Hall elizabeth unit nine project


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my paper on the reasons for serial killing

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Hall elizabeth unit nine project

  1. 1. 1 Running Head: Serial Murder: Nature, Nurture or Both? Exploring the Facilitation of Male Sexual Serial Murder: Is it Nature, Nurture or Both? Elizabeth Hall Kaplan University College Composition II—Effective Writing II for Criminal Justice Majors CM223-02 Deborah Zeringue 8.9.2010 Gary Ridgeway the Green River Killer http://www.dirjournal.com/info/americas-famous- serial-killers/
  2. 2. 2 Serial Murder:Nature or Nurture or Both? Exploring the Facilitation of Male Sexual Serial Murder: Is it Nature or Nurture? Introduction Upon exploring the motives of male serial killers, one finds that while they all differ in many ways, most share certain similarities such as sadism, fantasy and a compulsion to kill (Schlesinger, 2000). Torture, sex and extreme violence seem to be present in almost all cases, leading researchers to question whether they murder because of nature or nurture. In spite of the growing interest in the subject of serial murder, there is still much speculation whether the causality of this phenomenon is due the natural genetics of the killer or by the lack of growing up in a functional family environment. It is widely believed amongst researchers that during the developmental and teenage years of sexual serial killers, they spend much of their time being isolated by their peers and left unable to obtain a normal female companionship, which results in a building up of enormous antipathy for the society that they feel rejected by. Many of those we consider authorities on the subject of serial murder believe that the sexual drive of the offender plays a large role in the commission of crimes like these (Douglas & Olshaker, 1999). During these critical years when the child is developing sexually, they tend to cope with the social isolation by escaping into fantasy worlds in which they are in total control of others. It is in this fantasy world that sex and violence merge. It is also common knowledge among researchers that many of these predators have suffered some form of traumatic childhood ordeal, whether that is abuse, physical trauma or neglect (Giannangelo, 1996). All human behavior is a result of their hereditary factors, backgrounds (including the way they were nurtured or not) and the individual preferences they choose while undergoing their developmental years (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2005). By the time they meet the definition of a serial killer and come into the light of law enforcement,
  3. 3. 3 Serial Murder:Nature or Nurture or Both? they have already killed three people on three different occasions (Brown, 2003). By then it is thought to be too late to try to rehabilitate this type of offender. In order to reduce crimes and recidivism of this brutal nature, science must move forward yet again and identify a method to reach these offenders before they offend for the first time. Inevitably, when we find one of these violent criminals in our midst, the questions asked by the public, the media and officials remain the same; how does someone get to this place in his life; how can someone commit these atrocities without any remorse? According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the answer to these questions and others like them rest in the individual growth of the perpetrator from their birth to the time they reach adult maturity (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2005). In light of this distinction, it seems that the true facilitators of a serial killer must lie somewhere in between nature and nurture with more of an emphasis on nurture. This is because during their developmental years, a lack of social skills leaves them with an inability to cope and hardened emotional reactions, along with distorted views on human relationships and sex. Defining Serial Murder The general consensus for the definition of a serial killer says that they must kill at least three victims during separate attacks, where there has been a cooling off period between the incidents. This differentiates them from mass murderers who kill multiple people at one location in a single attack and spree killers who kill multiple people at multiple locations with no cooling off period. The serial killer has been fantasizing about committing these crimes long before he commits the first kill. Mass murderers and spree killers are usually triggered by an event in their lives that sets the pattern in motion, such as the loss of a job or a loved one. The fantasies serial
  4. 4. 4 Serial Murder:Nature or Nurture or Both? killers have usually involve sex and rage, which intertwine and escalate in the offender’s mind, becoming inseparable, and leading to the merge of fantasy with reality. (Brown, 2003) Developmental Years of a Serial Killer – The Formative Years When examining the developmental years of most serial killers, whether extremely evident or deeply rooted in secret, there is always something not quite right about the relationships with the people closest to them. This includes uncles, aunts, parents, coaches, clergymen, siblings, and friends, among others. The process of making a serial murderer often starts with a genetic predisposition to violence, prenatal exposure to drugs and or alcohol, or some kind of head trauma (Giannangelo, 1996). Not all of this is evident unless one goes digging into their past, this is because while some information can be found in their personal history, other issues such as prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol can only be discovered by delving into their parental backgrounds. Issues such as a genetic predisposition to violence will only come to light with further research and extensive testing. Their formative years are rife with negative parenting, emotional, sexual, or physical abuse, and rage building up inside of them (Schlesinger, 2000). Again, this abuse may be evident or not, depending on the type of abuse endured. No one may be aware that Uncle Johnny molested little Jimmy or Daddy beat his children and spouse behind closed doors and offenders like these do not readily admit these sorts of things. The problems these children have do not receive proper attention and counseling; consequently, they develop social issues due to a general mistrust of others, a lack of self worth, and feelings of rejection (Giannangelo, 1996). This is not inconceivable considering that they
