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Profiling a Serial Killer

Profiling a Serial Killer

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Profiling a Serial Killer

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  1. Profiling a Serial Killer

    By: Hellen, Nemanja, Saad and Hamza
  2. Introduction What is a ‘Serial Killer’ ? A person who commits a series of murders, often with no apparent motive and usually following a similar, characteristic pattern of behaviour. What is ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’ ? Nature: the hereditary and genetic factors which contribute to the development of a child into a criminal Nurture: the environmental criminogenic factors
  3. Introduction cont’d What is the Issue? Why do serial killers do what they do? They are surrounded by concepts of nature vs. nurture. People wonder if they are born as a serial killer, or if they become a serial killer through circumstances. Differentiating nature vs. nurture can be very difficult, due to the simple fact that one’s environment (nurture) can impact one’s behaviour (nature).
  4. Common misconceptions and beliefs: Myth: Serial killers Are All Dysfunctional Loners Most serial killers can hide in plain sight because they look just like everyone else with jobs, nice homes and families. Myth: Serial Killers Are All White Males The racial make-up of known serial killers generally matches the racial diversification of the overall U.S. population, according to the report. Myth: Serial killers Are Only Motivated By Sex Although some serial killers are motivated by sex, many have other motivations for their murders. Some of these include anger, thrill-seeking, financial gain and attention seeking.
  5. Myth: All serial Murderers Travel and Operate Interstate Actually, most serial killers operate within a "comfort zone" and definite geographic area. Very few serial killers travel between states to kill. Of those who do travel interstate to murder, most fall into these categories: Itinerant individuals who move from place to place. Homeless individuals who are transients. Individuals whose employment lends itself to interstate or transnational travel, such as truck drivers or those in military service. Because of their traveling lifestyle, these serial killershave many comfort zones.
  6. Myth: All Serial Killers Are Insane or Evil Geniuses In spite of fictionalized serial killers in the movies who outsmart law enforcement and avoid capture and conviction, the truth is that most serial killers test from borderline to above average intelligence. Myth: Serial Killers Cannot Stop Killing Sometimes circumstances will change in a serial killer's life causing them to stop killing before they are caught. The FBI report said the circumstances can include increased participation in family activities, sexual substitution, and other diversions.
  7. Facts & Statistics: Anger is a motivation in which an offender displays rage or hostility towards a certain subgroup of the population or with society as a whole. • Power/thrill is a motivation in which the offender feels empowered and/or excited when he kills his victims. • Psychosis is a situation in which the offender is suffering from a severe mental illness and is killing because of that illness. This may include auditory and/or visual hallucinations and paranoid, grandiose, or bizarre delusions. • Sexually-based is a motivation driven by the sexual needs/desires of the offender. There may or may not be overt sexual contact reflected in the crime scene.
  8. AnalysisAnthropology Perspective 87 % percent of serial killers come from households where they are neglected or raised by a single parent or from an unrelated peoples household. China serial killers are only present by 7% India is ranked 95 out of a 179 countries in Transparency International's Corruption its score has improved consistently from 2.7 in 2002 to 3.1 in 2011.
  9. AnalysisSociological Perspective Social learning theory is a theory that uses the childhood of serial offenders to identify the main, or only, reasons for causation. Social learning theory examines the offender's past for clues in explaining aggressive behaviour. Stress caused by childhood 'traumatizations' may be a trigger to criminal behaviour in adulthood. Serial murderers are more likely to have been sexually abused as children than the other children in their cohort
  10. AnalysisPsychological The most broadly recognized mental disorder associated with serial killing is Antisocial Personality Disorder. Many individuals with APD are not psychopathic but a number of them, especially the ones who exhibit traits such as limited empathy and grandiosity, do demonstrate psychopathy. We know the kinds of behaviours psychopaths reliably exhibit (such as superficial charm and a lack of empathy) We scanned the brain of a serial killer and measured their heart rate, these are the kind of differences we could expect to find.
