WHY DO THEY KILL?
The crucial question. It is the reason that makes serial killers unique in their kind. Often it is necessary to answer to this question before being able to follow the traces of a serial killer. Why does he kill? What starts in his mind? Which kind of drive takes control of him to push him to kill one of his similar? Probably the charm and the horror of these criminals is to be found in these questions. In the course of the years, with the experience, the job of specialists, forensic psychiatrics, profilers and detectives it has been possible to delineate the main causes, pathologies and perversions which stir up this homicide insanity. Why do they kill?
Serial killers are a category of criminal so cruel and lethal that it is normal to ask ourselves if, apart evident psychological diseases, they also suffer from physiological diseases. At the end, is their brain similar to those of other people? When this question was made to the studious of the phenomenon, a real and proper study was put up to find eventual differences. Different analysis were made on the brains of the various serial killers but results were all negatives. No neurological defect was found in these criminals. But recently a disconcerting fact came out: many serial killers, in their childhood, suffered severe wounds to their heads. From Arthur Shawcross to Leonard Nelson, from Bobby Joe Long to John Wayne Gacy, the list is even longer. These examples have convinced many researchers that a brain damage could be a main fact in the forming of a future serial killer. But this fact on his own is not sufficient to explain in total the serial murder.
HATE TOWARDS THE MOTHER
When we are in front of an extremely severe and cynical mother, young and vulnerable males so unlucky to be her sons, can suffer from terrible effects on their personality and sensitiveness. The result in the coming years will be a subject who harbours a violent hate not only towards mothers, but towards the entire female kind. Again these are extreme situations. To develop such a heavy hate it is necessary to have suffered severe abuses. In various cases children, who later became brutal murderers, have been sodomized by their mothers with a broomstick, obliged to watch them together with their lovers or punished by killing their dog or cat. In such cases it is undoubted that the rage, the grudge that nourishes is too much to stand it. Today, according to the psychiatrics, the dislike that these murderers feel for their mothers is projected towards all women, resulting in a “malicious misogyny”. According to these twisted minds women, seen as disgusting creatures, deserve every horror and suffering of the world.
Notwithstanding this paragraph could be enriched of technical and scientific terms, it is easy to understand that a childhood rich of the love of a normal family with healthy moral principles will receive a correct emotional and sexual growth of the child. In the same way, if a child is heavily abused from both a psychological and physical point of views, he will grow with a twisted and negative vision of life. The world will be a place full of hate, where all human relationships will have to be based on abuse of power and humiliations. In the childhood of the serial killers these abuses have almost universally happened. Being true that not all abused children will become brutal murderers, it is also true that all the serial killers have had this traumatic experience caused by their parents. Ultimately, together with the common sense, these hypothesis have also been confirmed by the scientific research. Indeed, a growth ruined by traumatic experiences can alternate the brain anatomy of a person, preventing certain crucial areas of the brain itself to reach a correct develop: the subject will be forever unable to feel empathy towards his fellows.
Perversion can be defined as psychosexual behaviours that are perceived to be a deviation from what is considered to be normal. The extension of this concept is strictly dependent from the kind of rule that is used as reference criteria. Sigmund Freud defines as perverse every conduct which diverge from the standard, whether according to the sexual object as for example homosexuality, paedophilia, zoophilia, or according to the body area (when sexual pleasure is reached through part of the body that are not normally appointed to the sexual exercise), or according to the sexual aim which can only be reached through extrinsic conditions such as fetishism, transvestism, exhibitionism, sadomasochism and similar. The main perversions are:
NECROPHILIA and NECROPHAGIA: The term necrophilia was invented by the Belgian Guislain towards the middle of the 19 th century to define a category of “destroying alienated” and later it was applied to every “notorious tendency to carry out sexual acts on a corpse”. In practice necrophiliacs are individuals who not only want an entire object, but they want it according to proper requests, strange or horrible, such as an undefended corpse. They kill to have it with brutal violence to be able to enjoy it. The necrophiliac is not happy to have a totally undefended victim, he wants it dead. Rituals on corpse are various: from having sex, to dismemberment practices until he reaches cannibalism or necrophagia. Necrophagia (or cannibalism) is the practice, real o ritual, to eat the meat of a fellow; in the animal world it is renown for the Mantis religiosa and for some spider species. In these cases the drive towards the object of dreams is so strong that it becomes difficult to part from it after the rituals. So eating a part of the corpse become a way to have it forever and to assimilate his “beloved” qualities.
