An interesting pseudo-article about how killers are mass produced

Building a Killer

Assuming we aren’t all killers who refrain from causing harm due to social or psychological restrictions, what could create a killer? According to soldiers like retired U.S. Army Lt .Col. Dave Grossman, it’s a process involving four strategies: brutalization, classical conditioning, operant conditioning and role modeling [source: Grossman].

Brutalization is the process in which you lose a sense of your own worth as an individual. Within the military, this is a highly regimented process. New recruits undergo difficult and sometimes humiliating training experiences to wear down a sense of individuality. It helps the military chip away at the resistance most people have to the notion of ending someone else’s life.

The military also conditions soldiers to become effective. In classical conditioning, the goal is to associate a desired behavior with a reward. Grossman says this isn’t used often in American military training because it seems morally reprehensible to associate violence with rewards. In operant conditioning, soldiers train in simulated environments to develop an automatic response to stimuli. An example is firing at human-shaped targets.

The role model in the military is the drill sergeant. It’s the drill sergeant’s job to demonstrate aggression while maintaining discipline. Assuming the process works the way the military intends it to, soldiers will look to the drill sergeant as the model for behavior. This combined approach, in theory, will create soldiers capable of killing an enemy in combat.

It’s possible that killers who were never soldiers – including most serial killers or mass murderers – had experiences similar to those of a military recruit. The major difference is that with these killers, the exposure wasn’t in a controlled environment. The backgrounds of many killers show a history of brutalization. In several cases, the killers began to enact violence on weaker creatures as a way of asserting control or demonstrating behaviors learned through being brutalized.

Look into the backgrounds of serial killers, and you’ll start to notice some common elements. Many people who eventually become serial killers had traumatic childhoods and were themselves victims of abuse. It’s a gross oversimplification to suggest a traumatic childhood is the chief contributing factor to a serial killer’s behavior, but there does appear to be a strong correlation.

Many killers have expressed feelings of alienation and have shown evidence of harboring violent fantasies before they commit to killing. In some cases, the killer suffers from a mental disorder or brain damage that either inhibits or prevents the social and psychological restrictions humans have toward killing other people.

Whether we’re repressing urges that are more than several millennia old or we’re naturally averse to ending the life of another person, it’s clear that in most cases we need a catalyst to push us to killing. Identifying and understanding the elements that can change a person at risk into a killer may help us treat and prevent tragedy in the future.

Uh oh, the military must have psychologists design this ■■■■ for them. Oh wait they and even the CIA employ shrinks, I know because I visited their website (the CIA has a website with jobs listed lol) and some Airman Sergeant emailed me concerning a job as a military shrink, but he emailed lots of people I guess, because one background check of me shows that I am crazy (but I know that I am crazy, so am I really that crazy?)

Just felt like leaving this here.

And people think that I am disgusting?

I remember basic when I was in the army and we were marching to the field. We all sang cadence at the top of our voice, and there was such a strong feeling of being a part of something bigger than ourselves. It was like we were a single beast with a single will. If one looks a film clips of the Nazi rallies in the city of Nuremburg one can see this effect dramatically heightened. The identification with something much bigger than ourselves, the destruction of individual responsibility for the sake of being part of a bigger cause, the intoxication with the power of the masses, that is the biggest and most dangerous form of conditioning to accept violence, because the power of the masses is so much greater than the power of the individual.


Wise words, @crimby. Yeah, it’s dehumanizing to say the least. They break people down and use their lives like a farmer used slaves not that long ago to pick cotton, harvest sugar cane, whatever.

It’s the people in charge of this to blame. I think war is seldom necessary for world peace. But when it is necessary, these terrible methods can be used for good.

I’m no peace-nik, but I sometimes wonder what would happen if we used the 600+billion a year we spend on defense to better the world and promote peace.

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Thank God for the freedoms I’ve had.

Not that I wasn’t abused as a child, and not that I didn’t consider killing a few enemies. Somehow I knew that the power I had was to change myself, not others. I’m sorry that psychotherapy proved a bit disapointing to me.


Emma Goldman — ‘Every society has the criminals it deserves.’ 1920s Anarchist

“Every society gets the kind of criminal it deserves. What is equally true is that every community gets the kind of law enforcement it insists on.”
~Robert Kennedy 1960s Democrat

Seeing a pattern here?