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Term Paper! In the Mind of Serial Killers!!!

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IN THE MIND OF SERIAL KILLERS
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements in English IV
XUHS
February 14, 2005

Introduction
In each and every human being hides an animal. This animal has jagged fangs and huge sharp claws, ready to pounce on any unfortunate soul. Yet this animal fortunately had been asleep for so long now and it will surely cause havoc and fear if ever it awakens.
This animal is the instinct that has been programmed in every human being since the beginning, the instinct to kill. Killing has been an essential tool for self-preservation and survival as it follows the law of the jungle that only the fittest and strongest will survive, kill or be killed. One must learn to kill to feed one’s self and to be able to defend one’s self from the what ever threat there is to one’s existence. Being weak is not an option; one must be vicious to survive.
But as mankind and civilization evolved and developed, man was ultimately separated from the class of animals and a new social order had been formed. Man had gained knowledge and soon learned that to kill another human being is immoral and unethical, a sin not only to God but also to the society. Every human being’s right to life has been protected and if ever anyone neglects this right, the accused must be penalized and justice should be implemented. Thus the term murder was fashioned.
This is why it is so disturbing to discover people whose urge to kill is uncontrollable and even finds pleasure in torturing and murdering people. These people are the feared new class of criminals. They are human beings who believe they take control when they torture and brutally butcher innocent victims just to satisfy their unearthly desires.
These people are the serial killers who feel no remorse and empathy for human beings. They are the ultimate killing machine; they are inconspicuous and blend in the crowd. They are undetectable and are very unpredictable always ready to strike again any time.
Who are these killers? What makes them do all of these killing? What is in the mind of a serial killer?
The Serial Killer
History of Serial Killing
The authors of CarpeNoctem and Wikepedia both agree that there is really no exact date when serial killing began but serial killing seems to be a modern phenomenon. In any historical survey, serial killing might have begun in ancient Rome, when Emperor Caligula indulged in his cannibalistic ways. Some myths like the vampire and werewolves were inspired by medieval serial killers. The Scottish cannibal Sawney Beane and the Impaler were known as vampires for drinking their victim’s blood and their obsession with blood. The ferocious butchering of their victims gave the psychopathic peasants Gilles Ganier and Peter Stubbe their title as werewolves. There were also rich and powerful aristocrats who were serial killers. In the 15th century, Gille de Rais (“Bluebeard”) abducted, raped, and murdered at least a hundred young boys while Elizabeth Bathory (the “Blood Countess”) tortured and butchered at least 600 young girls. One of the earliest documented and famous serial murderer is the unidentified Jack the Ripper who slaughtered prostitutes in the streets of London in 1888. This crime gained a lot of media coverage since it had been the first time for people to hear of people who murder for sheer pleasure.
Albeit Wikepedia states that the first serial killer was an Italian man named Eusebius Pieydagnelle as noted by Krafft-Ebing in his famous 1886 book, Psychopathia Sexualis.
It wasn’t until the post-World War II period that serial murder became rampant. During the 1970’s, the period of the Berk and Bundy, Kemper and Gacy, Bianchi and Buono (the “Hillside Stranglers”), law enforcement officials had to define the phenomenon as a major category of crime. By the 1980’s serial killing had been a plague and epidemic as criminologists characterize the problem.
Comparison between Serial Murder and Plain Murder
As Macalester College killers/serialkillers.html> says, a serial murder is when the killer has killed three or more victims in a period of time. The reason is not for material gain but because of the killer’s desire to have power over his victim. These victims are usually defenseless and have no direct-relationship with the killer. A serial murder is committed usually by a male or in very rare cases a killer may have an accomplice. After a certain “cooling down” or “cooling of” period the serial murder may be committed again but with another victim.
On the other hand, plain murder is defined as the unlawful killing of one human being by another, especially with malice aforethought (The Grolier International Dictionary, 1988). Macalester College adds that a “normal” murder would be due to two basic motivations, a reaction and for gain. Plain murder would simply be an outcome of an event, a quarrel, rage, reaction to insult, etc. Some murders also happen for self-gain (money, power, revenge, and protection).
