The Neuroanatomy of Serial Sex Killers. Early Environmental and Maternal Influences and the Development Of Sexually Sadistic Murderers. The Limbic System

The Neuroanatomy of Serial Sex Killers. Early Environmental and Maternal Influences and the Development Of Sexually Sadistic Murderers. The Limbic System

The Neuroanatomy of Serial Sex Killers. Early Environmental and Maternal Influences and the Development Of Sexually Sadistic Murderers. The Limbic System

Rhawn Gabriel Joseph, Ph.D.

Serial Sex Killers: Early Environmental And Maternal Influences On The Development Of Sexualy Sadistic Murderers

Deprivation, Abuse, & Serial Sex Killers

"Allen" had been charged with 11 counts of burglary, but oddly, he had only stolen women's clothing; items that he could have easily purchased from any store. Like many burglars he admitted that breaking into homes was sexually arousing, and like many burglars he felt compelled to masturbate and to ejaculate on the bed or clothing of the victim. However, unlike other burglars, "Allen" would first put on the clothing of his female victims, usually panties and bra, and would then proceed to ejaculate.

Allen claimed that he felt an irresistible compulsion to commit burglaries and to steal and wear women's clothes. In fact, he been discharged from the Army for dressing in women's clothing, and for exposing his penis to other soldiers when dressed in this fashion. Allen in fact had frequently engaged in homosexual acts while dressed as a woman, and had sex with numerous little boys while so attired.

Allen was not purely a homosexual transvestite with a compulsion to steal and expose himself and to have sex with little boys, for he was also sexually attracted to women. Indeed, he fantasized about raping women while dressed in sexy panties, bra, and women's clothing, stalked women while dressed in women's clothing, and in fact raped several different women while so attired, after encountering them alone in various laundry mats.

Disgusted and repelled as well as uncontrollably aroused by his compulsions and behavior, Allen realized that he was "sick" and that his acts could only be committed by a "very sick person" and he made several suicide attempts and frequently slashed and cut his own body. After he was finally arrested, he made several more suicide attempts and slashed his body.

Although there was likely a genetic component to his behavior (or at least a genetic predisposition), Allen was also an obvious product of his early rearing environment which was characterized by maternal neglect and severe sexual abuse. Born out-of-wedlock in a state mental hospital to a schizophrenic mother, he was placed in and out of various foster homes only to be returned to his mother every time she was discharged from the hospital. Finally, at age three, when it became clear to the authorities that Allen was being profoundly neglected, he was placed in yet another foster home where he was then repeatedly sexually abused and raped by his homosexual "foster" father. His "foster" parents, however, obtained a particularly perverse pleasure in forcing Allen to dress as a girl, including bra and panties, his "foster" mother sometimes applying makeup and lipstick. Moreover, while Allen was costumed in female attire his "foster" mother would sometimes watch or even hold him down while his "foster" father orally raped and sodomized him. According to Allen, his earliest memories were of being dressed in girl's clothes and being sodomized and "forced to suck dick."

Apparently this nightmare of oral rape and sodomy continued on a daily basis for two years, at which point he was returned to his mother at age five. However, because his mother was still psychotic and was not providing him with care, he was finally declared a ward of the state. Allen spent the next 13 years living in various foster homes under varying conditions of neglect and emotional and sexual abuse. Indeed, he states that although he hated what had happened to him when he was regularly raped as a child, and although he felt sexually attracted to girls and women, that he nevertheless felt a compulsion to secretly wear bra and panties and would solicit sex from older and younger boys as well as an occasional man--behaviors that led to his discharge from the army, and to his sexual crimes against women while dressed as a girl



When he was finally arrested, after first pleading innocence, Henry Less Lucas eventually admitted to killing somewhere between 100 to 200 people; a number that has since been disputed and an admission that he subsequently retracted and now denies. However, that Henry Lee is a killer, and that he derived considerable enjoyment from knifing, slicing, dicing, and stabbing a number of women, including his mother, and then having sex with the eviscerated bodies, seems to be beyond dispute. However, although Henry may well had a genetic predisposition, like Allen, he too was a product of a neglectful and sexually abusive environment.


Henry Lee Lucas was born in the back woods of Appalachia in an isolated, clap board one room shack, and to a mother who was described as being as "vicious and as mean as a rattle snake." It is alleged that neither she, her husband, or her children ever bathed but used water only for drinking and making moon shine. Her husband (whose legs had been severed below the knees) and both her two sons, which included Henry, were terrified of her, particularly when she was drunk, which was most of the time.


Surprisingly, although she was big, fat, and rather ugly, she regularly sexually serviced the men who lived near her out in the West Virginia hills, charging them "50 cents a screw." However, because the house had no bedrooms to speak of, she would often turn tricks while her children and husband were home, and she allegedly derived considerable enjoyment from having her husband, and Henry watch her laying there with her legs spread and wrapped around some stranger. According to Henry, she forced him to watch, and one when he tried to leave, she threatened and then beat him.

Allegedly, this big woman enjoyed hitting and screaming, particularly when she was drunk, and would not only slug and knock around her husband and children, but would sometimes, but would sometimes turn on her paying customers. Henry claimed that on many an occasion he had seen his mother chase the men she had been screwing out of her house by shooting at them.

His mother was a brutal, drunken, whoring, tyrant. According to Henry his mother would kick, punch, and even pick up a board or tree limb to beat him with, and on one occasion she hit him so hard across the head with a board, that he was unconscious for three days. He states that following that particular beating he began suffering dizzy spells and blackouts, problems that plagued him his entire life.

On yet another occasion, his mother beat him so severely with a board that his left eye was knocked partly out of the socket and was severely damaged. Although he was hospitalized for almost 3 weeks, his mother never bothered to visit. Unfortunately for Henry, a few years later while in school, a teacher accidentally hit Henry in the same eye with a ruler, causing it to burst open. From that point on he wore a glass eye which hung slightly askew and which he never bothered to clean, thus giving him a definite deranged appearance

According to Henry, it was soon after his second eye injury that his teachers discovered that he was not a girl, but a boy. Although Henry knew what he was, his mother had forced him to wear a dress around the house and to school, and his hair long and curly so that he looked liked a girl. However, after his second eye injury, one of his teachers cut off his hair and demanded that he dress like a boy, apparently sending a note home to that effect which in turned caused quite an uproar.

As noted, Henry's father was also terrified of this woman, and having no legs beneath the knees, he simply could not stand up to her. According to Henry, his father had been maimed in a railroad accident, and both his legs were severed at knee level. From that point on he turned into a hopeless drunk who made money hopping about on his hands and butt, begging and trying to sell pencils. The town folk soon began referring to him as "Ass and elbows," and "No legs." When Henry was still a boy, his father met with another accident, and was found dead outside their house in the snow one morning with severe head injuries. The death was never formally investigated.

Soon his mother had a new lover, a slightly mentally retarded man who had a tendency to wet the bed. Henry's new "Pa" not only didn't mind watching his new "wife" turn tricks with other men, but had his own peculiar way of enjoying sex, and on more than one occasion invited Henry along to watch and to share the experience.

