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Case Study of Jeffrey Dahmer

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    This paper will present case-analysis of the life and history of American psychopathic offender Jeffrey Dahmer. With the aim of carrying out this assignment effectively the research will be done from a psychological perspective; with regard to understanding the best fitted typology for the defendant’s criminality. Here these intimate aspects of the study will purely focus on the profiling of the offender, analyzing his past criminal record conjointly introducing the different types of influences on his criminal career.

    Subsequently one will uncover the number and types of individuals who fallen victim to the offender’s crimes, jointly explaining the impact his offences had on society. In the end this piece will determine whether there is any kind of treatment or rehabilitation best suited for this offender, which may prevent them from reoffending in the near future. During the late 1970’s the US saw a momentous decade, noticing radical transformations to technology, and major advancements towards liberation and freedom. These societal progressive steps confirmed that US society was now expressing one another more passionately and openly than ever before.

    This view justifies rationale for the spate of killings that would commence by the hands of Dahmer and other similar types of criminals of that era. However Dahmer began to show mental signs of sadistic behaviour during his pre-teen years after moving hometown. Whilst his peers were living normal young lives, Dahmer would show his morbid fascination with death; collecting dead animals to take apart the remains so he could view the viscera and store the bones. Evidently this abnormal behaviour would later link with his extreme desire to gain sexual gratification from having sex with, mutilating and even eating his dead victims.

    According to reliable documentary source BORN TO KILL? JEFFREY DAHMER (2005) it is alleged that “the breakdown of his parents’ marriage”, left him mentally depressed and lonely, which possibly boosted his drive further to commit these horrific crimes. Subsequently throughout the course of the 1980’s when Dahmer began to commit more rampant murders the US saw the use and influence of various types of drugs and alcohol. These substances were able to effect many young people’s lives including Dahmer who became an excessive alcoholic, leading to his downward spiral.

    From the documentary it is revealed that after Dahmer’s apprehension communities hit by Dahmer’s attacks were left “Shattered!.. [and] People stopped coming out! ” conveying the massive threat Dahmer posed to society; that even people’s day-to-day lives were impacted by his crimes, due to their fears of being victimised. Following Dahmer’s arrest in 1991 he managed to accumulate a total of seventeen deaths of young men in the US. Seemingly all of Dahmer’s male victims were mostly African-American indicating perhaps his sexual preference. From the documentary BORN TO KILL? 2005) it is pointed out that “As he got to be about 13 or 14 and he was coming into his sexual awareness… he had some kissing with another boy in the neighbourhood and realised he was attracted to boys. ” This quote emphasizes why Dahmer might have chosen his particular targets, as his gay physical attraction possibly drew him closer purposefully. Prior to Dahmer murdering his victims the initial stages of his ritual operation would entail him meeting them on the street, gay bars or bathhouses where he would offer them money to pose nude back in his apartment.

    If successful he would then proceed to take the victim back home where he would begin to methodically intoxicate and asphyxiate them; before finally practising bouts of necrophilia and cannibalism with the victim’s corpse for sexual pleasure. After murdering and dismembering his first victim in 1978 Dahmer took a nine year hiatus before striking again for a four year stint killing sixteen more innocent victims. However during Dahmer’s killing interval significant instances of his nonconformist behaviour, more or less warning signs to the general public emerged through his sex crimes such as indecent exposure and masturbation in public.

    These events led to his arrest and imprisonment, but upon his release, almost immediately he would be put on probation for sexually fondling a boy aged thirteen. Unmistakeably these events proved Dahmer to be irresponsible and not learning from his punishments, as he was still going out of his way to satisfy his sexual needs. A Profile of Jeffrey Dahmer Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer was born on May 21st 1960 in West Allis, Milwaukee to a middle class family his father was a chemist and mother bedridden due to mental illness.

    However during the early stages of Dahmer’s life, he lived a rather happy childhood until around the age of six when his troubled parents relocated to rural town Bath, Ohio. At this point Dahmer’s parents began to slowly neglect him because of their failing marriage leading to his lack of confidence and antisocial personality; resulting in him not having many friends. Additionally Dahmer would devote most of his time alone to satisfying his sadistic fantasies, evident through his weird fascination with death.

    This delusional fixation led to Dahmer going out to search for road-kill to cut up and look at the internal organs, collecting the bones as trophies. Following Dahmer’s parents’ divorce, he went to live with his father because his mother was suffering from mental depression, consequently his school grades began to worsen as a result of his recent alcohol addiction. Also at this stage Dahmer realised his desire for the same sex after experiencing several homosexual encounters, yet despite these concerns his father hardly spent much time with him; instead balancing his career and new marriage.

