There are many different types of serial killers. Process-focused serial killers get enjoyment from torture and the slow death of their victims. These include three different types of hedonists’ lust, thrill and gain and power-seeking killers. Lust killers derive sexual pleasure from killing. Thrill killers get a "kick" from it. Gain killers murder because they believe they will profit in some way. Power killers wish to "play God" or be in charge of life and death.
Some serial killers have been diagnosed by psychologists as psychopaths. The official term in the Diagnostic and Standard Manual of Mental Disorders, is antisocial personality disorder. A person with antisocial personality disorder follows a pattern of "disregard and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15 years." This pattern includes seven factors such as "failure to conform to social norms," "irritability and aggressiveness" and "lack of remorse" says Vronsky, a psychologist. Psychopaths are not insane they do know right from wrong; however, this diagnosis may explain their behavior during their killing cycles.
Many researchers theorize that brain damage can contribute to their actions. They believe that damage to the frontal lobe can contribute to extreme aggression, loss of control, loss of judgment and violence. Henry Lee Lucas, for example, who was convicted of 11 murders, was shown to have extreme brain damage in these areas, probably the result of childhood abuse, malnutrition and alcoholism. There are many typologies that serial killers can be categorized in. Serial killers can be act-focused who kill quickly, or process-focused, who kill slowly. For act-focused killers, killing is simply about the act itself. There are two different types: the visionary and the missionary. The visionary murders because he hears voices or has visions that direct him to do so. The missionary murders because he believes that he is meant to get rid of a particular group of people. [Curtis, Chris (2011) pg.1]
Another theory is that people are born to kill due to their genetics. For a long time, researchers proposed genetic influence for the behavioral trademarks of serial killers; in particular serial killers' elevated levels of aggression and anti-social behavior. Due to this, researchers conducted surveys investigating men with abnormal sex chromosomes and their criminal activity, with the majority of these surveys taking place in maximum security institutions. The results of many of the surveys were an association of an extra Y chromosome with tallness and anti-social behavior. However, many of these surveys were not controlled for, thus readers should take strong discretion when analyzing the data.
Many murderers like to try use the insanity defense; however, it does not always work because it’s hard to prove. There are many different ways to prove and disprove this defense. According to the U.S. Code, an insanity defense means that "at the time of the commission of the acts constituting the offense, the defendant, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, was unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his acts. Mental disease or defect does not otherwise constitute a defense" [volume 2 pg. 10]
There are too many social biases; this makes it even more difficult for the defendant to prove his insanity plea. Critics argue that we misuse the insanity defense. Often trials that involve the insanity defense because the crime committed in them are bizarre. Many murderers try to get the insanity plea defense because you cannot put a mentally ill person to death. They feel that if they can get the death penalty off the table then, why not take the shot to plea insane? Murderers are not the only people to use the insanity defense. Burglars, arsonists, etc. use this defense as well to lessen the sentence. On the other hand, there are some cases where there are mentally ill people that do hear these voices and do...
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