Trait Theories of Serial Killers Essay

 

 

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Introduction

The issue of serial killers is a pertinent issue in the society which has many negative implications - Trait Theories of Serial Killers Essay introduction. Serial killers negatively affect, not only their victims; but the family members of the victims and the society at large. There exists varied literature which explains the way the mind of a serial killer works in a bid to find lasting solutions towards eradicating the vice of lawless murders in our society. The aim of this paper is to critically analyze strain theory which is key to understanding the mind of a serial killer.

Studies Show that, crime develops in the gap or dysfunction between culturally induced aspirations for economic success and structurally distributed aspirations of achievement (Siegel, 2004). The lower classes are the most affected by crime due to competition for success. From Metons’ theory it can be argued that, crime stems from cultural and structural anomalies. Other studies from Melton show that, crime is the combination of cultural emphasis and social structures producing intense pressure on individuals and hence resulting to deviation (Siegel, 2004) However, Cohen argues that Metons strain theory does not explain purposeless crime (Siegel, 2004). For example there are many cases of serial killers who kill for fun or without any purpose. Cohen believes that crime stems from interpersonal strains which come from group interrelations (Richard & Steven, 1995). For example in competitive environment losers face frustrations and may turn to crime as a way of dealing with their frustrations. Frustrations are seen as major catalyst of expected and unexpected criminal acts.

Studies from Agnew show that, crime is about structural, interpersonal but emotional in terms of breakdown of beliefs in the role other people play for expectations in normal events (Siegel, 2004).  For example perceptions of a traumatic environment may lead to negative emotions which could catalyses one to engage in crime. Agnew also argues that, individuals could turn to crime as a result of traumatic events, failure to achieve positive achieved goals and confrontation with negative stimulus which may cause anger and later induce criminal activities. In the light of above serial killers are criminals who act as a result of the above explanations of strain theory.

This paper reviews three serial killers; Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gracy and Jeffrey Dahmer. Studies show that the three characters did not come from rich families but they originated from lower classes. Ted Bundy is believed to have killed more than 35 people in USA and he had a troubled childhood. Studies show that Ted Bundy was brought up as a child of his grandparents who feared social stigma since he had no father (Robert, 2005). Later when he came to learn of his true origin he was very disappointed and instead of dealing with his pain he suppressed his anger and studied in a law school (Robert, 2005). Bundy seemed to use his social success as an alibi for his serial killings and perhaps that the reason he was able to fool policemen for a long time before finally being apprehended and executed.  Ted’s killings were executed around 1973 to 1978 when he was finally executed and he (Ted) blamed his predicaments to his addiction to pornography which made him want to abduct, rape and murder women (Robert, 2005).

Serial killer Wayne Gracy was convicted and executive on the accounts of raping and killing 33 boys and men while 27 of his victims were buried under the floor of his house and some of his victims were thrown in a nearby river (Roy & Adams, 2006). Wayne used to woo his victims as a friendly clown. Wayne’s series of killings started when he was divorced by his wife on being incarcerated due to molesting a teenage boy (Robert & Miryam, 2006). Other studies show that Wayne killed his victims as a result of his poor relationship with his father who abused him verbally and physically calling him a sissy (Roy & Adams, 2006).

Consequently, Dahmer, Was also an American serial killer cum sex offender. It is believed that Dahmer killed 17 men and boys from African and Asian descent between 1978 and 1991 (Dahmer, 1994). Dahmers’ childhood was normal but at one point he became withdrawn and uncommunicative and had much interest in dissecting dead things (Dahmer, 1994). His victims died painful deaths through rape, torture and dismemberment with some acting as his meal (Dahmer, 1994). Dahmer was not executed but was beaten to death by a fellow inmate.

The three serial killers used for this study had many commonalities to the strain theory. For example, there seemed to be some form of childhood traumas which were painful causing pain which later led to deviating to series of unexplained murders. A review of Teds cases shows that as a young boy he was addicted to pornography and that may have made him want to abduct and rape women. On the other hand, social structures in terms of dominant stereotypes of family values led his grandparents to adopt him as their child, growing up believing that his mother was his sister. When he finally found out the truth he chooses to hide his pain and suppress it so that he deals with his personal strains through taking it out on innocent girls whom he abducted, raped and killed. In other words, Teds killings were as a result of his inner struggles according to strain theory by Agnew.

Consequently a review of Wayne shows that he divulged to crime way before he started killing many people. For example he was divorced by his wife due to incarceration due to molesting a young boy. The divorce must have caused him a lot of strain leading him to turn to crime. According to Agnew crime may be catalyzed by traumatic events happening to an individual and hence they become criminals in a bid to try and suppress the traumatic events that have happened to them. Dahmer on the other hand, seemed to have experienced something that led him to be obsessed by death things and dissecting them so that he practiced the same on human beings. The three victims show that they became serial killers as a result of the strain or dysfunction between culturally induced aspirations for economic success and structurally distributed aspirations of achievement.

Recommendations to stopping the behaviors of serial killers

The etiology of serial killers is a complex one and to ensure a crime free society there are several measures which can be undertaken. For instance, it is the high time that the society is taught about the importance of nurturing children in a loving and caring environment which is realistic. For instance, children need to be told the truth about their origin and roots and their self esteem build so that they don’t have to be victims of dominant social stereotypes. The current society lacks warning signs of troubled signs in childhood and that’s the reason why some children’s needs are left unattended even when they present anti social behaviors (Siegel, 2004). Parents and caretakers should be able to interact with their children in a healthy manner and at the same manner ensure that a positive environment is created where children can express themselves freely. On the other hand, there is need for American jails/ prisons to employ effective rehabilitation strategies for inmates. For example Wayne may have been effectively rehabilitated when he was first apprehended because of child molestation which would have saved the lives of the many victims he killed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reference list

Dahmer, L. (1994). A Father’s Story. William Morrow & Company, New York.

Robert M. & Miryam W. (2006). Forensic Detective – How I Cracked The World’s Toughest Cases. Ballantine Books.

Robert K. (2005). The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer. Pocket Books.

Roy  R.& Adams L. (2006). Dark Journey, Deep Grace: The Story Behind a Serial Killer’s Journey to Faith. Leafwood Publishers.

Richard R & Steven M. (1995). “Crime and the American Dream” in Criminological Theory: Past to Present (Essential Readings). Los Angeles: Roxbury. pp141-150.

Siegel, L. (2004). Criminology: Theories, Patterns, & Typologies, 8e. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning

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