For this assignment, I chose to analyze Jim Fallon’s TED Talk, “Exploring the Mind of a Killer.” I was compelled to this video because I was interested in what factors create a psychopathic killer. It is something I had never thought about before, so I was surprised when Fallon mentioned that the interaction of genes, biological and environmental factors, and how these situations are timed perfectly, is how a psychopathic killer can arise. He analyzed 70 killers and determined that all of them had damage to their orbital cortex and the anterior temporal lobe. The gene aspect of what makes a psychopathic killer is the presence of the MAOA gene. This gene is sex-lined, and is maternal. This describes why mostly men are psychopathic killers. It causes too much serotonin when the person is in utero, which makes the brain insensitive to it when the person is born. In order for the MAOA gene to be expressed, the person had to experience a traumatic event sometime before puberty. Fallon ended the talk with how he determined that his father’s side of the family had several psychopathic killers. He tested his family by PET scans, EEG tests, and genetic analyses. Fallon found two of his family members had suspicious similarities to psychopathic killers.
I found the fact that the gene that causes psychopathic killers is sex linked most surprising. I had always wondered why there are many more male murders than female ones. I had always assumed that it had something to do with testosterone levels and societal norms.
Jim Fallon is a trustworthy source because he studied psychopathic killers for years. He is a neuroscientist at a brain imaging center, and a professor at the University of California Irvine School of Medicine.
A study that I would conduct is determining what types of trauma were common to fulfill the environmental aspect of a psychopathic killer. I would interview the family and friends of as many killers and I can. I would ask questions about the killer’s childhood to determine if a certain type of trauma is commonly present. This information can help society to determine who is at a greater risk of becoming a psychopathic killer.