How serial killers are created is a question that has been investigated by many criminologists, psychologists, and other professionals in the field of criminal justice. There are many theories as to how serial killers come into being, but one that seems to have gained traction over the past few decades is the idea that serial killers have had traumatic childhoods where they were victims of abuse or neglect. In this paper I will discuss some research on serial killer research papers and why it is important for us to understand what leads people down this path so we can prevent it from happening in the future.
Introduction. Mass murderers, who kill three or more people at once, spree killers, who kill in three or more locations with no time lapse, and serial killers are all examples of murderers. Serial killers will be the focus of this paper. A serial killer is usually defined as a person who has murdered three or More individuals over a period of at least one month with gaps between the murders that can be explained by psychological causes (Singer and Hensley 2004).
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According to others, it is “a sequence of two or more murders committed as separate events, typically but not always by one killer acting alone.” The FBI claims that different homicides are caused by a variety of factors, including anger, pleasure, financial gain, and attention-seeking. A sexual element is frequently linked to the killings.
Serial killers have always been a subject of interest for psychologists. Serial murderers have long attracted the attention of psychologists, who seek to understand where the motivation to kill comes from. Why is killing desire in some individuals more powerful than it is in others?
Is it possible to identify and prevent killers before they act? Do murderers have feelings for their victims? These are just a few of the concerns that must be addressed in order for one to have a thorough knowledge of serial killer psychology. No definitive answers have been found, although study is ongoing (Castle & Hensley, 2002).
Demographics of Serial Killers in the US. What are the demographics of serial killers? This is a disputed issue, and it is influenced by the source of data. The most reported serial killers in the United States are usually white males from lower to middle class households in their twenties, according on most sources.
The FBI, on the other hand, states that there have also been African American, Asian, and Latino serial killers. According to criminologists, the proportion of African American serial offenders reflects their percentage in the general population. Whites are more likely to be serial killers than people from other races, according to one area of agreement.
Lack of Sympathy. Serial killers, according to a number of research, do not have compassion for their victims, their immediate families, or the general public. Instead, they train themselves to imitate regular human behavior by studying other people. It’s all part of a covert strategy intended to entice individuals into their trap before they attack (Morse, 2011). Actors with a natural propensity to act have been termed serial killers.
“Being like a movie-star … you’re just playing the role” (Singer and Hensley, 2004) was how one known serial murderer described being a serial killer. John Wayne Gacy (1942-1984) always dressed up as a clown in court, and Ted Bundy (1946-1989), who was known for his murders of young boys, once stated to the judge, “I’m disguised as an attorney today.” Bundy has previously pretended to be a sympathetic rape crisis center counselor.
Serial killers enjoy having power. Gacy was a lively, sociable young man who even became a member of the Jaycees, a leadership development group. Serial murderers such as David Berkowitz have also joined the military and become active participants. Playing the part of police, on the other hand, is their favorite disguise. Carrying police identification and riding around on a bike that looks like that of cops not only boosts serial killers’ self-esteem, but it also allows them to easily target their unsuspecting victims.
Serial killers, on the other hand, are not permitted to create new identities or assume a different physical appearance so as to avoid detection. Serial killers, nevertheless, tend to adopt a “mask of insanity” once they are caught – pretending to have multiple personality disorder, schizophrenia, or being psychotic in order to excuse their actions. When they finally show themselves, serial murderers do not entirely abandon their acting roles. Bundy once remarked that “what’s one less person on the planet?” (Arrigo and Griffin 2004), showing how little he feels for his victims and immediate families and the general public.
A Common Background. Many individuals have been fascinated by serial killers for a long time. The notion that a person could become so twisted and insane as to murder three or more people, when previously they weren’t capable of doing such a thing, is an unusual field of study. Many research have looked at the causes that can cause someone to turn into a serial killer, and many of these factors had a psychological component.
Serial killers have been found to have had a difficult upbringing, ranging from broken or abusive families with little or no parental care and no positive social interactions with family members.
Because their childhood was marked by dramatic changes in home, school, and family environments that occurred rapidly and unpredictably, they developed unrealistic preconceptions of what is normal for a person to do, such as sexually victimizing other people or showing excessively aggressive behavior. They become more violent with each repetition of the behaviors they endured and lived through. Serial killers have been found to be affected by various events during their childhood.
These individuals are thus prevented from learning a set of standard behaviors that evaluate how we should react in certain situations and how we should socialize with others. Despite outward appearances, however, they are socially backward owing to their troubled upbringing. They think they are above other people on the inside but pretend to be normal on the outside so that they do not degrade their status. As a result, they work hard to avoid interacting with other people as much as possible, but when they do interact with them, they act naturally.
Although child abuse is initially perceived to be only physical and mental, it has a significant psychological impact on the victims (Castle & Hensley, 2002). It distorts the thinking of such a person, making him or her susceptible to the horror for which serial murderers are notorious. Among renowned serial killers, childhood maltreatment has been discovered to be prevalent.
