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When researching common traits of serial killers, what came to my attention were three different traits: manipulation, narcissism, and intelligence. Common traits in killers helps gain knowledge of how to understand them because a psychologist may be able to know the next move or explain why they killed a victim a certain way. It also can detect copycat serial killers, which can ultimately help find victims that are missing, help track down a killer if their on the loose, or even using it as a way to manipulate the serial killer mentally and trying to get answers out of them.
In an online article it said, “serial killers are manipulative, but they’re also very good at making sure you don’t know you’re being manipulated”(Robins). A criminal like a serial killer is very observant, meaning they take the time to watch their victims and notice anything about their personality or even body language that they can use to their advantage.”Psychopaths look for vulnerabilities and try to use them against people, so you need to know what your vulnerabilities are”(Robins). The purpose of manipulation with these criminals is to hopefully gain the trust of their victims and when it comes time, use everything they know about their victim to their advantage in successfully murdering them.
The second trait I found interesting was narcissism. Flattery is an aspect that serial killers become obsessed with and it feeds their egos. One of the FBI’s favorite techniques when interviewing serial killers is flattery. Psychopathic killers in particular tend to have a huge sense of their own self-worth, so investigators will use praise to get them talking. “In an FBI document about serial murder, behaviorists say psychopathic serial killers don’t respond to “altruistic interview themes” in other words, trying to make them experience feelings or guilt and sympathy for their victims is a waste of time”(Smith). Instead, interviewers will applaud the killer and use language in the conversation in a way that manipulates the individual. Thus, the interviewers use the vulnerability of the serial killer to their advantage to get the truth out of them. Being applauded for their crimes is an excitement factor that motivates them to keep pursuing their murders. It is exactly what they’re looking for as a result of their murder, being known and talked about among society for their crimes.
The final trait that I found an interest in was a serial killer intelligence. Serial killers in their earlier years were often very successful in the classroom, which is weird to think since one wouldn’t expect a good student to turn into a serial killer. The unfortunate result of having such great intelligence, is that serial killers use their smarts for the wrong reasons. “They use it to premeditate their murders, investigate routines among their victims, and reason within their head the possible outcomes if a certain situation doesn’t work out”(Woollaston). That is why they get away with murders so easily, because they plan it out so precisely that there is often no room for mistakes. The amount of intelligence they tend to have makes their crimes and success that much easier for themselves because they’re able to always be five steps ahead when being sought after. For some, the intelligence is not to the level that it takes to be successful, but for those who do succeed with getting away with murder, have an amount of intelligence that has the potential to be used for beneficial purposes but is used for murder.
Famous Serial Killers
In America, there have been multiple serial killers who have become famous for their mass murders throughout their careers. Their name became known nationally and some world wide for the actions that became some of the most gruesome acts in today’s american society.
Jeffrey Dahmer was an American serial killer who took the lives of 17 males between 1978 and 1991. What was known about Dahmer was that at an early age, he was a very energetic, outgoing individual, almost like any young child. While moving multiple times when growing up, making friends and fitting in at school did not come easy to him. It was noticed that when his family finally decided to settle their final home in Ohio, that he was no longer the energetic and outgoing boy that he was earlier, in fact he became very anti-social and began finding fascination in the abuse or infliction of pain on animals. This is an early sign in serial killers because it shows no remorse for life in animals, which eventually grows for showing no remorse for humans(“Confessions of a serial killer: Jeffrey Dahmer).
Over the course of more than 13 years, Dahmer would look for men when he would attend the mall, bus stops, and gay bars. When he would grab the attention of his victims, he would take them back home where he would begin his process. He would take his victims home planning to have sex and he would serve them alcohol with drugs inside of them. When the drugs would kick in, he would strangle them to death. Afterward, he would dismember his victims either before or after having sex with them. Then he would often eat the remains of his victims and then would collect their skulls as memories in his apartment. He would also take pictures of his victims throughout the murdering process and then revisit them later(“Jeffrey Dahmer”).
Dahmer was known as the “cannibal killer” solely due to the fact that he would eat parts of the victims that he murdered. In documentaries of interviews with Dahmer, it is evident that while he had no remorse for the victims he killed, it was not the killing that was his goal, it was control. “No, the killing was not the objective. I just wanted to have the victim under my complete control, not having to consider their wishes, being able to keep them there as long as I wanted.”(Tron). Since Dahmer had no control over his own actions and brain, the murdering gave him a sense of control that he had lacked his entire life. Showing that as a serial killer, he was not murdering people for the fun of it, it was for more than that, it was to fill a part of his life that had been empty and missing for so long.
Another serial killer I researched was Ted Bundy. He was most known for his assault and murder on numerous young women and girls during the 1970s and possibly earlier. Bundy had obtained a skill that is very common in serial killers and used it to his advantage, which was his charm. Bundy would charm his victims in order to gain their trust early on in their “relationship”. His charm was very flattering in the eyes of his victims but he had more in mind than just becoming closer with his victims, his plan was to murder and have complete control over his victims(Raymond). What was different about Bundy was that he had no comprehension of how to form personal relationships. In multiple interviews he claimed, ” I wanted to be alone” and believed that he had no intention or belief in forming relationships with anyone(Weir).
Bundy had often preyed on young college women because he knew they would often be vulnerable and trusting of a charming man. Bundy would fake being disabled or he would pretend to be someone such as the police in order to grab the attention of his victims. He would strike his victims over the head with a crowbar or pipe and sneak them into his car in order to take them back home where he would continue the murdering process(Raymond).
It was found that what motivated Bundy to commit such crimes, especially towards women was the grudge he was holding toward the rejection of his first girlfriend(Corner). Bundy had been rejected by his girlfriend and then continued to be rejected by women for years following the first. It was believed that the woman he sought after were those who resembled any of the woman that rejected him. When being rejected, he had no control over the decision of the woman who didn’t want to be in a relationship with him, but with the woman he murdered, he was able to control them and make them feel the same, or even worse than what he felt from the rejection he experienced earlier.
What surprised me about Bundy was the fact then when he was done with his victims, he would sometimes either go back to the dumping sites of his victims, or even take their dead bodies home to have sexual intercourse with their corpses. In a couple cases, psychologists found that Bundy would keep the bodies and sleep with them sometimes until it became unbearable with the smell. They believed it was for him to feel as though he was the dominant figure and that he was in control of their bodies and decisions(Raymond).
Bundy had also been a very intelligent man. Like I mentioned before, the crimes acted upon by serial killers is most of the time premeditated, which means they plan their crimes in order for it to be successful. Having the amount of intelligence that most serial killers have, these will often result in the killer getting away with their crimes. Some do get caught eventually, but before then they’re able to commit horrific crimes that can not be taken back. When comparing Bundy to other killers, “Bundy was classified as a High Factor 1 Psychopath, which means he was intelligent with very few signs of psychopathy early on in life”(“Psychological Analysis”). So with his intelligence, his crimes became easier as time progressed for him to commit and hide away from society for as long as 23 years

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