Erikson’s Theory Based Analysis of the Behavior of Robert William Pickton – a Serial Killer

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Based on a psychological perspective, it is ideal to analyze Pickton’s behavior based on Erikson’s theory. Examining the factors that dictate how he reacts under a specific set of conditions, provides insight to the results of his actions in society. As Erik Erikson mentions, human behavior can be understood through the experiences a person encounters during his/her development. As he grew up there were many connections that link his actions to his mind. In this case, William has spent his childhood where violence was occasionally seen. Growing up on a pig farm, it is evident that he would witness the brutal slaughtering of these animals. It was the circumstances that he faced daily that allowed him to kill mercilessly. Besides, dealing with a harsh and violent environment has been a factor of developing such heinous and gruesome personality. Likewise, the behavior of an individual has an impact on the greater society that surrounds him/her. It seems obvious that William would slaughter pigs himself at his Port Coquitilam farm. This relates to his gruesome actions of murdering women and cutting their bodies up and feeding it to pigs Thus, slaughtering pigs as a child made killing a normal aspect of his life. Erik also believes that the person will continue to develop and progress through the other stages of life, even if the current stage’s dilemma is not well met. In Pickton’s case, he was faced with isolation in his adult years. During his development, he was not given the chance to be intimate with someone he truly cared about, or even hold a relationship with his family. Thus, isolation from family and friends may have also produced feelings of anger which increases his tendency towards violence.

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According to Sociologist Karl Marx, owning the means of production elevates a person's class status whereas all other workers are forced to find a way to make money. In this case, Robert owned a pig farm which made him of high class. On the other hand, his victims made money in a way that Pickton found to be of low importance. Moreover, the division of social class marks the place for conflict in Marx’s theory. Based on the perspective of sociology, Robert Pickton targeted specific groups of women rather than women in general. Pickton chose vulnerable areas for kidnapping and attacked lower class individuals. Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside district is an area well known to be consisted of low class individuals. Since, these individuals can drift away from the system without being noticed for a very long time, people often agree that nothing may have actually happened to them and such disappearances are normal.

Hence, he would specifically target women that were either prostitutes or substance abusers because their social class in society would allow him to commit murder in anonymity.

Nevertheless, based on an anthropologist’s view of this case, many aspects of society can explain his behavior. Living alone in a trailer home on the farm, Pickton seems to be a socially awkward man who sometimes exhibited strange behaviors. He was lonely and was a drug abuser himself. As mentioned, he struggled with building relationships with other women. According to Merton’s theory of functionalism, pressure on the individual to conform, forces the individual to either work within the structure society or instead become members of a deviant subculture in an attempt to achieve those goals in a different way. Similarly, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside was a crime ridden community where a large percentage of the girls and women engaged in the sex trade and had addiction problems. This indicates the economic inequalities certain individuals faced in the society where he grew up in. Likewise, prostitution became an accepted practice of the time. In such case, Robert would also offer women money and drugs. Those he enticed into his vehicle were taken to the pig farm and sadly faced the horrors of his actions. Not to mention, Pickton was exposed to violence at a young age, which indicates that he also accepted violence as a norm in society. Thus it is possible, that Pickton believed that this certain group does not contribute positively to the stability of society, henceforth murdering his victims.

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