Thursday, April 7, 2011

"The Warrior Gene"

One of the subjects that has fascinated me ever since I can remember is rage and crime.
I have been a victim of both, though never to a degree that I feel I am not a better, tougher person for having survived it.
I have read true crime books, and little else, ever since I was kid.
Fiction has never interested me. I wanted only truth.

I have a fond childhood memory related to the subject of truth.
One of my two wonderful, brilliant sisters had a huge library in her bedroom.
That sister is a Mensa-type genius...
and I recall growing up and going into her room...
as I when I go in her home to this day...
I see every wall covered with shelves upon shelves of meticulously maintained books on all subjects. Fiction, Non Fiction. Crime, Romance, British Literature.
Remember, there was no internet when I grew up.  Or personal computers and cell phones.
And my first memory of television was black & white... Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Ed Sullivan, The Assisination of Kennedy, the Wizard of Oz.

Since then, the technological advances on this planets have expanded exponentially.
Books have been displaced by the internet.
And many people believe if it doesn't exist on the internet, it doesn't exist.

For a kid growing up in New Bedford Massachusetts (a whaling town where Moby Dick was written) my sister's bedroom bookshelves were my haven.
Of all her books,  there was a series I cherished most.
I can not recall their names though I see them as vividly today in my mind's eye as I did ages ago, holding one of those books in my hands.

This series of books detailed crimes and included little packets of actual evidence you could open, touch, feel, to solve the crime. There were actual letters pasted in envelopes to the pages; keys in envelopes; cocktails napkins; buttons; all "real" evidence the detective in these books used to solve the the reader followed along with them.

Growing up, I became obsessed with these books, with my sister's increasingly growing library,
and one other true crime case.
Lizzie Borden.
Lizzie lived in Fall River Massachusetts, next to my home town of New Bedford.
Allegedly, "Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her father 40 whacks
When she saw what she had done, she gave her mother 41."
The whole concept of that act, killing your parents was inconceivable to me. I read every book on the subject, scrutinized the pictures in the book,  the scene photos, death shots. My childhood visit to the Borden home years later.... consumed me. Or better said, possessed me.

Months, years, decades,  close to a half century has passed.
And thanks to TV and movies, true crime and war reports, civilians have what we in the business call the "CSI Effect." Bodily innards, blown out brains,  autopsies... the grosser, the more appealing to the masses.

Still,  I ponder what appears to be a simplistic question,  yet is anything but that.
What triggers violence?
What are the components/elements of the anger, crime, murder equation?
Is it nature, or nurture?
Or is it a combination of the two?

Is "nature" -- some kind of biological imbalance in the brain -- what triggers rage, anger, murder?
Or is it "nurture?"  Something  in the upbring, like trauma,  parental violence or torture?
Could it be a combination of both?
Could medications have been introduced into the womb?

I have a friend whose brother killed his father.
They were always close.
Then one day at age 32, the brother walked into the house while mom was cooking dinner and stabbed dad to death many times in front of horrified mom while dad slept on the sofa after a long day of work.
Then the son turned around, walked to the front porch stoop... sat down... and waited for the police to arrive.

Long story short.
The brother was a "forceps" baby.
Turns out, 32 years earlier, he had been extricated from his mother's womb with a type of forceps, placed on a particular side of the brain, which ... unknown to doctors way back then... induced a form of schizophrenia or psychosis which showed up later in younger adult-hood.
The son ended up in a mental hospital.
My friend and her mother have still not recovered.

So I have been hearing a  whole lot about  something new lately -- the  "Warrior Gene."
I throw it under the "nature" (vs. nurture) header, however.... this  is a gene which makes it all about DNA.
So it has less to do with the brain function,  brain lobes, or the chemical levels in the brain...
and more to do with the genetic code which is passed down through generations, throughout history.

The You Tube above links  to story about the Warrior Gene.
While it is eye-opening, it is not for the weak of stomach.

I heard National  Geographic is doing a TV special on "The Warrior Gene" this week.
The story I am linking you to is older, however, I like how it states the case.

This gene causes excessive rage, anger, outburst.
If you have road rage, yell at people, insult or demean others, act on angry impulse,  cause fights,  have anger management issues, aggressiveness... you could have the gene.

People with the Warrior Gene can be verbally or physically abusive... they are perpetually on a slow steam waiting for something or someone to make them boil. Then they erupt like a human volcano.  Emotionally,  psychologically, physically, the gene  takes people from 0 to 90 instantly.

Evidently more men than woman have the Warrior Gene -- in fact 1/3 of all men,
For women to have it, they need two copies of the gene. Which is harder to have.
For the men to have it, they just need one copy of the gene.

There are companies, commercial now, you swab your cheek and they find out if you have the Warrior Gene. 

Having the Warrior Gene can help a mean person understand why they are being mean.
The next step is to know the Warrior Gene doesn't have to control you, even though are genetically predisposed to your bad behavior.
You can learn how to control it,  tame it, with therapy, anger management, family counseling...
and at the very least choosing flight over flight.

1 comment:

  1. Do I have the book for you! On my nightstand is "The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill," by David M. Buss. I haven't read it yet. It's next, after I finish "Defending Gary." (Which I was reading before I got your book list, by the way!) I have the same lifelong obsession with mystery and crime.