The Psychology Behind the Serial Killer Essay

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The Psychology Behind the Serial Killer Creeping around the shadowy house, the predator found its prey waking to strange sounds. The victim lay facedown, with a sweating forehead pressed fearfully into the pillow, silently praying the noises would just go away. Suddenly the victim found himself straddled and pinned to the bed. He was unable to scream for help due to the pressure of the handle of a pick-axe against his throat, preventing any breath from escaping, much less any sound. The victim struggled beneath the weight of the assailant. The scant light from the sodium-arc street light outside cast a peculiar silhouette on the walls of the darkened room, projecting an image that looked oddly like that of a cowboy saddled upon…show more content…
Definition: What What is a serial killer? Retired Special Agent Robert Ressler, a twenty-two year veteran of the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Unit in Quantico, Virginia, is responsible for creating the term “serial killer.” He defines this person as “one who commits a series of murders, usually three or more, the victims most often being strangers, and usually with a cooling-off period in between each kill” (Kelleher & Kelleher, 1998; Pearson, 1998; Ressler and Shactman, 1997). This precise definition is necessary to distinguish this type of predator from the mass murderer (who kills many simultaneously), mercenaries, war criminals, or mafia hit men. Profiling: Who and How Though serial killer may have a fairly specific definition, there is no single precise profile for the serial killer. Each has a unique identity, set of motives and methods, and a unique psychopathology that would attempt to explain the mens rea, that is, the purpose or intent of the murder. “Psychological profiling is an investigative tool used strictly to answer the how of the crime, not the why” (Severence et al, 1992; Lanier and Henry, 1998). By examining the psychological make-up of the serial killer, it is often possible to explain the behavior, which might make it a useful tool in solving crimes. Theories of Criminal Behavior Many theories have been

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