An Inside into a Killer’s Mind
Psychopathy is defined as a personality disorder characterized by a lack of remorse, empathy, anxiety, and other social emotions; the use of deceit and manipulation; and impulsive thrill seeking. (Wade 383) According to the article “What ‘Psychopath’ Means”, it is stated that 25% of inmates in prison meet the criteria to be diagnosed as a psychopath. With so many criminals diagnosed as psychopaths can serial killers be classified as psychopaths and therefore “excused” for the crimes they commit? Many researchers agree that serial killers tend to lack empathy, compassion, and crave power.
Serial killers have been an interesting topic throughout history. There ...view middle of the document...
Because of all this, serial killers seem to want control and power, possibly because they lack it outside of their killings.
In hand with the want for power, serial killers tend to be narcissistic as well. According to Zelda Knight’s journal “Some Thoughts on the Psychological Roots of the Behavior of Serial Killers as Narcissists…”, “Feelings of inadequacy and shame are hidden by a facade of grandiosity and exhibitionism, hollow emptiness, envy and rage.” (Knight 1195) Along with what Whittington stated, because serial killers tend to feel inadequate in society, they may cover it up with “puffed-up” self-esteem that is not necessarily genuine. With their narcissistic behaviors, serial killers may feel like they are invincible to the law and police force, which can explain why they continue to kill until they are caught.
Another characteristic that serial killers tend to lack is empathy. Empathy is defined as “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” (Dictionary.com) Sean Spence, a journalist for New Scientist, argues that empathy is something that is programmed within all humans. Spence states, “When we feel a wave of emotion at someone’s suffering…we are communing with them, whether we like or not.”(Spence 2) As Spence states, empathy is, in a way, inevitable. For a person to not feel empathy at someone else’s pain or suffering, in society today, seems abnormal. According to his article “Bad or Mad” Spence discusses studies that prove that empathy is scientifically beyond a person’s control and that people have emotional responses and only realize it once “the brain’s cortical regions are engaged” (Spence 2) So what about serial killers and murderers in general? Because empathy is considered a common trait amongst most humans, does someone who lacks it, for the most part, considered mentally ill because they are not part of “the norm”? Spence also notes on evil being something that is “within all of us.” What differs is who does act upon it and who does not. Spence further argues in his article if serial killers should be fully responsible for their actions. For example, in cases such as the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, the shooter was considered mentally ill and therefore relieved of his charges. Most people may find it difficult to “excuse” murderers for killing people because they may have a mental illness. But if murderers are diagnosed with a mental illness, it could prevent other people who may have similar symptoms from doing the same thing, which can save lives.
If a killer has physical damage to their brain, which can possibly cause the killings, does that excuse them of what they’ve done? According to the textbook “Invitation to Psychology”, “frontal lobe damage can be inherited or result from disease, accident, or physical abuse.” If the frontal lobes are damaged, a person’s emotions and personality can be greatly affected. Spence notes on...