In the fall of 1946, a boy was born into an unstable and abusive family. His mother was a teenager, a single parent who relied on her parents to raise her child. The boy’s grandfather was abusive, and grandmother mentally erratic. By the time he was in middle school, the boy began to display disturbing behaviour patterns. As a teenager, he was charged with larceny and fraud. At 27, he committed his first murder. In the following years, the boy, Ted Bundy, turned into a hardened criminal, who killed over 30 people before he was arrested and executed in 1989. Even after his death, his name haunts not only the victims’ families but the world at large.
Bundy’s violent streak stemmed from his disturbed childhood, where there was hardly any love and a whole lot of abuse. Even though young Bundy was good at academics and had enough work opportunities when he grew up, he remained aloof from society. While none of these factors can explain away the mercilessness with which he committed crimes one after another, it sure does explain the psyche of a violent person.
The first thing to understand about violence is that no individual is born violent. It is the grating circumstance that gives birth to it. Behavioural psychologists say, the absence of love and affection during childhood leaves a hole in the heart, which gets filled with hatred and angst. In her personal blog, US-based psychologist and independent forensic consultant Dr Kathryn Seifert explains, “Sometimes, the adjustment of a few factors such as establishing a close relationship with a supportive adult, receiving pro-social peer encouragement, or getting protection from a violent family, is what makes the difference between whether a person becomes a violent offender or a mentally-stable contributing member to society.”