Scott, Shirley L. "What Makes Serial Killers Tick?" Crime Library. Turner Entertainment Networks, Inc., 14 May 2014. Web. 16 Feb. 2015. <http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/notorious/tick/evils_12.html>.
© 2015 samanthamjordan