The unfortunate result of having such great intelligence, is that serial killers use their smarts for the wrong reason. “They use it to premeditate their murders, investigate routines among their victims, reason within their head the possible outcomes if a certain situation doesn’t work out”(Woollaston). That is why they get away with murders so easily, because they plan it out so precisely that there is often no room for mistakes. The amount of intelligence they tend to have makes their crimes and success that much easier for themselves because they’re able to always be five steps ahead when being sought after.
Famous Serial Killers
In America, there have been multiple serial killers who have become famous for their mass murders throughout their careers. Their name became known nationally and some world wide for the actions that became some of the most gruesome acts in american society.
Jeffrey Dahmer was an American serial killer who took the lives of 17 males between 1978 and 1991. What was known about Dahmer was that at an early age, he was a very energetic outgoing individual, almost like any young child. While moving multiple times while growing up, making friends and fitting in at school did not come easy to him. It was noticed that when his family finally decided to settle their final home in Ohio, that he was no longer the energetic and outgoing boy that he was earlier, in fact he became very anti-social and began finding fascination in the abuse or infliction of pain on animals. This is an early sign in serial killers because it shows no remorse for life in animals, which eventually grows for showing no remorse for humans.
Over the course of more than 13 years, Dahmer looked for men, some African American, at gay bars, malls, or even bus stops, he would then lure them back home with a promise of money or sex, he then would give victims alcohol with drugs before strangling them to death. He would then participate in sex acts with the corpses before dismembering them and disposing of their bodies, often keeping their skulls as souveniors. He would also then take pictures of his victims at different parts of the muder process, so he could relive the experience.
Dahmer was known as the “cannibal killer” solely due to the fact that he would eat parts of the victims that he murdered. In documentaries of interviews with Dahmer, it is evident that while he had no remorse for the victims he killed, it was not the killing that was his goal, it was control. “No, the killing was not the objective. I just wanted to have the victim under my complete control, not having to consider their wishes, being able to keep them there as long as I wanted.”(Tron). Since Dahmer had not had control over his own actions and brain, the murdering gave him a sense of control that he had lacked his entire life. Showing that as a serial killer, he was not murdering people for the fun of it, it was for more than that, it was to fulfill an aspect in his life that had been missing for so long.
Another serial killer I researched was Ted Bundy. He was most known for his assault and murder on numerous young women and girls during the 1970s and possibly earlier. Bundy had obtained a skill that is very common in serial killers and used it to his advantage, which was his charm. He would use his charm to gain the trust of his victims and have them in a way to fall in love with him in a short amount of time. He would approach his victims in public places before empowering them and assaulting them in more secluded locations. What was different about Bundy was that he had no comprehension of how to form interpersonal relationships. In multiple interviews he claimed, ” I chose to be alone” and believed that he had no intention or belief in forming friendships with anyone(Weir).
Bundy had often preyed on young college women because he knew they would often be vulnerable and trusting of a charming man. He would then use his charm and faked disability to convince his victims to help him carry or unload objects from his car. He was also known to impersonate people, such as police officers, to gain victims’ trust before he attacked. He would strike his victims over the head with a crowbar or pipe. After hitting his victims, he would use handcuffs and force them into his vehicle. It was found that what motivated Bundy to commit such crimes, especially towards women was the grudge he was holding toward the rejection of his first girlfriend(Corner). Bundy had been rejected from his first girlfriend and then continued to be rejected from a woman for years following the first. It was believed that the woman he sought after were those who resembled any of the woman that rejected him. When being rejected, he had no control over the decision of the woman who didn’t want to be in a relationship with him, but with the woman he murdered, he was able to control them and make them feel the same as he did when rejected.
Bundy had been a very intelligent man, which is something that is common in serial killers. They will often use their spectacular intelligence to create and plan their crimes ahead of time. Like I mentioned before, the crimes acted upon by serial killers is most of the time premeditated, which means they plan their crimes in order for it to be successful. Having the amount of intelligence that most serial killers have, these will often result in the killer getting away with their crimes. Some do get caught eventually, but before then they’re able to commit horrific crimes that can not be taken back. “Bundy was classified as a High Factor 1 Psychopath, which means he was intelligent with very few signs of psychopathy early on in life”(Corner). So with his intelligence, his crimes became easier for him to commit and hide away from society for as long as 23 years.
