When you hear the words Serial Killer, what do you think?

Serial Killer PsychologyA serial crime means repeatedly committing the same offense and typically following a characteristic, predictable behavior pattern while a serial killer is a person who determines a series of murders, often with no apparent motive and usually following a unique, predictable behavior pattern.

Many serial killers stand out amongst Americans such as The Zodiac Killer, The BTK Killer and Ted Bundy. Serial killers have their cooling off period in which they rest in between each murder and they usually work alone to kill.

According to Ronald M. and Stephen T. Holmes, a method called Holmes typology – is a serial killing is classified into two ways: (1) based on motive and (2) based on organizational and social patterns. Although this has gained more critics, many investigators found this Holmes typology very useful in studying the serial murder case.

Serial killers can be in either of the two: act-focused and process-focused. Act-focused killers, they kill and fall into either missionary or visionary. While process-focused killers, get enjoyment from torture and the slow death of their victims.

Psychology of a Serial Killer

Serial killers can also be classified into organized or unorganized and asocial or nonsocial.

However, the majority of identified serial killers have fallen into organized and nonsocial categories, and they mostly have basic patterns they follow. Most were intelligent, attractive and could not be identified through their physical appearance. An example is Ted Bundy, a smart, articulate, charismatic man who had convicted of 30 murders. Another example is John Wayne Gacy, who was a public figure in his community and was convicted of 33 murders of boys and men.

Most serial killers have experienced troubled childhood as one of the main factors why they end up in this cold scenario. They mostly come from broken families, been abused, or neglected.

Although it’s not certain about the reasons behind why these serial killers do this crime; there are at least three possible theories that may shed some light into these terrible acts:
  • Mental Illness

Most serial killers have to plead not guilty because of insanity. This reasoning is hard to argue. But to prove this reasoning, most serial killers don’t understand right from wrong at the time they had committed the crime. This pleading is hard to prove, as only two serial killers have successfully pled insanity

However, some serial killers were diagnosed by psychologists and psychiatrists as psychopaths – antisocial personality disorder (APD). Although psychopaths are not considered to be insane, since they know right from wrong, and this diagnosis may explain their killing cycles.

  • Child Abuse

Many serial killers experienced neglect and abuse in their childhood. It has been proved in all cases, that have mostly the same patterns in their childhood experience. Some also experience physical and sexual abuse in their younger years, and researchers believed that this had a significant impact on the individuals as they mature.

  • Brain Injury

Almost all researchers believed that high numbers of serial killers had brain damage that significantly contributed to the crimes they committed. An example of this is Henry Lee Lucas, an 11-time serial killer, who was shown to have an extreme brain injury in the frontal lobe, the hypothalamus, and the limbic system.

Whatever the reasons behind why they end up killing people, the research proves to be interesting.