Henry's new "Pa" liked to have sex with animals, dogs, cats, sheep, goats, and calves, but only once they were dead. According to Henry, he was initiated into this strange way of love making, when one day his "Pa" stole a calf and then took the animal and Henry up into the hills. While Henry watched, his "Pa" slashed and cut open the calf's throat and while the poor creature lay on the ground bleeding to death, he pulled down his pants and fucked it. Then he made Henry do the same; which Henry admits, was exceedingly exciting--so exciting that he not only would tag along with his "Pa" on these sexual escapades but began stealing dogs, cats, and so on, and would stab and cut them up and then have sex with the creature while it died and bled to death. According to Henry, he derived as much if not more excitement out of killing as having sex. His mother was his first human victim.

Once he was released from jail, having served his sentence, he went on a sexual killing rampage for the next ten years. According to Henry, he simply drove up and down the highways, picking up female hitchhikers, or those whose cars had broken down, and would brutally cut and stab to death those who voluntarily or who were forced to get in his car.

For example, in one case verified by police, Henry had come across a young woman whose car had broken down. After checking under the hood, he convinced her to get in the car, promising to drive her to the next gas station. However, as soon as he pulled out into the road, he pulled out a big knife and put it to her throat and told her he was going to have sex with her. When they got to an isolated spot, he made her get out of the car and ordered her to disrobe. However, she didn't do it quickly enough so he attacked her and ripped her clothes off her, beating and pummeling her in the process. Once she was naked, Henry began stabbing her, and then while she was bleeding to death and then again after she was dead, he had sex with her.

However, his sexual mayhem was not limited to hitchhikers or women having car trouble, as he began killing and sexually assaulting shop owners or clerks he found alone in their stores, as well as women he found alone in their homes after breaking in. Sometimes he would eviscerate and disembowel his victims as he found that especially sexually exciting. Indeed, according to Henry, he would only have sex with the body after it was dead, bloody and sometimes chopped up into little pieces. He even chopped up his own 13 year old niece and then had sex with what was left of the body before scattering the pieces over a field.


When the local sheriff and a police captain arrived at Ed Gein's isolated farm house, he wasn't home, so, they broke in. It was a very old dilapidated house with no electricity, no indoor plumbing, no telephone. It was also littered with filth, rotting food, and trash. Drawing their flashlights and holding their noses, the two officers carefully wandered among the debris. Shining his light here and there the sheriff took a step back and felt something bump his shoulder. Turning slowly he directed his beam of light on the headless, completely gutted body of Gein's latest victim. She was hanging naked by her heels from the rafters. Her vagina and anus had been cut away, probably with a circular saw.

Upon searching the house further, they discovered that it was littered with body parts, some of which had been turned into household utensils and furniture or sewn into the shape of clothing. They found soup bowls that had been the top half of sawed off human skulls, as well as skulls and complete human heads hanging from bed posts, or lying about the floor and even under furniture. There were chairs upholstered with human skin that had lumpy bits of human fat still attached to the underside. There were lamp shades, a waste basket, a drum, and bracelets, which were made of human skin, as well as a belt that had been fashioned out of female nipples.

In Edward's bedroom they discovered human skulls and a shoe box that was filled with vaginas and vulvas, some with the anus still attached. Included in this collection were a nipple belt and leggings made of human skin. It wasn't just a random collection, however, for Gein was making a suit of clothes composed entirely of human skin and body parts.

Edward Gein also possessed a huge collection of what the officers at first thought to be masks. Gein, however, had carefully peeled the scalps and faces, minus the eyes of course, from the heads of at least ten women. In fact, one of the officers happened to pull one of these masks from a paper bag, not knowing what it was, and immediately recognized the face of woman who had been missing for some time. On some of these faces Gein had applied makeup and lipstick.

As Gein later admitted, he would actually put on these faces, the nipple belt, and the leggings as well as a vest made of skin which he had carefully carved from the upper torso of a victim. He would prance naked around his house, or outside in the moonlight, making believe that he was in fact a woman. He even put the vaginas he had cut from his victims on his penis.

As one might suspect, Edward had a somewhat unusual upbringing. His father had been an orphan and was an angry resentful man who seemed to fail at everything. Edward's mother took a peculiar delight in pointing this out as well as reminding Edward that his father was incompetent and a complete failure as a man. All men were no good, she said, and she made it clear to Edward that she was bitterly disappointed that he had not been born a girl. However, she also made it clear that most women were also "no good," especially the "loose" and "sinful" women who populated the small town where they purchased goods on weekends. Sex was an abomination and women were sinful creatures deserving damnation and the worst punishments of god.

"God" was a major focus of the Gein household. However, this was not a loving, but a vengeful God. His mother was in fact quite fanatical about religion and the need for religious discipline. Her own father, an extremely moral man had frequently beat her when she was a child. So, she not only criticized Edward and his father, but she was forever slapping him around, screaming at him, hitting him, and belittling him for his moral failures, for thinking sinful thoughts, and warning him about thinking sinful thoughts about the sinful women of the town.

Edward's mother was not just a harsh and rigid tyrant, she was also seductive and overprotective, and would often cuddle and sleep with him. Edward was completely under her spell and completely dependent on her, for she had him on a variable reinforcement schedule where she would punish and then provide him with seductive love. By contrast, Edward's father ignored him and usually ignored his mother; that is, until her acid tongue became too much for him. Edward's father tended to suddenly lash out with extreme violence. He would beat her until she fell wailing to the floor. Often, following these beatings, Edward's mother would seek him out, and cuddle and sleep with him, seeking solace in his little arms.

Love, sex, beatings, verbal and physical abuse, this was Edward's little world; that and his farm and the small town with its sinful women. What was even more confusing was his mother's tendency to sometimes sleep with him and to seek solace in his little arms when he was a child.

When Edward became a teenager, his father suddenly took an interest in him. he began beating him for almost any reason, particularly when he was drunk. However, his father soon died, and he and his mother drew even closer together. She apparently made him swear that he would not contaminate himself with women, for all women were whores, deserving of the worst punishments of hell.

When his mother had a stroke and became bedridden. Edward found that he thoroughly enjoyed caring for her. In fact, he felt completely exhilarated by her helplessness. She was in his power, under his control and subject to his tender mercies and loving care. He did everything for her, and continued to sleep with her at night.

When she died, he was devastated. Edward began to deteriorate. He was alone and miserable. He began thinking about the sinful women who lived in the nearby town, some of whom, he noticed, bore a striking resemblance to his mother. And he missed his mother terribly. Could he resurrect the extreme pleasure he derived when she was completely in his power? Might he even become the girl and woman that his mother had hoped for?

A few years after Edward Gein was arrested and convicted of his crimes, Alfred Hitchcock made a movie about him. He called it Psycho.


