Serial Killers – Correlation Between Behavior and Aggression

Table of Content

“I did not intend to harm them; I just wanted them dead,” declared David Berkowitz, who is widely known as the Son of Sam. Every serial killer, including Berkowitz, exhibits unique cognitive patterns. This article seeks to examine their characteristics, motivations, different phases, and the correlation between behavior and aggression.

Serial killers have distinct characteristics that set them apart from others. To be considered a true serial killer, they must kill at least three to four people, allowing for emotional cooling between each murder. These killings usually occur in one-on-one situations and happen repeatedly over a period of time (Characteristics of Serial Murder). It is unusual for serial killers to have any connection with their victims and they seldom have a rational motive. When committing the murders, serial killers tend to follow a specific pattern and often display excessive violence.

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This degree of excessiveness distinguishes them from other serial killers. Serial murderers also have different reasons for their killings. One notable motive is the desire for power (Forwood). They typically target individuals who are society’s most vulnerable and those who are less powerful than themselves (Forwood). This often includes the homeless, disabled, and usually young people of both genders. When they kill the homeless and disabled, they are usually driven by the Missionary Motive.

These motives behind committing murder can be categorized into different types. One type is the Social Crusader, who believes it is their duty to eliminate individuals society deems undesirable. Another type is the Visionary killer, who often acts upon instructions from hallucinations or voices in their mind due to schizophrenia. The last motive is the Hedonist, who derives pleasure from taking another person’s life.

This group is divided into three sub-categories: lust killers, thrill killers, and gain killers. Lust killers derive pleasure from killing, often due to sexual underdevelopment, while thrill killers are motivated by the adrenaline rush they experience. This type of hedonist tends to kill more frequently as they become addicted to this sensation. Gain killers always murder in order to obtain some form of benefit.

Usually, a Serial Killer’s motive is money, but it can also be something like a job. Additionally, their mind is constantly going through seven phases. The first of these phases is called the Aura Phase, during which the killer daydreams about death and destruction. Over time, these disturbing fantasies often lead to an urge to act upon them. This transition brings the killer into the second stage known as the Trolling Phase.

During the Trolling Phase, the serial killer actively seeks out the ideal victim for their specific requirements. They typically search in various locations such as school yards, lovers lanes, and red light districts. This process can last for hours, days, or even months until the perfect victim is identified. Once found, this marks the beginning of the Wooing Phase.

Serial killers employ a charming demeanor to establish trust with their victims before proceeding to capture them. During the Capture Stage, the killer unveils their true nature, often luring victims into their car which intentionally lacks a door handle to prevent escape. This twisted and sadistic act adds to the perverse enjoyment they derive from their horrific game.

Next, there is the Murder Stage, where they may choose to either kill you or torture you until death, resuscitate you briefly to continue the torture (Scott). Following that is the Totem Stage, during which the killer keeps a keepsake from you, such as jewelry, clothes, or even a part of your body.

Afterward, the seventh and ultimate stage follows, known as Depression. The killer experiences a profound emotional decline. In some cases, they may even become so despondent that they contemplate suicide. Eventually, daydreaming becomes more prevalent, thus perpetuating this entire cycle until the killer is either apprehended or succumbs (Characteristics of Serial Murder). Additionally, there exists a connection between behavior and aggression in serial killers.

This means that during childhood, serial killers faced similar challenges. Most serial killers have experienced one of the Terrible Triad, which includes bedwetting, sadistic abuse of animals, and pyromania. Many serial killers, as children, have been documented to kill and mistreat animals. Cats are often the preferred targets, with instances of being thrown out of windows or sliced open, solely to observe their endurance.

Cats have a negative reputation for being victims of arson. Young serial killers often exhibit pyromania, finding entertainment in setting things on fire until they become bored and move on to more significant activities. Bedwetting is the final component of the Terrible Triad.

A history of bedwetting beyond the age of twelve can lead to substantial emotional distress, and it is prevalent in sixty percent of all serial killers. Alton Coleman, a serial killer himself, remembers being called “Pissy” by his friends in the neighborhood due to this issue. This incident ultimately compelled him to commit eight murders, as he sought to carry out a fresh act of violence every day.

Serial killers often suffer from mental problems due to bad parenting, which can include experiencing sexual and/or physical abuse and neglect during childhood. Henry Lee Lucas, for instance, endured frequent beatings, starvation, and being forced to wear his mother’s dresses while witnessing her interactions with clients (Forwood). Neglected children frequently develop additional mental issues as they crave attention.

The main point of the text is that serial killers commit murder in order to gain attention and recognition. The media, including television, newspapers, and magazines, plays a role in fueling their desire for acknowledgment. This validation keeps them motivated and confirms their existence. Additionally, some serial killers may have low self-esteem due to realizing they were the result of an unwanted pregnancy. This leads them to seek power as a means of regaining control and self-worth. As a result, they unleash their anger on the community through torture and multiple killings. In conclusion, there are various factors that influence the mindset of serial killers.

Serial killers are frequently mentally unstable, yet many possess understandable motives. The Characteristics of Serial Murder suggests that serial killers often lack the childhood development of individuation, causing them to overlook their victims’ emotional existence. It is crucial to acknowledge that society should not underestimate serial killers as they present a significant threat. What adds to their disconcerting nature is that their actions are not haphazard acts of violence; rather, they meticulously plan their crimes from inception.


  1. Characteristics of Serial Murder n.pag. Online. Internet. 22 April. 1999. Available
  2. Forwood, Bill. Repeatedly Killing… Why?!n.pag. Online. Internet. 22 April. 1999. Available:
  3. Scott, Shirley. What Makes Serial Killers Tick? n.pag. Online. Internet. 22 April. 1999. Available: /serials/what/whatmain.htm

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Serial Killers – Correlation Between Behavior and Aggression. (2018, Dec 15). Retrieved from

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