May 2, 2005
What twists a man so far as murder?
Many things today confuse, yet enthrall the masses. War, murder, medical science, incredible rescues, all things you would see on The History Channel. There is another topic that is also made into documentaries however, serial killers. Dark twisted people that commit multiple murders are of interest to the population, but what caused them to be this way. What horrible tragic set of events could twist a man to murder one or many people. Could Schizophrenia, psychopathy, or sociopathy? Many people have researched this topic and believe that childhood trauma, heavy drugs during the growing phase of life, as well as many other things have twisted the minds of men such as Jeffery Dahmer, Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy, and David Berkowitz. Many say that their actions were preventable but many other believe that the warning signs were present and that their behavior could have been modified long before the murders began.
The triad is the name given to the set of characteristic that serials killers are evident of in their youth. The "typical" serial killer is a sociopath or psychopath that during childhood was subject to three diagnoses: fire starting (pyromania), prolonged bed-wetting, and animal torture. All of these things correlate to a phase in life in which the young person is curious of certain things new to them. Most children grow out of their interest in fire starting when they first get burnt and bed-wetting when they progress out of the same phase. Animal torture is slightly different. Many children enjoy pulling the wings off a fly, or the legs off of other insects however grow up into quite productive members of society. Some children are enthused by larger animals. Jeffrey Dahmer was enthused originally by fish. He would gut them and inspect their organs to examined how they worked. Curiosity being the main reason for his actions, he would also nail frogs to trees and collect animals that had been run over by cars. Dahmer was less than characteristic in his choice of animals, the most popular victim being cats. Be it throwing felines from high elevations to watch them "splat" as explained by Ian Brady the Moors Murderer, gutting them and watching how far they can run after, or burying them alive cats have become the general choice among serial killers-to-be. The A to Z encyclopedia of Serial Killers mentions the following about animal torture:
"The vast majority of little boys who get their kicks from dismembering daddy longlegs or dropping firecrackers into anthills lose their stomach for sadism at an early age. The case is very different with incipient serial killers. Fixated at a shockingly primitive stage of emotional development, they never lose their craving for cruelty and domination. Quite contrary: it continues to grow in them like a cancer. Eventually - when dogs, cats, and other small, four-legged creatures can no longer satisfy it, they turn their terrifying attentions to a larger, two-legged breed: human beings." The author mentions the "primitive stage of emotional development" in which the person would be retaining that would also explain the bed-wetting as one of the characteristics. Pyromania is another clear sign when in conjunction with the triad. Fire is something that can be controlled by a man and twisted into an idea of power. Fire for these individuals brings power and excitement. Henry Lee Lucas, who murdered over 450 people, burned down a house near his own at the age of six. Pyromania and animal torture/mutilation is a manifestation of the need for power that serial killers posses and never progress past in their mental age. The triad, according to The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers, hold evident for nearly 60% of serial killers. These characteristics may later develop into sexual sadism, necrophilia, or other similarly disturbing social disorders.
This cookie-cutter triad is a basis developed my many...
Bibliography: Newton, Michael. The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers. New York: Checkmark Books, 2000.
Angels of Mercy; The Dark Side. Rick Hampton Dec. 2003
My only source for the final segment on angels of mercy and most probably one of the most interesting finds during my research
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