Ted Bundy was handsome, charming, and a darling of the Republican Party in Washington. He rapidly worked is way through the Party hierarchy to become a top assistant to the Republican Central Committee, and then an aide to the Republican Governor of Washington. The Governor was so impressed with Bundy he wrote him a letter of recommendation for admission into law school. Ted was a rising star, and had even saved someone from drowning, risking his life in the process. The Seattle Police Department later commended him for capturing a purse snatcher. And then, inexplicably, Ted was arrested for a minor crime. But members of the Republican party came to his rescue and helped raise bond to get him out of jail.

Ted Bundy was also educated and had earned a BA in psychology. This truly caring young man and budding psychologist and politician even volunteered to work a crisis telephone hot line at the Seattle Crisis Clinic. Ted not only enjoyed helping patients with their problems, but would call them back, anonymously, at night, and would ridicule and torment them, even making threats. Soon thereafter, he began stalking women, and then attacking them, and then kidnaping them and forcing them to disrobe and to perform a strip tease, after which he would attack them with hammers and knives. Ted associated sex with pain and had a most confused concept of normal heterosexual relations--a confusion which can be traced to his relationship with his mother.

For the first 4 years of his young life, Ted Bundy was brought up believing that his mother was his sister, and together they shared the same bed, hugging and cuddling at night. He was also told that his grandparents were his mother and dad--though why his "mom" and "dad" generally ignored him and frequently beat both him and his "sister" he just couldn't understand.

What Ted didn't know was that his mother had shamed her own parents, by becoming pregnant after a one night stand. Because of the conservative nature of the community in which they lived, and for proprieties sake, not just little Ted but the neighbors were made to believe that his mother's parents, were in fact his own. Ted was given her parents name, and was therefore raised believing they were his parents. And strict "parents" they were for his "father" would become enraged at the slightest provocation, and would beat not just Ted but his mother, after which they would be banished to their room, where his mother would strip naked and then together they would hug and cuddle tearfully under the covers of their mutual bed.

And, despite the frequent and painful beatings, the result of which often caused his mother/sister to seek solace in his little arms, Ted dearly loved and feared his father/grandfather. Hence, Ted was shocked and devastated when his 26 year-old mother/sister had decided she had had enough, and with Ted in hand moved to Washington. Ted just could not understand, nor could he forgive her for taking him away from his beloved parents, and he raged, cried, and accused and threatened to run away. It was then that she informed him, as they presumably lay together under the covers of their new bed, that she was not his "sister" but his mother. And to prove it she had his name legally changed.

Ted was understandably traumatized by all that had occurred, but although he blamed and hated his mother, he also loved her and they continued to not only seek solace in each other's arms, but to sleep in the same bed. Indeed, a nightly ritual may well have been watching her strip naked before she slipped beneath the covers to take him in hand.

But then she betrayed him again. His mother found a boyfriend whom she married and Ted was banished from her bed. Ted's name was changed yet again, this time to Bundy.

Apparently his mother married a man who, like her father, beat her, beatings that Ted would observe. And Ted could also hear them at night, as she screamed and moaned. He was convinced that his step-father was doing terrible, painful things to his mother in the bedroom

Ted became even more confused and upset by these terrible turns of events. He was also very jealous of this new man in his mother's life and was upset and aroused by what they would do at night. Ted frequently wet his pants and bed and threw tantrums, and in response he was beaten, or his mother would again take him in her arms and comfort him and try to kiss away his tears. He was still his mother's darling and he tried to obtain what comfort he could given the terrible events which had shaken his life. But that situation soon changed as well.

His mother became pregnant and now the number one son was replaced by a real sister. This time, of course, his sister was his sister, and his mother and step-father made her importance quite clear. His life was thrown again into turmoil by yet another female and the actions of his mother.

Bundy had almost no self-esteem and felt worthless and rejected. First he had lost his grandparents/parents, and then he lost his sister/mother to this terrible man, and then he was replaced by his sister. And then he was subjected to yet another trauma. A cousin began to torment him, telling Ted that he had no father. Of course he had a father, Ted argued back, only to be shocked yet again when he found his birth certificate which listed "unknown," under "father." Ted was overwhelmed with self-loathing and hatred for his "whore" of a mother. "How could she do this to him?" he wondered. "Was she just a dirty whore?"

Ted was extremely upset, angry, and confused. He had no roots and was completely adrift, victimized by the actions and whims of his untrustworthy mother. Ted began to hate not just his mother, but women. Insofar as Bundy was concerned, women were no good, could not be trusted, and were deserving of punishment. Bundy knew what punishment was. He had observed his grandfather beat his mother, and he knew that his step-father did painful things to her in the heat of the night.

And yet, Ted was smart, handsome and attractive to women who made their interest obvious to him. But Ted did not know how to relate, and was so filled with anger and bizarre images from his past, that he would drive them away. He was sadistic, some women complained, and would humiliate and even threaten and terrorize them, sometimes tying them up and choking them while having sex. In consequence, Ted would be abandoned again and again.

Even the first love of his life dumped him for being so immature. Rejection was normal to Ted, so months later he begged her back, even asking her to marry him, explaining to her that he had changed his ways, he was no longer immature, no longer insensitive, had become an aide to the Governor of Washington, and was going to go to law school. She agreed to marry him, but then quickly broke off the engagement. Ted had not changed. And then things got even worse, for he flunked out of a law school that his Republican friends had arranged for him to attend. Everything had spiraled out of control. Ted felt he had no control over his life, and certainly no control over women who seemed to delight in flaming his desires only to shoot him down in flames.

Bundy claimed that he began his career in crime as a "peeping Tom," crimes he would commit even when he was working for the Central Committee of the State Republican Party. Several nights a week he would creep around the local college campus and watch women undress. He claimed he felt some kind of uncontrollable urge which would come over him when he had been drinking. Soon he began fantasizing about forcing women to undress just for him; fantasies in which he would control them completely and make them into his private toy. He began to follow young attractive women and fantasizing about taking them prisoner and making them into a private possession who would do a strip tease for him and him alone.

Bundy was drinking quite heavily when he made his first attempt at killing, and followed a woman to her door. While she fumbled with her keys, he struck her in the head with a piece of wood, causing her to fall. But, lucky for her, she began to scream and so he ran away. After sobering up he became horrified at his actions, almost suicidal. The urges, however, returned and he again felt compelled to act.

A couple months later after spying on another woman for about a week, he broke into her place after she was in bed, and climbed in with her and attacked. She screamed and again he ran away. Nevertheless, he found the experience enormously exciting and soon felt an overwhelming need to hunt down and attack another woman. This time he would do it differently.

Sharon Clark, a pretty coed was his next victim. After following and thinking about her for days, he snuck into her bedroom. Bundy beat her about the head and fractured her skull and jaw with a steel reinforcing rod. She was unconscious and completely helpless when he took his pleasure. Incredibly, she lived but had no memory of what happened to her.