There are cases of murder that seem like a serial murder but are really just plain murder. Wikepedia for example shows that spree murders and mass murders aren’t serial murders. Serial Murders are committed by a serial killer who murders four or more victims over a period of time yet have cooling-off periods in-between were they return to their normal, pleasant, and law-abiding selves. A spree murder is when the killer kills continuously until the killer is caught. Spree Murder don’t have in-between cooling-down periods. Mass murder on the other hand is done by an individual who kills four or more people in a single event. It also does not have a cooling-down period and is a one-time event.
Definition of a Serial Killer
Wikepedia states that the term “serial killer” was coined by Robert Ressler, an FBI agent, in the 1970’s so that criminologists could distinguish those who claim victims over a long period of time from those who claim multiple victims at once (mass murders) and spree killers.
A serial killer is defined by Encarta 08/serialkillers.html> as someone who murders a couple or number of people over a period of time, especially somebody who uses the same method each time.
Norris, Joel grants that serial killers belong to a newly identified class of criminals called serial murderers, motiveless killers, recreational killers, spree killers or lust killers whose numbers are increasing at an alarming rate every year.
Profile of a Serial Killer
As Scott, Shirley Lynn states, spotting a serial killer is very hard because they are very intelligent predators. They blend in very well with people. They don’t know how to be compassionate but they merely imitate other people to look normal. That is why serial killers are called as “actors” for they can imitate the personality of their victims and they can easily manipulate them. They are so good at manipulating others that one will never expect that they are vicious killers. They can simply be any one; they are charming, well-dressed, polite, and well-mannered. Macalester College adds that a serial killer is usually male aged 25-35 and is white. He can be of high or low income and is usually married. His intellect ranges from below average to above average and is from all walks of life like his victims. His chosen victims are not closely related to him but have symbolic meaning to him or to his “taste” in victims. A serial killer can be anyone, socially inept or a loner.
More importantly, the website conveys to us that a majority of serial killers have been abused sexually and physically as children. Half of the serial killers have fathers who left them at the age of twelve or worse, their fathers would be present but would brutally abuse them. Sometimes, their mothers are seductive and both parents reject their child and they fail to give nurturing and emotional support.
In their childhood, future serial killers maybe distinguished by three characteristics, called the terrible triad, namely bed-wetting, fire-starting, and animal torture. But there is no guarantee that if these conditions are present a child will become a serial killer, they are just early warnings to be aware of.
Contradictory to the claim above, FBI agents R. Ressler, A. Burgers, and J. Douglas, were able to compile a chart of childhood behavior traits among 36 serial killers. The listed behaviors are quite disturbing like self-mutilation, convulsions, cruelty to children, and assault to adults. Although the terrible triad is present the top three indicators are daydreaming, compulsive masturbation, and isolation.
Types of Serial Killers
The websites , Wikepedia , and Macalester College www.macalester.edu/~psych/whathap/ubnrp/serialkillers/serialkillers.html> displays the five types of serial killers based on their motives.
The first type is the visionary motive type. Serial killers of this type are considered as insane and psychotic. Serial killers claim that they hear voices in their head telling them to kill. Some even have visions and other hallucinations.
The second type is the missionary-oriented motive type. These serial killers justify their killing by saying that they kill because they will make the world a better place. They are on a mission to exterminate a certain group who to them is immoral and unacceptable like prostitutes and homosexuals.
The third type is the thrill-oriented motive type or the hedonistic type. The serial killers who belong to this group are killers who kill because they derive pleasure from it. They enjoy killing and as their killing continues, they become better at killing to improve the enjoyment they get from it.
The fourth type is the lust killer. The killer kills for sexual gratification. They get sexually aroused in torturing their victims.
