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Becoming the Devil: Abnormal Psychology of Serial Killers

Updated on June 16, 2018
ananceleste profile image

Anan Rivera is an online blogger, poet and YouTuber that highlights spiritual, social and health related topics.

I have been studying human behavior for a while now, specially abnormal psychology and the different topics that surround the human mind. Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud and others that
Dedicated their lives to discover and decode the mind and its many ramifications, describe various models of human behavior and the place were all originates.

There are theories and studies in which is established how environment and genes take a significant role in the birth of a psychopath.

Pop Culture and Media

As a modern society, we are bombarded with images and concepts about serial killers and the criminally insane. Whether is about movies, television series, and worst of all the six o'clock news. It’s amazing how “ normal “ has become to hear about a person that went into a killing spree over debt, divorce or even stress. Every year, there are thousands of cases of violent erratic behavior in the United States. I sometimes can't believe that in this day and age anyone can be a possible killer.

The more I read, the more confused I became. I was trying to understand how can a person could consider taking a life. Then again... I had to put those questions aside and concentrate on the facts, and treat each case as what it was, unique to the profile of the killer.

Modules are used to identify behavioral patterns, triggers and causes for said behavior. I learned about the brain chemistry, the effects of hormones, and diseases that affect behavior. Biology, pathology and environmental issues are also integrated into the equation. It’s a mess.

The real Hannibals

After all the medical and psychological aspects of any given case are laid out, the question remains. Why now? Which is the trigger that makes a killer choose that particular moment to act out those inclinations. Most serial killers have a history of passive- aggressive behavior and many are productive members of society.

I was aghast to find out how many of the criminally insane have a very high IQ. Any of us can have a conversation with these people and become enchanted by their charm and seduced by their general knowledge.

Many examples come to mind, but for the purpose of imagery I will use a fictional character, Hannibal “ the Cannibal” Lector. Silence of the Lambs, directed by Jonathan Demme. Starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. It was released in 1991. I was only 12 years old and to be sincere, I was terrified when I saw it.

Even though, this portrait of a serial killer is not accurate, is part of the mystic of pop culture regarding serial killers. I naively thought that this was only possible in a movie. Bad people kill, crazy violent people do harm. As I got older, and studied the different aspects of abnormal psychology, I am even more aware of how a mind can be so fragmented, that reality is just a commodity that a small part of the population enjoy.

Creating Monsters

One the questions that revolves around psychotic behavior is : What in the world make this people snap? I was , to say the least, ignorant to what makes a serial killer. What many call the criminally insane, start to act out and translate their inner puzzle into society.

In one documentary called;” Real Life Lectors” I was immersed into this population of individuals and the causes for their behaviors. Examples on how they grew up, the circumstances of their childhoods and most of all, how it all starts.

Many of serial killers crave power over others, so they do what they do. In many cases, when authorities caught up with a serial killer case, is already on it's way to a considerable body count. One of the things that left my blood cold was that the United States is the leading country in the world that this type of murderers are breed. Seventy percent of serial killers are in the United States, next to Europe with a 17 %. California leads the list in serial killer related crimes. Over 60%, women are primary targets.

The scary thing about serial killers is their body count. It’s not the same a random murder or a person that kills in the heat of the moment, that a person single handily amass 10, 30 or even more victims. Also is the way this crimes are committed, adding insult to injury.

Final note

We as a society,have a very small understanding about these individuals. We don't want to know. But there is a terrifying truth, they are out there and in some cases, someone is saying to themselves I AM HERE....'


© 2012 Anan Celeste


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    • CMCastro profile image

      Christina M. Castro 

      2 years ago from Baltimore,MD USA

      Going to Bible College gave me a great education of what influences this world. The scripture even says that we do not fight against flesh and blood but principalities and that is what opposes All good which is God. We struggle with good and bad all through life. We make mistakes and we react emotionally. People can become sick psychologically if not balanced with the right influences. Brains become infected with chemical imbalance depending on what is ingested and what goes into the bloodstream and even what happens to the person in younger years psychologically. The easy way to deal with explaining why killers do what they do is to say that they are influenced by the devil. But our own decisions make us who we are. We have to be aware of the consequences of our actions. It is a shame if one commits a crime and doesn't care of the consequences of the crime.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      With serial killers the more important question is who did they not kill? And what did those living victims have to give up in order to continue on living.

      For so long as they aren't murdering indiscriminately in broad daylight surely there is a pattern of demands.

    • ananceleste profile imageAUTHOR

      Anan Celeste 

      4 years ago from California

      Hi Teresa!

      Yes is so fascinating that is in itself scary...

    • profile image

      Teresa Hall 

      4 years ago

      Have you studied Sociology? Serial Killers have existed through history Jack the Ripper is the first to received media attention. Previous to this time people where so isolated that stories rarely made it beyond the local community. But they have been here. I agree there are more now but is that only due to the population explosion? Hannibal Lector is based in several serial killers. Read about Ed Gein. He killed and skinned people. Lamp shades of human skin were found in his home. He, like the killer Lector is helping catch, also made a suit to dress as a woman. There are many serial killers that live on fringe of society like Gein and a few like BTK and John Wayne Gacy that live openly in a community and no one has a clue a killer is in their mist.

