Why do people kill? Psychology in Mind Episode 6

The Murderer 
Franz Stuck (1891)

Download: Why do people kill? Psychology in Mind Episode 6
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Read: Show Notes

A new series in which psychologist Dr Andrew P. Allen and writer and broadcaster Gareth Stack, turn to psychology for answers about our minds, brains and personalities.

Todays Question: Why do people kill?

We’ll be exploring the topic of murder – more specifically spree killings. Joining us is Dr. Robert King of University College Cork. Rob’s  controversial work uses evolutionary and anthropological perspectives to examine the ultimate motivations behind human violence and sexual behaviour.

In a wide ranging discussion we examine the status protecting evolutionary motivations behind ‘spree killings’ by ‘spare males’. Rob’s work has identified two separate populations of spree killers, older men who have ‘failed’ in keeping their families together and younger socially isolated men. We also discuss Hybristophiles – the women who fall in love with killers, including spree killers like James Holmes. Other topics touched on include the headhunters of Borneo, Mira Hindley’s nazi fixation, Margaret Mede, the Shankill Butchers, lynchings, and ‘non violent’ tribal cultures, ‘an heroes’, and Gregory Stanton’s 8 Stages of Genocide.

Questions Explored

Do we live in a particularly violent time?
Have spree killings really increased? Or were they underreported in the past?
Do media depictions increase the amount of spree killings?
How does psychopathy interact with wealth and power from Gengis Kahn to Wallstreet traders?
How has the concept of psychopathy evolved – from Cleckley’s the Mask of Sanity to Hares Psychopathy Checklist to the DSM definition of anti-social personality disorder, to John Ronson’s Psychopath Test?


References

● Hive Mind (Rob’s Blog at Psychology Today)
● Mass Killings: An Evolutionary Perspective
● Deficits in fear conditioning in psychopaths 
● Frequency dependent selection in psychopaths 
● The demonisation of evolutionary psychology, as typified by Cordelia Fine’s ‘Testosterone Rex’ 

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Some Girl(s) – Episode 12 – Reading Plays

some girls

Some peanuts are eaten, some water bottles empties, some hotel rooms vandalised. Outside of that Neil LaButes ‘Some Girls’ is a less than action packed look at relationships. Love through the eyes of an immature ‘every guy’ whose self absorption drives his quest to reexamine a history of failed relationships. There are plenty of plays featuring assholes, but this is perhaps the first play we’ve read primarily about one. Instead of seven dwarves this sleepwalking beauty has four girls, each of whom seem more than happy to meet a self satisfied ex-lover unbidden in an anonymous hotel room.

The version we read of the play – the printed piece, is as written – but not as performed at first run (starring David Schwimmer of all people) – when it was ‘streamlined’ to make the protagonist a little more palatable. A film version of the play, starring the OC’s Adam Brody premiered last year at South by South West.

Download: Episode 12 – Some Girl(s)

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

Next weeks play: The Piano Lesson by August Wilson

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

Am I Normal?

Clearly not. That aside, ‘Am I Normal’ was the title of the sex education film shown to my primary school class around 1991, in St Joesph’s Christian Brothers School, Drogheda. The ever excellent Dangerous Minds just uncovered this ‘hilariously dated sex education film’. For years I’ve told people about this cringeworthy 1979 classic. Many didn’t believe the hype. Look ye upon it, and quake from a safe distance with po-mo irony. Then remember this is probably better information than many kids are recieving in Ireland (and in the US) today, where sex ed is still not universal and often distorted by loopy approaches like ‘abstinence only education’, that research has proven not merely ineffective, but actively harmful.

Anyway, here’s the best bit. There’s a moment in the film (around 11 min 50 seconds in), when they explain that “Many people of all ages masturbate… other people may not enjoy it. It is normal if you do it, and also normal if you don’t.” In our (single sex) classroom this was the point when they paused the tape, so the local priest could come in and tell us that actually it wasn’t normal. It was sinful, unclean, morally wrong and would damage and distort our sexuality. Amen.

Threat Detection – Episode 19 – Sex in Videogames (Part 2)

EP19

On this second part of our discussion of sex in videogames, we delve into gender, sexuality, and the auld ride in mainstream and indie videogames. How have videogames historically dealt with sex? Is it possible for such a mainstream medium to deal with sex in an adult way? Do we even want sex in our games? And finally, has a videogame ever been ‘sexy’?

Download: Threat Detection – Episode 19

Threat Detection – Episode 18 – Sex in Videogames (Part 1)

EP18

On this episode of our weekly videogame show Gareth & James discuss the steamy topic of sex in videogames. We delve into gender, sexuality, and the auld ride in mainstream and indie videogames. How have videogames historically dealt with sex? Is it possible for such a mainstream medium to deal with sex in an adult way? Do we even want sex in our games? And finally, has a videogame ever been ‘sexy’?

Download: Threat Detection – Episode 18