The last type is the power/control type. This type is the most common among all serial killers. The killers of this type may have been abused as children and it made them feel powerless and inadequate. That is why their main objective for killing is to gain and exert power over their victims so that they may in turn be the oppressor and not the oppressed.
Causes of Serial Killer Behavior
Internal
As Ressler, et.al. states in their book, Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives, Fantasy is an elaborate thought with great preoccupation, anchored in emotion and having origins in daydreams. Fantasies are usually experienced as thoughts, although the individual maybe conscious of images, feelings, and actual internal dialogue.
Again, Macalester College serialkillers/fantasies.html> adds that fantasy drives behavior. Fantasy is self-hypnotization. Fantasies are so powerful that one can even remove pain if someone believes and dream that they are not in that present situation, a common happening in abused children. Usually serial killers in their childhood were preoccupied and actually preferred the fantasy life. Serial killers are always fantasizing about violent and sexualized thoughts prior to their first murder. These serial killers even kill just to make these fantasies of killing come true. After their first kill, they will fantasize again how to perfect their ability to kill. Studies have shown that fantasies are directly link to sadistic acts of violence.
In the same fashion, Wikepedia says that fantasies of serial killers are usually molded from pornography, frequently the violent type involving bondage, from detective magazines, and some serial killers even said that their fantasies have been influenced by the Bible, particularly the Revelation.
Norris, Joel points that aggression is the hostile or destructive behavior that is used in an attempt to dominate. It includes behaviors necessary for human survival but also those leading to pathologic destruction. It is often unprovoked. Serial killer actions can certainly be classified as aggressive as they are not prompted, are injurious, and are directed at mastering their victims.
Aggression is the end product of the processes of the brain. Aggression can be altered, strengthened, or weakened by environmental factors. It has as its center a complex a complex interaction of anatomic, chemical, and physiological determinants. Disruptions of controlling physiological mechanisms can lead to pathologic states of aggression. These disruptions can be caused by: neuroanatomical factors and neurochemical factors.
Macalester College ers/neuroanatomy.html> discusses that the neural control of aggression is hierchical; for instance, the midbrain and brainstem program the muscular movements but they are controlled by another structure, which in turn is controlled by another structure, and so on.
The first area to be discussed is the limbic system. The only parts of the limbic system related to aggression are the amygdala (amygdaloid complex) and the hypothalamus.
The primary function of the amygdala is emotion. A study of amygdala lesioning on 60 individuals with epilepsy or behavioral disorders was conducted. The results shows a great improvement to 29 patients (calm, obedient, social adaptation possible), moderate improvement to 22 patients (calmer), slight improvement to 7 patients (reduced excitation), and no improvement at all for 2 patients. This showed the vital role of the amygdala to aggression.
The next part of the limbic system is the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus links the endocrine system and the nervous systems in the brain stem. The hypothalamus also receives information from the amygdala. The hypothalamus lies below the thalamus and above the pituitary gland. The hypothalamus is involved in controlling thirst, appetite, and body temperature (The Human Body 1992). Most important of all, it is involved in aggression. Electrical stimulation or lesioning of the medial hypothalamus will turn animals into savage beasts as observed by Glusman (Glusman 1986). Lesions in humans have similar effects. As studied by Bear (Bear 1988), the patients who underwent the electrical stimulation attacked the attendants or anyone present at that time. But they later showed remorse and were able to control themselves.
This only showed that damage to the limbic system could trigger aggressive outbursts.
The second area of the brain to be discussed is the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is located at the very front of the brain. It receives information from multiple areas: the extra personal space, hypothalamus, and limbic system. The prefrontal cortex allows an individual to process judgment and to modulate or inhibit aggressive responses in a socially appropriate way. Damage to this part of the brain will make the patient strike out after little or no provocation at all, not considering the consequences. They will exhibit fast reflexive emotional responses to stimuli.
Macalester College ers/neurochem.html> states that the most significant relationship have been found between violent behavior and the neurotransmitter system.
