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The Mind of a Killer Essay example

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The mind of a killer is one that is not easily comprehended. The events of their lives deeply root and morph themselves into disturbed thoughts and mind sets that fuel a killer to commit murder. In Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, the case of the quadruple homicide of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas involved murderers who were two very different individuals that had teamed up to commit an important “score”. The plan was devised by Dick Hickock to rob and murder the Clutter family and he brought about his cellmate from prison, Perry Smith to assist him with the job. Each man’s past contains different events that contribute to their not-so-sound states of mind and each view the crime differently. The psychological differences between the men give a better insight into the execution of the Clutter murders and the reasoning behind them.
Perry Smith’s past proves to be highly influential his psychological state of mind. He grew up in an unstable home as his mother was an alcoholic and his father remained absent for long periods during his life. His home life was very insolvent as a child until his parents divorced when he was six years old. After that, he was sent to a Catholic orphanage where he was punished by the nuns. Whenever Smith would wet the bed, the nuns would beat him. Perry states, “I had weak kidneys and wet the bed every night. I was severely beaten by the cottage mistress, who had called me names and made fun of me in front of all the boys” (275). First signs of his disturbed psychological state were brought up around this time. “She was later discharged from her job. But this never changed my mind about her and what I wish I could have done to her and all the people who made fun of me” (275). His father then came, ...


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...m all while Dick collected the shells from the gun. Dick’s suffering from a character disorder is different from Perry suffering from schizophrenia because while Dick’s disorder still affects his actions and thought process, Perry’s keeps him blind to his actions and how they are wrong.
While Perry and Dick were on two different sides of the psychological realm, it did not stop them from working together to execute the murders of the Clutter family. Capote’s portrayal of Perry and Dick provides an insight into the minds of the killers themselves and brings the reader a better understanding of the crime. The explanation of their past and what led them to their psychological disturbed states helps one to understand why the two men, although virtually complete different with their problems, were able to execute one of the most heinous murders in American history.



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