For as long as I can remember I’ve been intrigued by crime and criminal stories. However, does this mean I’m strange, flawed, or even a potential criminal myself?
My name is Nyle and for as long as I can remember I’ve been transfixed on true crime. From the Kray Twins of 60s East End London to Ted Bundy a serial killer who was responsible for dozens of deaths in Florida, I find it all very fascinating.
However, recently I’ve noticed that others find my interests in this world very odd, even worrying. This made me wonder, is there something wrong with my brain, is it wrong to find these types of things intriguing?
When researching criminal behaviours, I discovered that the ventromedial prefrontal cortex was responsible for much of the development of personality, and often in criminals can be disrupted. Often leading to a lack of various emotions that keep normal people on the straight and narrow. Emotions and understanding like empathy, regret and consideration for others coupled with a penitent for violence, abrupt impulsive behaviour and lack of remorse are usually lacking in someone that suffers from the mental illness known as Psychopathy. This then allows the sufferer to fulfil such activities that usual people find abhorrant or plain wrong.
They say psychopaths seek out others with the same distortions, which leads me to my next thought, is my brain flawed in the same way as a criminal? And if so, why haven’t I become a criminal? Does this explain my morbid criminal interests?
So, upon doing some research into this subject I found that most, clinicians found that interest in crime is perfectly normal, and perfectly acceptable, as our brains naturally crave knowledge of the unknown, especially things that seem taboo or wrong. So a fascination with a crime is normal until it becomes an obsession. Which is explained by Dr Michael Mantell, a former chief psychologist at the San-Diego Police Department. Mantell told a publisher recently “I think our interest in crime serves a number of different healthy psychological purposes.” But he goes on to say:
“If all you do is read about crime and … all you do is talk about it and you have posters of it, and you have newspaper article clippings in your desk drawer, I’d be concerned,”
This is a concerning statement from a professional that makes me wonder if my obsession now an unhealthy one?
I’m 24, I’m not a criminal and I’ve never been to prison, but for some reason, crime tickles my interest. However, as we know, it becomes unhealthy when a person starts to talk only of that which interests them and collects artefacts related to that interest, such as newspaper articles, signed items relating to the crimes or even prison items that belonged to the offenders or psychopaths. Something I myself do. I’m what you would call a ‘Crime Collector’ and I seek out all things to do with crime, biographies by the offenders as well as items relating to the real-life events such as signed banknotes from the Great Train Robbery, signed photos of bank robber Roy Shaw and even travelling the country to meet others that collect crime memorabilia. Classic signs of what a medical professional would call an unhealthy obsession. However, is it wrong?
Is there a link between the frontal lobe of the brain and my need to know about criminals? And do I share this trait with others? Maybe members of the Police service, detectives or forensic investigators? Moreover, do we share this trait with the criminals? Surely it takes a certain type of brain to understand and rationalise this behaviour? If so, what stops us acting on criminal impulses?