According to criminal investigators a serial killer can be defined as a person who enjoys luring, attacking and killing his victims based on an established ritual. Interestingly enough, in spite of the fact that when they are caught the reasons that drove them to kill another human being appears normal, it is necessary to point out that these killers can be classified into three categories based on the murder motifs, more exactly as lust, missionary and visionary serial killers.
Given the indescribable ways they use to torture and eventually assassinate their victims as well as the fact that most serial killers appear normal, happy and sociable, many asked themselves whether these vicious criminals have some trademarks to make them easier to identify. Actually, serial killer profilers have managed to determine some traits that all these ruthless assassins share. Let’s elaborate.
1. Cruelty towards animals
As criminal profilers pointed out, around 99% of the serial killers start showing cruelty to animals even from an early age. What makes matters worse is the fact that their families do not notice this negative behavior or perceive it as child’s play. More often than not, hurting and/or killing an animal demonstrate the need to take control and dominate. Since they cannot do that with older brothers or parents, they will turn to the closest entity that can be controlled, family pets.
2. Bed wetting beyond the toilet training period
Bed wetting is in general perceived as a normal behavior if it manifest during the early years of a child’s life when he is just learning about how to use the toilet. However, it is theorized that serial killers continue to wet their beds after this timeframe, sometimes even as far as the teen years. Since this could constitute a subject of ridicule and abuse from parents and older siblings, criminal investigators suggest it might be linked to developing a sociopathic behavior specific for serial killers.
3. Have suffered extended psychological abuse
While every parent might yell at his child when he/she does something wrong, for most serial killers parental reproach often turns into humiliation, unfair treatment, beating and a lot of psychological abuse. Due to the fact that didn’t benefit from any support, encouragement or affection from their parents, it is only natural that they have desensitized and started feeling this is the natural order of things. Moreover, one of the reasons why their crimes are shocking is because they do not develop any sense of empathy.
4. Often fantasize about holding total control
Due to the constant abuse they are subjected to, an overwhelming number of serial killers admit that they often had horrific fantasies about mutilation, trauma and desecration. It is important to note that these fantasies cannot be classified as childhood nightmares especially since they are mainly about a serial killer in the making who is taking control and being the actual assailant. On a side note, before they commit their first murder most serial killers fantasize about it very frequently, in order to discover how to make it “perfect”.
5. Dysfunctional relationships that enforce isolation and solitude
In the vast majority of interviews, serial killers confess they experienced debilitating family relationships throughout their entire childhood and adolescence. Furthermore, their relatives are always fighting and are simply unable to sit in a single location for too long. The aforementioned factors essentially limit the child’s opportunity to make friends and have meaningful relationships. Consequentially, most of them end up growing isolated from their peers and feeling lonely.
6. Is unable to practice normal intercourse
As previously mentioned, because most of them are forced to move around very frequently and do not have a normal emotional relationship with their parents, they prefer solitude to peer specific activities. In fact, instead of attempting to engage sexual activities like the other adolescents, serial killers prefer autoerotic pleasure and watching pornography. Needless to state that this behavior desensitizes him even further and alters his perception towards people, as he begins to envision them as objects.
7. Like to set things on fire to gain control
Similar to abusing defenseless house pets, setting things on fire is just another way the serial killer in the making is trying to gain control over the world around him. At the same time, criminal profilers indicate that this act could symbolize the serial killer’s first attempt to commit murder if for instance they set fire to a home. It is important to note that psychologists suggest that the destruction of inanimate object via burning can also be considered a coping mechanism they need to perform regularly in order to deal with the repressed and built up anger, resentment and aggression.
8. Sociopathy or psychopathy
Because their lives were practically a sum of traumatic experiences, serial killers grow up into sociopaths or psychopaths. In other words, they develop all the skills to be charming, sociable, form a family and raise children just as well as the next guy. The only major distinction is that the serial killer is unable to feel emotions, have healthy relationships and at some point in his life, when the urge to take control can no longer be ignored, they start their killing spree.
9. Had serious head injuries during childhood and adolescence
A more recent study on how a person turns into a serial killer suggests that children who have suffered repeated head injuries are more likely to engage in aggressive and violent behaviors. In case you didn’t know, a child who hurts his head several times has greater chances of experiencing damage at the pre-frontal cortex, the temporal lobes, hypothalamus and the limbic brain, which are the areas responsible with emotions, motivation and aggression.
10. Narcissistic Personality Disorder
It is very common among serial killers to honestly think they deserve to have more control and more power than the rest and this is why they act selfish in general. While they might not necessarily react violently to critics and accusations, one thing is for sure: because they see power as a God-given right, anyone who tries to take it away from him must be taught a lesson. In general, this type of behavior is typically seen in serial killers who were humiliated and made to think they were worthless during childhood.