On the most recent episode of Fringe, there was an interesting analysis of how a serial killer develops from a genetic predisposition to a full blown mass murderer. Spoiler alert, but Fringe is a television series that (I believe) sees itself as a modern X-Files, exploring "fringe" science with a team of genius scientists and pragmatic law men and women. One of the major story arcs is the existence of a parallel universe (oddly just one) that resembles our own in many ways, including having most of the same cast of characters. In the episode "One Night in October," this concept of parallel universes is exploited quite nicely where in the one universe a man has killed at least 40 victims, on the other side he is a professor of abnormal psychology with a specialty in serial killers. The professor version of the man later confesses that he has always struggled with an urge to kill, but that there had been an early intervening force in his life that guided him to a different path. The killer version of the man had no such intervention. As one blogger puts it:
It turns out that was it not for a single choice, made one night in October, [Professor] would likely have ended up in the same situation as the serial killer. Naturally, he escapes to try and explain things to his bad guy self; there’s a choice to be made, and he’s living proof that his urges can be controlled. That while we are who we are and our natures are innate, it’s possible for decisions to accumulate and snowball into drastic differences.Apart from some very trite stereotypes for serial killers and human development in general, I think it was an interesting exploration of some of these questions. Also, professor version says this:
“One Night in October” had a lot to say about some big questions about identity, which makes sense for a show like Fringe to take on. . . . No one is dictated exclusively by nature or nurture, but by a combination of things they can and can’t control. It’s what we do with the information we have that defines us.
"I don't think that we can underestimate the role that empathy plays in the structuring of the self, or the lack thereof"I wasn't aware that there was a connection between lack of empathy and sense of self, but it made me curious. There are a couple of articles I found that I will read. I'll do a post on them if they seem promising.