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Serial Killers.

Essay by   •  March 24, 2019  •  Dissertation  •  2,865 Words (12 Pages)  •  807 Views

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To what extent are the minds of psychopathic serial killers the result of nature or nurture and how do they differentiate from the mainstream mind?


Over multiple decades in the late 20th century, there was a rise in notorious serial killers across North America. These notorious figures such as John Wayne Gacey, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy and others have massively raised public interest for their lack of remorse and sociopathic tendencies. In this dissertation I plan to discuss and analyse psychopathy and the characteristics, the results of environmental and biological factors that have had an influence on psychopathy. I will compare different well-known serial killers based on early childhood experiences, characteristics, tendencies, crimes and personalities to try and explain whether it is genetics, environment or a combination of the two that make people like this commit murder.

There are many theories as to why humans have become serial killers. Most theories debated are either due to nature or nurture. The most likely and obvious theory to believe is that serial killers are made through nurture. This will include the childhood experiences of the child, relationships through life, whether they were molested as a child and the way they have been treated throughout their lives. The nature theory is studied through examining the brain through brain scans to see if there is a particular area of the brain that does not function as it should like a normal mind should or whether there is a specific gene which could make an individual more likely to be capable of such crimes. This would be seen when they have a lack of empathy for their victims which is a very common trait throughout all serial killers.

Infamous serial killers

Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer was a diagnosed a psychotic from America who was not only a serial killer, he raped and dismembered boys throughout his life mainly in the years 1978-1991 before he was sent to prison February 15th 1992 for the 15 out of 16 counts of murder however it is estimated Dahmer had killed 17 boys in his time. Jeffrey Dahmer suffered extreme childhood trauma. He was born in Wisconsin to parents Lionel and Joyce Dahmer who described him as a energetic and happy child. When Jeffrey was 4, he went into surgery to have a double hernia corrected. From this moment on, people seen a change in Jeffrey as he seemed distant which became worse as he increasingly became withdrawn after the birth of his younger brother. Jeffrey has claimed to being molested by his neighbour at the age of 10 and has been described as friendless and disengaged through his teenage years. His mother struggled with post-natal depression and other psychological issues that would have clearly had a negative impact on Dahmer, affecting his infant internal development which would later have major impacts on his life. This caused Jeffrey’s mother to have a distant relationship with him and constantly snap at him for no reason. His parents was often in conflict throughout the early stages of his life leading them to divorce when Jeffrey was 17 years old. He claims his compulsions towards necrophilia and murder began around the age of 14, but it seems a few years later his parents bitter divorce may have been the catalyst for him to turn his thoughts into real life when both parents abandoned Jeffrey at 18 years old. His first murder was just after Jeffrey had finished high school when his alcohol addiction was at its peak, he picked up a hitchhiker names Steven Hicks. Jeffrey drove Steven to his parents’ house where he proceeded to drink with him until he got Steven very drunk. Steven tried to leave which resulted in Jeffrey hitting him on the head and strangling him to death. Jeffrey dismembered the corpse of Steven and packed the body parts into plastic bags, buried them behind his parents’ house to later di up the bags, crush the remains with a hammer and scatter them across the woods.

Dahmer joined Ohio state university where his uncontrollable alcohol addiction had gotten too far, causing him to drop out of the university. Jeffrey joined the army after his father insisted however Jeffrey’s drinking problem continued causing the army to discharge him shortly after he was posted to Germany. There was no known murder victims whilst Jeffrey was with the army. After being dismissed, Jeffrey returned to Ohio where he was arrested for disorderly conduct forcing his father to kick him out of the house and send him to in Wisconsin with his grandmother. Here, he was arrested for indecent exposure and received a probationary sentence after two boys accused him of masturbating in front of them.

Ted Bundy

Ted Bundy is a murderer, rapist and necrophilia who grew up in America in the 1940s and committed numerous crimes during his life up until 1989 where he was electrocuted in the electric chair in Florida’s state prison. Exploring teds past and experiences from his childhood will help give me some insight as to why he turned into the man he was.

Ted Bundy was born in Vermont in 1946, his mother Eleanor Cowell was 22 at the time she had ted and was deeply ashamed of him due to the fact she was a single, unmarried parent. Teds grandparents were humiliated at the fact ted was a illegitimate child born out of wedlock. Eleanor gave birth to ted in a home for unwed mothers in Vermont and returned to Philadelphia with her parents. Here, ted was raised as his grandparent’s son, raised to believe his mother was his older sister. A few years later, his mother moved ted to Washington where she married Johnnie Bundy and had multiple children together.

Some family members had suggested suspicions of their own that ted may have been abused by Eleanor’s father, his grandfather. Ted's grandfather Samuel was described as a short tempered man who beat his wife and the family dog. Samuel had also flew into a violent rage when ted started questioning who his real parents was. Ted described his grandmother as a timid obedient woman. His grandmother had often had therapy for depression and feared to leave the house.

Ted started showing unusual interests and tendencies at an early age. Ted became fascinated by knives the first known disturbing act ted had done was gathered knives from the kitchen and surrounded his sleeping grandmother with them. Through school, ted was a shy but very intelligent child who didn't care much for socialising. In teds teenage years, his dark side of his character started to appear. Ted started walking around the neighbourhood at night and looking



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