Take, for instance, Charles Manson, who grew up in an orphanage after his mother was unable to care for him. This background, together with the fact that he never knew his biological father, is likely to have affected him psychologically. Another serial murderer, Ted Bundy, was born to a single mother and subsequently lived with a stepfather.
What Motivates a Serial Killer? Psychologists have long studied what causes a person to go from being nonviolent to becoming so violent that they kill numerous people without showing any compassion or remorse. Some serial killers believe that they are carrying out a mission assigned to them by God, or some other higher authority.
Serial killers typically consider their crimes to be a spiritual summons to purify the society of individuals the killer considers “evil,” “risky to humanity,” or simply “disgusting.” Serial murderers who fall into this category are particularly harmful because they frequently perceive their actions as a service to humanity and must be carried out.
Serial killers who had a bad childhood frequently kill to establish dominance over their victims. This is often due to a sense of powerlessness and dread in their youth. Serial murderers in this category are often haunted by their past experiences, and murdering others serves to exorcise or exact vengeance on the horrendous abuse they suffered.
However, when it comes to factors that influence a person’s propensity toward serial killing, we must bear in mind that not all individuals who experienced an abusive childhood became serial killers. As a result, child maltreatment is not the only cause of criminal behavior. Norris (1988) points out that parents who abuse their children instill in their kids an almost instinctive need to resort to violence as a solution to any problem.
Although some parents think that being strict disciplinarians will aid in the child’s development into a strong person, they are sometimes incorrect. Having a solid relationship with the parents allows children to trust others at a later age, and a lack of it can lead to isolation. Violence appears as the only way to get pleasure when there is no close bond with parents (Castle & Hensley, 2002).
All they know is their fantasies of ruling and wielding power as children. They do not possess compassion or love for others; instead, they regard other people as actors in their brutal fantasies.
For Serial Killers, the thrill or excitement of their actions is what drives them to kill. Such a murderer’s primary aim is to cause suffering or terror in his victims, which provides them with a thrill. There are enough reasons for someone to continue murdering once they’ve started; one of them may be the thrill of capture and death, as well as the prospect of widespread attention through various media and police coverage.
To them, killing gives them the same rush as those who engage in high-risk activities such as sky diving and motorbike stunts. Serial killers seeking thrills generally target strangers but may have stalked their victims for a long time (Norris, 1988).
During a 1982 assault, surviving victim Coral Watts described him as “excited and hyper and clapping” and making noises similar to those of someone who is enthusiastic, implying that he considered the attack to be enjoyable (Perri and Lichtenwald, 2010). Watts murdered his victims by slitting,stabbing, hanging, drowning, suffocating, strangulating them.
Financial advantages, fury, ideology (spread the beliefs of a specific group) and insanity (Arrigo and Griffin, 2004) are some of the reasons that serial killers might act. Even though these goals may be correct, determining the primary incentive for each killer is difficult. This is because motive detection is always restricted to visible belongings left behind by the murderer, as well as their correct identification. The killer’s history and the small probability of surviving victims can provide additional information.
Serial Killers and Psychopathic Personality Disorder. While many serial killers have distinct ways of murdering their victims, they all share certain characteristics. They are impulsive, seek power and control, desire attention, and conduct themselves in a predatory manner.
Basically, a psychopath is defined as a person who has a personality disorder marked by aggression and violence and demonstrates no guilt or compassion. While behaving rationally, a psychopath may commit unspeakable atrocities. The most terrifying aspect of a serial killer’s existence is that they appear to be normal (Levin and Fox, 2008).
For example, Jeffrey Dahmer (1960-1994), who while leading a seemingly normal public life murdered and ate young men. He was also able to maintain his cool in the midst of chaos. When one of his 14-year-old victims ran away into the streets, the cops were contacted, but he convinced them that the boy was his 19-year-old boyfriend who had consumed too much alcohol, and so he took possession of him. That night, Jeffrey murdered the youngster (Perri and Lichtenwald, 2010).
Serial killing and psychopathy are linked, because although not all psychopaths will necessarily become serial killers, almost all serial killers have characteristics that are associated with psychopathy. These people do not respect human life. Although psychopathy alone does not explain serial murderers, it provides an interesting standpoint on their personalities.
Serial killers have been referred to as “psychopathic” or “sociopaths,” which means they suffer from a mental disease that makes them lose touch with reality. Psychosis is defined as an absence of contact with reality and characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and misanthropy. Despite being disregarded, the notion of psychosis may be utilized to explain the actions of certain serial murderers.
For example, Herbert Mullin claimed that he murdered to save California from a devastating earthquake. However, certain serial killers have been employed to attempt to justify their conduct by blaming it on schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder. Serial killer behavioral research is continuing, and in the future we may be able to identify them before they kill on the first or subsequent victims.
