LE300J Serial Killers as Heroes in Popular Culture
Professor Donna Strong
Throughout time many have had a fascination with serial killers and with help from the media they have become celebrities within our culture. There are many books, movies, television shows, and news coverage to introduce viewers to their lives. With all the interest behind serial killers, many wonder how they come to be this violent. The question is often asked, are serial killers born or made?
There are many myths that describe, or stereotype a serial killer. You may have heard that serial killers are all dysfunctional loners or that all serial killers are white males. One might also hear that serial killers are only motivated by sex, they travel and operate interstate, they cannot stop killing, they are all insane or evil geniuses, and serial killers want to get caught. As easy as it might be to believe these stereotypes, and although some serial killers meet a few of the descriptions, they are not necessarily true. Through studying Dexter, Perfume, Silence of the Lambs, Frankenstein, Dead Until Dark, and the Walking Dead it can be determined that serial killers are all driven by their own unique motives, they have committed more than three murders, not limited to any specific demographic group, and are committed over a short period of time with a “cooling off” period. Aside from these characteristics it is undetermined why a serial has a desire to kill, they all have their own unique reason.
To understand why a serial killer commits their violent acts we must understand if their motive was developed by nurture or nature. Research has provided evidence leading to believe that a parental figure or childhood environment can have a large influence of a child’s development into a murder. Sociologists believe that socialization factors play a key role in a serial killers life. One’s environment as a child and adult as well as interaction during one’s initial nurturing phases influence the decisions one makes throughout life. Nurturing factors that are common in serial killers are neglect, failure to develop coping mechanisms, isolation, rejection, abuse, victims of bullies, and hatred towards a certain group of people.
As we saw in Frankenstein Victor Frankenstein took the act of God and created man. When the monster had awake he found himself not only to be rejected by the people, but also by his creator. Frankenstein’s monster only wanted to be accepted, he wanted to be seen as a friend or a companion. Since he was only seen as a monster he turned into a monster. Seeking out revenge for the one who created him, the one who created him to be isolated him he killed those closest to Victor so he could understand what he had done. If Frankenstein’s monster had the proper nurturing and care from his creator, or had a companion to accept him for what he was he would have never turned into the monster that was created.
In other opinions serial killers have been found to have traits such as lack of remorse or guilt, impulsivity, and a need for control. These behaviors have a consistency with psychopathy, also known as a personality disorder. There are four categories of psychopathy, interpersonal traits, affective traits, lifestyle behaviors and anti-social behaviors. Interpersonal traits consist of glibness, superficial charm, grandiose sense of worth, pathological lying, and manipulation. Affective traits are known as lack of remorse, shallow affect, lack of empathy, and failure to accept responsibility. The lifestyle behaviors consist of stimulation seeking behaviors, impulsivity, irresponsibility, parasitic orientation, and lack of realistic goals. Finally, the anti-social behaviors are poor behavioral controls, early childhood behavior problems, juvenile delinquency, revocation of conditional release, and criminal versatility. With common traits of...
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