Evil is Not Born

We have come a long way since the days we gathered around to witness the execution of evil, or so it seems. We have spent so much time and money in hopes of understanding the human brain and for the most part, we were successful in gathering information, yet it does not seem we accomplished much with this success. Our nation, with only five percent of the world’s population, contains twenty-five percent of the world’s inmates. Have the criminals of the world migrated to the U.S. ? or are we in desperate need of a change?

We focus more on how we can label an individual in hopes of healing them, yet after the labeling process is done we lock them up only to repeat the cycle with the next generation of evil. When does one’s behavior cross the line from being a criminal to becoming evil? With the first theft? Rape ? or murder? Or is it remorse, that indicates an evil soul? Serial killers are commonly referred to as evil yet there is a debate between how they have become evil. Was evil developed or were they born with it? The age-old question of nature vs. Nurture is brought up yet again. “Not all abused children become serial killers, and not all serial killers are victims of childhood abuse.” (N. Davies, 2018)

Is the second part of that statement entirely true? Ted Bundy, Commonly referred to as an evil psychopath is typically used as an example of one who was born evil and did not become evil due to his circumstances. This conclusion was made, due to Bundy’s reported “normal” childhood. However, it does not seem we have enough information on this matter. Bundy’s mother conceived him at a young age. She was sent to have her baby elsewhere and came back after delivery. There have been reports that Bundy’s mother did not initially come back with Bundy, rather decided to keep Bundy after a few months of abandoning him. Bundy was later told his mother was his sister and that his grandfather was his father. Bundy’s biological grandfather was reportedly violent and abusive. Also, there have also been reports that Bundy’s mother attempted to abort him and was unsuccessful, which could have caused physical damage.

There is a strong possibility that Bundy had suffered trauma “Childhood trauma physically damages the brain by triggering toxic stress. Strong, frequent, and prolonged, toxic stress rewires several parts of the brain, altering their activity and influence over emotions and the body.”( J. Purnomo, 2020) There are also reports that Bundy was a fan of alcohol. While it’s doubtful, alcohol caused the murders, is it possible that he actually drank to feel less? And does that imply, he did feel guilt? Based on biological, situational, and developmental factors, it seems he could have developed his evil behavior over time rather than being born evil. The more important question becomes, do we have the need to believe humans are born evil because the alternative is too horrific for our minds to digest?





Bartol, C. R., & Bartol, A. M. (2021). Criminal behavior: A psychological approach. Boston: Pearson.

Cullen, F. T., Agnew, R., & Wilcox, P. (2018). Criminological Theory: Past to Present (Sixth ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

From Abused Child to Serial Killer: Investigating Nature vs Nurture in Methods of Murder


Wired for Danger: The Effects of Childhood Trauma on the Brain




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