Mind of a Maniac: Looking for the Drive of a Serial Killer
The minds and the inner workings of a serial killer have been analyzed, investigated, and pondered upon for many years. “Questions such as what makes his or her mind tick? Does he or she target one fitting victim? What are his or her motives?” are some of the most common that spring to mind. We all hold the power of being aggressive, of encompassing unthinkable and destructive thoughts of “torture, sadism and murder”, but we do not all become serial murderers (Knight, 21). This deviant behavior is often feared because it displays a small but troubled percentage of people who immerse in the torture and death of other humans. Serial killers, present all over the world, are generally known as offenders who commit repetitive, sequential homicides of any given nature (Pakhomou, 219). Robert Ressler, an FBI agent in the 1970’s, created the term serial killer in an effort to “replace the label” of stranger killings. In criminal terminology, serial means repeating the same offense in a predictable behavior pattern and to kill is to take life from a living organism. As a unit, serial killing is the act of repetitive homicides committed by an offender. The study of the motives behind serial killing occurs infrequently, due to the lack of concrete evidence that is revealed through studies and the varying results from tests conducted to understand the actions of selected offenders. The notoriety of serial killing has increased highly since the 1890’s when one of the first documented serial killer was introduced; Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as H.H. Holmes, was a hotel owner who used the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago to solicit many guests, employees, and even lovers who were ultimately all of his victims. According to director and writer of H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer, John Borowski, Holmes stripped the flesh of his victims to craft them into skeleton models, and then sell them to medical schools for profit. This case was widely publicized and was only the beginning of a horrifying but growing act of human cruelty. There are many factors that can induce one to act out in gruesome way; in Holmes’ case, it seemed to be profit. Other motives include revenge, lust, thrill, power, or even attention. Although there are no determinative components that justify the true reason for serial homicide, evidence suggests that biological, environmental, and cognitive elements are pertinent to the development of a serial killer (Pakhomou, 219). To understand and possibly prevent serial murder, it is important to study the sociological causes for this deviant criminal behavior; these causes consist of the background and childhood, psychological contributions, and motives for these murders. The upbringing and background of serial murderers largely affect why they kill and their motives to kill. To understand someone’s present life, it is essential to observe his or her past. Many serial killers have a history of trauma or have a mixture of struggles that they have experienced. In a summary of findings, Wade Myers reports that out of 16 homicidal juveniles, 100% had school problems, 94% had a dysfunctional family system, and a following 94% who had a history of family abuse (Myers, 360). These percentages demonstrate a high chance of many other serial murderers who have encountered if not all then at least one of these issues as a child. In a case study, Scott Culhane and his colleagues observed a convicted serial killer in great depth. The subject suffered extreme abuse from his father between the ages of one to ten. The father also encouraged the subject and his younger brother to be at odds with each other, provoking them to constantly fight. Not only did this absence of true parenting affect them but also the violence that came with it. At the age of 17, the subject’s younger brother robbed...
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