And interestingly, fifty-five percent of the killers who had either ASD, a head injury, or both also suffered from psychosocial stressors. These included traumatic events during childhood, such as abuse, divorce, and the death of a loved one.
In turn, Dr. Clare Alley– the study’s lead author– described how the “nature versus nurture” debate is a moot point.
“The report identified that a complex interplay between neurodevelopmental problems and psychosocial factors are most likely to lead to incidences of this kind,” Dr. Alley said.
Additionally, the researchers suggested that “a clearer understanding of the antecedents of these events may help elucidate the mechanisms of extreme violence, potentially leading to preventative strategies.”
However, it is essential to clarify that the study does not suggest that any people who have these disorders are killers or will become killers.
“It is crucial to note that we are not trying to suggest that individuals with ASD or previous head trauma are more likely to be serial killers or commit a serious crime,” Dr. Alley underscored.
“Rather, we are suggesting that there may be a subgroup of individuals within these groups who may be more likely to commit serious crimes when exposed to certain psychosocial stressors.”
Finally, the study also suggested that numerous infamous serial killers and mass murderers have had ASD, suffered head trauma, or both– alongside triggering psychosocial stressors.
Most notably, Jeffrey Dahmer– who murdered and dismembered seventeen men and boys over thirteen years– was found to have experienced a plethora of psychosocial stressors during his childhood.
He hailed from a dysfunctional family and underwent a traumatic surgery as toddler. And even though he was never clinically assessed or diagnosed with ASD, the researchers claim there is “overwhelming evidence” he displayed indicative traits.
Fred West, another serial killer who murdered at least twelve people from 1960 to 1980, also sustained a significant head injury– a skull fracture– after getting into a motorcycle accident at seventeen years old.