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Running head: Psychological Issues of People Who Kill

Psychological Issues of People Who Kill In Mass Murders.
Alan Ibanez
Chesapeake College
Psychology 150-106
November 13 2014


Running head: Psychological Issues of People Who Kill


Explanation of topic
Have you ever wondered what goes on inside the mind of someone who kills without
remorse? As humans, we have wondered why people decide to commit such atrocious acts and
have tried to find the characteristics that most serial killers possess. These people have no
empathy when taking the life of a human being; this allows them to kill simply for pleasure as it
satisfies their cravings. Some killers dismember limbs, while others have sex with the dead body
(Necrophilia), or eat their flesh (Cannibalism), and some just do it just to eliminate the entirety of
a single ethnic group (The holocaust). But what is it exactly that drives these people to commit
such barbaric actions?
What exactly is a serial killer? A serial killer is someone who takes the lives of more than
three people; maybe not at once but within a period of time with some breaks in between.
Throughout the years, we have been baffled by what makes a human being become a monster: a
serial killer. Some scientists have tried to find the answer at the molecular level. They have
observed genetics and certain patterns that could potentially bestow the answer. Others look at
certain events in the person’s life that could give us a clue about their motives. Pinpointing what
triggers this type of conduct is undoubtedly important. Knowing what causes the serial killer
phenomenon would allow us to eventually save lives, protect people, and help those sorrowful
souls that would eventually become mass murderers.
A characteristic that all serial killers posses is aggression. Professor of Psychology and
expert Zelda G. Knight suggest that aggression is one of the main driving forces behind a serial
killer. She states that serial killers “have a history of cruelty to animals, enjoy the torture and
pain of the victim, normally kill prostitutes, sometimes revisit the crime scene [and] tend to

Running head: Psychological Issues of People Who Kill


escalate their levels of violence over time“ ( 2006). The idea that aggression is the driving force
behind most serial killers makes them psychopaths. Psychopaths by definition are those who are
naturally violent and feel no remorse when committing a crime. Serial killers can become
psychopaths but not all serial killers start out that way. Humans have many emotions with
aggression being one of them. This does not mean that we all have a serial killer instinct inside of
us but abnormal levels of aggression are just one of the many motives of a serial killer.
According to Whittington “The typical serial killer is defined as Caucasian, male, aged
18-32” ( 2008). Often serial killers meet this criteria with very few exceptions. So what does this
mean? Do we need to watch out for all white men between the ages of 18 and 32? Absolutely
not. This study is extremely vague since it solely describes the appearance of the typical serial
killer a descriptions that fits the majority of the male population in the United States.
A trait of a serial killer that needs addressing is their morbid sexual drive. Their
aggression and motives are propelled by a sexual instinct, a degree of aggression that is carnal
and different from other types of violence (Knight, 2007). Sex is a key role in the reasoning
behind a serial killer. The victim often shows signs of rape whether it is prior to the crime or after
the victim is deceased. In some cases, body parts are taken as trophies and used to conduct
sexual acts. The level of violence increases after every murder committed. (Knight, 2006)
On May 23, 2014, Elliot Rodger killed six students near the campus of the University of
California, Santa Barbara and injured 13 others. According to himself, he had gone through
“loneliness, rejection, and unfulfilled desires because girls have never been attracted to [him]”.
Rodgers was a 22 year-old virgin, he never kissed a girl, and was a loner. He vowed to punish all
girls for it: girls he “had desired so much”. His actions were controlled by the desperation of

Running head: Psychological Issues of People Who Kill


never having sex and never having a girlfriend. In his video, Retribution, he threatened to kill all
girls at the Alpha Phi Sorority house located at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He
set out to kill and that is what he ultimately did. In a matter of minutes, he went from a loner to a
serial killer, manipulated by his frustration with never having sex. Sexual motives drove him to
the edge causing him to take the lives of six people.
Another notable case involving sexual motives took place in India; the case is describe as
Servant held for sexually abusing and murdering six
children was the headline of a leading national newspaper. Satish
alias Surendra who was working as a domestic help in the house of
a businessman, confessed to having killed five children and a
grownup girl after sexually abusing them. Skeleton and clothes
were recovered from gunny bag. Police claimed that the accused
was mentally ill

