What makes a serial killer?

What makes a serial killer?

What makes a serial killer? What events lead to someone having the uncontrollable desire to want to take someone’s life? Even though the most notorious serial killers who made history happen to be men, it doesn’t mean there aren’t female serial killers out there as well–serial killers come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the most famous male serial killers are Ted Bundy, Jeffery Dahmer, IceMan, and Jack the Ripper. Some of the most famous female serial killers are Aileen Wuornos, Judias Buenoano, Juana Barraza, and Jane Toppan, even though, personally, I have never heard of a single one of these women. 

On platforms like Facebook, Tik Tok, and Instagram, I frequently see stories, new or old, about male serial killers, however, the females never get the same attention. People already know that women are taken advantage of and are easy targets for dangerous men, but what about all the women who kill their boyfriends or their husbands? What about realizing women are just as capable of murder and mass murder as men are? Men just tend to commit these acts more frequently, not only for the publicity but because, hormonally, they tend to crave to have power, as much of it as they can get their hands on, and in a lot of cases it makes a man violent. 85% of serial killers were male, 8% were female, and in cases where the killer is unknown as of right now, the gender is not determined. 

Since the early ages, men desired control over women; it is in their nature to want to own women like property, tell them what to do, and have their desires met by women. Power dynamics have obviously shifted over time, we are no longer in the dark ages of cavemen,  however, there can be similarities between the ways men behaved thousands of years ago and today, partially because human brains are hardwired for certain emotions.  

Exploring these root emotions of dominance, power, and/or violence means digging deeper into what causes someone to take that last step of taking someone or something’s life. When delving into the childhood years of many serial killers, it is known that they tend to start trapping and killing small animals, maybe even some roadkill, like in Jeffery Dahmer’s case. They often kill smaller animals and then work their way up to the big leagues, finally culminating with the most thrilling kill of them all, which is an actual human being. Think about it, when you are hunting in the woods you shoot the deer and a thrill goes through you. Maybe hunting is what created the desire to murder for some serial killers. Killing a human being and then getting away with it is often the twisted thrill for these people. While some kill with motive,  for example finding and killing people who look like their abusive mothers, while others simply kill for sport.

Many serial killers kill for fame and attention. Others are seeking revenge on someone who has hurt them multiple times. Sometimes people prey on someone who shares a resemblance to someone who they know that gives the murderer that flashback and anger. Sometimes it has to do with what they went through in their childhood years–maybe in their home life, work life, or even their school life. Kids can sometimes lash out due to what is going on in their lives. Many parents tend to ignore or miss those signs, though it is not always the parents’ fault.   Sometimes the parents do notice and try to get the person help, but it just doesn’t completely solve what is really going on. For example, Jeffery Dahmer’s dad tried to get him a psychiatrist’s help when he was sent to rehab, but the people there did almost nothing to help him get to the root cause of his drinking problem. This also shows the weakness of rehab centers; people actually look to these facilities for help and when not given that help, people tend to go off the deep end because they think they can’t be fixed or cured. 

You never know who to trust. It is important to be aware of your surroundings. No parents want to think about the fact that their child may be a serial killer, and you may think your child is perfect and that type of thing could never happen to you–but truly, anything is possible.”The Macdonald triad did some research and found that early signs of sociopathic or psychopathic behavior is being cruel or abusive to animals, especially pets.  Setting fire to objects such as committing minor acts of arson, and even regularly wetting the bed” (https://www.healthline.com/health/macdonald-triad#the-3-signs). Warning signs for adults are telling lies to take advantage of others and using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or pleasure. Not everyone starts with torturing or killing animals. It’s hard to find similarities between serial killers because they all have different motives and ways they go about executing the murders. However, some similarities are their lack of remorse or guilt, impulsivity, and their need for control

The common question asked, do you think serial killers are born or created? Personally I think it is a bit of both. I think it takes trauma, genetics, and your morals to have you go off the deep end. In “The Anatomy of Violence”, criminologist Dr. Adrian Raine says that, “Genetics and environment work together to encourage violent behavior”(https://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/home/topics/violence-and-aggression/from-abused-child-to-serial-killer-investigating-nature-vs-nurture-in-methods-of-murder).  Therefore, it seems like there are various factors namely, genetics, environment, trauma and personality traits that contribute to the making of a serial killer. What separates a murderer from a serial killer, is that serial killers commit a series of murders with no motive and follow a specific pattern, whereas a murderer usually commits one murder with a specific motive. 

Personally my fascination with serial killers stems from not knowing what is really going on inside their heads. Why do they do what they do? What inside them just snaps one day and causes them to go on these killing sprees? Trying to get inside the heads of killers like Bundy and Dahmer specifically is just intriguing because they attacked entirely different groups of people, but that’s what makes it so much more interesting. How were they so good at lying and tricking the police when they are trained to pick up on any weird signs? How did Bundy have a girlfriend and still kill other girls? There are so many questions you could ask, but trying to figure out the answers by watching the interviews, movies, shows, and doing research makes it fun. It’s almost an adrenaline rush from how dark and twisted it may get. 

The world is full of hatred and people blaming one another. The world would be so much better and people would be much happier if we all just learned to be more understanding and loving. You don’t have to be fond of someone to be nice to them. Being a bigger person and understanding that we are the role models for the next generation is something a lot of the world has yet to learn.