While researching serial killers and their psychological disorders and mental health, I found a few articles about the same. The authors of these articles are scholars who study both neurobiology and criminal behavior. This paper aims to analyze these articles, try to explain the disorders that serial killers might have, and their way of thinking, and make conclusions.
To achieve this goal, I have divided my paper into 4 sections. In the first section, I will discuss the motivation and desires of serial killers. In the second part, I will try to explain the behavior of serial killers from a psychological point of view; moreover, the mental disorders of serial killers will be discussed. In the third section, I will provide examples of serial killers with psychological disorders. In the last section, I will discuss how mental diseases can be avoided or treated.
A serial killer is a person who has killed more than two people in two or more separate events on purpose. The thing that distinguishes serial killers from other killers is that they intentionally and continuously kill other people mostly for psychological reasons. Many people in the world suffer from mental diseases, but not all of them are serial killers. So, a serial killer kills other people not only because of his/her mental health. This kind of attitude is related to different social, political, or even economic factors. Moreover, personal experiences can make people hate the whole world and kill other people. Some serial killers think that they kill bad people thus they believe that they are doing the right thing. It is not a secret that some serial killers have good mental health, so, the relationship between a desire to kill and mental diseases is controversial. Most people just think that if someone does something that is not normal – he is mentally unhealthy, but if they dig deeper – they will find the answers. So, the reason why serial killers kill people is to bring justice to the world, which, according to them, is full of ignorance and pain. Different killers kill for different reasons. Some of them grew up in bad families, but the main idea is the inner fight inside the mind of a killer and the external fight with the whole world.
There are many kinds of psychological disorders, but the most popular one is Antisocial Personality Disorder. “This is a cluster B personality in the DSM IV and is intimately related to psychopathy. Psychopathy is not a clinical diagnosis, but it is considered a developmental disorder by neuroscientists” (Blair, 414). People, who suffer from this disease, feel emotional disturbances, psychological and social alienation, isolation, and difficulties in establishing contacts; moreover, they are usually non-communicative. It is hard for them to master moral and legal norms. Often they kill other people due to a high accumulation of negative emotions, since they don’t know (or do not want to find) another way how to cope with their problem. Another disease is Borderline Personality Disorder, which is characterized by “emotional instability, anxiety, and psychotic-like symptoms where those afflicted can suddenly become very paranoid or suspicious of others” (Skodol, Siever, Livesley, Gunderson, Pfohl, and. Widiger 951). This kind of disease is more common but less popular. People, who suffer from it, have problems regulating their emotions and actions as well. So, this disease can provoke terrible consequences like splashes of anger or even a desire to commit murder. If there are many of these splashes, a person is ready to kill someone. The last disease common among serial killers is schizophrenia. “A common characteristic of schizophrenics, however, is to have jumbled and confused thoughts, which, when considered in light of cold, calculated, and premeditated murders, it is harder to merit schizophrenia as a driving force behind serial murder” (Bear, Connors, and Paradiso). The point is that a person has mixed thoughts and feelings about killing someone. A killer is uncertain about what he/she has to do. There are similar diseases to schizophrenia; these are schizoid and schizotypal personality disorders. So, these kinds of mental diseases are the most popular diseases among serial killers. A person’s mental health plays a huge role regarding how he/she feels or what he/she wants to do and mental diseases greatly impact the person’s way of thinking, sometimes making them become serial killers.
The article 7 Serial Killers Who Suffered From Mental Illness presents some examples of serial killers, who suffered from mental disorders:
Richard Chase killed 6 people in Sacramento and drank their blood. Before his first murder, Chase was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was institutionalized for a year. Jeffrey Dahmer was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. However, he was still found competent to stand trial for his 17 murders. Ed Gein was the inspiration for some of the scariest fictional killers, including Norman Bates and Leatherface. After being charged with the murder and mutilation of multiple victims, he was deemed unfit for trial and diagnosed with schizophrenia. (Crime)
To avoid mental diseases people have to resist all negative things that they face in their lives. Problems related to family or work should not make people believe that they won’t be able to handle them. Problems that we may face should not make us act in amoral ways, because such amoral behavior can be reflected on other people, who have nothing to do with these problems. Moreover, people should avoid loneliness. It is normal when someone is just not like others, but sometimes it can lead to a lack of social skills and anger. When a person feels lonely, he/she thinks that there are no good things in this world and that all people around them are bad. It is great motivation for a person to become a killer, by the way. Another important factor that can impact people’s way of thinking is propaganda. Imagine that a horror movie can impress a person too much and it can even cause the desire to kill somebody. It can be a simple imitation of a maniac presented in a film or even a thoughtful decision, so people should be careful with horror films, especially, when children are watching them. Bad companies can also cause negative thoughts in people’s minds. People should avoid alcohol, drugs, bad companies, and other things that can cause mental disorders.
After having read Bear’s, Blair’s, and Skodol’s books about neurology and Crime’s article about serial killers, I can say that serial killer and mental diseases are strongly related. Serial killers’ desire to kill is caused by such diseases as Antisocial Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, and schizophrenia. But the problem is not only in a person’s mental health. Some serial killers do not suffer from these diseases and still kill other people on purpose. Many social issues impact how people view the world. So, these issues can hurt people. Living in the world means communicating with people. For serial killers killing others is a way of communication.
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