The mystery of murder. An Horizon special.

  • Videos

About this work


Presenter Dr Michael Mosely introduces a retrospective of BBC Horizon’s investigations into what makes people commit murder, using clips from previous Horizon programmes. In extracts from ‘Catching the Killers: Profiles of the Criminal Mind’ (2001), FBI Behavioral Science Unit’s Robert Ressler discusses the work of criminologist Cesare Lombroso. In extracts from ‘Horizon: Sons of Cain’ (1967), Professor Sidney Hilton discusses early research into the psychology of murderers using animal testing. Mosely explains the role of the amygdala in human violence. In extracts from ‘The Mind Machine: The Violent Mind’ (1988), Dr Mark Vernon describes attack behaviour and primitive rage response in an epilepsy sufferer. In extracts from ‘Mind of a Murderer: Damaged’ (2001), Neurologist Dr Jonathan Pincus, exhibits the case of a former-doctor with behavioural problems due to a tumour damaging his prefrontal cortex. Neuroscientist Professor Adrian Raine also discusses the benefits of functional brain scanning in research into murder. In extracts from ‘Mind of a Murderer: The Mask of Sanity’ (2001), Dr Robert Hare enumerates the key characteristics of a psychopath, and explains his research into mental processing using MRI scanning. In extracts from ‘Mind of a Murderer: The Killer Sex’ (2001), Psychologist Professor James Dabbs posits a link between high testosterone and violent crimes. Behavioural Biologist Dr Dee Higley also discusses the role of the chemical serotonin in violent behaviour in monkeys, and Neuroscientist Dr Frederick Goodwin explains research into violent behaviour in U.S. Marines. Neurobiologist Dr Paul Rossby also discusses low-serotonin levels in convicted murderer Dion Sanders. In extracts from ‘Sons of Cain’ (1967), ‘Horizon: How Violent Are You?’ (2009), and ‘Damaged’, including scenes with Professor Peter Smith, Forensic Psychiatrist Dr Dorothy Lewis, and Raine, the physical development of the prefrontal cortex in childhood is explored in relation to early experiences of violence. In extracts from ‘How Violent Are You?’, Neurologist Professor Jim Fallon posits a potential genetic predisposition to violence. Mosely then explains the enzyme MAO-A, and discusses the use of anti-psychotic medication to quell violent behaviour in schizophrenics. In extracts from ‘The Mask of Sanity’, Forensic Psychiatrist Dr Anthony Hempel explains the link between high testosterone levels and effective drug treatment. In extracts from ‘The Killer Sex’ and ‘The Mask of Sanity’, Psychologist Professor Marnie Rice discusses ‘chemical castration’ and therapy as a treatment for violent sex offenders. In extracts from ‘Damaged’, Child Psychiatrist Dr Bruce Perry discusses re-enactment behaviour.



Physical description

1 DVD (60 min.) : sound, colour ; 12 cm.

Copyright note



Originally broadcast on 9 March 2015 on BBC4.

Creator/production credits

Produced and directed by Davina Bristow. BBC Science Production.
Presented by Michael Mosely.



Where to find it

  • LocationStatusAccess
    Closed stores

Permanent link