Bundy was positively orgasmic with excitement. It had been so easy. The power of politics no longer interested him for he had found a new calling and was soon beating, raping, and strangling to death any woman he found alone. He would follow women who were out for a walk. He would pick women up at bars. He would attack women as they got out of their cars. He would rape and kill women he picked up hitchhiking. He also developed elaborate schemes to trick college coeds into getting into his car, and once they did, he pounced.

For example, he would stand around outside the Oregon State or Washington State University campus libraries at night with his arm in a sling, and would be loaded down with books that he obviously needed help carrying. Bundy would approach young women who were leaving the library at night and request their help. If they agreed he would then lead them to a railroad underpass where he kept his Volkswagen and would either immediately handcuff and threaten them with death, or savagely and repeatedly beat them about the head if they resisted. He would then drive them off to some isolated spot, force them to disrobe or he would tear off their clothes. Once they were cowering and naked, completely in his power, he would rape and sodomize them, sometimes with a foreign object, such as a knife. He would then bite off their nipples and hunks out of their buttocks and then strangle them with their nylon stockings while he was sodomizing them. He found this latter activity particularly enjoyable for strangulation causes contraction of the anal sphincter muscle which causes a milking sensation around the penis.

Sometimes Bundy would drive hundreds of miles with the dying or dead bodies of his victims so that he could have sex with them again later, after which he would dispose of them in remote places. The bodies of most of his victims were never discovered.

Bundy sometimes kept women alive long enough so that he could have two victims to play with simultaneously. For example, one afternoon he again placed his arm in a sling and approached pretty young women who were sitting alone along the beach at Lake Sammamish, in Washington. Giving them his boyish handsome smile, he would ask if they could help him unload his sailboat. One they arrived at his volkswagon and noting that their was no sailboat he would tell them it was at it house nearby. On that afternoon he first kidnapped one young woman, and then returned lateral in the afternoon and found a second young female to assist him. He had taken them both to the same isolated spot, where he then demanded that they disrobe and perform sex acts for him. Bundy them brutally and savagely murdered them both.

Bundy also liked to pretend he was a cop. On one occasion he approached a young woman who was in a shopping mall looking at books. He identified himself as a police officer and informed her that someone had burglarized her car. He talked her into leaving with him. After they inspected her vehicle and determined it was OK, he informed her they would have to drive to the police substation to make a report. She reluctantly complied, got into his car and off they drove when he suddenly pulled in front of a darkened school building, grabbed her roughly by the arm and slapped a handcuff on her wrist. She immediately began screaming and struggling and clawing for the door handle while he tried to put the other cuff on her other hand. Fortunately for her, she fell out into the street just as he was about to strike her over the head with a large metal bar. She managed to escape.

Bundy was arrested several times and placed in custody as a suspect in the murders he had committed. Bundy, with an IQ in the Superior range, managed to escape. In fact, he was caught again, convicted of his crimes, and then escaped again. He escaped from Colorado jails, on two separate occasion, once by simply walking out the courtroom and jumping out an open window when no one was watching. He had planned the escape, however, and had dressed in two sets of clothes the top layer of which he immediately discarded so that his description would be in error. He escaped the second time by hiding in the attic region of the Garfield County jail. After his guard had left him unattended to go watch a movie with his wife, Bundy broke through the plasterboard and slipped away.

To celebrate his good fortune he went on a homicidal rampage down in Florida. First, he broke into the Chi Omega Sorority house, and with a club in hand went into the bedroom of 20 year old, Lisa Levy, a beautiful blond fashion-merchandizing major. While she was sleeping he struck her savagely about the head with the club, fracturing her skull in several places. After raping and sodomizing her with an aerosol spray can, and possibly the club he had been carrying, he bit off one of her nipples and then bit a hunk of flesh out of her buttocks, leaving an impression of his teeth in her flesh. He then strangled her with one of her nylons. Bundy then went to the bedroom of another coed, 22 year old Margaret Bowman. While she slept he struck her so hard across the skull and face that she was almost decapitated. Bundy then raped and sodomized her. From there he then went from room to room where he savagely beat and raped two more women before escaping into the night only to attack, rape and savage yet another coed sleeping in a nearby house.

Three weeks later he committed his final murder, attacking, sexually assaulting and killing a 12 year old girl by slitting her throat and savaging her vaginal region with a knife. In total, he probably killed at least 40 young women and girls before finally being put to death for his crimes.


Kenneth Bianchi always wanted to be a a cop, or a psychologist and he in fact read several books in the field. He even purchased a number of fake degrees in psychology and claimed to have earned a Ph.D. from Columbia. He was apparently so convincing that a licensed psychologist consented to share and rent him office space in North Hollywood. Bianchi then set up a private practice specializing in weight problems. His walls were adorned with diplomas indicating he was a Certified Sex Therapist as well as an expert in many other areas of psychology. He even printed up a flier advertising that he would answer any five questions for ten dollars.

His cousin Angelo Buono, never had any such interests. Rather, his desire was to dominate, humiliate, and have sex with an endless supply of girls and young women. Women and girls in fact found Angelo Buono to be exceedingly attractive and he had a number of willing sex partners, sometimes having sex with two or more women or young girls in a single day. Angelo had also been married several times and fathered several children. However, he had a special fondness for young girls and enjoyed victimizing them. This included his own step-daughter whom he repeatedly repeatedly raped. Indeed, he derived particular enjoyment from making her have sex with one of his sons and others as well.

Angelo was no prince charming. His relationships with women were pretty brutal. He loved to beat and pinch them until they cried and would tie them spread eagle to his bed where he would violently rape and sodomize them. He took particular delight in straddling them and forcing his penis down their throat until they gagged and almost passed out. If his wives or girlfriends dare to complain he would just laugh and slap them around, saying that he knew they liked it. However, he would also threaten to kill them if they tried to refuse his demands or they even thought about leaving him. He so brutalized and frightened two of his wives that they escaped by moving out of state. That they dared to leave enraged him and he extracted vengeance on those who followed. Insofar as Angelo was concerned, all women were untrustworthy, vile whores, including his own mother. Angelo hated women.

Angelo's parents divorced when he was four years old, and he, his mother and sister moved to L.A. Why his parents divorced, and why his father, who had also moved to LA, completely avoided him, he had no idea, though he suspected it was because his mother was "a two bit whore." Angleo knew his mother was a whore because she had a succession of boyfriends who would sometimes drop by and have sex with her while he watched. She was having sex with anyone and everyone, he soon discovered: "fucking repairmen, delivery boys, shop owners," either because she liked it, or in exchange for favors, such as a reduced bill on some merchandise, or because they were giving her money. Not uncommonly she would take Angelo along on her regular visits to various men, and would make him wait outside while she serviced them. Angelo was humiliated and enraged. Even as a child Angelo began referring to her openly as a whore and a cunt, names he soon applied to all women.

Angelo apparently had a lot of trouble in school. He had "emotional problems" and a severe learning disability, and had difficulty learning how to read, write and do math. He also had a reputation as a thief, and a thug, and would often encouraged his high school buddies to pick up and rape various female hitch hikers, and to "fuck 'em in the ass," as he put it.