What image does the phrase “Serial Killer” conjure up for you? The majority of individuals imagine a malevolent creature that is able to commit terrible atrocities that ‘normal’ people are unable to perform, or a disturbed individual who resorts to murder in order to satisfy their sick desires. Although this way of thinking is not entirely incorrect, it overlooks several important aspects of a serial killer.
The distinction between a serial killer and a mass murderer, or a serial killer and just a regular killer, is not generally recognized by the general public. A person who murders three or more individuals on separate occasions is known as a serial killer, although the same may be said for a mass murderer or a spree slayer.
The one distinction between a serial killer and the other two is that a serial killer plans his assaults in advance, picking his victims and most of the time getting to know them.
The second most despised form of murderer is a Hedonistic Killer, who kills just for the sake of pleasure, thrill, or comfort. Thrill seekers commit murder in order to stay unidentified and outrun the cops. These murderers usually leave behind clues or notes to make the search more intriguing. In seeking after pleasure, lust serial killers go by the name “lust killer.”
A comfort killer does not seek to induce pleasure, but rather uses the act of murder as a means to an end, such as murdering a wealthy relative in order to inherit his/her money. The ‘Hillside Strangler’ is an infamous example of a hedonistic murderer.
Because of their childhood trauma, the murderers become who they are and what they do. Almost every one of them has had a horrible youth. Their awful youth will include physical and sexual abuse as well as parental separation, among other things. Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Ed Gein, Richard Ramirez, and others are examples of notorious serial killers who were influenced by this trauma. Ted Bundy is one such serial murderer whose crime scene evidence was not discovered owing to his traumatic early life like the others.
What truly causes a serial killer to kill? What are they thinking about? Are they psychopaths? We ask ourselves these questions as well as many more regarding why they commit such acts. We wonder what goes on in their heads and during the murders when they kill people and if they feel guilt or not. “These serial murderers fascinate the average person because the general public cannot fathom committing such a horrendous crime and never demonstrating any remorse,” states LaBrode.
Serial killers have a lot of information about their future victims. When they consider their next victim, they are well-prepared. They know who, when, where, what, and why they’re doing it; they leave the scene and immediately know how to hide their second personality. We call these psychopaths when we believe that serial killers are made rather than born. Serial killers learn how to compartmentalize their life so that they may kill without feeling guilty afterward. They don’t feel bad after committing crimes because to what we’ll come to know as normalcy bias (or “not seeing things”). These murderers aren’t born with a propensity for murder; instead, it’s cultivated in them through experience.
Have you heard of Jeffrey Dahmer, the notorious serial killer? He’s a fantastic illustration of what makes someone a serial killer, and I can illustrate what he did and why he became one. During his youth, Dahmer enjoyed collecting dead animals and decomposing them with corrosive chemicals. His father was a research chemist who spent time together with him doing this pastime.
Then, later in his life, there were periods when his father was not around much. His mother was going through depression and tried to suicide during this time. His parents eventually divorced as a result of all of this. Is this really a cause for becoming a serial killer? Of course not. This may have influenced him even more to do what he wanted to do because it all began in his imagination. He had the desires to kill someone since he was very young.
When he was 13, he intended to murder a jogger but never did. He went deep into drinking when he was 18 because of his parents’ issues. Because of the lack of love and attention, he grew up with anger. His need to be loved had been frustrated in childhood, or a desire to control or dominate a reaction formation against dependency and passivity may be found at the core of hostility-aggression.
At the age of 18, Dahmer killed his first victim. He murdered 17 people between 1978 and 1991 (Jeffrey Dahmar’s Victims) He was fully aware of what he was doing. He understood how to conceal his clues. He had an understanding of what it felt like to kill someone, and when he accomplished it at the age of 13.
Some may dispute and state that serial killers are born. How can a serial murderer be generated in their genes wanting to murder? They were characterized as having ‘bad genes’ and a ‘poor environment.’ I believe that serial killers are made, not born. They create this person in their minds, and everyone has some form of mental illness as a result of it.
It began with them having distressing childhood experiences. Those events that they experienced made them who they are today. They kill without feeling remorse, displaying their mental issues and emotions by murdering.
‘This “self process” could very well be the same thing that happens when a murderer appears to be in a different or detached state, “watching” what is going on rather than being the active participant, thus removing him or herself from the emotions and responsibilities of murder.’
Many killers have preconceived notions of how they want to murder their first victim and where they want to do it. When investigating serial murderers, most suspects say how they want their initial victim murdered exactly as in their fantasy. It’s typical for killers to return to the scene of the crime and this is due to a concern that evidence might have been left behind for investigators and that the item would be traced back to him. A large proportion of murders were perpetrated by individuals who had suffered a terrible experience in childhood.
Serial killers are formed in childhood by their experiences; this might be due to family or traumatic events that influence a kid’s mindset. We should have mental checks at age nine to ten in order for these individuals to receive help before they become murders. There is no evidence whether it’s genetics if someone is born a killer, but there is proof that traumas in their life shape them. Overall, our society is an unsafe environment; nurture influences whether or not someone becomes a murderer.