  11. Nature VS. Nurture NURTURE: Serial killers are made into a serial killer Argument #1:Child abuse creates a great amount of anger (hickeys trauma model traumatic events causes homicidal behaviour and Child abuse with neurological damage and psychiatric illness (Serendip Studio, 2013) Evidence #1: Pinkus’ (2001) carrier he has found that 94 percent had experienced abuse as children, this is very similar to findings from the FBI. These findings prove that over 42% of serial killers have suffered severe physical abuse (Schetchter and Everitt, 1999). Hence, this is an environmental factor for child abuse that explains why you’re not born as a serial killer. (Serendip Studio, 2013)
  12. NurtureEvidence#2 Nannie was, even as a small child, infatuated with the idea of love and it was the one thing she craved her entire life. Her childhood was a very unhappy one where she was forced to do heavy and laborious work and play time was not permitted. Her father was not the ideal loving parent who dotted on his little girls. It was said of him that “After all, James Hazle was the boss and, if rumors are correct, he wouldn't spare the switch — on his daughters or his wife — to get what he wanted.”(Geringer, 2011). By most accounts, her father was abusive and did not show love in any way.  (Serendip Studio, 2013) - Though her new husband beat her and abused her children she stayed on for 16 years. The marriage only ended because her husband died. Nannie, taking his liquor jar, poured in some rat poison and he died quickly. (Serendip Studio, 2013) -  After killing all these husbands (it is still not understood what motivated her to kill her children) it became apparent that she was moved by nurture to commit these crimes. Her father showed no love, only coldness, hardness, and abuse. The men she married gave her more of the same. Being treated badly sent her over the edge. Maybe she was predisposed to these traits and her nurturing just triggered her behavior. Maybe she only killed out of sheer anger at the hand life dealt her. Either way, the case of Nannie Doss points more towards nurture than anything else. (Serendip Studio, 2013)
  13. Nurture Argument #2: – Many doctors believe that brain damage to the frontal lobe or limbic system may be the cause of a serial killer. Evidence #1: An example of a serial killer that had suffered severe injury to his frontal lobe is Albert Fish, better known as the Brooklyn Vampire. At the age of seven he had a severe fall off a cherry tree which caused a head injury from which he would have permanent problems with, such as headaches and dizzy spells. After his fall he began to display many violent tendencies, including an interest in sadomasochistic activities. At the age of twenty he killed his fist victim, a twelve-year-old neighbor by the name of Gracie whom he cannibalized. It would appear that a damaged frontal lobe is a prime suspect in the causation of serial killing.  (Code, Z, 2013)
  14. Nurture Evidence #2: the serial killer Bobby Joe Long was abused by his mother (a prostitute) and her ‘clients’. When he was twenty years old, he got into a motorcycle accident that caused some brain damage. After this accident, he became more aggressive and his sexual desires increased. (Code, Z, 2013)
  15. Nurture Argument #3: In the early years of a child, their environment plays a significant role when developing. This includes childhood experiences, repeated psychological trauma, and their desire or motivation for something. (Code, Z, 2013) Evidence #1: Jeffrey Dahmer, for example, was a perfectly healthy and happy child. His father described him as social and “very exuberant”, up until Dahmer’s father received a new job and the family moved three times before settling. Once he started school in his new town, he became anti-social and shy. Dahmer then began to collect roadkill and dissecting it. (Code, Z, 2013) Evidence #2: David Berkowitz, he had a normal childhood with no clear warning signs. His adoptive parents were loving and kind to him, and also very supportive. The nurturing he received from his adopted parents could not have played a role in the killer he came to be. (Code, Z, 2013)
  16. Nature VS. Nurture Nature: Serial killers are born serial killers Argument #1: Depressed women are more likely to have aggressive children (Hay, 2010). Evidence #1: Hay (professor of psychology at Cardiff University in Wales) and her colleagues looked at data collected from 120 British teens and their parents from inner-city areas. The youth were interviewed at 4, 11 and 16 years of age (Hay, 2010).
