Influence of Nature and Nurture: Consciousness of a Serial Killer

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 2378 |

Pages: 5|

12 min read

Published: Jan 5, 2023

Words: 2378|Pages: 5|12 min read

Published: Jan 5, 2023

Table of contents

  1. Bibliography
  2. Websites

Throughout this multiple-source review, I have decided to explore nature vs nurture, which has been an ongoing and widely varied, and increasingly popular debate for many years. This multiple-source review focuses on whether serial killers are simply just born and live their lives with these vicious feelings or were they made to be like this through traumatic experiences that they have endured during their lifetime making them think and act the way they do. I have chosen five reliable sources to help me gain a wider knowledge of my chosen subject and the different points of view. I carefully examined and selected a wide selection of sources ranging from articles to Tv documentaries on several reliable as well as reputable streaming services and scholarly articles. I decided to select these as my sources because I found that these it was unbiased and took to exploring this topic with many different opinions and views and tackled the subject on many different levels. I feel that these sources well present my topic as well as the varied opinions that come with it and go in-depth on this topic on a social as well as scientific and psychological view. This also gives the necessary knowledge for me to understand this topic as well as structure my comparative source review.

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The first source I will be analyzing is 'Born Killers: Childhood Secrets of the World's Deadliest Serial Killers' by Christopher Berry-Dee and Steven Morris, which was published in 2006. This book speaks on the argument that advocates many of us are born to kill and the question of whether there is a ‘Demon Seed’ in our genes, DNA, or chromosomes? Focusing on the MAOA gene which is a gene that produces enzymes breaking down neurotransmitters connected with our mood, aggression, and pleasures, and the XYY chromosome disorder which is a rare biochemical imbalance, ‘scientists in a study of 3,687 pairs of seven-year-old twins that there are strong genetic roots for poor behavior in children who also showed signs of psychopathic traits, such as lack of remorse or understanding for the feelings of others’. This conveys to me that genetics is one of many factors that can take play in the actions and decisions of a serial killer. It also shows me how the brain works on a molecular level and how it can program these men, and women's children to create and follow this overwhelming flurry of dark thoughts for example, ‘A group of 1,037 children born in 1972 in New Zealand. The study found that 85% of the male children who had the weak variant of the MAOA gene exhibited criminal or antisocial behavior growing’. This is one of few sources I found that used science and neurology as well as facts other than opinions to examine these cases and determine how and just why these humans made the decisions they made and choose to follow out these horrific acts. I feel like the strongest point of this source is how unlike most sources this one uses facts in place of opinions to take a broad route to show how they use these to convey the structure and biology of the human body as well as how the brain can be one of the many pivotal factors that play a role on how serial killers construct themselves, their thoughts and physical actions. I feel that this source has given me the necessary information to carry out my research and expand my knowledge on this topic. The author strategically uses facts and statistics placed alongside each other to prove their point that numerous factors take place in the actions of human behavior and how although genetics can and does play a key role in human behavior so does experiences and trials of life. This source was strong and reliable as the authors are best-selling writers and criminologists, it was also mentioned that Christopher has interviewed over 30 serial killers so clearly knows a great deal on this topic.

In comparison to my first source, my second source is an example of how some humans are born with the ‘demon seed’ in their genes. I selected a documentary on Netflix called ‘The Sons of Sam’ directed by Joshua Zeman. This Netflix 4-part series was released on the 5th of May 2021 and is based on the 1976 American serial killer David Richard Berkowitz also known as the son of Sam. David Berkowitz was brought up in A middle-class family with devoted parents who showered him with gifts and attention and from this, there were no clear signs of what was to come. After being arrested David spoke about how he was obeying orders of a demon manifested in the form of his neighbor Sam's dog and how he was giving in to these demons in the hopes that they would leave him alone if he did what they asked. He claimed that the demons ordered him to kill, ‘she has to be sacrificed’. It was then, later on, said that Berkowitz made the demon story up in an attempt to be found mentally competent and was a member of a violent satanic cult that engaged in animal and human sacrifices. This source illustrates that, unlike my first source it goes through the story and case of a serial killer instead of just focusing on facts and scientific experiences, it allows engaging with the serial killer and gave me the ability to visualize every detail of what was going on in 1976 when David Berkowitz surfaced and began his killing spree. The strong point of this source for me was that the documentary took me threw every detail and showed not only the killer's point of view but also the detectives and journalists involved. This source gave me an extensive understanding of how the ‘demon seed’ can be implanted into the genes of humans, from this I can clearly understand that Berkowitz was simply just a born killer and can be described as wired up wrong. I choose this documentary because it included reliable sources in it as there were detectives and clips from 1976 in there, to tell the truth on this gruesome story. The director Joshua was also a nominee for Best Documentary and won a Gotham award, leading to me believe that this source is a reliable source.

