Can medical science now physically predict individuals whom are most likely to commit acts of violence? Adrian Raine, a criminologist and author of The Biology of Violence, has discovered a biological root that exists in many “cold-blooded killers”.

In general, Raine refers to an inclination towards violence as “brain dysfunction”. Raine says that he does not believe that an individual can suddenly wake up one day and “decide to create mayhem”. Rather, the inclination to cause violence and disruption is preprogrammed, and that acts of violence are often premeditated. Raine cites the Boston bombing as an example of premeditated violence, and even referred to the bomber himself as a disturbed individual who was more prone to violence because of his calm demeanor in the aftermath of the terrorist attack he had carried out. “While others were running away, he was just walking…cool as a cucumber,” Raine describes as he shows us a picture of the aftermath of the Boston attack that included the bomber himself in the background of the frame.

Paine shares his discovery of a “neurological abnormality” that reveals those who are more “predisposed to violence and psychopathy”. Raine explains that a lack of development in the septum pellucidum, a region located in between the “midline” of the two hemispheres, is the focal point of his study. Normally, as the two limbic regions of the brain develop, they “fuse” together. However, for other people, these regions never fuse together, “[giving] rise to a lack of fear and a psychopathic-like personality and [could commit murder] without any shame or remorse or guilt in doing that”. Additionally, the amygdala in these individuals tends to be smaller, so more violent people tend to experience less fear and reasoning and restraint.

Raine’s study is quick to note that not every person who presents these neurological abnormalities will definitely commit acts of violence, and that his “musings are just that—musings”. This statement then gives rise to what occurs in the military; how slowly but surely, through basic training, all combat soldiers are turned into violent murderers even if they might not present these neurological warning signs.

These same soldiers can even be more prone to violence after their discharge from service, of course, usually with the aid of some sort of mental illness like PTSD. However, when veterans return from the battlefield back to civilian life, the transition can be quite complicated. After all, soldiers must once again readjust to another set of morals, ones that probably seem difficult to adhere to after the stress and traumas of war. This transition can also be further complicated by Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs reports that one in five combat veterans develops Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, either during or shortly after combat. The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as having three main categories of symptoms: “re-experiencing symptoms,” “avoidance symptoms,” and “hyperarousal symptoms”. These categories can be simplified to describe symptoms of flashbacks and nightmares, feeling of guilt and depression, and insomnia, respectively.
Veterans who suspect that they are suffering from PTSD should seek medical intervention as soon as possible. PTSD can easily cause a soldier to remain in a detached, immoral (in civilian standards) world, where they are still easily prone to extreme rage and violence.

However, veterans who suffer from PTSD are strongly discouraged from seeking medical attention by ways of the VA. Reports released by CBS News in 2013 revealed that medical professionals associated with the VA prescribed 259% more narcotics than in 2002, and that individualized therapy had fallen by the wayside. A medical practitioner associated with the VA anonymously admitted to CBS News in a TV interview that “it is easier to write a prescription for narcotics and to just move along and get to the next patient” so that more veterans would be “treated”. This news outbreak, coupled with the 2014 VA scandal, hopefully cause ailing veterans to consult non-associated medical facilities to rehabilitate their physical and mental health.

One of those organizations is Operation: I.V, a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2012 that helps combat veterans heal from both PTSD as well as traumatic brain injuries. Its founder, Roxann Abrams, is a Gold Star Mother who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams in 2009. Randy took his own life after experiencing a PTSD flashback from his service in Iraq. Randy had undiagnosed PTSD- a common occurrence among combat veterans either due to mistakes made by the medical field or simply the individual’s failure to report such grave symptoms.

As a result of her son’s death, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. so that combat veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan have a place to receive treatment through a specialized “VIP”, or “Veteran Intervention Plan” program. “VIP” offers ten different rehabilitation programs, including hyperbolic oxygen therapy, service dogs, and anxiety reduction therapy. Additionally, veterans may also partake in programs such as job retraining, business mentoring, and educational assistance. Again, while there is no cure for PTSD, the programs provided by Operation: I.V. can drastically improve a veteran’s mental health and overall outlook on life.

Author's Bio: 

Abigail Fazelat is a contributing writer for Operation: I.V., a non-profit organization founded by Gold Star Mother Roxann Abrams who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams to PTSD. Randy took his own life after experiencing a wartime flashback- an experience not uncommon to any combat veteran. As a result, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. as an “intravenous of help” for other Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and contemplating suicide. Fazelat has worked for the organization since October 2013 under a pseudonym.