Death by strangulation, mutilated corpses, decapitated their heads, and gruesome necrophilia. Ted Bundy, an infamous killer, had a very charming, articulate, and an intelligent personality described by many. These traits made it very easy to get close to his victims. Although he seemed very charming he had a very dark side. After his love, unnamed, broke up with him Ted Bundy felt unloved and abandoned. This was a major trigger for Bundy, ending in tragedy of over 30 deaths who resembled the unnamed girl, such as her long dark brown hair and middle part, who ended their relationship. In many situations for serial killers, there is a triggering event that causes the killer to have the need to relive.
Do These humans Feel?
The stereotypical serial killer does not feel any emotions. They are perceived almost as if they were stone cold robots. With regards to their lack of mental capability, this theory is not completely wrong. A high amount of serial killers “suffer” from a mental illness, from a anti-personality disorder, such as sociopathy or psychopathy. A lot of the time the murderers would plead “innocent due to mental insanity.” The American Psychiatric Association (APA) do not consider them to be a mental illness. The traits for these disorders is having no guilt and remorse, disregard laws and morals, they also have a tendency to be violent. People such as Gary Ridgway, otherwise known as the The Green River Killer showed no remorse for killing as rumored 90 females.
Are all Murders the Same?
In the Holmes Typology they’re two groupings of killers, one is when the killing was to diminish a type of person, called Missionary. Ted Bundy’s need to kill women brunettes with a middle part is an example of missionary. The other category of the Holmes Typology is called visionary because the person hears voices to commit the act. An example for this type of serial killer is David Berkowitz widely know as The Son of Sam. His reasoning for all of his kills were because of what he thought a dog said to him.
Are Serial Killers Evil Geniuses?
You would think that you have to extremely intelligent in order to pull off these acts and stay hidden. Although they’re exceptions such as Ted Bundy with an IQ of 136, in general serial killers have an IQ between 90-110 like anyone of us. When you think of a killing super genius it’s most likely a reference to psychopath rather than a sociopath. The reason being is that a person who suffers from Sociopath personality Disorder (SPD) tends to be a lot less mentally developed than a psychopath. If we take Ted Bundy as an example, he is considered a psychopath because he was able to keep his main life stable. Unlike a sociopath like The Son of Sam who relatively spun out of control. They are excellent at covering their tracks from police and other authority. These murders are seen with such a high mental capability because they are always one step ahead so to speak.
Is it a Need or Want?
Some people think that serial killers want to kill. Most of the time it’s because killing becomes a need for the killer to feel “sane” or “in control.” Killing becomes a habit, a routine that they have to do at a precise time in a specific way. Serial killers are very much control freaks, everything has to go the way it was planned or they start to lose control and unhinge from reality. The mental process behind these humans’ killings are much more complicated for us to understand. The reason why killers take such drastic measurements is because they do not understand the fine line between fantasy and reality.
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Genetics or Childhood Environment?
In 2000 Dr. Richard Davidson did a study comparing normally functioning brains with brains that are prone to violent outbursts. The genetic makeup of people prone to serial killer qualities “showed a relationship between the orbital frontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the amygdala, which plays a large part in the control of negative and violent emotions.” The minds with the variation have little to know control of their orbital frontal cortex, which controls emotional outbursts that murderers tend to have. Also their amygdala is barely there which controls the fear response.
Even though scientists have gathered lots of information to back up that the serial killer tendence is genetic, many of us still believe it’s because of how the person grew up. Many killers such as Charles Manson, Aileen Wuornos, and Albert Fish grew up with a rough background that consisted of either neglect or abuse of physical mental or sexual terms. The abuse and or neglect happened at such a prime age that it may have affected their brain to completely develop as they aged. Out of many types abuse among serial killers is child abuse. Even though other killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted bundy had a relatively normal childhood they still went downhill.
As the years pass, many researchers are constantly trying to find new evidence that either backs up or disproves past theories. It is still a big debate whether or not serial killers are made because of a completely different genetic pattern or because of traumatic pasts. Studying these people and trying to identify what makes them “tick” is the only way to really see if, in the future, there is a way to prevent or identify killers before it’s too late.
Featured image By Donn Dughi in State Archives of Florida