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that enable the communication of nervous cells, neurons, in the central and peripheral nervous systems. In the human brain, this aspect of function regulates the flow of information to the neurons associated with emotional, cognitive, and behavioral experiences.
The brain has these neurotransmitters that either excites or starts the aggression mechanism or inhibit it. Examples of excitatory neurotransmitters are acetylcholine and norepinephrine while the inhibitory neurotransmitters are the serotonin and GABA (gammaaminobutyric acid).
A study by Burrowes (Burrowes 1988) which shows that patients with a low 5-HIAA ( a serotonin metabolite) levels attempted several violent suicides (a form of self-aggression). Serotonin leads to the limbic system which is involved in the production of emotional-affective behavior as well as aggression. Low serotonin levels will not stop the limbic system from being activated leading to outbursts of aggression.
Macalester College ers/corn.html> gives an idea why a balanced diet is important. It is proven that disturbed behaviors in youth are caused by an inappropriate food intake which leads to the insufficient intake of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that regulates the production of serotonin. Also, excessive intake of junkfood is harmful for it contains excitatory neurotoxins that lead to the impairment of the brain’s serotinergic control and inhibitory control.
Macalester College ers/GENETICS.html> once again states that researchers proposed that the cause of the serial killer behavior may be influenced by a genetic factor. The researchers then conducted surveys among criminal men who are imprisoned in maximum security institutions. The results shows that they have an abnormal sex chromosome. It is discovered that they have an extra Y chromosome that is related to tallness and antisocial behavior.
However these surveys were uncontrolled therefore caution is asked when readers analyze this data.
There are actually three particular personality disorders that are related to serial killers. Macalester College ers/psychological_assoc.html> directly gives these disorders.
The first is the attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. This disorder is well known for its pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than is typically observed in individuals at the same level of development. There are evidences that Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD is prominent in serial killers and they are commonly referred to psychiatrists for treatment of rage and psychopathy.
Second is the antisocial personal disorder (the psychopath or sociopath). These people are usually with the characteristics of general disregard for others and are always caught violating the rights of others. They are very deceitful and manipulative. Contrary to common belief, a sociopath does not mean someone who is withdrawn or does not want to socialize.
Last is the conduct disorder. A person suffering from this disorder is always violating the basic rights of others. This criterion is for children and adolescence aged 17 and below. They are deceitful, aggressive, and they love destroying property of other people.
External
Serial killer development can begin in the womb, as stated by Macalester College .
Malnutritioned, anemic, alcoholic and drug-addicted mothers often have children with abnormal brain development. Alcoholism and drug abuse are hazardous to a fetal development as it interferes with the nervous system and these may affect a child’s and adult’s ability to control violent impulsive behavior. Also as Macalester College adds, an unhappy or unwanted pregnancy may cause a harmful effect on the future of an unborn child. It has been noted that stress levels result in the secretion of hormones, such as cortisal, that can be toxic to a fetus.
Equally important, Macalester College hap/ubnrp/serialkillers/bond.html> declares that pediatricians believe that bonding between parents start from the moment of birth. Gestures and emotional connections is the foundation for his future relationships with others. Bonding is also important to intellectual development and future self reliance, management of fear and other negative emotions. Most importantly, bonding is important to the development of conscience.
Bonding is achieved in stages that begin with smiles and gestures to the mother to being able to differentiate family and another. There is really no concluded time needed to complete this process. But it is generally agreed that by the age of two, a human being’s attitude toward life and other human beings has already been established.
Furthermore, the disruption of this bonding may render a child to be incapable of feeling sympathy, affection, or remorse (characteristics of serial killers). They are “detached” as said by pediatricians and psychologists and according to Newton (1992) as victims of humanity.
