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serial killer research paper outline

Serial Killer Research Paper Topics: How to Pick One

Why should anyone write a research paper on serial killers? It is the very question you should keep in mind when assigned to perform a home task on this topic. Serial killers are not products of the long-gone times of Jack the Ripper, but a frightening reality. Moreover, despite all the achievements and efforts of forensic science, various fields related to psychology, psychiatry and different social services, people who have a pathological urge to satisfy their contorted needs through serial killings find new ways to escape both treatment and punishment, as well as to trap victims. The US is the world's serial killers leader with the share of 76 percent, while Europe ranks second with only 17 percent. And although the number of serial killers fell significantly in the noughties compared to the 1970-1990s, only from 2010 to 2015 more than 500 victims were killed and 54 serial killers were apprehended and identified in the United States.

That's why you need to understand that you are asked to write about serial killers for a reason - to contribute to preventing this type of crime in one way or another. And that's why you need to take the task seriously starting from the very choosing of a topic for your serial killers research paper. Some students make a mistake taking allegedly "entertaining" topics like "The US number one dangerous killer" or "The most terrible crimes committed by maniacs in the history." Such topics are suitable for thrilling readers rather than for conducting in-depth research aimed at some practical purpose. Those practical purposes may cover understanding how people become serial killers; what we can do to identify deviant behavior in people early on; what should be done to eliminate factors contributing to the development of violent behavior and so on.

To this end, serial killers are studied in several fields like psychology, sociology, forensics and some other sciences, which consider the phenomenon from various perspectives to better understand it. Obviously, students should choose serial killer research paper topics based on the subject they study and set the appropriate goals - to explore the psychology of criminals, to distinguish the most vulnerable social groups or to learn about ways that may help in catching a serial killer. Even if you are writing without focusing on a particular subject, you can make a real difference by dispelling myths about serial killers and presenting facts that can educate you and your readers.

Research Paper Topics on Serial Killers: Ideas and Examples

We have selected the most promising topic ideas on serial killers covering psychological, social, cultural, demographic and many other aspects of this phenomenon. Note that the list doesn't include topics on mass murders or school shooting since many forensic schools consider serial killers a separate group of criminals, who are different in their specificity from those mentioned. However, you should clarify through your tutor, which category of criminals you are assigned to research, and if necessary, you can transform the proposed topics accordingly.

  • Where did the term "serial killer" come from?
  • Family physical, psychological and sexual abuse and deviant behavior in serial killers.
  • Mental disorders in serial killers.
  • What lies behind a serial killer's signature?
  • Is it possible to diagnose a would-be serial killer?
  • What makes a serial killer tick?
  • How do juvenile criminals become serial killers?
  • Distinctive aspects of repeated murders committed by women.
  • The social background of serial killing.
  • How does a serial killer differ from a maniac?
  • Victim profile: demographic characteristics and individual traits.
  • A spree killer, a mass murderer, and a serial killer - terms and legislation.
  • Serial killers in the United States: Ethnicity and demographics.
  • Are there naturally born serial killers?
  • Measures taken by the countries with the highest level of serial killing to reverse the trend.
  • Angels of mercy: distinctive features.
  • The impact of serial killings on pop culture.
  • Are there death penalty alternatives for serial killers?
  • Genetic predisposition to violence in serial killers: myth or fact?
  • Is there a tendency to increase or decrease in serial killings in the US in the XXI century?
  • Serial murders and paraphilia.
  • Can modern therapies available for sociopathic and psychopathic disorder set serial killers to rights?
  • Criticism of the Macdonald triad.
  • Organized, disorganized and mixed killers - how do they differ?
  • Multiple murders for money.

You can adjust the offered research paper topics on serial killers to your needs by broadening or, conversely, narrowing them down. Make sure to find and read information on the topic selected before making a final decision to avoid lack of evidence.

