Module 2 Discussion Assignment
Details Chapter 2
The Case of Charles Whitman
Watch the video on Charles Whitman before responding to discussion question.
(Charles Whitman – The Killing of America) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
As a child and young man, Charles Whitman was kind, quiet, and known by all as a “good boy” serving as both an altar boy and an Eagle Scout. As a student at the University of Texas, however, he began to experience severe headaches, assaulted his wife, and became involved in numerous fights. He confided to his psychiatrist that he was fighting the urge toward even more extreme violent behavior. He lost the fight. Climbing to the top of the campus observation tower with a high-powered rifle, he shot wildly at his fellow students, ultimately killing 14 people and wounding more than 20 before the police finally killed him. An autopsy on Whitman’s body revealed a large tumor pressing against his amygdala.
1. Recognizing that this area of the brain is known to regulate aggressive behaviors in animals (the research is less clear for humans), should Whitman be held fully responsible for his actions? Why or why not?
2. If Whitman had lived, would you have been in favor of capital punishment or life imprisonment for his crimes?
3. Imagine that scientists were able to identify specific genes linked to serious criminal behavior and it was possible to remove or redesign these genes. Are you in favor of this type of gene manipulation? Why or why not?

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