… es, let alone wage war against strangers from a different country… The overwhelming majority of those who have killed… have done so as soldiers in war, and we recognize that that has practically nothing to do with the kind of personal aggression that would endanger us as their fellow citizens. (8) Here a regular serving soldier spoke with experience of seeing the numerous soldiers that ‘[derived] their greatest satisfaction from male companionship, from excitement, and from the conquering of physical obstacles.’ Those men were most likely part of the 2 percent of combat soldiers (as noted by Swank and Marchand’s WWII study) are predisposed to be ‘aggressive psychopaths.’ (8) Men can be compared to animals concerning this apparent predisposition to aggression. For example, in most species it is the best hunter, the best fighter, the most aggressive male who ends up passing on his genetic data unto a female and thereby an offspring.
An offshoot of this aggressive psychopath, is another genetic predisposition, the presence or apathy of empathy for others. Life magazine printed in their latest magazine that, ‘the heritability of most personality traits is about 50 percent.’ (4) Thus showing the strong predisposition to certain behaviors, namely aggression. Furthermore, ‘aggression… [is a trait] with high heritability.’ (4) As a result of this there has been recent debate in some states, like Minnesota, who have been trying to obtain a sort of genetic cleansing by not allowing the ‘riff-raff’ of society to breed. This ethical question shoots back to days of 19 th century anthropologist Francis Galton who also recommended breeding quotas to weed out the ‘unfit.’ (4) It also sounds much like the callings of another well-known historical figure from the 1940’s, the leader of the Third Reich, Adolph Hitler. (Handler) Nurturing also presents a strong argument for the development of violence and or aggression.
Going back to the situation with Kody Scott, how could he have killed his rival gang member had he not been there, the environment and the years of spending in a violent gang helped him make the choice to cold-blooded ly execute the young man. (3) One of the most heated debates going on today is the conditioning value of movies and the rest of the media. Do movies really affect us in aggressive ways? The United States Navy seems to think so, for one of their psychiatrists developed a ‘formula’ to psychologically enable certain soldiers to become assassins and this process consists of using violent movies. They do perform this process in order to desensitize the government paid assassin to murders, executions, and unfeeling deaths. There appear to be three major types of conditioning occurring with the media concerning violence. First, there is a classical conditioning when people sit at home and see detailed, horrible suffering of people and they are associating this killing and suffering with their enjoyment, with a big container of pop-corn, with their favorite soft-drink, and with their friends and company, all things that the person sees as positive.
B. F. Skinner’s operant conditioning comes into play through interactive video games where there is a reward for killing or destroying numerous things with no concern for their well-being. Lastly, social learning as described by Band ura seems to take in mind the numerous role models who people see nowadays in the movies.
(8) For example, in the movie Pulp Fiction, the hero Butch (Bruce Willis) ends up killing two people and he is glorified at the end of the movie. He makes up with the person who was chasing him, makes a large amount of money, survives the two homosexual rapists, and goes off to a paradise with his girlfriend. There is not much more of a perfect example of someone who could potentially be seen as a good guy who actually smokes, cheats, kills, lies, and steals. Children also develop attachments to the type of behavior exhibited by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Robert Deniro from either Goodfellas or Heat. (9) Both of these turn into obvious role models for children and adolescents. Media such as cartoons presents the evil villain as someone who always has a sadistic desire for destruction of ransom impersonal someone.
More often than not, thought, they are not like ‘you.’ For example, in the movie Die Hard III Bruce Wilis is the protagonist and Jeremy Irons is the antagonist. Bruce Wilis, being the good guy, is an all-American type of guy, who speaks almost perfect New York English. On the other hand the villain, Jeremy Irons has an accent which sounds as if it were from Germanic Europe (Germany is a very good stereotypical evil because of its activities in the early 20 th century). This promotes aggression between people of differing descents because the media presents a view that blatantly states foreign people are enemies. (3) Movies also tend to give the feeling that the victim will be dehumanized, much like how in Vietnam soldiers referred to ‘the enemy’ as VC or Charlie, thus removing any individualistic characteristics from the enemy, it turned to be just one single, foreign foe.
(3, 8) This social phenomenon especially holds true since most criminals and aggressors generally have a below-average intelligence, thus are more mentally malleable. Leonard Berkowitz found that; There is a remarkable consistency to these findings. The studies reviewed here agree in noting that punitive parental disciplinary methods (such as physical punishment and depriving children of privileges) ten to be associated with a high level of aggression and other forms of antisocial behavior by the children. Love-oriented disciplinary methods on the other hand, evidently facilitate the development of conscience and internalized restraints against socially disapproved behavior. (12) This is very important in the development of children for most sexual offenders, whether rapists or child abusers, were often time abused themselves as a child or adolescent. Punishment inherently increases resentment and hostility, thus creating an environment where the child does not care for the parents and all of the associations that can be made with the parent, like their morals, rules, and respects.
