Will kill a murderer just for fun

psychology: Killing is human

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Having killed someone can be desperate, Neil Young sings about it. To take someone's life irrevocably, must also shudder the murderer. There is no turning back for him either. Young's song gives the perpetrator a voice and shows that he does not have a heart made of stone.

Can normal people become murderers? Most of us are not easily capable of such extreme goals or passionate entanglements involving love and death. If we are left sitting there, we will become singles or single parents without hesitation (if not without complaint). We are not interested in killing ourselves. Or is it?

I often come across lively supporters of the death penalty - preferably on the fringes of criminal trials involving capital or sexual offenses. Sometimes I ask if they would be willing to carry out the death sentence with their own hands, take the hatchet and - bang! At first I thought that such a question would seem daunting, but no! Many a friend of the death penalty was willing to do so. That must mean: Killing someone would be a pleasure for him, he just needed a good reason for it, a socially recognized justification. He would like to build up a hate that he has not yet had in order to then live it out fatally.

The method is simple: identify yourself with a personally unknown victim (at best a child) or their bereaved and grant yourself a license to revenge. This is how these demonstrators, standing in front of the homes of released offenders, seem to me with posters around their necks: "No human rights for child molesters". They long for an excuse to act as a lynch mob. In Emden we recently saw what happens if you let them. There they got ready to set about murdering an innocent suspect. Or the neo-Nazis who demand the "death penalty for child molesters" on their cars: They want to reestablish the favorite pastime of their spiritual ancestors, killing, on a small scale - even if that would certainly cost some members of their own scene their lives.

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But it's not just the extremists. A lovely old lady called im RBB cultural radio recently in broad daylight the public execution of sex offenders in well-chosen words, the moderator politely thanked him for this interesting opinion.

Brain researchers claim: murderers are different from us, they have to be treated

The American social researcher David M. Buss has found that the majority of adults around the world already harbored serious fantasies of murder against another person. Among women, aggression was primarily directed against a rival in matters of love, with men more often against a professional competitor. The murderous men had already seriously considered how something like this could be done and regretted it sincerely when they did not dare to carry out the deed. Very few really do. The number of homicides in Germany has never been lower in recent years. Fortunately, in an orderly social system, the distance between the wish to die and killing is huge. In our country there is simply too much to lose.

Hans-Ludwig Kröber

is co-editor of the Handbook of Forensic Psychiatry. The 61-year-old author is head of the Institute for Forensic Psychiatry at the Berlin Charité. Kröber acted as an expert in many criminal proceedings; so he examined the mother who let her seven-year-old daughter Jessica starve to death in a Hamburg skyscraper.

But no, say some psychologists and neuroscientists such as Robert James Blair or Wolf Singer, the reason is different: We ordinary people are empathic, murderers are empathetic. Our mirror neurons make us compassionate. Their mirror neurons fail. (You don't need to know the term “mirror neurons”. You can also say “brain” or “nerve cells” instead.) In short: we are supposedly normal and they are not. Murderers - they are completely different. And if you no longer execute them, you have to at least treat them for all eternity. "Empathy training" is the lovely word. "Therapy placement" is the newest monster in prison.

Let's take a look at what happens to the murderers and their empathy. Let us begin with the question of what is so interested in killing that empathetic empaths are interested in when we do not intend to kill ourselves. Killing does not occur in our peaceful private world. But there is also the other world, in which people are beaten, shot and slaughtered, and in which houses go up to heaven in magnificent firestorms. We learn about this world from television and the Internet, through reports from the other side of the globe and from the human fiction of feature films. The previous evening magazines report on the almost cozy private, civilian murder in the row house Explosive and Explosive. And on Sunday evening it will be entertaining for the whole family Crime scene. The flood of crime series on television shows how much we are drawn to killing.