    So evidently there was no bonding between Dahmer and his parents during those crucial years of his development; resulting in him spending a great deal of his time unsupervised and free to do as he wanted. Ultimately by the time Dahmer reached University he was a struggling alcoholic resulting in his departure from education and dismissal from the army for drunken disorder. These turn of events manifested Dahmer’s downfall leaving him to deal with his homosexual urges and sadistic fantasies which would soon lead to him murdering his string of innocent victims. With reference to online journal source CULHANE, HILSTAD, FRENG & GRAY (2010, p. 29-130) one is shown three common characteristics of a typical serial killer, “there must be (1) three or more victims; (2) three or more incidents;and (3) an emotional ‘cooling off’ period of time in between the murders. ” So reviewing Dahmer’s method of operating it is clear these qualities fit his style description, as throughout his criminal career he appeared to exhibit those signature traits or habits of a model serial killer. In conjunction to psychologically examining Dahmer’s criminality one must consider the individual differences associated with the nature of his crimes.

    Therefore adopting this type of approach as a way of understanding cognitive reasons for his offending behaviour, online journal source ALISON, GOODWILL, ALMOND, HEUVEL & WINTER (2010, p. 116) states it can lead to the detection of a “set of offender characteristics by inferring latent patterns or ‘styles’ of offending”. Furthermore it is clear from Freudian psychoanalytical theories of crime shown in HALE, HAYWARD, WAHIDIN, WINCUP (2005, p. 113) that “innate desires and repressed emotions shape individual human behaviour. Hence it can be argued that Dahmer’s responses were influenced by a variety of underlying risk factors, which BARTOL & BARTOL (2011, p. 35); express as either “developmental, social, biological or situational. ” So recalling Dahmer’s early experiences one can see how the ‘developmental’ explanation for criminality relates back to his upbringing by the authors emphasizing “a link between parenting/family with offending. ” This quote justifies reasons for Dahmer’s violent behaviour; referring back to his parents troubled marriage one could argue that partly his negative influence surfaced by way of his parents’ divorce.

    This view is reinforced in Bowlby’s Attachment theory (1953) which indicates maternal separations during the early stages of a person’s life to be a contributing factor to psychological damage. Since many family breakdowns involve a lot of disputes, which Dahmer probably witnessed as a child between both his parents leaving him a product of his environment. Dahmer’s mental impairment is evident from the ways he generally bottled up his emotions, choosing to have little or no social contact with anybody; other than the objects that drew his attention such as the dead animals and his male victims.

    However studying the biological aspects of Dahmer’s criminality it is also clear from the case-study that psychiatric disorder was something in his family, with his mother suffering mental illness so maybe this trait was something passed down genetically. With hindsight it is certain that Dahmer falls into the appropriate psychological typology of ‘hedonistic killer’, supported in BARTOL & BARTOL (2011, p. 309) which states that “The hedonistic type strives for pleasure and thrill seeking, and feels people are objects to use for one’s own enjoyment. Evidently this interpretation relates back to Dahmer’s sadistic behaviour over the years, stumbling across as an overall pleasure-seeker; marked by the ways in which he would selfishly maltreat and use his victims as sexual apparatus for his own arousal. For example to remind Dahmer of his crimes, he generally kept naked photographs of his dead victims, storing severed body parts around his home; which he would revisit in his spare time for sexual stimulation or consumption. According to BARTOL & BARTOL (2011, p. 09) it is stated that “hedonistic killers may be divided into three subtypes based on the primary motive for the murder… lust, thrill, or comfort. ” Therefore one would say all three motives were central to Dahmer killing his victims apparent through his strong sexual desire for them; along with the pleasure and consolation he gained from using his victim’s remains at his disposal. Overall Dahmer seemed very attentive in regards to his general surroundings, which may have been the reason for his delayed capture by the police.

    Throughout Dahmer’s criminal career he come across very skilled at concealing his crimes from the public (e. g. cutting up his victims’ bodies, putting them in to bin bags, boiling body parts in acid); usually fulfilling his sadistic fantasies with the corpses of his dead victims in the comfort of his own home. Consequently his oblivious neighbours would complain sometimes about the awful smells coming from his apartment. Notwithstanding Dahmer would merely blame it on his expired foodstuffs and they would believe him because of his composed demeanour.

