The Horror Inside Us

Born or bred?

A very wise man once told me there are five types of horror:

  1. Man vs. Man - your classic killer, slasher film. Run Billy, he's got a knife!
  2. Man vs. Mother Nature - fighting the elements can always be scary if you're not prepared.
  3. Man vs. Society - perhaps your classic "Purge" setting.
  4. Man vs. the Supernatural - paranormal activity peaks the interest of many people inhabiting the earth.
  5. Man vs. Himself

For me, number five takes the cake. Hear me out.

It's one thing to not know whether or not you'll survive a serial killer attack. You're relying on your instincts and strength. If they're good enough, you'll live. War is a form of horror... more along the lines of society vs. society. Or one greedy leader vs. society. But you know the outcome in a war: there will be blood. The supernatural is frightening simply due to the fear of the unknown. The horrors that ensue can be life altering and yet still in someway you are in control. You can grab that Ouija board; you can light that sage. 

Man vs. himself however... how can you know the outcome if you cannot trust your own body and mind? How can you predict if you will kill today? Will you remain calm in that coffee house when someone cuts in line? Will you black out and wake up with blood on your hands? It's scary enough running from a killer to try and save your life. How can you run away from yourself to prevent yourself from killing?

This brings me to the age old debate of nature versus nurture. Are we born killers? Is there something in my brain that will be triggered by an unknown action or feeling, where my one retaliation is bloodshed? Or are we a victim of our surroundings, growing up to be accustomed to what we witness over the years and possibly elevating it to the level of murder?

Many scientists and psychologists have studied this gripping unknown thesis. Scientists have determined that guilt would be located in our ventromedial prefrontal cortex in our brain. Should this part of our brain be damaged or more inferior than a "normal brain" our bodies wouldn't register the aftermath of our actions, we would simply seek the immediate pleasure of our action without further thought. (Imagine alcoholism, or gambling - we would see our hangover or loss of money as an inconvenience, however not register it with our actions deliberately enough to not repeat our behavior.) 

When your prefrontal cortex is damaged, there are several behaviors you may exhibit, such as impulse control issues, aggressive outbursts, poor social judgement, risk-taking, inability to modify behavior properly... these all sound like make up for a killer.

These also sound like a 4 year old child.

Now as parents, it is our duty to make sure that even if these behaviors exist, we allow ourselves to embrace them, reiterate that that kind of behavior as not tolerated, and guide our children into becoming successful adults with acceptable and healthy behaviors. Now, if a murderer had the guidance and attentiveness of a guardian, to prohibit any further terrible behavior and had given that child structure and the fundamentals of right and wrong, would that person still have grown to be a murderer? 

The way I see it is, no one is born evil. No one is born to kill. We don't feel the necessity in today's society where killing would have to be an option for ourselves to survive, unless you have brought yourself to that turning point where you feel there is no other option. Killing comes out of two things: survival or pleasure. Those who get pleasure or aroused by murder are those seeking to control another persons life, because they may not have had control of their own. 

I'm sure every murderer has had their reason. Whether it's an abusive family member or friend that may have taken their innocence - they did not have control at that time and therefore seek to take control of others. Whether they get aroused by blood because they find it exciting and they are wanting to control that thrill in their life - there are thousands of reasons. And I am not a psychologist, nor am I scientist. I am however a firm believer of people ultimately being in charge of their own actions decisions. There are those who "see red" and lose control of themselves, but they still know it is wrong. Whether they are good, whether they are bad, whether they realize the consequence of their action now, or later - ultimately they made that choice. There are plenty of people that don't murder and yet would have every potential reason to. They are choosing right from wrong.

Man vs Man.

Nature vs Nuture.

Science is an ever evolving field and I'm hoping one day to see the concrete evidence, black and white without grey area, in developing this possible new form of security for our future race. Perhaps some preamptive guidance in those predispositioned to bad behavior? Who knows. We can only wait and see.


P.S. It was stated that in many cases, murderers had a low resting heart rate. Killing made their adrenaline rush, to rise that heart rate. To "feel alive." You mean to tell me there's not a more healthy activity to get that heart pumping? Couch potatoes of the world beware... will you be the next to perform a heinous crime?

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The Horror Inside Us
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