In order to truly understand the mind of a serial killer, us as a society need to understand that these criminals don’t always decide to become this way. Serial killers often know the difference between right and wrong, but that’s not always the case. The mind works in mysterious ways and unfortunately there is no cure for the damage that is done to the brains of serial killers, they’re born this way. There is no definite answer to turn to when determining the problem with a serial killer, it all develops throughout their lifetime and accumulates within the mind of the individual. Psychology continues to be used as a way to understand not only serial killers, but society as well. Events occur everyday and change the way people think about certain situations which results in more discoveries in the science of psychology. Every individual is different, and their mind works in different ways, so psychology has the power to uncover the mysteries that hide within the brain and gives society a chance to understand.
One of the most important things I have learned throughout the research I have done is that there is only more to come in the future. While the information I learned about the way a serial killer’s mind works was shocking to me, I was able to put myself in their shoes and understand that they hit a breaking point and it was in a way a cry for help. It is proven that serial killers commit their crimes as a way to grab the attention of society, they want to be spotlighted and talked about as if they were somebody famous. That is it, the want to be famous and the only way they think they can accomplish that goal is by acting out on their fantasies and making it known among everyone. As I researched Dahmer, Bundy, and Ramirez, I tried to put myself in their shoes to completely understand why they would make such decisions in their life. I would watch documentaries on the individuals and observe how they would answer questions in interviews and when they were put through court cases. They would show no sign of remorse, but deep down I could see that while the crimes they committed were pure evil, it seemed to be a cry for help as they understood that something was wrong with them. They don’t have control over their mind most of the time, and when someone doesn’t have control over a situation or even themselves, then they don’t know how to comprehend the reality of it. So, in order to escape from the emptiness and weakness they feel among themselves, they act out in a way where they can have control and demonstrate dominance over their victims.
It is extremely important that people understand that if psychology continues to uncover more understanding of the human brain, then potentially there is a chance to bring an end to serial killers. The time period we live in has accomplished so much in every field of study, and psychology has been one that continues to amaze people. “Each year something is added to the curriculum and teachers are having to teach it to their students because the science behind the brain keeps growing”(Borchert). As cliche as it sounds, I believe that their is good among everybody, and I believe if psychology continues to break down barriers within the study, then we can save the lives of many and the world from predators that spark horror among society. If I could change anything about my research, I wish I would have had the time to visit a county jail or prison. Considering how scary that would be, I would have been able to potentially ask a former serial killer or even somebody who works in the jail or prison. I would have been able to take such a broad topic and squeeze it down to an individual who has had a true life experience. I also would have liked to have heard from a couple of the psychologists that I emailed earlier in the semester. Considering how busy they may have been, I understand why they did not have the time to respond or participate in an interview with me, however, it would have been very informative to hear from them. I think it would have been amazing to hear their perspective on the process of dealing with and studying serial killers. I would assume that they would have liked to participate in an interview to expand the knowledge of high school students on the topic.
As far as my research goes in the future, if there is one thing I want people to take from this is, that psychology doesn’t make an excuse for serial killers, it just helps understand the individual and why they’re the person they have become. Society has a way of looking at serial killers as psychos who are crazy and kill for fun, which honestly was my perspective before I embarked on this research. Then I learned, there is more that plays into the situation that just being crazy. In the future, I plan on minoring in psychology in college because I have come to truly enjoy learning about it and hopefully making it a lifetime career if my main major doesn’t work out. Although I may not continue my research on serial killers at this time in my life, I do plan on continuing trying to understand the human brain even more than what I have learned through my research. Overall, the I-search has taught me before making prejudgements of people, try to put yourself in their shoes and better understand why they made the decision they did and reflect on the situation,