Serial Killing as an Addiction

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Crime has been a major vice that has affected the peaceful coexistence of people in the world today. With more sophisticated patterns and approaches used in committing the offenses, particularly murder, the law enforcement agencies should come up with updated technique to curb the menace (LePard et al., 2015). Crime has increased in the society over the last few decades, but one of the forms of criminal activities that has fascinated the society is the increasing cases of people engaging in serial killing (Beasley II, 2004). A serial killer is a felon who murders at least two people over a short span of time. Some of these deaths are as a result of psychological problems while others claim that the need “to get that it done” in their life grows to the extent that they begin to be serial killers (Lubaszka, Shon & Hinch, 2014).

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Reports released from organizations fight against criminal activities revealed that most cases of serial killing are from the Canada and the USA, while in the India there are rare occasions of the menace. In spite of the growing media regarding the issue of serial killing and homicide, there are few kinds of research conducted on the reason behind the increase of serial killers, especially in the USA (Yardley & Wilson, 2016). However, there are several myths put forth to explain the increased cases of serial killing in the society. One common question that most people, scholars and psychological experts keep asking is what drives these individuals “serial killers” to kill and keep killing, until when the law enforcement gets hold of them. Serial killing closely relates to another act called a homicide. Homicide is an act of murder and violence caused by an individual with an intention to end somebody’s life or theirs. For an individual to understand a serial killer and their activities, it is important to know some facts regarding some homicide and serial killing as a whole.

The world health organization estimated an approximately 530,000 murder cases to happen every year around the globe. Therefore, this article opts to search for a better understanding of the desire and factors that motivate people to become serial killers in the society. There are no exact number of serial killers established, partly considering no accurate data and records concerning these activities filed by the relevant authority and partially because most of these killers go unnoticed by the government. Scholars agree that there are no individual factors or objectives that may push a person to kill many people. Thus, violence as an act has a multi-determined factor that pushes others to become serial killers within a society. As a result, scholars have been able to categorize homicides into two broad groups. These include the unintentional which consists of accidental homicide and intentional homicide. Intentional homicide is also known as murder which has remained to fascinate the 21st-century society.

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Some scholars argue that intentional homicide is an interplay of a person, environmental, rational, social, as well as cultural drivers. These drivers are commonly called the ecological factors. The notion tries to explain that there are distinct levels which include the relationship, individual, societal and community that encourage the acts of homicide and serial killing in the society. Therefore, as a consequence, an individual ought to try and understand the change in behavior at the different levels. According to most psychological literature, serial killers are people who may possess some sort of disorder primarily mental disorder, often classified as either narcissistic, paranoid or anti-social (Azam & Ferrero, 2016). Experts agree that one factor that drives people to grow into serial killers is the experimentation with objects the act of killing until they find that object they like when they make the killing (Ramsland, 2006). Some of the legendary serial killers in the world today are believed to have begun the act when they were at their third-grade level, by killing objects around them such as cats.

Research by Frei et al. 2006 revealed that there are more men than women who get involved in the act of homicide in the world today (Frei et al., 2006). The information exposed that the number of men who participate in murder is approximately six to seven times greater than that of women (Harrison et al., 2015). However, this statistic is different for homicide cases that are in the domestic surrounding. In a case where a woman was the killer, there is evidence that the perpetrator may have undergone various cases of abuse by the partner. Abuse has been one of the leading causes of homicide among married individuals, and most of these perpetrators are the women. Psychologists state that this killing posed by the women is a result of their vulnerability to violence by men.

Serial killers may commit the crime by pursuing three actions and killing people within a span of fewer than 30 days. One interesting factor concerning these serial killers especially men is that anyone who may not be related to them may be a victim. Hickey proposed a model in 2002 to explain and elaborate on the development of a serial killer in the society. Trauma-Control Model encompasses all the various serial killers who are sexually motivated to undertake murder. Hickey states that a serial killing act begins with predispositional powers which could be biological, sociological or psychological.

Some of the biological factors that may serve as a driving force for an innocent individual into becoming a serial killer include genetic, drug exposure and fetal alcohol, brain pathology as well as head injury. During this stage, the future murderer becomes traumatized by these predispositional factors such as sexual and physical abuse, divorce, poor parenting or even the death of one of the parent. The combined force of these factors on an individual’s mental and physical development is greater than a single trauma. The outcome of these combined forces of traumas is distrust, feeling of isolation, being useless and the incapability to cope up with anxiety in their life. These future serial killers hide these feelings and emotions in a façade of self-control and self-assurance. Destabilization of these influences get split, and a dark side of the person gets exposed embodied by imaginations whose compensatory aspirations involves total control, violence, and dominion of the victims. The imaginations of sexualized aggression are the essential factors that have seen most serial killers develop and undertake more killings within the community today (Arndt, Hietpas & Kim, 2004).

