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Infamy or Obscurity: The Mind of a Serial Killer

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posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 09:47 AM
reply to post by Sonya610

Here are a few pertinent links that I found:

What Makes Serial Killers...

Psychological Profile of a Serial Killer
(start at 3rd paragraph)

The Parents of Serial Killers

Serial Killer

Sexual abuse and child molesters is a whole 'nother topic I think, but if you'd like to get into it start a thread and I would enjoy discussing it with you. I have a lot of opinions about that topic, too!

posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 10:10 AM
Sorry for the double post but I have a question now.

If we could somehow prevent the media from giving serial killers all the publicity that they do, do you (anyone) think it would make any difference?

In other words, does anyone think that the media coverage - the fame - is enough of a motivation that one or more serial killers actually 'crossed the line' and started killing because of the anticipated publicity? And conversely, if we could reduce the 'fame factor' do you think it could conceivably cause a potential serial killer to not cross the line?

posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 10:21 AM

Originally posted by HeikeIf we could somehow prevent the media from giving serial killers all the publicity that they do, do you (anyone) think it would make any difference?

Free press. Serial killers are quite fascinating. I could see some spree killers becoming influenced by the media, which is why some leave notes that say "now i am famous". But serial killers don't go down that route strictly BECAUSE of publicity.

I believe the FBI estimates there are probably 30 to 50 serial killers operating in this country at any given time. Yet obviously there is not much focus on their crimes, and even if they get caught only a few really get a lot of publicity.

Back to the childhood thing. So many things influence the creation of a serial killer. I believe there are a good number of sociopaths in everyday society, but most are civil and law abiding and have learned manners even if they do NOT really have much of a conscience. If they were raised by decent parents, grew up and learned the rules etc...they will have a much better chance of blending into society and functioning well.

Now an individual with sociopathic traits that does NOT have a stable home/childhood, one that suffers abuse or who's parents are absent, or alcoholics or whatever will naturally be far more at risk for more extreme behavior.

So my theory is that child abuse can in some cases have an extreme effect on personalities that are already sociopathic for whatever reason (probably genetics play a role), whereas it will not have the same effect on those that are more in the normal range.

posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 11:46 AM

Originally posted by chissler

I would have to disagree as well.

The B.T.K. and Zodiac went as far as publicly taunting local law enforcement and using media outlets as platforms to spread their terror. I'd disagree with the statement that they acted in obscurity through their years.
Firstly,Thanks for replying to my post. I think i did say that many of the most well know serial killers acted in relative obscurity. Not all serial killers. But you bring up some interesting behaviour and i think it is important to point out that taunting authorities as a characteristc of OM, their motives and identity remain unknown, vague, unclear, hard to percieve or in other words obscure.
I know in relation to the Zodiac killings that the letters started some time after the first two killings. There have been many questions raised as to the motives of the letters, and indeed the murders themselves. Mr R Graysmith and others pointed to Arthur Allens possible guilt and questioned those murders that followed the original as a possible diversion, which would also include the use of the media. In this case it is interesting to note that the media derived the name Zodiac from the killers letters after asking the author of the letters for more details. The media facilitated the killer by giving him an avenue of influence over how he was to be percieved by the public. If in this case, the killer was motivated to taunt authorities why did he choose the media as a communicative device? Was he using these taunts to obscure his actions, his motives and his identity?
As for BTK, this man was chaacterised by his ego-maniacal behaviour. His behaviour in taunting the media and police is consistent, what deviates and makes him different is that his ego was fueled by killing, and by the way he killed. Interestingly, he also named himself via the letters. BTK. Like Zodiac, the media took up this moniker. If you look at other cases, geography is typically found in names ie. Hillside and Boston stranglers, Green River. Or media driven names derived from victim profiles...Co-ed Killer, Backpacker Murderer, Granny Killer(australian serial killers) as the police or media has no other terms of reference.
You bring up an excellent point by asking what role the media plays in how we percieve these individual. I think we should look at how mass media is influenced and used by police as well as by Serial Killers as a tool of engagement and communication. A case in point is the Son of Sam Murders. Berkowitz was incensed by police being quoted in the media, saying he was a women hater who was a social reject, this led to his letter at the murder scene at the April 17, 1977 shootings.

Berkowitz, Ridgeway, DeSalvo... not everyone would recognize these names. But Son of Sam, Green River Killer, and the Boston Strangler are a little more common. If these individuals acted in obscurity, why were they publicly branded with such catchy names? The media pushed these individuals from obscurity to infamy with their catchy names.

As i said before the very nature of these crimes inspired infamy due to the deviant acts and killing. Berkowitz, Ridgeway and Delsalvo did not kill to become famous. It was a result of these action, which they performed in an obscure fashion. Did any of these want to be caught? While enjoying anonymity and the effects(a percieved power or superiority) of their actions on the public, being labelled or having their deeds widely reported may have inspired unforseen pleasures for these criminals, they were not the core driving motivators for the killings and i think they should be viewed as consequences, not original to the causes.
You have to remember, that these criminals acted first, people then report on their actions. Through repetition of these deviant acts and the subsequent reporting, fear grows. Their actions gain Notoriety. In the cases above, the original acts all had other motives other than to gain media or mainstream attention. An attention that was inevitable given the range of deviant behaviour displayed by these individuals.
It might be interesting for you to note that the Son of Sam Murders saved a Rupert Murdoch publication from going bankrupt do to increasd sales. Is it the killers driving the media or us.

posted on Jul, 22 2008 @ 11:35 PM
Mass murderers seem to be people that in their opinions are being persecuted by other people, most have issues with wanting to be apart of the group but are often a outcast. One exception to this is the mothers that seem normal till one day all that changes. Take the multiple times we have witnessed the news reporting on the mother that throws her 5 children into a river or drowns them in a bathtub. Would you call these women Evil, cases of temporary insanity, or some other mental condition? But some mass murders do wish to be known and remembered, and yes I do think some of these people are just evil even if they suffer from mental disorders.

Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 at Virginia Tech and had a history of mental conditions, he suffered from severe depression and selective mutism it is also speculated he may have had some type of autism. From the videos he took of himself I do believe he would be in the Infamy category. He wanted people to hear his message and this is exactly how we wanted to be remembered:

Andrew Philip Kehoe killed 45 and injured 58 when he bombed the Bath Consolidated School in Bath Township, Michigan. Kehoe was angry about a property tax that was enacted to pay for the school he blamed this tax on for his property going into foreclosure. On May 18 1927 Kehoe murdered his wife then blew up the school using dynamite and hundreds of pound of pyrotol that he apparently stored in the school months before he acted out his plan. He was a premeditated murderer and it took months for him to carry out his attack, and once rescuers stated to arrive at the school he drove up and detonated a bomb in his car killing himself, the school superintendant and killing and injuring several others. This is the worst school massacre in our history. This is a sign he hung the day of his attack:

[edit on 22-7-2008 by LDragonFire]

posted on May, 31 2014 @ 01:16 PM

originally posted by: chissler
Why do serial killers do what they do?

Because they are sick. We may not be able to see it, but they are disordered psychologically and/or are mentally ill due to something wrong in the brain. It is unnatural for people to want to mass murder. It goes against evolutionary psychology. So I'm going with ... 'because they are sick'.

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