Origins of a Serial Killer

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What makes a serial killer a serial killer; is it their genetics or is it something more? According to google dictionary a serial killer is: a person who commits a series of murders, often with no apparent motive and typically following a characteristic, predictable behavior pattern. Serial Killers are born that way, or so they say; but what if they aren’t born that way at all but instead multiple factors play in the making of a serial killer. Serial killers are created by their traumatic childhoods, their social environments, and their mental health.

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Children are taught things; their education, languages, and even bad behavior. Aileen Wuornos, Mary Bell, and John Wayne Gacy are just some of the serial killers with miserable childhoods. Take Aileen, her mother had her at just 15 years old, Aileen’s mother abandoned her at 4 years old. She had never met her father due to him being behind bars for sex crimes. He was also diagnosed with schizophrenia and hanged himself while carrying out his sentence. To make things even worse she was taken in by her grandparents, and her grandfather began assaulting young Aileen and continued on a regular bias. Unfortunately she became pregnant with her grandfather’s child and forced to a home for unwed mothers. Going through something like would be very traumatizing. During Aliens killing spree she justied her murders saying that the men assaulted her. Weather that was true or no is up for discussion. However this is a clear correlation between when her grandfather assaulted her (multiple times) and how she saw the men when she was with them.

There is no doubt that what these pre serial killers went through justifies their actions but it does play a key role. For example the infamous killer clown, John Wayne Gacy was abused by his alcoholic father. Even being beaten so bad with a broomstick that he was knocked unconscious. Or Pedro Lopez who was evicted from his house at the age of 8 for assaulting his sister. While out and alone he was picked up by a man and taken to an abandoned shed where he was assaulted and raped. At the age of 12 while he was attending a school for orphans he was again assaulted by a male teacher. Showing love and affection is an absolutely necessary part of encouraging positive physical, mental, emotional, and social development. It is the most important thing you can provide to your child beyond meeting his or her basic human needs. (Merryweather, Cherish). Life at home can affect their social lives as well.

Serial killers are unable to develop and effectively use defense mechanisms, which is a result of abuse in their younger years of life. This leads to problems in school, difficulty in social situations and work environments. Violence, and crime are social problems that serial killers participate in because of their lack of social skills. The abuse and neglect that the serial killer experiences contributes to their outlash on others and cruelty to animals. Cruelty to animals by serial killers is no surprise, and is usually derived from child abuse. Animal cruelty is an early sign and if assessed, can prevent further violence. However if they are being abused at home by their parents then there is no hope. The parents of the serial killers are doing the damage, getting their kids help is not on the set of properties. For example Edmund Kemper, killed cats he found around his neighborhood he even ended up killing his own cat and cutting it up into pieces. Kemper went on to kill 8 women including his own mother. Or Albert DeSalvo better known as the Boston Strangler, use to capture cats and dog; then he would shoot arrows at them. As an example of how their parents weren’t there to help, is the case with Ted Bundy. As a child Bundy watched his father torture small animals, you could say he had a good teacher. Bundy tortured animals and went on to kill 40 people. Dahmer didn’t have to wind up a monster, if only the adults in his life hadn’t been so inexplicably, unforgivably, incomprehensibly clueless and/or indifferent. (Bardy, Tara). With tormenting childhoods, parents who physically and sexually abused these pre-serial killers; it made life tough and caused outlash in their social environments.

There is no doubt that their childhoods, social situations, and environments can leave these serial killers will mental disorders. Exposure to traumatic experiences in childhood can have a negative impact on the development of the brain when it’s most vulnerable. (Baracz). Sadism can be found in all the serial killers listed above. Schizophrenia, a serious mental illness can be seen in serial killers like David Berkowitz and Ed Gein. Ted Bundy was a sociopath, John Wayne Gacy suffered from an antisocial personality disorder.

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Origins of a Serial Killer. (2019, Jul 19). Retrieved January 29, 2023 , from

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