Although he grew up without a father, he knew what men did to women, what they did to his mother. And he knew what he would have liked to have done to his mother, which was to "kill the whore." Fucking, killing, and beating and humiliating women was a central aspect of his thought processes and heterosexual orientation, so it perhaps is no surprise that Angelo openly admired and wanted to emulate, Caryl Chessman, also known as the Red Light Bandit. Caryl Chessman's specialty was pretending to be a cop, stopping couples or young girls alone, then raping and forcing them to perform oral sex. Chessman, however, never killed his victims which led to his being caught, convicted and sent to the gas chamber. Angelo learned from his hero's mistakes: "Leave no witnesses" he calmly explained to his cousin, Kenny Bianchi.

Kenny Bianchi never knew his father. But he knew who his mother was: A prostitute. She gave Kenny up at birth and he was placed in several foster homes until being adopted. However, he grew up in the same community in which she plied her trade. Even as a little boy "the whore" his mother, had been pointed out to him. His mother was the local prostitute who frequented neighborhood bars and working class nightclubs where she plied her trade. Like his cousin, Kenny soon developed a very warped sense of the female sex.

Kenny had severe emotional problems as a child and was soon recognized as a chronic compulsive liar. At age five he was diagnosed as suffering from petit mal epilepsy, and would frequently go into trances and suffer severe temper tantrums and rage attacks. Unfortunately for him, his adoptive mother was apparently quite emotionally disturbed. She would also take him from doctor to doctor where Kenny would often undergo painful genital examinations in order to discover why he was wetting his pants. Apparently his adoptive mother would also engage in these exams, sometimes tightly wrapping his penis in rubber bands in order to shut off the flow of urine. Genital pain became a major focus of his life; that and having a mother who was a whore, and another mother who would torment his penis.

Although he felt considerable disdain for the female sex, women found Kenny Bianchi attractive, and he apparently had no difficulty obtaining sex partners. Inevitably, however, these women would break off these affairs. Kenny was strange and weird. Kenny, in fact, was a failure and soon moved in with his cousin, Angelo. Together they would have sex with neighborhood girls and women, with Angelo scoring most of the action.

One day while attending a party in L.A, Kenny met a very pretty blond girl named Sabra. She was 16 years old and claimed to be from Texas. According to Kenny she was absolutely stunning, with full lips which gave a pout to her smile, and large round eyes which made her very precociously sexy and beautiful. She looked like a teen age Brigitte Bardot. Kenny asked her if she was a model, and she replied in the affirmative, explaining that she was currently looking for work, but had had no luck and was planning on traveling to Phoenix. Kenny then proceeded to lie and told her he owned a modeling agency and could put her to work modeling for $500.00 a week. He gave her his card and told her to think about it.

About a month later Sabra called him from Phoenix, told him she was out of money and would like to begin work. After first consulting with his cousin Angelo, he then wired her a ticket. When she arrived, Angelo and Kennyh gave her $100.00 and told her she was bonded to them for a year. She agreed to those conditions and was soon given strict instructions including a warning that she was not to leave Angelo's house without permission as a job might suddenly come up. Several days later, as modeling jobs had not turned up yet, she got bored and left the house without telling anyone. She had decided to do some shopping. Unbeknownst to her, they followed.

When she returned to Angelo's house they began beating and slapping her around, threatening her with death, explaining that they belonged to a secret organization and that she had been followed. As they slapped and beat her with their belts, they described her every move since she had left the house, and then ordered her to take off her clothes. She tearfully complied and the two cousins took turns slapping her buttocks and her breasts with a wet towel, and then forcing her two spread her legs. They repeatedly raped her and forced her to perform fellatio, explaining that from that moment on she was their sex slave and that she was going to work for them as a prostitute until she paid them back all the money she owed. If she refused or tried to escape, they told her she would be followed, caught, and would be cut into tiny pieces. Sabra tearfully submitted to all that they demanded of her.

Angelo took pictures of her naked, and showed them to men who worked in nearby businesses and those came by his upholstery shop which was adjacent to his home. Sabra was soon servicing sometimes a half a dozen or more men a day. She was also expected to serve as Angelo's personal sex slave. Angelo loved to order this beautiful little girl at all times of the day or night to come into his room or his shop, undress, and then perform fellatio or to fornicate with him or his friends and customers. As the word got out, business increased.

And then, she did the unthinkable. She, and another young girl they had enslaved, escaped. Angelo and Kenny were enraged. Not only had these young girls defied them, they had made fools of them, and had caused them to lose income as well. "Whores like them don't deserve to live," Angelo fumed, and the more he and Kenny thought about it, the more they felt like seeking revenge. They would find a "whore" and kill her to even the score. So began their raping and killing spree with each subsequent victim being treated in an increasingly brutal fashion.

Kenny and Angelo were pretty cool and controlled about what they were doing. They would shower, put on deodorant, splash on after shave, and put on clean clothes almost as if they were going out on a date. And then, all spruced up, they would head out to find a victim. Sometimes they would even impersonate cops and would also carry handcuffs and fake police identifications and would cruise Hollywood streets looking for victims while driving a metallic blue Cadillac. They also had a sticker bearing the official seal of the County of Los Angeles displayed on the lower corner of the windshield, courtesy of a Los Angeles councilman who had given it to Angelo as a token of his appreciation for in return for having had sex with Sabra.

At first, Angelo and Kenny would pick up prostitutes, calmly informing them they were under arrest. The victims always allowed themselves to be handcuffed before being transported to the "station."

Kenny and Angelo would also follow young women who they saw driving alone at night. Once a woman had parked and exited her vehicle, they would approach, and using a flash light, would announce they were police officers, show their badges, and then explain that there had been a robbery and that the woman's car had been reported as leaving the scene. They would then persuade the victim to get into the Cadillac where they would then handcuff her telling her it was all standard procedure. One evening they picked up two young teenagers, right off the street, telling them they were the police and would be taking them home for their own protection. Kenny and Angelo even went to a woman's apartment who had spurred Kenneth for a date, and convinced her that her car had been dented in a hit and run accident. She also willingly went with the two cousins to the "station," i.e. Angelo's house.

Once the victim had arrived at the "police substation" the cousins would have them come inside and would instruct them to sit down in an easy chair. Then the two cousins would pounce. stuffing a rag into the victim's mouth, and placing thick tape over her mouth.

Usually, most victims were treated calmly so as to minimize their resistance. The two cousins would simply them to just do what they were told and they would be let go. If she was cooperative the two rapists would then remove the tape, and order the girl to take off all her clothes including her bra and panties. If she resisted, they would handcuffs her and and cut her clothes off her. The clothes and her other possession would be put into a large plastic bag and disposed of. The victims were then brought into a bedroom where they were sodomized and forced to orally copulate the two cousins. Angelo Buono generally liked to force his entire penis down the girl's throat and make them almost pass out. The cousins also liked to hog tie their victims and would take a large dildo or root beer bottle or some other object and force it repeatedly into the girl's anal region. Finally, after they had their fill they would strangle their victims as they particularly enjoyed watching the victim gasp for breath. Sometimes the cousins would repeatedly strangle each victim until they lost consciousness, usually while simultaneously sodomizing her. Then they would revive the woman and then strangle her again. In fact, each of the cousins would take several turns, sodomizing while strangling them so that they could repeatedly enjoy the pleasure of the sphincter muscles contracting around their penis.

