It seems like the first reaction when serial killers are brought up in conversation is usually asking, “Why would someone do such a thing?” or “How did they do it?”. Serial killers do not fit a specific profile, however over the years psychologists and criminologists have developed theories and causes to why serial killers kill, as well as precursors or signs that someone may have these extreme violent tendencies. One thing can be agreed on; serial killers commit their murders because of what is going on inside their brains and the past that made them up; murders run deep down to the most intimate desires and turmoils of a human. The way in which one completes these crimes depends on the social and intellectual aspects of the individual.

Childhood plays a vital role in the formation of a killer. In most cases, serial killers were sexually, mentally, or physically abused by another family member. Children often create a sort of “fantasy” world in their head that shifts and slides into their reality as time moves on. In these fantasies, the child has complete control and validation of their life and environment. As the child matures into an adolescent, these fantasies often amp up to involve sex and violence. The real danger of these fantasies is that the individual loses grips with empathy and consequences and never really feels they are at fault. The Macdonald Triad states that three precursors to serial killing are arsonry, animal abuse, and bed wetting, though bedwetting is being debated and is not necessarily directly related.

Often times serial killers are manipulative and cunning, while others and impulsive and messy. A lot of this depends on the mental illness that plagues the killer. Many serial killers go into positions of power where they feel they can obtain thesense of control that they so desire. Medical professions often attract killers because of the job’s ability to make someone feel like God or “an angel of death” or “angel of mercy”.  An example of a killer under this category is Harold Shipman, a General Practitioner who killed an estimated 200 or more patients using a lethal dose of morphine. The reasons behind his killings can be traced back to the childhood trauma of the death of his mother, and the benefits he saw on her mood and pain from morphine before her death.


The methods through which a serial killer operates often depend on their IQ. Serial killers with a lower IQ will often be far more impulsive and messy with their murders and body disposal whereas killers with higher IQs are very methodical about killings and body ditching.  Killers generally fall into three categories: disorganized, organized, and mixed. Motives include control, eliminating a certain demographic, lust, thrill, and profit. The way in which a serial killer kills is a gradient from intimate to removed according to their motive.

CC BY-SA 4.0 Serial Killers Analyzed by Siena is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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