These detached children form a relationship based on need and not on emotion. They are also often retarded in development and conceptual thinking and language skills. They then became more aggressive and violent as they enter adolescence. The worst that could happen is that the individual could be suffering with antisocial personality disorder.
Macalester College ers/blame.html> further adds that criminologists and psychologists believe that sociopathic character, their tendencies, capacity for aggression, and raw violence are associated with family social patterns and dynamics. The childhood that these serial killers have is so terrible and cold that this caused them to loose their empathy for their fellow man.
Finally, Macalester College serialkillers/deadm.html> states that Ruth Inglis in her book Sins of Fathers notes a strong relationship between children and subsequent violent behaviors. Webster-Stratton in 1985 found that parents who were abused as children were more likely to abuse their own children in return. Dean et al in 1986 noted that children believed that their parents were just maltreating them due to their behavior. But the earlier the victims are abused; these children won’t understand what is happening. They will be less competent in expressing themselves. The only way the child can communicate is by acting out. They also carry these negative feelings to adulthood that causes internal anger and violence. It will all just be a vicious cycle. In the long run we would be having many emotionally unstable individuals.
Macalester College ers/del.html> points out that the social process theory states that one turns to crime as a result of peer group pressure, family problems, poor school performance, and etc. This is why it is possible to push a child into delinquent or violent behaviors.
Similarly, Macalester College /serialkillers/envi.html> gives us another theory, the social structure theory. This theory states that individuals from poverty-beaten families are more able to commit crimes because they can’t achieve the state of life that is financially stable through legitimate means, a result of their racial, ethnic, or subcultural standing.
Also Macalester College says that the origins of serial killer behavior deal with the social and cultural background. The specific environmental factor from the American culture that causes serial killer behavior is hard to pinpoint. Some selected American culture that we can relate to criminal violence are the normalization of interpersonal violence, the strong emphasis on creature comforts, emphasis on thrills and highs, the magical thinking, the unmotivated resentment and blaming of others, normalization of impulsiveness, excess of violent role-models, and lastly the emphasis on speed and immediate need-gratification.
There are no conclusions to the direct causes of serial killer behavior but data and literature suggests that alcohol, drugs, and pornography as major contributing factors. Although, it is a belief that pornography and alcohol causes people to kill but many Americans indulge on these yet they never physically harm anyone.
Macalester College ers/murdt.html> states that urbanism is also linked to serial killing. Murders here are often associated with social disorder, alienation, drugs, fear, dissociation, poverty, and broken homes. The probability of serial killer murder occurrences increases as the population density increases. Psychologists reason that this is due to the impersonilization and frequent encounter with strangers that go in hand with largely populated cities. High density populations are attractive to those who wish to melt to their environment. Further research is underway to warrant the connection between population density and the occurrence of serial murders.
Phases of Serial Killing
Macalester College ers/mindhome.html> clearly shows that there are four phases to serial murder.
The first phase is the antecedent behavior and planning. Before planning a kill, a killer is highly stressed from his life (job, home, school, relationships, and death-caused stress). A killer expresses negative emotions and then plans a murder based on a conscious fantasy, or reason to kill. Before the crime or murder, the killer is very violent and aggressive that leads to fire-starting, killing of animals, assaulting people, stealing, etc. The killer then roam around an area every night looking for victims that match the victims in their fantasy (the victims are relevant to the cause of the killer behavior). The impulse to kill only happens when the victims refuse to “cooperate” there fore they kill the victim to preserve the fantasy. Some triggers to kill are alcohol or the person himself. The control of the killer over the victim is what matters.
The second phase is the actual murder. Some killers are brought to their senses when they find themselves in the actual scene. They then get scared when the victim starts to struggle or scream. Yet there are killers who get extremely “high” with the scene.