The last several victims were also tortured by electric shocks, gassed via a tube that was led from a gas outlet to the bag placed over their head, and some were injected with window cleaning fluid which would cause massive convulsions but not death. After finally strangling their victims to death, they would then take the body and dump it where it could be easily seen, such as on hillsides as they liked the idea of shocking the public. Hence, their moniker, the Hill Side Stranglers.


The limbic system controls all aspects of emotional and sexual functioning, and what has commonly referred to as the "Four Fs." Feeding, Fighting, Fleeing, and Fornicating. However, when abnormal, social, sexual, and aggressive emotions may become bizarre and take the form of sexually sadistic behavior; where the victim is not only used for sex, but who may be murdered during the sex act, or dismembered and eaten.

Limbic system structures particularly vulnerable to giving rise to these disturbances, include the amygdala, septal nuclei, cingulate gyrus and hypothalamus. Moreover, these brain structures can be negatively impacted and become injured or abnormal due to traumatic stress or if reared in a deprived or grossly abnormal environment. All these structures interact, and thus, damage to one area of the emotional brain can impact related structures, giving rise, in one extreme, to sexually violent serial killers.


Early deprivation, and thus environmentally induced functional lesions, tend to involve vast regions of the brain including the cingulate gyrus which is an integral aspects of the limbic system and interacts with the amygdala and septal nuclei in the development of social-emotional behavior, including language

Among its many functions, the anterior cingulate (which sits atop the corpus striatum and corpus callosum, but beneath the neocortex) is associated with the vocal expression of emotional, melodic, and prosodic nuances. Related functions include attention, emotional learning, identifying the affective attributes of noxious psychic stimuli, maternal behavior, separation anxiety, and the formation of long-term attachments (Devinsky, Morrell, & Vogt, 1995; MacLean 2017). Depth electrode stimulation of the anterior cingulate can induce feelings of anxiety, pleasure and fear, and can trigger a wide range of divergent vocalizations including growling, crying, laughing, cackling, blood curdling screams, and sounds similar to an infant's separation cry (Devinsky et al., 1995; Jurgens, 2017; MacLean 1997; Meyer MacElhaney, Martin, & MacGraw, 1973; Robinson, 1967)

The anterior cingulate also assists in setting thresholds for vocalization (Jurgens & Muller-Preuss, 1977; Robinson, 1967), including modulating the prosodic and melodic features which characterize different speech patterns, e.g. happiness vs sadness, and thus laughing vs crying. This is made possible via connections with the brainstem periaqueductal gray (Jurgens 2017). The cingulate's involvement in speech is also made possible through its thick axonal projections to the right and left frontal speech areas, including the amygdala which acts to comprehend these same emotional vocalizations. Indeed, Broca's speech area, and the emotional-melodic speech area in the left and right lateral frontal lobes, evolved from and responds to cingulate impulses by vocalizing (chapter 5).

If the cingulate were destroyed, the patient would become mute, inattentive, and socially and emotionally unresponsive (Barris & Schuman, 1953; Devinksy et al., 1995; Joseph, 1999a; Jurgens, 2017; Laplane, et al 2011; Tow & Whitty, 1953)

Whereas vocalizations triggered by excitation of the amygdala, hypothalamus, or septal nuclei are usually accompanied by mood-congruent behaviors (Jurgens, 2017; Robinson, 1967) the cingulate is capable of producing exceedingly complex social emotional vocalizations which sometimes have no bearing on the organism's mood or true emotional state (Jurgens, 2017; Jurgens & Muller-Preuss, 1977; Meyer

In addition, completely different emotional calls can be elicited from electrodes which are immediately adjacent (Jurgens, 2017). Thus the cingulate is capable of considerable vocal flexibility and enables an individual to modulate the emotional, prosodic, melodic components of speech so that one's true feelings can be disguised or emphasized in order to produce sounds suggestive of, for example, incredulity, hilarity, or sarcasm.

The anterior cingulate, like the medial amygdala, begins to myelinate around the second postnatal month and reaches advanced stages of myelination by the end of the first year (Benes, 1994; Yakovlev & Lecours, 1967). The cingulate is also richly interconnected with, and compliments amygdala related functions, including the fear response. As noted, the cingulate can generate and vocalize feelings of separation anxiety, including a separation cry which is identical to that produced by a frightened infant (MacLean 2017; Robinson, 1967).

Hence, the maturation of the cingulate is important not only in the formation and strengthening of emotional attachments, but various aspects of speech. This includes those vocalizations which infants produce in accompaniment to those produced by their mothers (Bayart, Hayashi, Faull, Barchas, & Levine, 2017; Jurgens, 2017; Wiener, Bayart, Faull, & Levine, 2017). When mothers and infants mutually vocalize, these interactions reinforce and promote attachment behaviors, and contribute to the development of language.

However, like the amygdala and septal nucleus, the immature cingulate is also vulnerable to the disruptive effects of social and emotional deprivation (Diamond, 2015, 1991; Joseph, 1999b). Moreover, deprivation experienced early in life can produce symptoms identical to those following anterior cingulate destruction; i.e. extreme passivity, emotional unresponsiveness, and mutism (Barris & Schuman, 1953; Joseph, 1999a; Laplane et al., 1981; Maclean, 2017; Tow & Whitty, 1953).

Consider, for example, the results from a 1930's Nazi experiment designed to raise "supermen." German infants were reared in a special home designed to maximize their innate superiorities with the single exception that mothering was not provided as it was thought undesirable to expose these infants to those who might instill in them womanly feelings of nurturance, compassion, etc. Within two years 19 of the 20 children raised in this "superior" environment became severely withdrawn, unresponsive, and mute, and would "lay in their beds like dead fish."

Likewise, in a study of over 100 children reared under similar conditions, R.A. Spitz (1945) found that within one year these infants would lay passively on their beds, almost completely mute and unresponsive to social stimulation. In fact, and as detailed above, over 70% of infants placed in foundling homes during the early 1900's, died within one year. Of 10,272 children admitted to the Dublin Foundling home during a single 25 year period, only 45 survived.

As also noted, early abuse or neglect can injure the HPA axis and result in the chronic hypersecretion of corticosteroids, whereas primates with elevated cortisol tend to "waste away and die with no apparent pathological cause" (Johnson et al., 1996, p. 333). Hence, children who are denied sufficient emotional stimulation, would also hypersecrete corticosteroids, which explains why they are at risk for laying in "their beds like dead fish," wasting away and dying as was common in orphanages and institutions early in this century and throughout the 1800s.

