Nelson author Steve Bareham.

Nelson author delves into what makes people kill

A local author and teacher has penned a new book that examines a question many ponder as they view conflict

A local author and teacher has penned a new book that examines a question many ponder as they view conflict between humanity playing out around the world.

War, Murder & Human Nature: Why People Kill? is Steve Bareham’s ninth book and he’s well aware the topic is a morbid one.

“People are always attracted to the morbid, but I didn’t do the research or write the book to be morbid; it’s not full of graphic detail,” he said. “It’s intended to aid understanding of a societal ill that confronts us daily. Understanding and education is always important and better than ignorance.”

Bareham’s early career included working as a journalist for the Nelson Daily News along with other newspapers in Alberta, BC and Ontario. Then, he entered the field of public relations, marketing and human resources. An instructor with Selkirk College since 1992, Bareham currently teaches conflict management at Selkirk College at the 10th Street Campus in Nelson.

“My research into the human proclivity for violence started some years ago,” he said. “The book came to fruition after a spate of mass gun murders in the US in recent years and persistent questions people kept asking both at college and in my personal life, like: ‘What’s wrong with society today? Why so much violence?’ So, I thought I’d see if I could assemble coherent explanations.”

Bareham understands how easy it is to become pessimistic about the human condition. Simply tuning into the news takes one on a violent trip.

“I’m as disturbed as everyone else, though, by the increased level of gun violence in the US and simply can’t understand how reasonable people, i.e. the politicians in the US, can cling so stubbornly to the Second Amendment about the right to bear arms,” he said.

Even though Bareham has taught on the matter, he did find some things surprising in his research for War, Murder & Human Nature: Why People Kill? He was taken aback and shocked to discover nearly a half million murders occur each year around the world.

It was also surprising to see the number of emotions that can lead to murder, emotions people are all subject to, he said.

Murderers are often unhappy and have feelings of worthlessness or persecution, or both.

“When life events go too far off base for too long and a person becomes irrational, actions and behaviours can become dangerous, particularly when a person believes that his or her place in society is devalued and when they suffer extremely low self esteem,” he explained. “Men who are shunned repeatedly by women and disaffected males tend to be the most common among killer profiles.”

A sense of understanding of the issues can help stem violence before it occurs. It isn’t right that a person feels very negative about everything. “Ideally, we can step up and help in some way to avert a potential meltdown that can be violent,” said the author.

War, Murder & Human Nature: Why People Kill? is available on Amazon and Kobo.


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