Being a Serial Killer: What Causes This Disease


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The causes of psychopathy remain a mystery. There is no solid proof as to whether it is an outcome of Mother Nature, or an act of upbringing, such as child abuse, neglect, tragic life experience, etc. Psychopathic criminals have no sense of emotional pain, guilt, or sorrow. When caught in the act, or later questioned, they do not feel nervous or embarrassed about their actions. Not all psychopaths are serial killers, but all serial killers are psychopaths. By definition, a psychopath is a person suffering from chronic mental disorder with abnormal or violent social behavior.

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One common indicator of serial killer behavior is violence towards animals. They will not feel any regret or guilt. This usually originates from childhood, especially if they had pets growing up. There was a documentary about a young girl named Beth, about the age of six, who displayed a variety of different psychopathical symptoms. Throughout the film, her therapist asked her a number of questions, and her answers were shocking. For example, there was an incidence when her mother found two dead baby birds outside their house, and when Beth was asked if she killed them she said yes. When asked why she hurt the birds she said that she wanted them to die. There were many times when she tried to hurt and kill her younger brother, with intentions to kill him, and she openly admitted to it every time. Beth’s cause of rage was triggered by previous sexual abuse when she was much younger, by her birth father. She is one of many children who unfortunately are not able to grow up with a stable mindset and good intentions.

Serial killer intentions can also occur later in life. They seek control, and dominance. Just like a child looking to dominate a small animal, an adult goes for larger things, like another human. For example, Jeffrey Dahmer, and serial killer and sex offender, took the lives of seventeen males from 1978-1991. As a child he was fairly normal, it was not until he got older that he became uncommunicative and withdrawn from everyone around him. He would seek out men at gay bars, lure them to his place with money or sex, then poison or lace the alcohol before strangling them to death. Sometimes afterwards, he would engage in sexual acts with the dead corpses before disposing of them, and then dismember their skulls or genitalia as souvenirs. This is a common act among many serial killers. As Dahmer entered adolescence, he showed little to no interest in social interactions or hobbies. For entertainment instead he would examine dead animal carcasses and became a heavy drinker.

Given that there is no real cure for this illness, help can still be given, if the psychopathic tendencies are spotted early on. Therapy sessions and loving relationships can be a step towards helping someone in the right direction, and show that they can still show healthy behaviors. Many actions are similar to the practices of criminal rehabilitation. Although, serial killers are six times more likely to commit a crime after their release from prison than any other criminal.

If you think about it, helping someone away from their psychopathic mindset is almost like training a dog. While someone is getting treatment, the workers will rewards a good behavior, if spotted. “This is because even though psychopathic brains don’t respond to punishment, they do respond to rewards. This increases and reinforces learning a new behavior”. The question as to whether psychopathy is triggered or comes with Mother Nature is still unknown. Dealing with it can also be a struggle, since the symptoms will not always be clear and it may take a while for them to show through.

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