Again and again, however, it must be emphasized that the nature and extent of any subsequent symptoms and the development of brain damage, is dependent on the age, degree, duration and nature of the abuse and/or neglect. Moreover, some chidlren may be more at risk due to genetic predisposing factors. Indeed, in some cases, the brain damage given rise to these symptoms may be congenital.

For example, children with profound congenital disturbances in all aspects of social emotional functioning, and who behave in a fashion that is almost identical to those who have been reared under deprived conditions, i.e. autistic children, have also been found to have microscopic abnormalities in the anterior cingulate, amygdala, septal nuclei, and hippocampus (Bauman & Kemper, 1994).

Nevertheless, under severe and chronic conditions, it is rather clear that

deprivation experienced early in life produces symptoms similar if not identical to the destruction of not just the amygdala, and septal nuclei but the anterior cingulate, a structure which is intimately interconnected with the right and left frontal (Broca's) speech areas, and which in fact sets vocalization thresholds and is the most vocal region of the entire brain (Jurgens, 2017; Robinson, 1967). Hence, not surprisingly, children who are severely neglected or reared under deprived conditions, not only become emotionally and sexually abnormal but display significant language-related abnormalities, including, in the extreme, a passive mutism that is occasionally punctuated by "blood curdling screams" (Koluchova,1976; Spitz 1945, 1946).


It is noteworthy that young primates who suffer bilateral amygdala destruction, although severely disturbed in all aspects of social and emotional functioning, are not as profoundly effected as their adult counterparts and recover some ability to relate (reviewed in Kling & Brother, 2012). In large part, this mild degree of functional recovery can be attributed to neural plasticity and the immature status of the amygdala and surrounding tissues, and the fact that these youngsters continue to receive considerable social-emotional input from mothers, siblings, and group members.

The amygdala does not act in isolation but receives input from other brain regions. Hence, following the surgical destruction of the immature amygdala, the severed and disconnected axons from intact tissues likely seek out and establish new connections with immature non-amygdaloid neurons which surround the lesion but which are not yet committed to any particular function. Once intact tissue is innervated by these severed axons, and so long as social and emotional stimulation is provided, those neurons surrounding the lesion (which have subsequently received those disconnected axons normally destined for the ablated amygdala), in turn come to subserve some amygdala related functions.

It is common for

axons which have been disconnected from their terminal substrate to seek out and establish interconnections with nearby, functionally intact neurons (Juliano, Eslin, & Tommerdahl, 1994; Ramachandran 1993; Weiller, Ramsay, & Wise, 1993). For example, if the somastosensory neocortex which normally receives sensory impressions from the hand is destroyed, those disconnected axons which still serve the hand, will search out nearby intact neurons and dendrites such that the cortex surrounding the lesion will be innervated by axons representing the hand (Jenkins, Merzenich, & Recanzone, 2017). Thus sensory capacities associated with the hand will be reestablished.

Hence, so long as an amygdalectomized infant continue to receive considerable social, emotional and maternal stimulation, some sparing and recovery of function is likely; a consequence of neural plasticity and the proliferative capacity of intact neurons and axons to seek out interconnections.

Likewise, humans (Koluchova, 1976; Langmeier & Matejcek, 1975) and non-human primates (Harlow, Harlow & Suomi, 1971; Mitchell, Maple, & Erwin, 1979) reared under isolated and maternally deprived conditions, but who are then later placed with young or nurturing older females, will subsequently display some recovery of normal social and emotional functioning. Indeed, if provided considerable social, emotional, physical, and enriched sensory stimulation, the prognosis for a significant recovery of language and intellectual skills is greatly enhanced even in cases of severe and profound emotional neglect (Koluchova, 1976; Langmeier & Matejcek, 1975).

Unfortunately, although many children who suffer brief episodes of neglect or abuse may appear to quickly recover if provided sensitive and nurturing maternal stimulation, there remains an increased risk for developing and suffering severe emotional disturbances in reaction to traumas experienced later in life. In fact, although they are not incapacitated, individuals reared under even less extreme conditions may continued to function in an emotionally and sexually abnormal fashion their entire lives and may seek out individuals who will neglect or abuse them, or will form relations with women or men who will allow themselves to be abused. As noted above, they may engage in criminal acts and torture and murder innocent men.


Human males, and in fact most male primates have little interest in infants children (Belsky et al., 1984; Clarke-Stewart, 1978; Frodi et al., 1982) and generally provide little or no nurturant care for their offspring (Fedigan, 2012; Kummer, 1968, 1971; Mitchell, 1968, 1979, Goodall, 1971; Gordon and Draper, 1982; Rossi, 2015; Rowell et al., 1968). Human males and fathers rarely behave in any manner that approximates normal female maternal behavior (Belsky et al., 1984; Clarke-Stewart, 1978; Frodi et al., 1982). Rather, human and non-human primate males only begin to show interest when the young reach adolescence or late childhood. In regard to fathers, often this interest is disciplinary and centers on the of enforcing rules and the provision or threat of physical punishment. Of course, fathers also serve as role models, and as models of responsibility and restraint--behaviors that may be incorporated by the child. Indeed, it is through the father that the child learns to control his or her behavior so as to avoid the physical consequences.

Father and mothers, serve different roles in the shaping of the child's personality, as it is the mother who is most important for much of childhood whereas the father becomes more important later in development. Hence, if the child is deprived of these fatherly/paternal influences later in life, they may be severely effected emotionally and behaviorally, particularly in regard to the ability to control and inhibit inappropriate behaviors (U.S. Public Health Services, 1998).

For example, in a 2014 survey of 50,000 households by the U.S. Public Health Services, it was found that boys aged 15-17, who were living without their father were almost twice as likely to repeat a grade (28% vs 16%), more than twice as likely to be expelled (16% vs 6%) and to engage in anti-social behavior (45% vs 18%), almost twice as likely to be socially withdrawn (19% vs 10%), and almost a third more likely to display symptoms of depression and anxiety (54% vs 37%).

The failure to receive proper paternal (adult male) guidance is only one factor in the development of these disturbances, however, as even boys raised with step-fathers show high frequencies of anti-social behavior. There is in fact a psychological component and it entails a psychological reaction to abandonment. That is, although the child may not verbalize these feelings, the child nevertheless feels rejected, the child feels bad, and the child may decide that they have been rejected because there is something wrong with them. "I feel bad, therefore I must be bad." And, because they feel bad, and feel they must be bad, then they act badly. They act badly in order to retaliate and as a form of self-destruction, and to act out a self fulfilling prophesy (Joseph, 2012b). They create situations where they are punished and thus rejected. Being rejected and feeling badly becomes "normal."

Of course, if the child has already been deprived of normal mothering, then they will be even more profoundly effected if they are later deprived of appropriate fathering. Consider, for example, Henry Lee Lucas, described above.