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Youth Serial Killers: Psychological and Criminological Profiles

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Serial murder is a specific type of violent crime that falls into the crime category of multicide. According to the nomenclature of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Violent Crime Classification Manual and Academic Researchers for the Classification of Violent Crimes, most serial killers are adults. However, serial murder is also committed by young people, although to a lesser extent. Young serial killers are a topic of relevance in areas such as psychology, criminology, and the justice system. Given that the study of the variables that could be the basis of such multicide criminality is not conclusive, the need for further research is evident. The homicides perpetrated by children and young people point to a social panorama that is alarming due to their young age. This issue is prevalent enough to conduct a review. The performed review concludes the importance of psychosocial factors to better understand the process by which children and young people commit crimes as serious as serial murders. The scope of the problem of serial murders perpetrated by minors is controversial because it often depends on how the number of real cases is counted. Although official statistics indicate the low prevalence of juvenile serial killers, childhood is a period in which antisocial behaviour can have its beginning. Some authors consider that it is not uncommon for the first murder of this type to occur in adolescence. It is important to consider psychopathy as an influential factor in the various forms of serial criminal conduct committed by children and young people. The research works consulted provide evidence of the special relevance of psychopathy in the generation of serious juvenile delinquency.

1. Introduction

The phenomenon of serial murders occupies a unique place in the field of Criminology and the criminal justice system, especially when the perpetrators of this and other kinds of violent crimes are underage. In this sense, we use the terms child, juvenile and youth without distinction, as in the Convention on the Rights of the Child [ 1 ], to refer to those under the age of 18 when which they committed homicide.

In addition to the difficulties that this supposes for criminal investigation by the police and judicial systems, serial murder cases attract excessive attention from the media, mental health experts, the academic world, and the general public. This social, media and professional impact is even worse when the serial murders are perpetrated by either young people or women, since reality is greatly softened in the case of these populations, the more unpleasant aspects of the crime tending to be mitigated [ 2 ].

Furthermore, much of the lack of understanding of the phenomenon of serial murders, especially in the case of underage perpetrators, is surrounded by a halo of media sensationalism that usually arises from a question about the mind of serial killers asked and debated across numerous articles and opinion columns: are serial killers born or made? Added to this is another question of a similar nature, which refers to the popular idea of serial killers as predators, monsters, or devils [ 3 ]. In this sense, if this sensationalist question had to be settled, the conclusion would be obvious: serial killers are predators only in the sense that their methods of attack are very similar to those of predatory animals—they stalk, attack, and kill [ 4 ]. On the other hand, labelling them as monsters or devils, however abominable and indescribable the acts of such individuals may be, is only part of the media circus surrounding such cases at both judicial and social levels [ 5 ], and contributes to the media-influenced collective mentality that spares no detail [ 6 ] and which even, inexplicably, makes celebrities of such people [ 7 ].

Nevertheless, the generally badly characterised film image of the typical murderer who creates a plan of action and chooses their victim is ostensibly false in the case of most juvenile homicides. Only in very few cases (mainly serial killers, mass murderers and itinerants) does it respond to reality [ 8 ].

Putting aside the speculations of the media world, only empirical works of research and academic books that deal rigorously with this delicate and singular subject were considered in this review on serial murders perpetrated by children and youths. In this review, the problem of children and youths who commit homicide or murder, but not serially, was first reviewed to differentiate them from those young people who are serial killers.

Secondly, the concept and characterization of serial murders were defined as a form of multicide and as a specific type of violent crime. According to the conceptualization given by both the FBI’s Violent Crime Classification Manual and various researchers, the great majority of serial killers are white males aged between 25 and 35. Nevertheless, serial murder is also committed by youths, although to a much lesser extent.

Thirdly, the analysis of the psychological and criminological profiles of children and youths who had committed serial murders allowed us to characterize them with a series of psychosocial aspects and criminal motivations. In addition, it is also important to stress the need to consider other types of serial criminal conduct in which some young people become involved, and which can be considered as forerunners to the later perpetration of serial murders. Fourthly, the importance and role played by child–juvenile psychopathy in violent, criminal conduct and the perpetration of serial murders was explored.

