Massachusetts General Hospital

Mass murderers: running amok in America

Mass murderers: running amok in America

In 1966, Charles Whitman, the so-called Texas Tower Mass Murderer, shot 17 people from the rooftop of a University of Texas building in Austin and was ultimately slain by police.

I had two professors at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston who believed that a small portion of the brain called the amygdala played a large role controlling violent behavior. The professors flew down to Dallas to witness Whitman’s autopsy. He turned out to have a brain tumor. It was an atypical neoplasm with malignant characteristics, and the professors took the position that the tumor might have invaded part of the amygdala and been possibly implicated in Whitman’s rage attack. Later, they...

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