What Causes Violence?

According to Freudian theory, violence is a basic human instinct, described as a redirection of our self-destructive impulses onto others. The history of humanity and its primitive relations to violence may provide insight on whether or not violence is, in fact, human nature, or if it is a learned behavior. By exploring one’s childhood and family life, it’s possible to point out potential causes for excessively violent behavior. As well, the society we live in may serve as a catalyst for violence among its habitants.

By using anthropology, psychology and sociology it is possible to discover what asses humans to be violent creatures. In the human brain, Just under the cerebrum stem is the source of aggression and violent behaviors, called the limbic system. This part of the brain is not only responsible for aggressive behavior but for sleep and wakefulness as well as sexual behavior, (1) which may explain the perceived correlation between sex and violence. Males tend to be more aggressive than females, and in 2003, males committed 63. % of all murders, while females only committed 7% and 29. 3% remain unknown. (2) Historically, causes of violence among males have been defense of territory and roving their dominance to other males as well as females. In chimpanzee societies, males fight each other for the status of alpha-male beginning at adolescence. (3) Male dominated human societies place the same emphasis on territory as their primate relatives. Alexander the Great and other ancient leaders are examples in history of how violence was used to acquire different assets important to the alpha- male.

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Early and ancient civilizations pioneered the ideas of modern warfare in efforts to acquire land or assets on a larger scale than more primitive violence as seen in Hampshire communities. (4) However, if the desire for territory is not present, and the society is one that is egalitarian and most likely matriarchal, violence becomes unnecessary as proven in Iroquois societies before the arrival of European colonists in the late sass’s. Iroquois society was one where nothing was possessed by an individual but shared among the entire community.

There was no need to use violence, because there was nothing to acquired using those means. (5). Religion and biblical studies also reveal violence and portray its normalcy in early human validation. The role of violence towards women particularly stands out in the Old Testament of the Bible in the story of Stood and Sonogram. In the story, Lot offers his virgin daughters to be raped by the townsmen of Stood. There is no mention of any wrong doing by Lot, because it was seen as socially acceptable. The pattern of male dominance has continued through history as sex goes hand in hand with ideas of violence. 6) James W Prescott, a neurophysiology, observes that humans who are deprived of physical affection have tendencies to be more violent, and societies which promote physical affection and sexual relationships are “highly unlikely” to be violent. Religion suggests that sexuality is immoral, and in turn, sexuality has been repressed instead of embraced. Creating societies that are not afraid of their own bodies could help to maintain a well-balanced society. (7) Learned violent behaviors can begin in the womb, because of violent pregnancies and birth. 8) Males who are circumcised at birth may later associate sex with violence. In early childhood, family plays the most vital role in determining whether or not the child will grow up to be a violent individual. Robert Alton Harris, who was a criminal on death row, experienced an extremely violent childhood. He endured frequent beatings from both his father and mother, and received a broken Jaw as a result of these assaults at the age of two. Later in his life, he murdered two teenagers, then proceeded to eat the hamburgers they bought for lunch. (9) Abuse in early childhood can lead to violent behavior in adulthood.

Children who do not receive physical attention tend to have identical anti-social behavior patterns such as rocking back and forth or banging their heads. (10) Rapists are usually men who had abusive relationships with their fathers, and who felt they didn’t receive adequate attention or affection from their mothers. They turn their aggression towards their mothers into sexually assaulting other women. (11) Although a child’s upbringing could create an individual who is violent or peaceful in adulthood, psychopaths or sociopaths could cause violence in an individual, despite a normal childhood.

A psychopath is incapable of taking interest in or understanding Joy, love, tragedy, good, or evil except from a superficial point of view. However, they’re not aware of the act they are not able to understand these concepts. It’s highly likely for a serial killer or serial rapist to be a sociopath or psychopath. Their detachment from human emotion allows them to be violent without guilt and often believe they are the victims. (12) A person’s upbringing or metal illnesses can effect their behavior regarding violence.

Violent tendencies are also developed from the values of the society the individual develops in. If a society values military or weapons, as we seem to in North America, then it would only be natural for those raised with emphasis on violence to act out in such a way. By making murder acceptable sometimes, it can be considered Justified in the minds of children, and they will take those values with them into adulthood, perpetuating the cycle of violence. Weapons also send the message that violence can be Justified at times.

Wars are Just disputes on larger scales. By teaching children not to hit or be violent towards their peers, but then having them exposed to a government that will use violence to obtain power or other assets, their views change from seeing violence as completely unacceptable, to seeing violence as a widely accepted form of “getting what you want. Media also plays a role in the promotion of violence. Children are observational learners, and during certain stages of their development could be taught that violence is “normal” by television, movies and video games. 13) Media images seen by children have longer lasting effects than they do on adults. However, the effect of media is quite minimal in comparison to the influence of their own family, and possibly their neighborhood. Violence is more apparent in areas with lower income, where gun homicide averages one per day. (14) Gang involvement can also be taken into account. Living in a low income area makes the youth more susceptible to being influenced by the lures of alternative sources of income, potentially drug trafficking or prostitution.

A mob mentality can cause individuals to feel as if their actions are justified because of the amount of people involved. (15) The cause of human violence can be found in psychology, anthropology and sociology. Anthropology can explain the roots of human violence. Psychology can explain how an individual can be capable of violence, whereas other individuals may not be as likely to commit violent crimes. Sociology explains why our societies can effect our growth and our violent behaviors.

These studies can be used to reduce violence and understand whether or not violence is a natural behavior, or one nurtured through out our lives.

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