Jeffrey Dahmer: the Psychology of Serial Killers

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This paper will discuss the gradual development of serial killers and what led them to such path. Serial killers are created by aggressive behavior witnessed at a young age. Issues such as abuse, early interest in killing and power seeking that could have a tendency to move people towards Satan. This leaves massive amounts of mental trauma and emotional disconnection with people and animals, that leads them to have specific targets based off of their gender, sexuality, race, age and background information. Which in many cases, causes serial killers to believe that death is a ritual to celebrate them or Satan.

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Serial killers often suffer from mental disorders such as Paraphilia, dementia, borderline personality disorders, psychopathy, schizophrenia, and antisocial personality disorders. Paraphilia is a mental disorder that causes people to perform extremely violent sexual activities in a repetitive manner. Ross Michael, convicted for rape and serial killing, suffered from paraphilia. Murdered and raped eight women in three different states, unable to control his sexual desire to hurt and dominate innocent women. Another example of paraphilia is, Jeffrey Dahmer, he was convicted for the rape and murder of 17 men. Dahmer inflicted sexual acts with the corpses of his victims before he had dismembered their bodies.

Schizophrenia is one of the most common disorders diagnosed among serial killers and other criminals. It is a mental illness that causes people to experience hallucinations and delusions. David Berkowitz, charged for the killing of six people while claiming that his neighbors dog persuaded him to commit those crimes. After committing murder it is common that the “killer” feel remorse because people with schizophrenia are not sociopaths or psychopaths. While it can be possible that a sociopath is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Sociopaths and psychopaths have an antisocial personality disorder, which forbids them from feeling empathy towards other people or animals. So they often make bad decisions and even commit murder on a serial level not necessarily because they enjoy it. It is just because they cannot feel guilt, or sadness for the suffering victims.

In other cases, some notorious serial killers have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. This mental disorder inflicts extreme mood swings, impulsive behaviors and lack of self worth. Unable to control their body, mind, and emotions those diagnosed with borderline personality disorder suffer from the remorse that comes after the crimes that were committed. Their actions are similar, if not exactly the same, as those who are heavy alcohol abusers out of pure impulse they act without thinking, or feeling they act based on their emotional state. Until they are sober they reflect, unlike alcohol abusers people with borderline personality disorders they do not need the influence of alcohol in order to lose control.

People’s perception on serial killers is that they are all psychopaths and misuse the terminology of psychopathia. Psychopathy is the hardest mental illness to be decipher and spotted since a psychopath can appear as a normal person without any signs of abnormality. But just like sociopaths they lack empathy and a conscious which makes them manipulative and volatile. Their thoughts and perception of the world can become unpredictable. Though both sociopaths and psychopaths are closely related they are not the same. A sociopaths is a person who suffers from extreme antisocial behaviors and attitudes and lack a conscious. Whereas a psychopath is a person with a chronicle mental disorder that leads them to violent social behaviors while still leading a “normal” life.

Psychology researchers have come to a conclusion that states psychopaths are born that way because it is a genetic predisposition. Research has shown psychopaths have underdeveloped aspects of the brain. Those underdeveloped components are held responsible for the irregular impulse control and the emotion regulation. Psychopaths have the capability to form artificial relationships in order to construct an illusion. They create an illusion of being astonishing humans, leading a normal healthy life in order to blend in with others.Their relationships are shallow and merely seen as a way to achieve their goal, of minimizing the risk of being caught when they engage in criminal activities. The perception held for psychopaths is one of a heartless, persuasive criminal.

While research has shown that sociopathy is developed through childhood trauma, bullying, child abuse, or rape. Although in general sociopaths tend to be much more impulsive and hectric in their behavior unlike psychopaths. Their inability to form social relationships with others causes them to have unstable jobs. While in very few cases some sociopaths are able to form some type of attachment with others, but it have been proven that just like their jobs they are very unstable and can be broken very easily. Which causes them to be effortlessly spotted as abnormal beings in the eyes of society. Murder and criminal actions committed by someone with sociopathy, are 90 percent of the time, unplanned attacks made out of mere impulse. Without a speck of rumination about the consequences that lead after their attacks. Sociopaths tend to have a higher “chance of being apprehended”(John M. Grohol, Psy.D.).

Both sociopaths and psychopaths present risks to society, they often attempt to live a normal life at least in the eyes of society. But psychopaths have been determined to be far more dangerous. Since they are more capable in forming artificial relationships in order to maintain an upstanding image in society. Hiding their true colors and intentions is seen as a mere game to them, they experience far less guilt for their actions. Not to mention psychopaths have greater chances to dissociate from their criminal actions. Others suffrage seems meaningless to psychopaths, mainly caused by their lack of emotional involvement. Without emotional involvement and signs of murderous behavior psychopathic criminals are extremely difficult to find.

