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January 5, 2012

Understanding Serial Killers

To be labeled a serial killer, an individual must commit three or more murders in a relatively short time, with periods of rest, or "cool downs," in between. They prefer strangers for victims, and their motive is always psychological, not material. This begs the question, "What kind of person feels gratified from murder?" On the surface, serial killers are most often white males in their 20s or 30s. They tend to share dysfunctional childhoods, stories of physical or sexual abuse, and a history of detentions or arrests. As young adults, many serial killers will obsess over pyromania or animal cruelty. But what can we tell about the MINDS of these killers? Many serial killers have antisocial personality disorder, and show little regard for society's expectations of "right" and "wrong." They also have a genuine disregard for the rights and feelings of other people. Take Ted Bundy, for instance. After his arrest for murdering more than 30 people, he said, "I'm the most cold-blooded son-of-a-bitch you'll ever meet. I just like to kill." Despite this, people with antisocial personality disorder are charming and adept at manipulation. So are serial killers actually insane? Not usually. Many have families, jobs, and even hold leadership positions in their communities. The FBI reports most actually have IQs in the "above normal" range. Some are intelligent enough to attempt to convince authorities of their insanity, while others create fantastical alter egos, pinning their crimes on inner devils. Very few criminals actually have dissociative identity, or multiple personality, disorder. Regardless of what's inherently "wrong" with them, it's rare that serial killers express regret or the desire to reform. For this reason, and for the safety of all of us, serial killers are almost never offered rehabilitation, but instead are sentenced to life in prison or death.

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Last Updated:
December 20, 2012