  17. Nature Evidence #2: Teens born to mothers who were depressed during pregnancy were four times more likely than others to show violent behaviors by age 16. While 8.5 percent of teens born to chipper expecting moms showed the antisocial behaviors, about 29 percent of those born to depressed moms showed the same (Hay, 2010). 
  18. Nature Argument #2: Serial killers are born with brain disorders. Evidence #1: A recent study has demonstrated that 20 out of 31 confessed killers are diagnosed as mentally ill. Out of that 20, 64% have frontal lobe abnormalities (Rutigliano, 2008). Evidence #2: They have shown that individuals who had undergone damage to the ventromedial frontal cortex (and who had normal personalities before the damage) developed abnormal social conduct, leading to negative personal consequences. Among other things, they presented inadequate decision-making and planning abilities, which are known to be processed by the frontal lobe of the brain (Antonio and Anna Damasio, 1992).
  19. Nature Argument #3: Natural need for power   Evidence #1: "Abusing an animal is a way for a human to find power/joy/fulfillment through the torture of a victim they know cannot defend itself." → "Rape is a way for a human to find power/joy/fulfillment through the torture of a victim they know cannot defend themselves." (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 1997). Evidence #2: "Animal cruelty... is not a harmless venting of emotion in a healthy individual; this is a warning sign..." It should be looked at as exactly that. Its a clear indicator of psychological issues that can and often DO lead to more violent human crimes (Brantley, 1997).
  20. Conclusion
  21. Quiz 1. List three common misconceptions about a serial killer. - All dysfunctional loners, all white males, motivated by sex, travel and operate interstate, insane or evil geniuses 2.T/F: Childhood adversity affects adult brain and body functions. - True. 3. Relating to the previous question, why do you think childhood experiences play a significant role in adulthood? - The presence of mental/physical trauma in childhood is very crucial in their development. Hence, any significant event that would traumatize the child would deeply impact their behaviour. Also, whether it be physical, mental, or sexual abuse committed on a child, studies have shown that it frequently results in social isolation, learning disabilities, problems with authority/self-control, destructive behaviour, etc. Furthermore, having brain damage can also impact their mental/physical state.
  22. 4. T/F: A serial killer’s motivation for killing is usually based on psychological gratification, including anger, thrill, financial gain, and attention seeking. - True. 5. What is the most associated mental disorder with serial killers? - Antisocial Personality Disorder. 6. What does the social learning theory examine? - The social learning theory examines the offender’s past for clues in explaining aggressive behaviour.
  23. 7. Which parts of the brain is responsible for the aggressive behaviour of a serial killer? - The frontal lobe is located in the most anterior part of the brain hemispheres. It is considered responsible for much of the behaviour that makes possible stable and adequate social relations. - damage to the ventromedial frontal cortex (people who had normal personalities before the damage) developed abnormal social conduct, leading to negative personal consequences.8. Are there more serial killers in India, China or Canada - China
  24. 9. Serial Killers come from which ethnic background mainly? - African Canadian 10. Do you believe serial killers are born or made? Why? - Scientists have yet to come to a consensus on what they believe in the real cause. Many believe that brain damage to the frontal lobe and/or limbic system may be the true cause of their killing sprees. Doctors as well as detectives consider a profile, where they assume the killings are due to the killers’ past physical and/or mental abuse.
  25. Bibliography  Predestined Serial Killers | Serendip Studio. Serendip Studio. Retrieved June 9, 2013, from Alexandria. (n.d.). Examination of the Psychology of Serial Killers | Youth Voices. Today's Featured Discussions | Youth Voices. Retrieved June 9, 2013, from Code, Z. (n.d.). Examination of the Psychology of Serial Killers. Counseling & Therapy with Values. Marriage Counseling, Psychologist, Counselor, Family Therapist.. Retrieved June 9, 2013, from Nature vs. nurture. Are serial killers born or created? | psuf10. (n.d.). psuf10 | Just another site. Retrieved June 9, 2013, from