  5. 5. 5 Serial Murder:Nature or Nurture or Both? may have either a genetic predisposition to violence, or some kind of head trauma along with physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Rationally, these factors are enough to drive anyone into isolation, but most people have someone they can confide in to keep them on an even keel. Budding serial killers are so isolated by this time they do not feel comfortable talking to anyone about anything personal, so it is driven inward to inevitably fuel the rage that drives their fantasy worlds (Brown, 2003). Some good examples of these perpetrators are John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, Ted Bundy, and Jeffrey Dahmer. Gacy grew up with an abusive father, and had a clot in his brain caused by a swing hitting him in the head. Richard Ramirez grew up with his parents who were always away at work, was diagnosed with epilepsy, and witnessed his cousin murder his wife at the tender age of 12 (Carlos, 1996). Ted Bundy was under the impression that his mother was his sister for most of his young life, and was very distressed to discover the lie. Jeffrey Dahmer’s parents practically abandoned him after they went through a divorce. Had these people had loving relationships with their caregivers, perhaps their victims would not have had to suffer at all (Schechter, 2003). Sexuality of a Serial Killer- The Teenage Years into Early Adulthood These people begin to fantasize about murder and rape as a form of revenge on the society, or people they feel have slighted them. The fantasy stage dominates the individual’s thoughts and can be enough to sustain them for years (Schlesinger, 2000). Repeated frustration from the social isolation fuels the rage building inside of them. Some of them realize that they are homosexuals or pedophiles during this time, and that factor fuels the fantasy. They often are compelled to masturbate during these fantasies. Eventually they feel the compulsion to act on their fantasy to kill. Generally, in their late teens or early adulthood, their frustration with life,
  6. 6. 6 Serial Murder:Nature or Nurture or Both? and the growing satisfaction they receive from their fantasy world where they hold all power builds to the point that they decide to turn fantasy into reality and make their first kill (Schlesinger, 2000). Into Adulthood- Why They Kill There are multiple factors that contribute to the making of a serial murderer. Just because someone is abused or neglected does not mean that he will automatically become a serial killer. They are usually loners, although some form pairs (Godwin, 2000). They have a very hard time dealing with stress, even though they may appear to be functioning normally in society. This is where genetics and learned behaviors intertwine with personal experiences, choices, nature, and consequences. The individuality of human nature plays a large part in the process. Serial murderers are narcissistic in nature, and failure is what inevitably starts their murderous careers. To feel powerful, they feel the compulsion to feed their narcissism with murder, because they are failing miserably in their non-fantasy lives. There are several basic needs every human must have to maintain a balanced life. The three primary needs are food, water, and sex. Abnormal behavior is considered the direct result of the rules of society, and inherent human needs which sometimes conflict with these (Hickey, n.d.). Taking the life of another human being, or having complete, sexual power over another human being is a very powerful feeling, almost godlike. Whether sexual activity is defined or not, is committed by a male or female, the sexual gratification these people get out of killing makes serial murder a sexual crime (Arndt, Hietpas, & Kim, 2004). To put this in another light, one that is more easily understood by nonprofessionals, serial killers are people who have experienced abuse during their upbringing, whose psyche distorts to the point that their sexual needs will not subside without violence. This
  7. 7. 7 Serial Murder:Nature or Nurture or Both? creates a dangerous criminal, because one of their basic human needs for survival can only be realized during the commission of a heinous crime. Conclusion It is because of this distinction that the true facilitators of a serial killer must lie somewhere in between nature and nurture with more of an emphasis on nurture. This is because during their developmental years, a lack of social skills leaves them with an inability to cope and hardened emotional reactions, along with distorted views on human relationships and sex. Despite media attention that portrays serial killers as inhumane monsters, they are very much as human as anyone else. After the abusive formative years are over, they emerge enraged and ready to wreak havoc on society in a never-ending cycle. It takes a combination of both desire and impulse to allow a human to savagely steal the life of another without any remorse or guilt. Their development depends on several factors including but not limited to; “biological predisposition molded by their psychological makeup, which is present at a critical time in their development” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2005). They begin life already prone to narcissism, and develop into anti-social adults with anger management issues after enduring childhoods rife with problems. Serial killers are not born, but fashioned from a noxious cocktail of genetics, life experience, and learned behavior.
  8. 8. 8 Serial Murder:Nature or Nurture or Both? References: Arndt, W.B, Hietpas, T. & Kim, J. (2004). Critical Characteristics of Male Serial Murderers. American Journal of Criminal Justice. AJCJ; Fall 2004; 29, 1; Criminal Justice Periodicals pp. 117 Brown, P. (2003). Killing for Sport: Inside the Minds of Serial Killers. Phoenix Books. Beverly Hills Carlo, P. (1996). The Night Stalker: The Life and Crimes of Richard Ramirez. New York: Kensington Books. Douglas, J.E. & Olshaker, M. (1999). The anatomy of motive: The FBI’s legendary mind hunter explores the key to understanding and catching violent criminals. New York, NY: Scribner. Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2005). Serial Murder: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives for Investigators. Retrieved from: http://www.fbi.gov/publications/serial_murder.pdf Giannangelo, S.J. (1996). The Psychopathology of Serial Murder: A Theory of Violence. Westport, CT. Praeger Publishing. Godwin, G.M. (2000). Hunting Serial Predators: a multivariate classification approach to profiling violent behavior. Boca Raton. CRC Press Hickey, E. W. (n.d.) Serial Murderers and Their Victims. Fourth Edition. Mason: Cengage Learning
  9. 9. 9 Serial Murder:Nature or Nurture or Both? Jenkins, P. (1994). Using murder: The social construction of serial homicide. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine De Gruyter. Schechter, H. (2003). The Serial Killer Files: the who, what, where, how and why of the world’s most terrifying murderers. USA. Random House Publishing Group. Schlesinger, L. B. (2000). Serial Offenders: Recent Thoughts Current Findings. Boca Raton. CRC Press.