Violence and Aggression: A Physiological Perspective

Violence and Aggression: A Physiological Perspective

Violence and Aggression: A Physiological Perspective

Violence and Aggression: A Physiological Perspective

Excerpt

In 1966 thirty-two people died at the hands of three unhappy, unreasoning, unfortunate, deranged young men. Richard Speck, apparently under the combined influence of alcohol and unnamed drugs, engaged in an orgy of violence in a nurse's residence in Chicago. He did not know his victims; he could not remember the incident, but he stabbed, slashed and strangled eight young women in the prime of their lives.

Charles Whitman, with the heat of fury in his brain, shot his wife and mother-in-law. He then proceeded to fulfill the angry fantasies he had previously disclosed to a psychiatrist. After shooting the receptionist at the top of the clock tower of the University of Texas, he systematically and with deadly accuracy shot anyone he could bring into the sights of his high-powered rifle. When his furor was finally terminated by the heroic efforts of the police, fourteen passersby were dead and thirty-one lay injured.

Three months later, five women and two children in Mesa, Arizona were forced to lie head to head in the form of a cartwheel on the floor of a beauty parlor. Robert Smith, a high school senior, coolly and without apparent motive shot them through the head. Even as this book is being written, a report has come in that James Huberty went "hunting for humans" in San Diego. He set a new record in senseless killing. He went into a MacDonalds hamburger stand and began shooting customers and employees. He killed twenty-one people and wounded seventeen more, men, women, and children between the ages of eight months and seventy-four years.

The impact of the 1966 senseless, violent acts forced me to reconsider my priorities. Up until that time, I had the usual citizen's concern about the apparent increase in brutal behavior in the American scene. As did most people, I read with increasing dismay the news media's portrayal of meaningless murders, savage sexual assaults and robberies in which the opportunity to inflict pain on the victim seemed more important to the perpetrator than the money gained. I worried about it; I knew little about the problem; and I did nothing constructive. It was obvious that something needed to be done, but it was not clear what, and it was even less evident what I, as an individual, could do.

When a college professor is faced with a problem, he or she is prone (sometimes wisely, and sometimes not) to devote his or . . .

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