Another mental problem that is founded in serial killers is dementia, although is is not specifically a disease it can contribute problems to the human brain. Dementia affects the memory, the ability to think clearly, and social abilities. Though dementia is mainly memory loss, it occurs mostly to adults. Take for instance Corona a 77 year old he was convicted for the murder of 25 men. After the killings he was diagnosed with dementia, he stabbed 24 men and one of them he shot. In the police report he stated that the reason he murdered those men was because they had trespassed in the orchards.

Cult are groups are also associated with serial killings due to their unconditional appreciation towards a specific religion, custom or ideal. Cults are groups of people that are strictly devoted to the devil and often commit crimes in the name of Satan, God or “Peace”. Religious and moral enthusiast are often the cause of killing on a moral standard. Charles Manson, a hippie cult, murdered 7 people one was a pregnant actress, Sharon Tate. Manson often surrounded himself with runaways and other lost souls and then send his disciples to be butchered. His killings seemed to “mark the death of the peace and love era”(John Roger).'These children that come at you with knives, they are your children. You taught them; I didn't teach them. I just tried to help them stand up,'(Charles Manson).

“Psychologists and criminologists commonly identify three main types of multiple homicide mass, spree, and, serial”(Canter and Alison; Knight, Matthew Silkes). They identify mass murders as the killing of 3 or more victims in the same time period. The killing of 3 or more victims at different times or locations in a continuous manner is categorized as spree murder. Serial killers on the other hand are completely different. They “murder victims in a sequence broken by intervals of twenty-four hours or longer, indicating that each killing temporarily satisfied whatever motivates the killer’s actions, and each subsequent killing terminates a separate sequence of behaviors. Experts therefore generally classify as “serial” killers those who murder three or more victims, with significant cooling-off periods occurring between murders”(Bartels and Ceri Canter and Laurence; Cotter; Knight; Petherick; Rosen; Rule; Winter, Matthew Silkes).

Serial killers in most cases don’t kill at random they have a specific group of targets. This is brought on by prejudice, homophobia, racism, or trauma caused by a specific gender. Take for instance Wuornos, worked as a prostitute, and was beaten severely and raped by the men who paid for sex. Those men left massive amounts of trauma and hatred in Wuornos, which led her to go on a killing rampage. Charged for the killings of 7 men in which she had previously picked up along the highways. Wuornos killed men because of the loathe she felt towards them but in Jeffrey Dahmer's case he did not loath them. He killed for pure pleasure and possible racism he felt towards black men, according to police reports he murdered only men. Men who he found at gay bars, malls and bus stops he would lure them by offering sex or money. Jeffrey did not suffer any type of traumas as a child, he suffered from paraphilia when killing his victims he inflicted sexual acts with the corpses. Jeffrey would drug then commit sexual acts on the corpses right before dismembering them. Although he suffered from paraphilia he had other motives to killing most of those men. It was stated that most of his victims were African-American men which led the police to believe that racial tension were possible motives to his killing rampage. All of his killings were categorized as lust murders.

Although Jeffrey Dahmer did not seem to have suffered any traumatic experiences as a child at first glance. It was brought t notice that his behavior began to change at the age of 4 after a surgery he was subdued to go through. The surgery was to remove a hernia that began causing him become introverted. Following his surgery his younger brother was born, but the newborn’s birth did not seem to help Jeffrey at all. As a matter of fact it affect him even more leading him to become friendless, tense and disengaged. In the police reports Dahmer stated that his interest in murder began when he was 14 years old. But evidence showed that since the age of 10 he had already started experimenting with dead animals and decapitating them. Which was a few years after one of his neighbors had sexually harassed Jeffrey. That plus his parents’ toxic divorce which left Jeffrey feeling unwanted since all his parents cared about was who got custody of his little brother. Left him alone with just him and his deranged fantasies. Such factors have been considered to be the real cause of Dahmer’s serial killing lust.

In conclusion, the creation of serial killers isn't solely because they were born that way. There are multiple factors to each and every single one of their stories. Such as mental illnesses, disorders, religion, moral viewpoints, racism, gender and sexuality. As human beings we are easily persuaded by our every emotion. Our thoughts and emotional state play a role in our everyday life as well as our behavior and how we are seen by others. If any of those factors are out of control then the person itself is out of control. All the mental illnesses and disorders that have been listed. They all alter the human conscious, emotional connections, and social ability. While yes, in some cases serial killers are born that way, because of genetic predispositions. There have been many cases that prove serial killers are altered by society, disorders, emotional state, depression, bullying, rape, and traumatic sceneries. Therefore, serial killers are not just pure evil beings in a way they help bring us awareness. That psychiatrists need to up their game in defining and offering treatments for those diagnosed with mental illnesses and disorders. In order to avoid catastrophes such as, serial killing in order to calm their desires that rule over the mind, soul and body of people.          

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