    So evidently Dahmer always had that soaring advantage over people since he knew what he was doing and how he was going to cover up his offences. Hence one could argue that this reason might have compelled Dahmer even more to commit his crimes knowing deep down he could get away with murder. Earlier in the case-study it was mentioned that the majority of Dahmer’s victims were from the racial minorities, yet there were no signs of him being a racist, which leaves one to question why this particular race was his preferred target?

    Moreover it is known Dahmer had cannibalistic inclinations, clear from ways he would keep his victims mutilated body parts in places like the refrigerator. According to BORN TO KILL? JEFFREY DAHMER (2005) Dahmer’s reason for eating his victims’ was “It made me feel like they were a permanent part of me… and gave me a sexual satisfaction. ” Conveying that by Dahmer eating his dead victims he could form that intimate, pleasurable bond with what was left of them making up for the kind of relationship he sought with his parents growing up.

    Returning to Dahmer’s childhood it is plain that his parent’s abandoned him because of their deteriorating marriage. Instead choosing to focus more on their own private matters, leaving Dahmer feeling rejected and alienated. So for that reason one would say that Dahmer probably gained that will to kill along with reassurance from his victim’s corpses that he no longer was rejected and abandoned by society like he was most of his life. On July 22 1991 Dahmer’s killing rampage was finally brought to a close when his last victim managed to escape by chance after being handcuffed, alerting the attention of the police on the streets.

    There the victim was able to inform the police of Dahmer’s intentions of trying to drug and kill him, leading to the police going back to Dahmer’s apartment to further examine the problem. Yet once the police arrived at the address Dahmer appeared very composed as usual, claiming everything to be a misunderstanding. It was not until the police carried out a search of Dahmer’s property they were able to find incriminating evidence (e. g. dismembered body-parts, photographs of dead victims) leading to his detainment.

    However prior to Dahmer’s closing arrest despite being apprehended before and put on probation for sexual offences, he did not really draw any suspicion from the police or general public. Again this was due to Dahmer’s surreptitious lifestyle, involving him continuously covering up his tracks all the time by way of mutilating and disposing of his dead victims very calmly. As a result no sting operations were ever carried out by the police on Dahmer, because there were no grounds to do so.

    From the documentary BORN TO KILL? JEFFREY DAHMER (2005) it is mentioned that “not once during his entire time being on probation did a probation officer come to his apartment… much less make a surprised visit” This statement surely demonstrates the failure of the US CJS as no strenuous intervention in Dahmer’s life was taken by US government to ensure the safety of the public and Dahmer’s reformation, which may have prevented the deaths of his additional victims. After Re-evaluating Dahmer’s criminal past it is clear that he stood a high chance of reoffending due to his unstable mental condition.

    Additionally one could argue that he suffered all the known symptoms of various mental illnesses such as Antisocial Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia and Depression. This is evident through Dahmer’s persistent detachment from reality; withdrawn and isolated personality and poor social interaction skills. So perhaps it would be necessary to keep this type of offender in prison to protect society. According to source MARTENS & PALERMO (2005 p. 298) it is argued that “loneliness plays a significant role in the development and continuation of violent, antisocial attitudes and behaviour. Therefore psychological treatment of Dahmer’s psychopathic behaviour would necessitate therapeutic methods such as Psychotherapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. These processes would aim to cure his inner violent aggression by allowing practitioners to help him realize the nature and effects of his crimes; so that he could learn to control his behavioural responses. Additionally there are a number of drugs that treat psychiatric disorders such as Schizophrenia; online source PSYCHCENTRAL (2011) stresses that “Antipsychotic medications act against these symptoms.

    These medications cannot “cure” the illness, but they can take away many of the symptoms or make them milder. ” Unmistakably antipsychotic medication would prove fairly useful for Dahmer by way of shortening his violent outbreaks, encouraging him to make more positive decisions. From online article source TRAINOR, (2004, p. 28) it is clear that psychologists have found “Children who get a kick out of torturing pets in danger of becoming serial killers. So one would say treatment of Dahmer’s offending behaviour may have been too late in his mature life; as this action should have been taken from the early stages of his life; when he first started showing signs of mental illness. Subsequently if practitioners were able to help Dahmer when he was younger they could have helped his behaviour more easier using a variety therapeutic and drug treatments as this is when the brain is at its developing stage; instilling those moral norms and values throughout his natural life.

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