The acquisition and development of aggressive and violent behaviour patterns, which may increase the risk of minors committing murder, respond to the joint action of multiple etiological factors (psychological, social, biological, environmental, etc.). Given that the study of the variables which might comprise the basis of such multicide criminality is inconclusive, the need for further investigation is evident. This review aims to provide the necessary knowledge to outline the therapeutic needs of serial killer children, and to deal with them through specific interventions.

To achieve a better knowledge of the phenomenon of murder committed by youths, as well as to understand the extent and severity of this phenomenon, we carried out a scoping review of research articles written in various countries.

Similarly, we reviewed and compared research works related to the concept and characterisation of serial killers. In addition, we analysed the said manifestations in youths to be able to understand their psychological and criminological profiles.

The information was obtained from the following databases: ScienceDirect, Scopus and PsycoINFO. For this review, publications were selected using the following descriptors: (serial killers AND youths) AND (juvenile delinquency AND psychosocial OR psychopathy factors).

Concerning exclusion criteria, all those studies in which the said search descriptors were not present were discarded. Similarly, despite the inclusion of research papers related to other serial criminal behaviour patterns often carried out by young people, such as arson, cruelty to animals, or sexual crimes [ 9 ], those studies that referred to non-serial juvenile violence were excluded.

The year of publication of these research papers was not an exclusion criterion, given their scarcity.

3.1. Youth Homicides and Non-Serial Killers: Extent and Severity of the Problem

The extent and severity of the problem of serial murders committed by minors (children and youths) begins with homicide and murder of a non-serial nature, but equally violent. There are numerous cases of this type throughout the world, and they are widely documented.

Despite the terminology frequently used by the media, young delinquents are not monsters or beasts, and often have not committed previous acts of violence [ 10 ]. The analysis and investigation that this author carried out on 80 attempted or consummated homicides, perpetrated by youths, shows that a great number of these crimes occurred because they found it difficult to refuse to participate in something previously planned by a group of peers, so the criminal motivations were only partially due to the minor’s personality. An explanation can often be found in an accumulation of arbitrary circumstances, and in the way an extremely aggressive individual reacts to such circumstances [ 10 ].

In this sense, Lempp [ 10 ] studied the probable motives for homicides committed by young delinquents and situated them in psychic and environmental contexts for each case to contribute to the scientific study of the phenomenon, evaluating the psychological, legal, psychiatric, and social aspects of each case.

Nevertheless, as mentioned previously, if the reality of these cases seems to be twisted, then what is the real extent of the problem? In this sense, the controversy and debate concerning the extreme violence of minors is widespread, since there are a diverse range of opinions and data about criminality in general among minors and young people. Rechea and Fernández [ 11 ] consider that the percentage of young people who commit this type of act is low.

The analysis of the participation of juveniles in homicides is still a serious problem in the USA, since between the mid-1980s and the start of the 1990s, there was an unprecedented growth in homicides perpetrated by youths [ 12 ]. The available data suggest that juveniles currently participate in more homicides than in previous generations [ 13 ].

Independently of the figures, the cases of juvenile homicide and murder cannot be underestimated, since the psychosocial and criminological reality of these cases is as particular as it is fatal for the victims.

Braga, Kennedy, Waring, and Morrison [ 14 ] stress the significance of homicides carried out by youths who belong to street gangs. It must be said that this criminal phenomenon is very particular, as its situational variables are different and should be studied separately from the rest of juvenile crime [ 15 , 16 ].

Due to all of the above, the psychosocial and criminological profile of youths who commit homicide and murder is not comparable to that of the common delinquent. In this sense, Lempp [ 10 ] warns that greater importance is not given to cases of child–juvenile homicide due to the generalized belief that “no-one would have believed them capable of such acts, precisely because they did not fit in any way the general image we have of a murderer”.

3.2. Serial Murders: Conceptual Limits and Main Characteristics

There is much controversy about the operational definition of serial murder [ 17 ]. However, in general, it can be considered a kind of multicide that can be defined as the repeated homicide of two or more persons [ 18 ], and with a cooling-down period between one crime and another [ 4 ].