COPROPHILIA and COPROPHAGIA: Coprophilia is a particular interest towards feces that becomes objects of pleasure and in some cases sexual excitement which leads to love or even eat feces or drink urines. Coprophagia is the consumption of feces that can be noticed in mentally disturbed children or in some schizophrenic patients as a symptom of an heavy regression. According to Freud, coprophiliac tendencies are absolutely normal in a child as he doesn't feel disgust towards excrements, he is proud of them. Freud backs that “in a child the interest towards excrements is not separated from sexual interests; the split between the two appears only later, and remain in any case incomplete”. When this split doesn't happen, sexual growth remains at a childish level and results into the perversion that pushes a man to look for the extreme pleasure, till he procures it with violence in case he doesn't find a consenting partner.
PAEDOPHILIA: To some psychopathic, children are only an easy prey to capture or hit, exactly as any unfortunate can be if he finds himself on their ways in the wrong moment. But there are some “predacious” whose tastes and fantasies concentrate exclusively on children, especially males. It is quite sure that the reason of this perversion is to be attributed to previous abuses suffered by serial killers at an early age. In the mature age the tendency is to revenge or recreate the suffered abuses, so the abused becomes the molesting.
GERONTOPHILIA: Paedophilia is disgusting but the modern chronicles are so full of cases that we are almost used. Less common, instead, is gerontophilia, a perversion which regards a twisted love towards people of different generations. This term indicates a morbid sexual fixation towards elderly people, the opposite to paedophilia. Gerontophiliac serial killers addresses their interest towards elderly people because only with this typology of victim they are able to reach a sexual satisfaction.
FETISHISM: From a psychoanalytic point of view, fetishism is a huge passion that a subject, often a male, feels towards some objects related to the opposite sex and through which he manages to reach excitement and orgasm. In this kind of perversion, often harmless, the subject reaches pleasure by holding, caressing or sniffing the object of his dreams, while the partner becomes less important. There is nothing particularly dangerous in fetishism if it is an end in itself and if the partner agrees. Fetishism of psychopathic, instead, reaches extreme forms. For this reason the serial killer must posses the victim to have the object of his dreams: in the majority of cases he will keep it with him to live again the act in the future, often accompanying it with masturbation. The danger of this perversion is that the serial killer doesn't ask for permission, he obtains with force what he wants and, unfortunately, very often the object of his dreams is a part of the body of the victim.
VAMPIRISM: Although the name makes us think to myth and horror movies, in the world of psychology the term “vampirism” refers to a real phenomenon. It is a perversion in which the person receives intense sexual pleasure in drinking human blood. Although it can look absurd, vampirism is quite practiced, also on the web where it is easy to find sites and forums for the “lovers” with hygienic and etiquette rules to observe to practice this “passion”. Obviously in the case of serial killers these rules do not exist, etiquette doesn't exist at all. These psychopathic are mean criminals who do not hesitate to commit horrible acts to satisfy their morbid drives.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders ( DSM ) classifies this particular perversion into two different forms. The first is called “sadistic personality disorder”: a condition in which someone receives pleasure or fun from others physical and psychological suffers. Surely all serial killers reveal this particular inclination, in which the fundamental and most scary aspect is that they enjoy what they do. Procuring sufferings to other people is their way to have fun. The second form, instead, is called “sexual sadism”. This form represent one of the main perversions, a twist of the erotic instinct in which the suffering of the victim is not only a pleasure, but an intense excitement. The sadistic murderer doesn't not only kill. The top of his pleasure, and he cannot renounce to it, is represented by being pitiless towards the bodies, explanting internal organs and extirpating genitals.
Usually religion is a source of good feelings but sometimes, if it turns into fanaticism, it can lead to dangerous twists of the sacred texts which push an influenced person to act according to his idea of the world. Various serial killers have received during their childhood a rigid religious education (quite always catholic according to statistics) which drove them towards a certain type of victim who, according to them, embodied the wicked, the “rotten tooth” of the society. It is the case of the “missionary” (see also the section “types of serial killers” of this site), a particular type of serial killers who turns his homicidal madness towards categories (for example prostitutes) whom he believes deserve to be eliminated for the good of the world. This reason is almost always present in the serial murderers referable to the murderous sects.