The third phase is the disposal of the body. Disposing of the body differs among killers. Some may choose to leave their victims in the open or leave them. The places where they leave or bury their victims are relevant to the killer. One case is when a killer buried heads at his backyard with the heads looking up to his mother’s window. He would then tell his mother, “People look at you”. The body position is also important as it should be in a specific position just like in their fantasy. Some may be left nude or with small articles of clothing.
Other serial killers keep souvenirs of their victim, keeping body parts and the like.
The final phase is the post crime activity and behavior. After the crime, a killer is relieved. Some are still emotionally high and can’t rest because of the fear of getting caught. Some even return to the crime scene to observe the discovery of the body. They keep newspaper clippings and document their killing. They sometimes are the anonymous callers that tip the police where to find the body.
Preventive Measures to Remedy Serial Killing
Macalester College ers/possibleinterventions.html> states that an array of medications can be administered to regulate the aggressiveness. There are serotonin modulators such as lithium that are very useful.
Asiaweek, 20(16) (April 20, 1944): page 31 on the other hand states that stricter punitive measures must be enforced to prevent crimes from flourishing. For instance, Singapore did not tolerate teenage vandalizer Michael Faye and imprisoned him. As a result, vandalism in Singapore eventually disappeared.
Similarly, Thales verifies that the only way we can prevent serial killing is to build impregnable walls along certain metroplex and every neighborhood. To enter or leave a secure region one must use an unforgable ID card. It will be easy to find the suspects as the time, place, and identifications can be easily obtained.
Finally, as The Agenda, 1(24) (November 18, 1993) states, bureaucracy should be neglected and a unification move among all crime prevention agencies and intelligence agencies should team up to solve and prevent crimes. Incompetence, corruption, and mismanagement of an agency should immediately be remedied.
Conclusion
Serial killers have struck fear into the hearts of human beings. They are a major threat to society but society must also consider that these so called monsters are the product of our own doing.
Society is just getting back its due for as the saying goes, for every action comes an equal and opposite reaction. A change in the way it treats people should be changed. Discrimination and prejudice should be eliminated to eliminate or at least prevent the serial killer phenomenon from growing.
We should also highlight the importance of the core of society, the family. Every child has a right to be in an environment of love and nurturing. The rights of children should be strictly enforced because it is true that the future of our society lies in their hands. We can apply stricter security measures but the best way to prevent a serial murder from occurring is to destroy the root of it all: domestic violence.
It has been proven so many times now that disunity and carelessness have caused so many problems and will continue its destruction unless we fight for unity. Through this we can achieve the real utopia.
Bibliography
Books
The Grolier International Dictionary.
Maynard, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin Company,
1988.
The New Encyclopædia Britannica. 15th ed.
Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.,
1993.
Ressler, et al.
Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives.
Lexington: Lexington Heath,
1988.
Sainsbury, et al.
The Illustrated Dictionary of The Human Body.
Wiltshire, UK: Merlion Publishing Ltd,
1992.
Articles
“Anti-Crime Board Creates SIKOP”
The Agenda,
November 18, 1993, p. 3
Asiaweek, 20-16 (April 20, 1994):
p. 31
Internet
Carpe Noctem
“History of Serial Killers”

Macalester College
“Aggression”

Macalester College
“Are We All Emotional Beings?”

Macalester College
“Associated Psychological Disorder”
assoc.html>
Macalester College
“Blame Mommy and Daddy”

Macalester College
“Bonding”

Macalester College
“Corn”

Macalester College
“Dead Mad”

Macalester College
“Delinquents”

Macalester College
“Fantasies”

Macalester College
“Genes and Intelligence”

Macalester College
“Mind of Serial Killers”

Macalester College
“Murder Down Town”

Macalester College
“Neuroanatomy”

Macalester College
“Neurons and Neurotransmitters”

Macalester College
“Nope It’s The Environment”

Macalester College
“Possible Interventions”

Macalester College
“Stress Kills”

Macalester College
“Who Created These Monsters?”
create.html>
MSN Encarta
“Serial Killer”

Norris, Joel
“Serial Killers”

“Serial Killer”

Scott, Shirley Lynn
“Serial Killers”

Thales
“Cause and Prevention”
http://members.aol.com/thales97/draco.htm
Wikipedia Encyclopedia
“Serial Killers”

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