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Inside The Head of Jack the Ripper: A Case Study on the Serial Killer, Jack the Ripper

Gordon Connor
HPU Student
High Point, North Carolina
ABSTRACT
This paper will examine the psyche and possible mental disorders in which the serial killer, Jack
the Ripper, may have been ill. The main aim of this case study is to better understand the mind of
the murderer and what could have possibly drove him to kill and mutilate his victims in such a
heinous manner. It will briefly list and explain possible mental disorders that have been derived
from the evidence that Jack left at the scene of the crimes as well as study the letters that were
delivered to the police by the alleged killer himself. The study will also explain what might have
motivated him to kill only prostitutes. Based on the current evidence and the satirical, narcissistic
letters sent in by the murderer, it is highly likely that he was an egotistical sociopath with a
strong hate for women.

INTRODUCTION
The following case study is an account on the psyche of Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper, a serial
killer who was suggested to be in his mid-twenties or early thirties, was located in 19th century
East London. Allegedly, he killed seven or more victims based on some reports; however, there
are only five confirmed victims to this day who were assumedly killed by the same killer, often
referred to as the canonical five victims: Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elisabeth Stride,
Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Kelly (Wolf). These were also known as the Whitechapel murders
of the 19th century and were some of the most widely known and influential murders of the time
period. What causes one person to kill a series of women, mutilate them, and then keep their
organs as a trophy? Copious amounts of research gathered throughout the last few generations

and the help of modern psychology will allow reexamination into the psyche of Jack the Ripper
and what transpired for him to commit heinous acts of laceration.

BODY
This section will focus on erotophonophilia or lust murder. When researching the Ripper victims,
one will find that they were all prostitutes. Ripper would dispose of his prey by mutilating their
bodies in a hyper-sexualized way. Often, he would take their genitalia for himself and possibly
other various organs. Paraphilia is classified as an intense sexual arousal to atypical objects,
situations, or individuals. Ripper displays a paraphilic attraction to murdering prostitutes. While
there is no exact proof to Ripper raping his victims, there is factual reports explaining that he
would set up their bodies in sexual positions after gutting them. What would cause him to
commit his heinous acts in such a perverted way? During the past 25 years, experts have done
extensive research on the role that fantasy and aggression assume in paraphilic behaviors and
violent imagery, including the act of lust murder (Purcell). Several studies have linked its
development as far back as early childhood. In most cases, one or more events occurred during
childhood that led the individual to associate sexual pleasure with that event (or object) thus
resulting in the development of a paraphilia (Benuto). This could have been sexual abuse by an
adult such as a parent or stranger, but it is usually family-related. What went on in Rippers head
was that he had to feed his desire to kill women because it gave him a sort of sexual pleasure. He
was aroused by it, and without the availability of modern forensics, it is hard to know who he
really was. Whitechapel became the perfect hunting ground for a sexual serial killer. Many
women had to resort to prostitution to make money for themselves or their families so the streets
were not exactly devoid of females. They were easy targets since they would openly let most
men take them away willingly. He did not have to be fearful of rejection when it came to
prostitutes. Rejection tends to be a common motivation involved with serial killers since a large
majority of them tend to be insecure. Many killers often have sex the ultimate form of
intimacy with their victims, and often with the corpse. That way, the possibility of rejection is
null. Serial killers also enjoy prolonging the suffering of their victims as it gives them a sense of
power over the victim. They get to decide whether, and how, the victim will live or die ("What
Motivates Serial Killers to Kill | Twisted Minds - a website about serial killers"). The fact that

Ripper waited to murder each one of his victims tells us that he was a very organized man. The
separation in dates between murders is very sporadic, and he was in no rush to get caught by the
police. There were numerous letters received by local media and the police claiming to be
written by Ripper himself that taunted the police of Whitechapel for their inability to catch him.
To prove that the letters were from him, he sent two different letters, one containing a human
kidney and the other a human ear. Organized killers plan their attacks methodically, where the
planning process itself becomes part of a consuming mental fantasy. They choose their victims
carefully and may stalk them for extended periods of time ("The Psychology of Serial Killers,
different types of serial killers"). It is a safe bet that Ripper looked like an ordinary man and
could not be differentiated from other men of that era. It was likely that he tailed his prey and
then hunted them when the time was right. Why he chose those particular women was entirely up
to him whether it was personal or completely unrelated.
CONCLUSION
Jack the Ripper was a very sick man for his time period and still to this day. Undoubtedly, he
suffered from a severe mental disorder that played a major role in why he chose to kill women
the way he did. His mind had a lust for murder and the sexual representation that women
embodied when they were dead. There is also a high likelihood that he suffered from anti-social
personality disorder which would completely repress his emotions towards any living being.
These are all serious medical conditions that have plagued humanity for centuries and are often
the spark that ignites a deadly flame. Serial killers, such as Ripper, should be treated with
counseling and medication. In some situations, it is mandatory to be sentenced to an asylum for
rehabilitation of their aliment. We may never know what happened to Jack the Ripper. He may
have left the country, or he may had been arrested for different crimes and sentenced to an
asylum for other mental disorders.

Works Cited
BENUTO, LORRAINE. "Paraphilias Causes And Treatments." Mental Help Paraphilias Causes
and Treatments Comments. 10 Aug. 2009. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.
<https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/paraphilias-causes-and-treatments/>.

Purcell, Catherine E., and Bruce A. Arrigo. "Paraphilia and Lust Murder." The Psychology of
Lust Murder Paraphilia, Sexual Killing, and Serial Homicide. Amsterdam: Academic, 2006. 12.
Print.
"The Psychology of Serial Killers, Different Types of Serial Killers." The Psychology of Serial
Killers, Different Types of Serial Killers. Web. 25 Apr. 2015. <http://disturbinghorror.com/SerialKillers/Serial-Killer-psychology.html>.

"What Motivates Serial Killers To Kill | Twisted Minds - a Website about Serial Killers." Twisted
Minds a Website about Serial Killers RSS. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.
<http://twistedminds.creativescapism.com/psychological-disorders/motives/>.

Wolf, G. (2008). A kidney from hell? A nephrological view of the Whitechapel murders in 1888.
Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, 3343-3349.