The number of active serial killers in the USA at any giventime is 35. The motivations of serial killers crimes are shown to be influencedby many factors such as their upbringing, as family disorganisation can resultin a lack of social skills and low self-control triggered by child abuse. Thereis also the impact of socialisation as how a person interacts withininstitutions such as in school and the workplace effects how they perceivethemselves in society. If someone allows themselves to become isolated andneglected from society it can lead to a response of violence in order for themto release their anger and frustration to those they feel have not acceptedthem. Another factor I will also look at are the effects of substance abuse andhow this may lead someone to start serial killing, as use of drugs and alcoholcan significantly damage and affect someone’s ability to engage in a productivelifestyle and ultimately result in an interest of killing in order to fightagainst this. My final factors I will discuss to evaluate what is mostinfluential in leading serial killers to commit their crimes are whether theyhave adopted a anti-social personality such as lying and skipping school intheir early years, and I will consider the studies done by psychologists suchas Bowlby and Freud and how they have concluded that factors such as anoverdeveloped superego and the impact of poor socialisation and how someone mayrespond to this.
Whenanswering what factors have been most influential in leading serial killers tocommit their crimes I will evaluate and consider the significance of how eachfactor played a part in their actions.Children learn how to behave and socialise themselves fromobserving how their parents interact and treat one another. An exposure toviolence throughout their childhood may teach a child that a reaction ofviolence is a way to respond to conflict and therefore result in a tolerationof this behaviour in their adult life. Evidence of where a troubled upbringingcan be seen in the case of Jeffery Dahmer. His parents were often fighting andthis made him adapt to a life surrounded by anger and witnessed the breakdownof their marriage and divorce later in his childhood may have been the catalystfor the turning his thoughts and compulsions into actions. In Dahmer’s father’sbook, ‘A Father’s Story’, he reveals the incident where Jeffery was assaultedin the woods close to his family home and it is believed this is where hissexual problems stemmed from. It is clear from research that serial killerslike Dahmer are largely impacted and affected by experiences of their youngeryears, which result in fascinations to cause harm to others as they havesuffered themselves therefore believe that society deserves to punished fortheir neglect, and they pursue this idea in their mass and gruesome killings.
Astudy carried out by Bowlby found that when a child is unwillingly separatedfrom those who they are attached to, for example their parents, they tend toshow distress. Bowlby outlined three responses to this: separation anxiety,grief and mourning, and defence. This theory is evident in Dahmer as the birthof his younger brother David lead to his abandonment issues and eventually astruggle to make friends at school in fear of repeat of abandonment. Anotherkey influential factor to answering the question of what leads a serial killerto commit their crimes is the importance of socialisation. If a child is poorlysocialised into society this can lead to detachment from social groups andtherefore trigger an interest in criminal behaviour. Dahmer’s case alsodisplays the effect of poor socialisation as his interests in dead animals atthe age of ten, meant he would collect road kill along the side of the road andin the woods behind his house and take them home to experiment.
Dahmer wouldcontinue to isolate himself from his peers when pursuing his interests andtherefore lacked to conform to the norms and values of our society and herestricted himself from activities children at his age would expect to takepart in. The studies of psychologists were vital when researchingwhat factors are most influential in leading serial to commit their crimes. I specificallyfocused on the works and theories of Sigmund Freud. Freud argued that serialkillers result to crime due to the sense of guilt they may feel and what helabelled the ‘superego’. Freud ‘developed psychoanalysis, a method throughwhich an analyst unpacks unconscious conflicts based on the free associations,dreams and fantasies of the patient’. His studies relate to factors that mayinfluence a serial killer as Freud carried out the theory of the ‘pleasureprinciple’, which ‘strives to fulfil our most basic and primitive urges,including…anger, when these needs are not met, the result is a state of anxietyor tension’.