What Makes a Serial Killer?

Check out more papers on Abnormal Psychology Antisocial Personality Disorder Mental Disorder

For my final I chose to write about serial killers, but not just about what they are I'm going to dig a little deeper and tell you what exactly makes them the way they are. In the case that you don't already know what one is it was previously defined as:

The term 'serial killings' means a series of three or more killings, not less than one of which was committed within the United States, having common characteristics as to suggest the reasonable possibility that the crimes were committed by the same actor or actors. (FBI)

This quote suggested that in order to be deemed a serial killer one must have a series of three or more killings committed by the same person or persons. This definition was very much misunderstood as it was unclear when such an act was to be considered a mass murder or a serial murder. Thus, another definition was created in order to define what was to be considered a serial murder: The unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender(s), in separate events. (FBI). This meant that now for it to be considered a serial murder (serial killer) there must be multiple killings each in separate events performed over a span of time by the same offender(s), whereas a mass murder involves multiple killings within one event by the offender(s).

What exactly makes serial killers different from other murderers? What differentiates a serial killer from every other murderer out there in the world? Well according to the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress (AEETS):

A large distinction that separates serial killers from other murderers are their motives to kill. [,,,] A murderer has a vendetta, a nice specific personal thing against his victim (Corin 108). Unlike that of a normal homicide, serial killers are only driven by instinct and a desire to kill.

This further explains the idea that serial killers and murderers both have their own reasons for taking someone's life which makes them different from one another. In the case of a murderer their reasoning for committing such an act will usually stem from some sort of personal grudge against someone, whereas a serial killer will kill just to kill.

It's important to understand however that some serial killers have personality disorders, some of the common personality disorders are: antisocial personality disorder, and schizophrenia. But what is antisocial personality disorder and what roll does it play in serial killers? By itself antisocial personality disorder can be seen as:

A mental condition in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to antagonize, manipulate or treat others harshly or with callous indifference. They show no guild or remorse for their behavior. (Antisocial Personality disorder)

What this basically means is someone with antisocial personality disorder will tend to not care about right and wrong. They will also constantly ignore the feelings of those around them, especially if their actions have a negative effect on someone else. In a sense those that suffer from antisocial personality disorder are oblivious to the feelings of others and are indifferent to the consequences their behavior has.

Now that we've discussed antisocial personality disorder lets move on to schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is defined as a Chronic brain disorder that affects less than one percent of the U.S. population. (American Psychiatric Association). This shows just how rare it is for someone to have schizophrenia, when schizophrenia is active some symptoms that occur are delusions, hallucinations, trouble with thinking and concentration, and lack of motivation.

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What Makes a Serial Killer?. (2019, Jul 19). Retrieved September 26, 2023 , from

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