Isolation also tends to have a very strong effect on the mentality of aggression. Usually with a lack of interpersonal relationships people cannot fully appreciate the human existence and most often do not learn how to handle destructive urges because they do not care about society, which innately is an interpersonal relationship. (6) The aforementioned monkeys with the lower serotonin levels also, when normal, became hyper-aggressive social misfits when reared by a mechanized surrogate mother, who did not give the monkeys affection. This brings up Freud’s theory of repressed memories, in which the person puts traumatic experiences from their past into their subconscious. (1) Freud believed that these repressed memories will surface in the form of disorders and problems, mostly exhibited through either sexual dysfunction or violence. (9) Therefore our early surroundings affect us for most of our lives, at least according to Sigmund Freud.
Environment and exposure compounds any genetic factors, for instance, the inner parts of Washington D. C. have considerably higher aggressive crime rates (murder, rape, aggravated assault) than a Maryland suburb like the Der wood/Olney/Flower Hill area does. Reasons for such rates are that the city houses more people closer to the poverty line. (3) These people have constant stresses that people do not need to deal with in the suburbs. Drugs and alcohol are also a considerably stronger force in the city.
Those two intoxicants allow people to perform acts that they would regularly not have the mind to do. For example, alcohol is consumed, a person looses their inhibitory brain functions and are more likely to ‘forget’ the consequences of an aggravated assault or a murder. (3, 9) For that reason it is likely that there was a rash of psychopathic killers in the Russo-Asiatic area in the past decades. In cities, because of the higher level drug business there is a greater need for guns and weapons. Due to the higher level of guns intrinsically there will be more murder and violence.
The environment thus fuels the violent nature of the city-dwellers. Immediate environment also tends to influence aggression. For example, a person could be inadvertently aggressive toward another in the following way; sits down at the only open stool in a bar, he orders a bowl of pretzels and a cold beer. The bartender brings him his beer, and he begins to read his newspaper. Suddenly the person next to him eats a pretzel, without saying a word. At this the person is shocked, and thinks, ‘how can this cruel person be eating my pretzels?’ Out of fear for starting an argument he says nothing but eats one of the pretzels and both men take turns eating pretzels from the bowl until they are gone.
The other man then puts money for his beer down and walks away. The first man then thinks, ‘Wow! I am glad that evil person is gone, who would steal a complete strangers pretzels, Honestly?’ The bartender then arrives and says, ‘here is your pretzel bowl enjoy.’ (3, Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) The victim immediately turned into the aggressor by taking the other man’s pretzels. Thus inadvertently being extremely aggressive towards another human. Immediate distance also generally affects the aggressiveness level of a person, especially when killing is involved. The tendency is as follows; the further away one is from the intended victim the least resistance there will be towards committing the act of aggression.
The bomber pilots who firebombed the city of Dresden, Hamburg, or Tokyo caused the deaths of about 400, 000 people but not once did they hear the screaming or see the faces of the untold number of children, women, and elderly that they killed. (3, 8, Handler) On the other hand, a person within knife range of person will have a more traumatic repercussions of killing someone. Whereas the artillery sergeant will never see the face of his victims, the infantry man will see the terrible contortions of their victims’ faces and hear their pitiful screams as a bullet rips through the inner lining of their stomach and all intestinal acid seeps onto the rest of their organs. (8) It is a much more traumatic experience and will thereby lower the aggressive level and might even make the aggressor penitent. For example one WWII soldiers, William Manchester, states how; There was a door which meant there was another room and the sniper was in that – and I just broke that down.
I was just absolutely grouped by the fear that this man would expect me and would shoot me. But as it turned out he was in a sniper harness and he couldn’t turn around fast enough. He was entangled in the harness so I shot him with a. 45 and I felt remorse and shame. I just remember whispering foolishly, ‘I’m sorry’ and then just throwing up. (8) This point of view contrasts sharply with the prerogative of J.
Douglas Harvey a World War II bomber pilot who upon visiting rebuilt Berlin said, ‘I could not visualize the horrible deaths my bombs… had caused here. I had no feeling of guilt.’ (8) Another important factor involving the aggression of people are other people. Very few times does an aggressive act stand alone, there is almost always mutual fault and / or shared blame. David Luckenbill found, in one of his studies, that the major part of criminal homicide revolved around some sort of reciprocal provocations in which collective hostility escalated until one person murdered the other. (3) Murray Straus found the same circumstance appeared in marital violence.
In half of the reported cases of domestic violence it was found that both spouses were violent, it just tended to be that one person was considerably stronger than the other. (3) Aggressive behavior has been a huge part of humankind since people first starting walking somewhat erect. From our predecessor the ‘killer ape’ to the intricacies of nuclear warfare. Whether it is a ‘caveman’ clubbing his enemy for stealing his food, or a highly paid sniper sitting atop a roof waiting for a South American dictator to walk out of his house, aggression follows us wherever we might go. Aggression is a force that is hard to imagine and even harder to harness. Should people ever learn to control and thereby use their aggression towards greater good, the walls we now know would crumble easily under the forcing of such a force.
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