The Causation of Serial Killers People become serial killers for many reasons. Serial Killers are people with three or more seperate events with an emotional cooling off period between homicides with an emotional cooling- off period between homicides with each murder taking place at a different location. (Schechter and Everitt, 69). Serial killers are the most frightening psychopaths because they do not reveal any of the basic human emotions- empathy, conscience, or remorse, (Schechter and Everitt, 179). According to Schechter and Everitt, authors of the A-Z Encyclopedia of Serial Killers, Serial Killers tend to be Caucasian men who kill white victims. Their studies have shown that 84% of serial killers are Caucasian, 90% are males, and 89% of the victims are white. There are four types of serial killers*.
The most common one is the Lust Killer who kills to sexually stimulate themselves. The more they torture a victim, the pleasure the serial killer receives (Who is a Serial Killer?, 5). Although serial killers are well known today, they originated as far back as ancient Rome. Serial killing first started when the Roman Emperor Caligula tested torture and perversion on his prisoners . Most crime buffs believed that the first modern era serial killer was Jack the Ripper, a man who killed five London streetwalkers. Serial killing did not become well known until the post- world war II. By the 1970’s serial killing had become such a problem that law enforcement officials needed to define the new crime category (Schechter and Everitt, 115). Former FBI agent Robert K.
Ressler coined the term “Serial Killer”, which has become well known among society. This psychopathic behavior grew to all parts of the world, including Canada. For example, Paul Bernardo, also known as the Scarborough Rapist, killed two Ontario teenagers. Most serial killers situate in the United States. 76% of the worlds serial killers come from the United States (Schechter and Everitt, 276).
Although serial killers are increasing people still speculate the reasoning of such psychopathic behavior. Many people wonder the causes of the disturbing behavior of serial killers. The most plausible and believable theory is that traumatic childhood experiences lead directly to the behavior of serial killers. The “Homicide Triad”, sadistic daydreaming and abuse of a child are key factors in the development of a serial killer. The “Homicide Triad” that includes enuresis, arson and animal torture as a child, is one of the most common traits of a serial killer.
A key component that causes serial killer behavior is the “homicide triad” experienced as a child. The triad is made up of fire-starting, enuresis and sadistic behavior . One of the important and most common parts of the “homicide Triad” is Arson. John E. Douglas, a psychological profiler, believes that the future serial killers are arsonists because of a “fascination due to their fondness of spectacular destruction”(Schechter and Everitt, 282). He concludes that a serial killer’s fascination for destruction increases as they get older and they turn to murder to satisfy their need for destruction.
John E. Douglas and his colleagues Ann Burgess and Robert Ressler interviewed many serial killers and found that 56% of serial killers were arsonists as children (The Life of a Child: Childhood Traits of a Serial Killer, 3). Teenage killer George Adorno, set fire to his own sister at the age of four. Another example would include serial killer Carl Panzram, who killed twenty-one people. While Panzram was in reform school for theft at the age of eleven, he torched the school, costing more than one hundred thousand dollars worth of damage (Schechter and Everitt, 283).
Sadistic activity, bed-wetting, and fire-starting are common threads among serial killers that supports the theory that childhood experiences relate to psychopathic behavior. Besides the three symptoms of the “Homicide Triad,” another common denominator in the childhood of a serial killer is sadistic daydreaming. Another problem serial killers faced as children was Sadistic daydreaming. These daydreams were usually of sexual and violent nature. A psychology professor at Luther College, Jeremy Anderson states “Future serial killers have sexual fantasies as children to help control their fear and it is a way to relieve hostility and aggression towards others”(Anderson, 50). A child uses sexual fantasies as a form of escape from an abusive situation.
Their daydreams as children allow them to become in control of themselves, others and the world. They also use sexual fantasies to fulfill the love they never received (Anderson 3). For example, kicking a dog so the animal would listen to them or beat them or beating and/or killing their parents are all common sadistic daydreams of serial killers as children (Anderson, 3). Sadistic daydreaming as children is the leading cause of serial killers. Many studies have shown that more than 82% of serial killers have had a problem with excessive daydreaming as children (The Life of a Child: Childhood Traits of a Serial Killer, 3). Their sadistic daydreaming as children influenced them as adults to act out their fantasies.