The human female is neurologically predisposed to provide her infant with considerable social emotional and loving stimulation. Indeed, as noted in the introduction, human females demonstrate an extraordinary interest in babies and will engage in play-mothering during even the earliest phases of their own childhood, and will eagerly cuddle, groom, and hold babies including those that are not her own. This is exceedingly adaptive as the infant requires this input in order to thrive and to develop normally.

However, just as fathers serve as role models, whose rules of law may be applied physically, mothers too serve as role models. A mother teaches her daughter how to be a mother, and she teaches her son how women should be treated. If she is in an abusive relationship, then when her son grows up he may treat women abusively and when her daughters grow up they may seek out men who will abuse them. If the mother is a single mom and she has sex with numerous males, her daughter may also grow up to be a "whore" and her son may grow to hate all women who he then treats as "whores" (Joseph, 2012b).

And, just as a boy or girl may feel badly, rejected, and worthless if they grow up without a father, they may feel even worse if their mother is also absent, neglectful, and abusive. Indeed, as detailed above, the developing limbic system may become abnormal, such that all aspects of social, emotional and sexual development becomes abnormal. Again, consider the case of Henry Lee Lucas.


In the cases described above, it is noteworthy that some of these individuals had learning disabilities, seizures, evidence of mental illness in the family, and/or left handedness. In this regard, it is likely that these "predisposing" factors may have contributed and exaggerated the effects of abnormal mothering and/or lack of fathering on subsequent psychological and emotional development including criminality. On the other hand, it has recently been pointed out, by Stanford Law professor, John Donohue, and Steven Levitt, a University of Chicago economist, that the drop in the U.S. crime rate, during the 1990's appears to be directly correlated with the legalization and widespread availability of abortion during the 1970s. According to Levitt, "women who wanted to abort but were denied the opportunity seem to have given birth to children more likely to become criminals." However, with the availability of abortion, these unwanted children, and thus these future criminals were aborted which in turn accounts for the dramatic reduction in the U.S. crime rate. In other words, children reared by mothers who don't want them are profoundly effected and often engage in criminal behavior; behavior which they sometimes cannot control.


Sex and aggression are linked and both are mediated by the limbic system, the same structures which mediate maternal behavior, the establishment of the maternal infant bond and the formation of emotional attachments. If maternal input is lacking or abnormal, then all aspect of limbic system functioning can also become abnormal including sexuality and even speech.

The limbic system (as well as the neocortex) requires considerable social and emotional stimulation in order to develop normally. If that stimulation is insufficient or abnormal, these nuclei and other forebrain structures may atrophy, develop abnormal activity, form inappropriate interconnections, and in the extreme can produce disturbances identical to those following their destruction. Even temporary separation or brief episodes of trauma or abuse can induce significant emotional distress and limbic system injury.

However, even the brain of an adult is exceedingly plastic and is capable of undergoing tremendous functional reorganization (Feldman et al. 2012; Jenkins, et al. 2017; Juliono et al. 2016; Ramachandran 1993; Strauss et al. 2012; Weiller et al. 1993). It is because the adult brain retains neuroplastic capabilities, including even the capacity to regenerate damaged neurons (Joseph, 1998c,d,c), that adults also retain the capacity to learn and remember new experiences. Likewise, since the adult nervous system remains plastic, there is some chance for recovery of function secondary to brain damage. Indeed, even if reared under conditions of extreme maternal, social, sexual and emotional abuse, and/or deprivation, there remains some likelihood of at least partial functional recovery if the child is later provided considerable and intensive maternal/therapeutic loving stimulation.

Over the course of human evolution the brain tripled in size; a development which in turn required that infants remain relatively immature and dependent on their mothers for increasingly long time periods. A bigger more complex brain requires a number of years to reach maturity. This is because the relatively small size of the female-pelvic opening requires that the infant be born with a brain that is reduced in size. Moreover, because of its prolonged immature neurological status, the human infant requires considerable maternal and emotional stimulation throughout much of early life in order for the "experience expectant" nervous system to develop normally.

Fortunately, the human female is also neurologically predisposed to provide the infant with considerable social emotional and loving stimulation, which is why women experience a biological desire to become pregnant and to hold and care for infants. Be it chimpanzee, baboon, rhesus macaque, or human, females demonstrate an extraordinary interest in babies and will engage in play-mothering during even the earliest phases of their own childhood (Berman, 1983; Berman and Goodman, 1984; Blakemore, 2015, 2017; Devore, 1964; Elia, 1988; Fedigan, 2012; Frodi and Lamb, 1978; Goodall, 1971, 2017; Jolly 1972; Kummer, 1971; Melson and Fogel, 1982; Mitchell, 2009; Nash and Fledman, 2011; Strum 1987; Suomi, 1972; Zahn-Waxler et al., 1983). Female humans (Ainsworth and Wittig, 1969; Berman, 2013; Blakemore, 2017) and non-human (group living) female primates will eagerly cuddle, groom, and hold babies that are not their own (Jolly, 1972; Devore, 1964; Kummer, 1971, Strum, 1987; Suomi, 1972; Mitchell, 1979; Goodall, 1971).

Hence, whereas the nervous system of the infant requires considerable maternal input in order to thrive and to develop normally, the nervous system of the mother predisposes her to provide this input to her infant; which is a most adaptive relationship. However, because of the tremendous need for this stimulation, even subtle differences in the degree and quality of maternal contact can differentially effect the brain and cognition. For example, infants who are held and breast fed display superior neurological and cognitive capabilities as compared to those who are given a bottle or formula and allowed to lie alone in their beds (Lanting et al., 1995). These latter children are twice as likely to develop neurological abnormalities and cognitive-motor disturbances (Lanting et al., 1995). Similarly, it has been reported that infants who had been held and breast fed had a higher level of polyunsaturated fatty acids in their brains (Farquharson, 1993), which in turn effects and improves nerve cell conduction and cell membrane fluidity. Of course, in part, these latter effects may also be due to inferior quality of "baby formula" vs mother's milk.

Nevertheless, because the infant requires loving maternal input, the greater the degree of deprivation, the more serious might be the consequences. Children who are severely deprived of maternal contact may even die--even if all physical needs are being taken care of. Indeed, the mortality rates for infants placed in foundling homes during the 19th and early 20th century was found to be over 70% (

Langmeier & Matejcek, 1975)--a consequence not of poor nutrition, but lack of maternal care from the biological mother. Likewise, it has been found that the risk of infant motorality increases by a factor of five if the mother dies even if care is provided by female relatives (Hill & Hurtado 2016). The tremendous need for prolonged maternal care may explain why women undergo menopause around the late 30's; that is, to insure that there will be a healthy mother to care for her infant. Until the 20th century life expectancy, on average, was not beyond the late 30 or 40s.

The infant and young child requires considerable loving and maternal contact, especially from its own mother. However, if that maternal input is abnormal, neglectful, or abusive, the child's development brain, and all aspects of social and emotional functioning can become profoundly abnormal.

Copyright: 1996, 2000, 2010, 2018 - Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D.