      Just think how long the Green River Killer was working the west coast. Picking up prostitutes, hitchhikers, runaways, etc.

      Why these people many people ask. That's the easy answer, they are "lost" no one will report them missing and if they do the police are less likely to do an all out search for a prostitute. Throw away people as the are commonly referred to.

      Why they kill is debated and studied and probably will be for decades. These traits all seem to share:

      1. Bed wetting into adolescence

      2. abuse/torture of animals that grows into killing

      I wish to could remember the name of the book I used in college for research it documented known serial killers and their up bringing.

      Serial killers are not to be confused with mass murderers. One kills many during the same act, it can occur over a span of hours or a day. The other kills sporadically at first. By the time they are caught they are in a "frenzy" and the killings are more frequent and brutal. Serial killers are either organized or disorganized. The more organized the longer they go undetected. BUT they all get sloppy. Look at Gacy. He got cocky and arrogant and became sloppy just as Dahmer did.

      I know most people are disgusted by this topic but it was one of my focuses in Sociology and Criminal Justice, along with runaways.

      I would enjoy sharing more with you I have many papers from college on this subject. I guess we need people that are interested in them (like me) so we can learn more about them and if there is anything that can be done to prevent them from killing.

    • ananceleste profile imageAUTHOR

      Anan Celeste 

      6 years ago from California

      Hi prongoooals;

      Indeed it would be kind of interesting. Profiling a person like this could really mess up your grip on reality. Sometimes, you really don't wanna know....

    • pringoooals profile image


      6 years ago from Edinburgh

      Interesting.. It is really fascinating how such people are created though. It would be really interesting to make a case study on serial killer and be able to see what drives him/her to such behaviour.

    • ananceleste profile imageAUTHOR

      Anan Celeste 

      6 years ago from California

      Hi TToombs08!

      I know, even doing the research was nerve wrecking...Thanks!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      6 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Wow, this needs a "scary" button. Great job, Anan! Voted up and more.

    • Hendrika profile image


      7 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

      A lot of useful information. Maybe at some stage you can have a look at psychopaths that do not turn into serial killers, or rather there is no body count, but they still kill people mentally.

    • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

      Dim Flaxenwick 

      7 years ago from Great Britain

      Awesome hub. Looking forward to reading more of your work.

    • ananceleste profile imageAUTHOR

      Anan Celeste 

      7 years ago from California

      Those are incredible examples of the hold that serial killers have on our society. I have read so much about the murders of the Reaper, including the theories of his identity. Even though, he was never apprehended, It set the basis for the study of such crimes. You are right, serial murders fascinate the public and has inspired countless works of fiction.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 

      7 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      The Noida serial murders (also Nithari serial murders, Nithari Kand) took place in the house of businessman Moninder Singh Pandher in Nithari, India in 2005 and 2006. At present his servant Surender Koli has been convicted of four murders and sentenced to death. 12 murders remain officially unsolved pending further legal proceedings.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 

      7 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      jack the Ripper" is the best-known name given to an unidentified serial killer who was active in the largely impoverished areas in and around the Whitechapel district of London in 1888. The name originated in a letter, written by someone claiming to be the murderer, that was disseminated in the media. The letter is widely believed to have been a hoax, and may have been written by a journalist in a deliberate attempt to heighten interest in the story. Other nicknames used for the killer at the time were "The Whitechapel Murderer" and "Leather Apron".

      Attacks ascribed to the Ripper typically involved female prostitutes from the slums whose throats were cut prior to abdominal mutilations. The removal of internal organs from at least three of the victims led to proposals that their killer possessed anatomical or surgical knowledge. Rumours that the murders were connected intensified in September and October 1888, and letters from a writer or writers purporting to be the murderer were received by media outlets and Scotland Yard. The "From Hell" letter, received by George Lusk of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, included half of a preserved human kidney, supposedly from one of the victims. Mainly because of the extraordinarily brutal character of the murders, and because of media treatment of the events, the public came increasingly to believe in a single serial killer known as "Jack the Ripper".

      Extensive newspaper coverage bestowed widespread and enduring international notoriety on the Ripper. An investigation into a series of brutal killings in Whitechapel up to 1891 was unable to connect all the killings conclusively to the murders of 1888, but the legend of Jack the Ripper solidified. As the murders were never solved, the legends surrounding them became a combination of genuine historical research, folklore, and pseudohistory. The term "ripperology" was coined to describe the study and analysis of the Ripper cases. There are now over one hundred theories about the Ripper's identity, and the murders have inspired multiple works of fiction.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 

      7 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      As one psychologically delves into the mind of a serial killer one will find small emotions and logistics which we feel and think about on a daily basis, heightened to the immense points of murder.

      As said above most of them show up with a great IQ; sometimes this great IQ is the reason when applied in the wrong directions. The example of Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lector is a great, unique example describing the mind of a serial killer.

      Two more examples I would like to share here reflect the mind of a psychotic man. One pinpoint is required to think about and it drives him crazy into committing crimes so gruesome and bone-chilling; it's hard to imagine.


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