Jeremy Anderson, professor of psychology at Luther college states, “As the years pass, the future serial killer’s reliance on fantasies only increases. It continues to substitute for real feelings of control, and as a vent for anger, it also comes to compensate for feelings of low self esteem and feelings of general anger”(Anderson, 62). Serial killer Ted Bundy carried knives around with him at the age of three due to his fantasies of controlling people with knives. He used knives on at least fifty women when he was older and each victim was a substitute for his mother whom he daydreamed about killing numerously but could never follow through with it. Although sadistic daydreaming as a child can lead to serial killer behavior, the most common denominator of serial killers is abuse as a child.
Most serial killers undergo many forms of abuse as children. Sexual, psychological and physical abuse as a youngster fills a child with hate and self loathing that torments a child to become vengeful towards others for their own troublesome family backgrounds. More than 43% of serial killers were sexually molested as children (Schechter and Everitt, 293). Serial killer Jrgen Bartsch was bathed by his mother in Germany until he was eighteen years old. His mother would clean his private parts that would sexually stimulate him (Strean and Freeman, 191). This abuse caused Bartsch’s psychopathic fantasies, which lead to the killing of ** victims.
More than 74% of serial killers were subjected to continuous psychological torture as a child (Schechter and Everitt, 293). Bartsch’s mother screamed and threatened him numerous times of cutting off his penis, which lead him to his fear of his sexuality (Strean and Freeman, 192). FBI findings prove that over 42% of serial killers have suffered sever physical abuse (Schechter and Everitt, 293). In a recent study by Strean and Freeman, authors of *******************, twelve out of fifteen death row inmates were physically abused as children. Jrgen Bartsch who was exposed to sexually and psychological abuse was also exposed to physical abuse. Bartsch tells psychologist Paul Moor, “She’s broken more than one wooden cloth’s hanger across my back” (Strean and Freeman, 196).
Bartsch traumatic childhood experiences prove how abuse as a child leads to serial killer behavior later on in life. Many killers undergo abuse as a child that warps their personalities and causes them to kill other people. Paul Moor states “If we are treated in childhood with hate and violence, such treatment sets the stage for our later emotional behavior”(Strean and Freeman, 188). Dr. Lewis professor of psychiatry at the New York University of Medicine, also believes that serial killer behavior is due to abuse as a child.
“Those who commit violence suffer from a history of sever abuse and/or family violence during childhood” (Strean and Freeman, 210). Abuse as a child is a key component in the development of the serial killer. The development of a serial killer comes directly from their childhood experiences. Most serial killers display at least one of the “Homicide Triads,” either adolescent bed-wetting, arson or sadistic activity. This connection between serial killers as youngsters supports the theory that childhood experiences lead directly to psychopathic behavior of a serial killer.
Parents and other role models need to look out for these symptoms and get psychiatric help for their children. Crimes as youngsters should not only be punished, but also analyzed by a professional for the deeper reasoning behind their behavior. Too much daydreaming as a child, especially those of sexual or violent nature is used to escape the realties of life. Relatives, teachers and friends should be more involved in the child’s life so that the child does not have as much time to daydream. The adults should become more involved in the child’s life so that they could realize that their child has a problem and seek professional help before the problem progresses any further.
Child abuse scars a child and causes hate towards others to develop. The pain afflicted upon serial killers as children sexually, emotionally and physically, causes them to take vengeance out on others for their troubled childhood. If people in the community take action and report child abuse instead of not getting involved, the hatred developed from the abuse might stop, and allow the child a chance at regaining a normal life. The future serial killer should receive counseling to help them recuperate from the abuse and the child’s violent behaviors would not develop. If society became involved and made sure that each child was loved and treated well, many lives would be saved in the future. Traumatic childhood experiences all lead to the development of the most frightening psychopath of all- The Serial Killer.