In contrast to my two previous sources, my next source mainly takes the viewpoint of how life experiences in the way a child is nurtured throughout their childhood can play a pivotal role in these erotic and horrific fantasies of a serial killer. Alycia Shelton's essay ‘Serial Killers: Monsters Or Mentally Ill’ investigates how a high percentage of serial killers have suffered from traumatic childhood upbringings and that it can be argued that due to these traumatic environments experiences so early in life they are not responsible for what they become, ‘the prevalence of physical abuse was 36%; sexual abuse was 26%, and psychological abuse was 50%. Neglect was equally prevalent in the serial killer (18%)’. The essay ‘Serial Killers: Monsters Or Mentally Ill’ gives a very biased viewpoint into the nurture vs nature investigation, stating that the reason behind serial killers doing what they do is traumatic experiences as a child. Although at some points of this essay, the source discusses the different standpoints it mainly explores quite a narrow point of view. This source shows that these aggressive tendencies can be seen from the way a child behaves at such a young stage in life with signs such as: ‘torture of animals and infatuation with fire’ but most of the time these tendencies are ignored due to stereotype standards of ‘grow out of with age’. Source two gives an insight into a serial killer to help Alycia justify her view on how serial killers shouldn't be seen treated as monsters because members of the public ‘fail to rely they do not mean to do these things’. Alycia Shelton shows a very sympathetic view in how it isn't the serial killer's fault they are the way they are because during their childhood development and growth they didn't learn what can be classed as normal values like: ‘love, trust, empathy, and social skills’. It can be argued that even though in most serial killers this is the case not all serial killers were abused as children so, therefore, can't use traumatic upbringing as an excuse for their unspeakable decisions, ‘In a study, 32% of all serial killers had no history of abuse’. Although this source has been very helpful with my research into nature vs nurture the date of publication is unknown so I can't confirm how relevant this source is and can therefore be seen as a weak. The source is very biased and is mostly based upon the writer's opinions so is unreliable but it does use statistics cleverly to sway the reader into believing her point of view.

Moving forward my fourth source, ‘The Zodiac Killer Ciphers’ by Havard Raddum published in 2010 embarks upon the infamous serial killer the Zodiac, and the many theories around this case. The zodiac killer began his killing spree in San Francisco in 1968 and continued for 6 long years, the zodiac killer was never caught because he was far too smart to be caught. In most cases, serial killers have what is called a ‘signature’ on the vicious murders that take place, for the zodiac this ‘signature’ was the many ciphered letters that he sent to the police and newspapers. This source gave me a different type of view on my topic of nature vs nurture, as the zodiac killer has never been caught it can never be determined if this killer is made threw nature or nurture as we don't know any background that leads to the creation of the zodiac. In my opinion, this source points more towards nature as the killer had a very sadistic take on how he intellectually executed his killings treating his victims and the crime scenes he leaves behind as a game, a form of enjoyment. It can be argued that due to the fact we do not know who the zodiac is we cannot determine if the zodiac had the ‘demon seed’ or had an extremely traumatic upbringing. This article was useful in terms of background but was slightly confusing to read due to the ciphers, the source is reliable as it is written by a chief of science. The first page is mainly where the relevant information to my topic came in and was useful in developing my knowledge.

For my final source, I looked at a source that is an example of nature vs nurture coming together and has the view of how humans can be puppeteered and manipulated, turn, and created into a monster. The Channel 4 six-part documentary released in January 2022, ‘I, Sniper: The Washington Killers’ directed by Chris Holt, Janice Sutherland, and Ursula Macfarlane is about ex-US soldier John Allen Muhammad and seventeen-year-old Lee Malvo together shot over twenty-five people killing at least fifteen of those. The documentary goes into great detail about how lee Malvo had an extremely tough upbringing and longed for that parental love that John Muhammad was happy to give after losing custody of his own three children. In this source, it uses reliable information as Lee Malvo's interview tapes and statements are used to describe the events that lead up to this gruesome killing spree, ‘people would say, well how could you do that, just to feel wanted and loved’ the emotions that lee was feeling at this time was simply just wanting to feel loved by someone but the person that offered him this leads him down a very dark path to fill that deep void that was missing from his life. John Muhammad took lee's vulnerabilities and used them to his advantage to create his puppet, he knew how much lee wanted to be loved and offered this to him knowing that he would do anything to have some sort of parental guidance. This source could also argue that threw the army our governments are creating a future generation of killers as these men and women are going home taking these sadistic views and portraying them to the next generation. ‘What inside me made that possible? There had to be something inside me that he drew out’ This quotation by Lee Malvo contrasts with some of my previous sources that everyone is born a killer but does it take these traumatic life experiences to trigger these serial killers? The writers of the tv series are all professionals in this field of work and have been awarded for their previous factual documentaries meaning they all provide reliable information making this a reliable source.

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After conducting my research as well as constructing my multiple source review I have come to the conclusion and viewpoint that in each source's individual way they help me obtain many biased as well as unbiased information on this topic and showed strong knowledge as well as a high level of professionalism as the directors and writers of many of these sources were teams of individuals with an outstanding quality of work and have spent most if not all their life studying and have received some of the highest levels of achievements in each of their fields. It also helps add reliability that many of these teams had first-hand experience with nature vs nurture and the increasing trend of research and development in this area of work and knowledge. Now that I have expanded my knowledge and understanding of how genetics, as well as the care nurture of the child, can affect how they construct their thoughts as well as deal with emotions and taking this newfound information and deep understanding of the roots of this topic into year 4 I would like to further my education on the neuroscience as well as the biological side of the topic.



  1. Lawrence. W Sherman


  1. Born Killers: Childhood Secrets of the World's Deadliest Serial Killers by Christopher Berry-Dee and Steven Morris (2006)
  2. The Sons of Sam directed by Joshua Zeman (2021)
  3. Serial Killers: Monsters Or Mentally Illâ by Alycia Shelton (date unknown)
  4. The Zodiac Killer Ciphers by Havard Raddum (2010)
  5. I, Sniper: The Washington Killers directed by Chris Holt, Janice Sutherland, and Ursula Macfarlane (2022)
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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

Influence of Nature and Nurture: Consciousness of a Serial Killer. (2023, January 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from
“Influence of Nature and Nurture: Consciousness of a Serial Killer.” GradesFixer, 05 Jan. 2023,
Influence of Nature and Nurture: Consciousness of a Serial Killer. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 May 2024].
Influence of Nature and Nurture: Consciousness of a Serial Killer [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Jan 05 [cited 2024 May 20]. Available from:
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