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The Mind of a Serial Killer

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As police walk into an abandoned house, a foul stench overtakes them. The room is dim and looks as though no one has been here for months. They walk further into the house and begin to see spots of blood on the floor. They follow this trail down the stairs into the basement where the smell becomes overwhelming, causing some of the officers to gasp and run back up the stairs. In the basement, they find the remains of several young boys who have been molested and badly mutilated. What could cause someone to participate in such horrendous deeds? What sort of person is able to perform such wicked acts?

Serial killers always have aroused the curiosity and concern of the public. People seem to be both fascinated and repulsed by their horrendous crimes. The stories make newspaper headlines, and their gruesome murders are the subject of popular movies and best-selling books. In this paper, I will discuss what causes a human being to become a serial killer. Although social scientists have developed many theories to explain the mind of a serial killer, the scientific evidence supports the theories of sociopathy, psychopathy, sadistic fulfillment, childhood abuse, and genetics.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation defines a serial murder as the killing of several victims in ten or more separate incidents over an extended period of time (Dietz 483). Serial murderers are often classified into specific categories. One category is motive; motive killers are sexually sadistic killers or spree killers. The psychology of the killer is another category used to characterize these criminals. These types of killers are classified as sociopaths and psychopaths. This paper will focus mainly on killers of the psychotic and sexually sadistic kind, for these are the ones on which the public and media tend to focus.

According to James Fox and Jack Levin (19), serial killers are most always Caucasian males who are in their twenties or thirties. Although there are reported cases of female serial killers, the field is predominantly composed of males. There are two key characteristics of a serial killer, one being the presence of sociopathy or aggressive antisocial behavior. It has been estimated that nearly three percent of males in our society may be sociopaths. Most socio-paths are not violent: they may lie, cheat, or steal, but rape and murder are not nec...

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...ts continue to study genetics, they undoubtedly will provide more information about the genetic makeup of a serial killer.

The public is disgusted by the bloody deeds that serial killers have committed, but they will forever intrigue us. The fascination stems from the fact that in most cases the killers are so similar to the common person. On the outside they seem as normal as the next. Fortunately for humanity, the next person is not capable of such ghastly deeds. These serial killers are often psychopathic or sociopathic persons who were abused as children. Others may be trying to fulfill their own sadistic fantasies that were brought on by their childhood experiences. The most recent reason identified is a link to a genetic predisposition to violence. The inherent goodness of humans can sometimes go awry and lead to a person who is as evil as a serial killer. No matter how one analyzes the killers, they are not normal in any sense. Edmund Kemper when asked what he thought when he saw a pretty woman walking down the street replied, “One side of me says, 'I'd like to talk to her, date her.' The other side of me says, 'I wonder how her head would look on a stick?'” (Ming Ho).
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