Serial Killer Research

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The Insanity Of Killers

Serial murder is a psychological crime in many aspects. It is a planned, thought out action. The crimes themselves are often committed in order for the killer to gain a sense of power, control, and domination. There must be psychological desires and/or perceived needs that are otherwise lacking in his or her life. Are serial killers insane? Not by legal standards. The legal definition of insanity is based on the 19th century M’Naghten Rules: Does the offender understand the difference between right and wrong? If he flees or makes any attempt to hide the crime, then the offender is not insane, because his actions show that he understood that what he was doing was wrong. Yet what person in their right mind would filet young children and write letters to the parents, glorifying over what a fine meal their child made? In the case of Albert Fish, the jury found him "insane, but he deserved to die anyway."

A formal definition of legal insanity first was adopted in 1843 and is called the M'Naghten test; its basic form still is used today. The test outlines that the defense must clearly prove that the accused person was so impaired psychologically as to not understand that the crime was wrong when he or she committed it. Most crime experts believe that serial killers are not insane and are fully aware of their actions at the time that they commit murders. What's more, serial murderers commit several crimes, so it would follow that they should be proved as insane when planning and committing all the crimes they're charged with. Some serial killers have been diagnosed as psychopaths, or people who act with total disregard for the rights of others; they can tell the difference between right and wrong, however, so psychopaths aren't considered insane.

Society believes that the insanity defense is used far more often than it actually is and people believe that the defense is used as a tactic to avoid punishment. People perceive serial killers...
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