What Causes Violence?

Topics: Violence, Antisocial personality disorder, Domestic violence Pages: 4 (1381 words) Published: April 30, 2006
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 causes 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 63.7% 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 proving their dominances 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. 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 chimpanzee 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...

Cited: 2. FBI Uniform Crime Reports. Murderers, by Sex and Race, 2003.
3. Kinder, Carolyn N
5. Zinn, Howard. A People 's History of the United States: 1492-Present. Harper Collins, 1980.
6. Prescott, James W
11. Prescott, James W. "Body Pleasure and the Origins of Violence." Fortune Magazine. Nov. 1975: p. 12
12. Pitchford, Ian
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