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The exposure of the victims to explicit pornographic movies, magazines, and journals have increased the sexualized aggression, especially among the men. Besides, some of these sexualized aggressions are custom depictions of the early childhood distress which will yield a balance of opposite sides within the individual. Several facilitators such as unnecessary use of alcohol and drugs may further fuel the growth of deviant behavior that will urge the victim to kill more and more people. Sexualized imaginations among the affected individual remain addictive. And with intensifying violent, these fantasies ultimately lose their effectiveness within an individual. In the preliminary phase, the person indulges in practices, acting to perform all the imaginations which include aggravation, breaking and going in, these are signs to the first killing. In the case of a substance addiction, these tentative activities lose their strength while the stronger ones become essential in developing the serial killing act (Arndt, Hietpas & Kim, 2004).

In the next phase, the individual’s imaginations become a reality. Murdering, mainly using hands-on approaches, gets the better of the case, the victim serves as a proxy for the first traumatic incidences. Psychologists have proven that a sense of individual failure or denial may trigger these individuals to commit murder. They also believe that the activity will continue to grow within the person since the killing will never bring negative emotions among them; however, the process becomes cyclical and keeps on. As a habit, the serial killer gets no satisfaction of killing and kills more and more people within a short span of time. Like an addict, they engage in an activity that will be in a cyclic and gets increasingly worse. Lastly, a drop and fall set occurs, with an escalation deterioration, mostly demonstrated by final turmoil. Most people believe that the focus of most scholarly and professional literature has fueled the increasing cases of homicide among youths. These pieces of literature encourage the character of sadistic killers, which are psychologically distinctive, especially that these characters have a lack of compassion for agony and misery of their targets as well as their lack of regret.

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In summary, crime has been a major evil that has affected the peaceful coexistence of people in the world today. With more sophisticated patterns and approaches used in committing these offenses, particularly murder the law enforcement agencies should come up with updated techniques to curb the menace. Crime has increased in the society over the last few decades, but one of the forms of criminal activities that has fascinated the society is the increasing cases of people engaging in serial killing. The world health organization estimated an approximately 530,000 murder cases to happen every year around the globe. Therefore, this article opts to search for a better understanding of the desire and factors that motivate people to become serial killers in the society.

Scholars agree that there are no individual factors or objectives that may push a person to kill many people. Thus, violence as an act has a multi-determined factor that pushes others to become serial killers within a society (Morrison & 3M Company. 2009). As a result, scholars have been able to categorize homicides into two broad groups. These include the unintentional which consists of accidental homicide and intentional homicide. Intentional homicide is also known as murder which has remained to fascinate the 21st-century society. Some scholars argue that intentional homicide is an interplay of a person, environmental, rational, social, as well as cultural drivers. These drivers are commonly called the ecological factors. The notion tries to explain that there are distinct levels which include the relationship, individual, societal and community that encourage the acts of homicide and serial killing in the society.

Therefore, as a consequence, an individual ought to try and understand the change in behavior at the different levels. Hickey proposed a model in 2002 to explain and elaborate on the development of a serial killer in the society. Trauma-Control Model encompasses all the various serial killers who are sexually motivated to undertake murder. Hickey states that a serial killing act begins with predispositional powers which could be biological, sociological or psychological. Some of the biological factors that may serve as a driving force for an innocent individual into becoming a serial killer include genetic, drug exposure and fetal alcohol, brain pathology as well as head injury.

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  1. Arndt, B. W., Hietpas, T., & Kim, J. (2004). Critical Characteristics of Male Serial Murderers. American Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 29 No. 1, 2004.
  2. Azam, J., & Ferrero, M. (2016). Killing for the Sake of Infamy: The Herostratos Syndrome and what to Do about it. Peace Economics, Peace Science, & Public Policy, 22(4), 357-364.
  3. Beasley II, J. O. (2004). Serial murder in America: case studies of seven offenders. Behavioral Sciences & The Law, 22(3), 395-414.
  4. Frei, A., Völlm, B., Graf, M., & Dittmann, V. (2006). Female serial killing: review and case report. Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health: CBMH, 16(3), 167-176.
  5. Harrison, M. A., Murphy, E. A., Ho, L. Y., Bowers, T. G., & Flaherty, C. V. (2015). Female serial killers in the United States: means, motives, and makings. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 26(3), 383-406.
  6. LePard, D., Demers, S., Langan, C., & Kim Rossmo, D. (2015). Challenges in serial murder investigations involving missing persons. Police Practice & Research, 16(4), 328-340.
  7. Lubaszka, C. K., Shon, P. C., & Hinch, R. (2014). Healthcare Serial Killers as Confidence Men. Journal of Investigative Psychology & Offender Profiling, 11(1), 1-28.
  8. Morrison, H. G. H., & 3M Company. (2009). My Life Among the Serial Killers. Place of publication not identified: HarperCollins.
  9. Ramsland, K. M. (2006). Inside the minds of serial killers: Why they kill. Westport, Conn: Praeger.
  10. Yardley, E., & Wilson, D. (2016). In Search of the ‘Angels of Death’: Conceptualizing the Contemporary Nurse Healthcare Serial Killer. Journal of Investigative Psychology & Offender Profiling, 13(1), 39-55.
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