Posted: March 24th, 2023
An Article I have Read
We are shaped by experiences encountered in our daily lives. The memories of either good or bad permanently change our attitude towards our future life and ourselves. We are nothing but a mind over a substance that has been produced by the events and experiences under certain conditions in our lives. If our conditions were any different, then our experiences would be very different as well. Consequently, it would create a different memory that remains with us forever. Could be the experiences lie dormant in our brain until a similar experience rises again. As such, our experiences in early childhood are very important as they have repercussions on how we behave or who we become in our future lives. I tend to draw this aspiration from an article I have read about one of the most notorious serial killers in America.
Summary of the Article
Jeffrey Dahmer, who is also referred to as Milwaukee Cannibal was a sex offender and a serial killer who murdered, raped, and dismembered a total of seventeen boys and men between the year 1978 and 1991 (Bio Newsletter, 2017). Rape, cannibalism, and necrophilia are other acts that were involved in his serial killing activities. While most of his victims were African Americans, he also murdered homosexuals of various ethnicity backgrounds. The erotic nature of his offenses, as well as the gruesome murders, are the actual factors that took the attention of the whole world and left an everlasting impression on the lives of many people, both who lived at the time, and those who read about him. Indeed, the outlandish behavior exhibited by Jeffery and his continuing unusual traits make him an exceptionally interesting case study to individuals studying psychology.
Born by Joyce and Lionel Dahmer, Jeffrey had a normal childhood. He was adored son who engaged in normal childhood activities until the age of 4 when he underwent a hernia surgery. He became increasingly reserved, which was thought to be as a result of his family’s frequent relocations and the birth of his younger brother. He became a loner who never fitted with his peers or his family. The only thing that seemed to fascinate him was dead animals and his only dog. He was extremely curious about the inside parts of dead animals, a thing which his dad, chemist, mistook for interest in medicine. He would skin them, dissect, and bury them in the graveyard. Some were even preserved in jars with chemical preservatives. During his teenage years, he was totally disengaged, stressed, and was largely friendless.
Serial Killing Spree
Steven Hicks was his first victim. He enticed him to join him to his parents’ home where he got the young man drunk. Steven insisted on going back home but Dahmer stroke him on the head and strangled him to death. He dismembered Steven’s body, packed the parts in polyethene bags, and buried them in the backyard. He was only 18 when he committed this crime. Ten years later, he killed his second victim Steve Tuomi, whom he had picked in a bar. Other murders occurred periodically after his second murder. He hunted his victims at gay bars, bus stops, and malls, enticed them to his home having promised payment for sexual services. He would give them beer mixed with drugs before killing them (Bio Newsletter., 2017). He admitted to have had sex with the victims’ dead bodies before disposing them. By the time he was caught, he kept skulls and other body parts such as the human heart and genitalia in his “shrine.” Indeed, to relive the murder experience, he took photos of his victims at various stages of the killing process. He was arrested on July 22, 1991, and was charged with 15 counts of murder that saw him sentenced to 15 life terms, summing up to a total of 957 years of incarceration. He died in prison after an attack by fellow inmates.
In order to determine the psychology of Jeffrey Dahmer, it is imperative to analyze his life in the light of psychological concepts and theories. Freud Sigmund’s psychodynamic theory is one of the psychological concepts that can be applied in this case scenario. Sigmund argues that early childhood is a critical phase in individuals’ lives as they influence behavior of individuals for the rest of their lives. If a child suffers from fixation or negative experiences from the time they are born to around 12 months, it is most likely that they will influence his behavior in adulthood. According to the psychodynamic theory, the three aspects of human personality include the id, the ego, and the superego. While the id is primitive and the ego develops to guide the id, the superego is formed to incorporate morals as well as values. If Freud lived to witness the behavior and criminal acts of Dahmer, he would hold that his id was extraordinarily strong so that it overwhelmed the superego. On the other hand, he would claim that his superego was not fully developed or was weak in his attempt to describe his unusual behavior. According to the psychodynamic theory, the fact that he did not receive adequate care during his early childhood forms the basis of explaining his serial killing behavior (Martens, 2011).
Theory of Antisocial Behavior
Another psychological theory that may apply to Jeffrey Dahmer is the Anti-social Behavior. According to this concept, during childhood or at adolescent phase, individuals have committed various antisocial behaviors such as harassing a sibling. In most cases, if the individual is caught and punished, it is unlikely that they will repeat the maladaptive behavior. However, individuals exhibiting the traits of antisocial behaviors will continually act antisocially despite reprimand. Antisocial behavior is habitually defined as a conduct in which individuals knowingly violate other people’s rights, the standards of the society, and the law. In other words, it is a mental condition characterized by individuals violating, manipulating, or exploiting the rights of others on a long-term basis.
During the infancy stage, children who needs are ignored will get involved in defiant behaviors or turn into deadly activities in the long run. Indeed, this can be traced in Dahmer’s background. At the age of four, he had become unusually obsessed with dead insects and animals, which turned into obsession by the time he attained his teenage years (Chan et al., 2011). He would ride his bike across the streets looking for animal carcasses to mutilate and display them in a ghoulish manner. In essence, this compulsion motivated him to switch from animals to human beings.
Jeffrey Dahmer who was one of the most disreputable serial killers in America brings fear deep into my hearts when I read about him. I have also heard many say that fear is what jump-starts some curiosities such as the horrific acts serial killers commit, which is why I have attempted to understand his behavior in the light of psychological theories and concepts. Freud’s psychodynamic theory, as well as the antisocial behavior theory, is two psychological concepts that can aid in this development.
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