Psychological Problems In Serial Killers

Table of Contents

An opening

Basic Concept and Major Theorists

The definition of crime and the role of law

Causal Logic

Criminal justice system, including Correctional ideology and Techniques to control crime

Evaluation / Criticism

In the beginning

The article by Robert L. Hale entitled “The Application of Learning Theory for Serial Murders”, is the one I have chosen. This article is related to psychology, and in particular psychodynamic theory.

Basic Idea, Major TheoristsThe article’s main thesis is that serial killers get attached to killing because they want to be free of humiliation. They also want to gain back lost power. This article explains how killers act in a way that is logical to them, but not for others. Serial murder, it’s said, is a learned way to get rid of humiliation and regain lost control. But, the article also explains, that this behavior can be undone (Hale 1993).

Sigmund Fréud was the founder of psychodynamic psychology. According to psychodynamic theory, the mind has three distinct functions. The conscious state is the most present and aware state of an individual. The preconscious is a collection of memories that have been pushed to the back of our minds, but are still accessible if necessary. The unconscious is a part of our psyche that contains impulses we can’t immediately perceive as thoughts. The subconscious contains feelings of aggression and sex that are hidden at the back of the minds (Siegel, 2016). According to this article, serial killers are difficult to detect because they have no relationship with the victims. Serial killers live normal lives and remain low-key for years. Serial killers are often identified accidentally. The law will intervene to arrest and charge the serial killer. The killing of another person is a serious crime. Therefore, those who commit it are punished harshly (Hale 1993, p.38). Serial murder is described as a form of violence under multicide. The term multicide can be used to distinguish between spree and mass killers. The article states that serial murders have five key components. In general, serial homicides are committed by people who know each other. Second, it is common for the outsider to have a connection with the person being attacked. Third, the thought process of the serial executioner is not immediately apparent. Fourth, a serial killer must be persuaded into executing. Fifth, repetition of crime is the main component. In the end, the serial murderer will continue killing as long as he or she is not stopped. It is possible that the image of a criminal can change depending on the circumstances, but Ted Bundy was the most famous serial killer. Serial killers tend to kill more than once, but the killings usually happen over time. It takes time for the killer to be caught. When the killer is finally caught, media outlets tend to overreport or exaggerate elements of crime for profit. The media portrays serial killers in a negative light, which is quite frightening. Media coverage of serial killers can make the public more afraid than necessary, even when they’re rarely caught (Hale, 1992, p.38). Causal LogicCausal Logic relates a cause and effect relationship, whereby one causes the other. How can a serial criminal become a’serial killer’? The killer is usually embarrassed by some communication. To overcome this, the killer will kill. It is the act of killing that gives a murderer a feeling of satisfaction and helps them to regain what they believe is right. An individual can be humiliated or embarrassed when their character or sense of self-worth has been attacked. To maintain his/her self-esteem, the murderer has to keep killing (Hale 1993, p.39). Criminal justice implications, such as criminal justice policy, Correctional ideology, and Techniques to control crime.Serial murderers are charged and convicted for multiple life terms. Charges vary depending on the case. Serial killers may not live to see another morning outside jail. Killers will not have a life outside prison if they are released despite all the evidence. Serial killers are rarely released from prison. Upon release, the parole officer would supervise them and they must meet certain conditions to remain free. This could limit the freedom of a person to travel, live, and work. The stigma and consequences of a criminal record are also likely to make it difficult for an offender to reintegrate. Serial killers have a reputation of being beyond repair and are often sent to jail. Alexander and French hypothesize that serial murderers can change by facing the past. A psychologist or counselor could convince a killer that his/her embarrassment and/or circumstances aren’t as severe as they thought. It is then possible for the killer to get over his/her past memories. Many different methods can be used to prevent crimes of this nature. Canada practices deterrence as a way to prevent these crimes. Deterrence involves the effort to discourage people from breaking laws, or prevent current offenders reoffending. Deterrence requires that the punishment be more severe than the consequences of the crime, making it unprofitable. Deterrence is usually achieved by prison, but it can be ineffective when dealing with serial killers. (Linden, 2019)

This article is not what I agree with. Psychological theory does not work for me because it is too focused on the perpetrator and not the victim. I think that lifestyle theories do a better job of explaining the victim’s role. Lifestyle theories define specific lifestyles that make people more vulnerable to becoming victims. According to the article, serial killer victims are “random”. Although victims are not random, it is possible that they were victimized by chance. Serial killers will often target a specific person as they are “easier targets”. You could be targeted more if you choose certain lifestyles, like going on dates and spending time with others. In general, certain lifestyle choices can make some people more vulnerable to being victimized. Serial killer victims are not “random”. A less safe way of living increases the risk of danger.


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    Calvin Merritt is an educational bloger who specializes in writing about educational topics. He has been writing for over a decade and has written for a variety of different platforms. His work has been featured on various websites and he has also been published in various magazines.