(Dalal, J. S., Aggarwal, K. K., Bhullar, D.
S., & Sharma, M., 2009)

Carnal sadism and sexual thoughts inspire the excitement that serial killers enjoy when
murdering. It is used as a way to communicate their revulsion towards everyone else. Serial
killers not only kill for delight but also to carnally demean their victims. Their goal is to obtain
sexual excitement that they cannot gain in any other circumstances (Knight, 2006).
Student’s Position
Sex is the main driving entity behind the serial killer phenom, but that is just what drives
them as they kill. Serial killers are complex individuals. It seems that some serial killers were
abused as children, tortured by a family member or ridiculed by their peers. Others comes from a

Running head: Psychological Issues of People Who Kill


dysfunctional family; for instance their mothers may have been harsh and exorbitant where as
their fathers are nonexistent in one way or another. They have felt rejection, low self esteem, and
punishment. They were often left alone without anyone to rely on, without anyone who would
give them attention. This causes them to feel no pain and have no normal feelings. They develop
abnormal personalities that might seem normal form the outside but are corrupt and broken on
the inside. Their repulsive actions are a cry for attention. They kill for the pleasure and lust. Their
victims are often those who are sees as insignificant by society, such as prostitutes and rejects.
In my opinion, the evidence behind what motivates a serial killer is not yet clear enough.
Sure, we know some characteristics that all serial killers share, but we do not know much about
the occurrence. With the evidence and information we now possess, we can find similarities
between each killer. That is not all what we want. We want to find the root of the problem before
it even develops but with the science that is available for us today, we cannot accomplish that.
Conducting research just does not cut it for us. More studies and experiments need to be
conducted before we start to comprehend their stimuli. Finding what makes them kill could even
help us in aiding those who could become serial killers, for instance, they were once normal
people with regular lives but specific events in their life led them to become inhumanly cruel and
develop a hatred towards everything and everyone around them.
Conclusions and Related Outcomes
Serial killers come from all socioeconomic backgrounds, they are often the result of
shattered and abusive homes, most have been sexually abused and tortured both physically and
mentally during their childhood, they are loners, cannot keep a relationship, do not feel empathy,
conscience, nor remorse, only arrogance and violence. They have a sexual motive when
murdering, which is often sick and twisted. They become monsters that only seek revenge and

Running head: Psychological Issues of People Who Kill


pleasure. They may look normal to most people but their victims had to chance to meet their true
selves before they were kill in inhuman ways.
Regardless of countless studies, scientists and psychologists have found it nearly
impossible to determine who is going to grow up to become a serial killer as certain events in
their life have to happen before they commit the crime. We know the definition of a serial killer,
we know their motives, and we know their level of barbarity. Yet there are many more answers
that we need. We, human beings, have a tendency to seek answers to everything. There are many
things that we would like to know the answer for, but we can only get so far with the limited
resources we possess as a society. Knowing what goes inside the mind of a serial killer would be
a huge breakthrough for society because that means preventing tragedies. One day we hope to
find what it is that controls such carnal and savage acts. The issue has long been debated and
analyzed but we have just found the tip of the iceberg as there is so much more we need to
understand before we could try to track serial killers before they become serial killers.

Running head: Psychological Issues of People Who Kill


Canter, D. V., Alison, L. J., Alison, E., & Wentink, N. (2004). The
Organized/Disorganized Typology of Serial Murder: Myth or Model?. Psychology,
Public Policy, And Law, 10(3), 293-320. doi:10.1037/1076-8971.10.3.293
Dalal, J. S., Aggarwal, K. K., Bhullar, D. S., & Sharma, M. (2009). A CASE STUDY OF
SERIAL KILLERS. Journal Of Punjab Academy Of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology,
9(2), 109-113.
RELATIONS PERSPECTIVE. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal,
34(10), 1189-1206.
Knight, Z. G. (2007). Sexually motivated serial killers and the psychology of aggression
and "evil" within a contemporary psychoanalytical perspective. Journal Of Sexual
Aggression, 13(1), 21-35. doi:10.1080/13552600701365597
Rosemberg, A. (2014, May 27). Elliot Rodger’s UCSB massacre, sexual assaults and
campus speech codes. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
Whittington-Egan, R. (2008). The serial killer phenomenon. Contemporary Review,
290(1690), 323+