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Criminal behaviour and mental health

Updated on February 6, 2014
Criminal and Normal brain patterns
Criminal and Normal brain patterns

Are criminal minds born that way?

In 1871, Lombroso a Jewish psychiatrist and prison doctor performed an autopsy and suggested that criminal activity came from a deformity in the brain or it could be a default in evolution.

He also stated that many Europeans with big foreheads and wide jaws would have a tendency to be violent with criminal behaviour but his theory was proved wrong after the events of world war 2 and Hitler.

Neurocriminologists today have proved that criminal behaviour could be from genetics as well as being able to study the brain in order to prevent a criminal from doing further harm.

There are people that disagree with criminology as they believe that it is from the way that someone has been brought up, that can influence how they turn out later on in life. They also feel that people who have committed crimes should be accountable, regardless of their mental state.

Mothers who drink and smoke whilst pregnant can effect the mental health of their unborn child.

Complications at birth and poor nutrition when they are toddlers can also effect the mental health of a child.

Many children are effected by lead that is consumed from soil,(effected by pollution) when they are toddlers. Lead is neurotoxic and can effect the prefrontal region of the brain, which controls behaviour.

The U.S.A. had rising lead levels in the early 1970's through to the 1990's due to the lack of regulation in gasoline.

Violent tendencies peak from teen years through to twenties.

Should parents have a criminal lifestyle it would be possible that their children would follow through and copycat their parents.

To answer the question, yes criminal minds are born and raised that way. For some it is a malfunction of the brain but it is either caused by diet or behavioural patterns from parents.

Brain patterns - criminology
Brain patterns - criminology

Abusive Behaviour

People often wonder how someone can abuse a woman or child, molest innocent children, rape and murder and claim that they were born that way. Were they born that way?

Abusive behaviour comes from abusive behaviour. Often a child molester would be someone that was once molested themselves and a violent wife beater, would be from the same gene pool as a parent or guardian that they had observed when they were little.

The diet of the child could effect the way in which they grow and their mental health is definitely effected by nutrition and environmental factors.

A specific part of the brain called the ventral prefrontal cortex, helps regulate our emotions and controls impulses. If that part of the brain is not functioning properly due to nutritional or environmental factors, it could cause someone to grow up with violent tendencies.

Naturally, children who have been abused or have grown up in a home with a lack of remorse or regard, will potentially harm others.

"The Shining"
"The Shining"

The mind of a psychopath

Psychopathic behaviour can also be from poor nutrition as a child, parental neglect or abuse, head injuries, learning disabilities, poor cognitive functioning, lead poisoning or family history of poor mental health.

Not every person that has a particular brain function can be a murderer or rapist as it also depends on how they are treated from an early age. Should bad behaviour be ignored by parents, the chances of a child growing up with no understanding of remorse or emotions, is highly likely.

Psychopaths have a smaller amygdala than normal people. The amygdala is a part of the brain that controls emotions, fear and decision making.

Psychopaths know the difference between right and wrong but they do not feel it.

They can look normal and mirror others but they are manipulative and some sadistic.

Michael. C. Hall portrays Dexter Morgan, a serial killer and blood splatter analyst
Michael. C. Hall portrays Dexter Morgan, a serial killer and blood splatter analyst

Serial Killers and the Mind

Serial killers also know the difference between right and wrong but they do not feel. Many of them have said that their victim deserved to die, some heard voices in their heads while others blamed their childhood.

Many serial killers were abused emotionally or physically as children and become obsessed with authority figures. They are fearless anti - socials who lack a conscience.

With many of these killers it is that they had seen something traumatic occur when they were little.

Serial killers have good pre frontal functioning as they are able to regulate their behaviour, to prevent themselves from getting caught.

Those that do get help and treatment will ultimately go out and repeat their behaviour.

A serial killer has the need to dominate their victims and their motives are psychological. They usually choose someone that is vulnerable.

Statistics show that serial killers are usually males in their twenties to thirty's from a lower to middle class background. As children they would set fires, torture animals and wet their beds.

They are intelligent and show promise in successful careers. Most serial killers blend in and act like everyone else, playing the part without the emotion attached.

Some have the desire to stop but cannot control the urge to kill.

How criminals rationalize their behaviour

Killers can look you in the eye and describe, passionately how they committed their evil. They describe the blood, the cries and screams with pride. Child molesters suggest that they have done nothing wrong as they love children and cannot help themselves.

Serial killers know that they have done wrong and cannot control the urge or stop the voices inside their heads, yet they too speak passionately about their intelligence on stalking their prey and collecting their "trophy's."

Certain rapists suggested that they had authoritative father figures who abused them, leading them to become vagrants with no care for anything. They do not see rape as violence and they see women as prey, not people. Most rapists have no recollection of their family history and refuse to speak about their childhood. Rapists suggest that they have not hurt anyone if they have not stabbed, beat or shot a victim and they do not see rape as violent unless those actions have been taken.

In many cases the criminal mind does not see that they have done anything wrong. A serial killer understands that it is wrong but cannot control the urges and does not feel at all.

There are criminals that have been sorry for what they have done but have said that they would do it again.

Do you think criminal behaviour can be cured?

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Can the criminal mind be cured?

Neurocriminologists say that by looking at the patterns in the brain, the chances of a criminal going to repeat the crime is very likely. Some do feel remorse and after being treated will try to stay out of trouble, however they usually go and repeat their offences.

Serial killers and psychopaths can be treated by having the underlying historical events worked on but the brain is still the brain and the part that lacks emotion or feeling will not suddenly return.

Symptoms of a mental disorder



Displaying stress

Sudden mood changes

Suicidal thoughts


Irritability and anger


Lack of energy and motivation

Desireless and emotionless

A mental disorder can stem from genetics or it can come from childhood trauma.

Getting help is important if you see signs of a mental disorder in order to prevent further problems.

Criminal Psychology

Criminal psychologists study the behaviour and thoughts of a criminal. Some of them assess the mental health of a criminal to see why they committed a crime and if they would repeat the offence.

They do not go out with police officers as they do in the movies but they do profile criminals in order to bring them in and stop them from harming others. A psychologist can study the mental health of a criminal and look for patterns to enable the police to find them.

Criminal psychologists work closely with the police and government agencies but most of the time is spent in court or at a desk, profiling.

Taking a look at crime scene photographs is part of the job and dealing with some very disturbing situations and people, is also on the list.

A bachelors degree is required to become a psychologist and to be a criminal psychologist, getting a P.h.D is necessary.


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    • Tashaonthetown profile image

      Natasha Pelati 3 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you, I spent a lot of time researching this one

    • mathira profile image

      mathira 3 years ago from chennai

      Yours was thoroughly researched hub about criminal behavior.

    • Tashaonthetown profile image

      Natasha Pelati 3 years ago from South Africa

      thank you for reading!!

    • Jasmeetk profile image

      Jasmeet Kaur 3 years ago from India

      very information and interesting...

      thanks for sharing!!