The term serial killer was first coined to identify individuals who methodically murder a number of people within a period of time, although the motives, the victims and the methods vary from one serial killer to another [ 19 ].

Although the minimum number of victims considered necessary to define murders as serial murders is arbitrary, authors such as Egger [ 20 ] place the said minimum number as at least three victims. Similarly, although there is no single, generally accepted definition, Ferguson, White, Cherry, Lorenz, and Bhimani [ 21 ] coincide in pointing out that the essential element for defining a serial killer is the execution of three or more murders during multiple discreet events. Therefore, traditionally, a serial killer is defined as an individual who has murdered three or more victims [ 18 ].

However, it is important to point out that there are other types of homicide (for instance, terrorists, mass murderers, etc.) in which the perpetrators can murder more than three victims in their first killing spree, but who can then still become serial killers with a cooling-down period between one crime and another [ 22 ].

In any case, the aspect of the number of victims would have to be reconsidered, as there are murderers who only kill one person and are quickly arrested and imprisoned. Then, after studying their criminal behaviour patterns, it can be seen that there is a high probability that they would have killed again if they had not been caught and imprisoned [ 4 ].

The need to have a precise, working definition of a serial killer takes on greater importance when considering the process of generating the psychological and criminological profile of this type of individual, since there are many subtypes of serial killer. This gives rise to a variety of behaviour patterns and criminal motivations that reflect heterogeneous characteristics [ 23 ]. It is thus important to establish the psycho-criminological profile of these multicides on a differential level [ 24 , 25 ].

3.3. The Phenomenon of Serial Murders Committed by Minors

3.3.1. the psycho-criminological profiles of child and youth serial killers: psychosocial aspects and criminal motivations.

Serial murder is a type of multicide predominantly perpetrated by male adults [ 22 ]. The cases of child and youth serial killers are, of course, much less frequent than adult cases [ 9 ]. From the academic and professional sphere of forensic psychiatry, Myers [ 26 ] studied six cases of serial killers who were under 18 years of age throughout the entire series of their crimes, identifying only six in the last 150 years, the majority from the USA. According to this author, at least two of the six serial killers began to commit murder in their adolescence, and most of their successive crimes occurred at somewhat older ages.

According to Myers [ 26 ], each of these six young serial delinquents committed sexually motivated homicides as an expression of their aberrant erotic interest, which they later openly displayed at the crime scenes. The signs of sexual sadism and criminal characteristics reflect the behavioural profile of a more predatory type of violence (proactive or instrumental) than affective or reactive violence. In this sense, Myers [ 26 ] points out that these subjects preferred to use their own hands in the diverse methods and ways used to kill their victims, that is, cutting, stabbing, strangling and/or dismembering. Three of these children had problematic upbringings, yet, according to the reports, only one was physically abused by his father. The great majority of these juvenile serial killers showed signs of sexual sadism, a characteristic generally found in adult sexual serial killers [ 26 ].

Furthermore, this author states that “humans are not physiologically ‘wired’ to have sexual pleasure during the experience of significant anger” [ 26 ]. However, children usually explore their sexuality and the spectrum of pleasure/pain at an early age. Thus, according to this author, the physiological trait that traces the line between pleasure and pain is absent in these young serial killers, and it is this fact that could have given rise to the generalized conclusion that a serial killer’s behaviour is caused by psychological, social, and biological problems [ 26 ].

Some of these serial killers come from broken homes where they could not acquire a stable personality. Thus, they continually look to satisfy their desires through fantasies of domination and control [ 27 ]. Similarly, some of them were physically, sexually, and emotionally abused in childhood, and often such abuses were simultaneous [ 28 ].

Research into the impact of child abuse on violent behaviour has demonstrated that abuse and exposure to violence, in any of its multiple forms, is a very important factor for predicting criminal conduct [ 29 ]. The research of Dutton and Hart [ 30 ], carried out on males condemned for various crimes, suggests that those minors who were physically, sexually, and/or emotionally abused were three times more likely to act violently when adults. Nevertheless, Mitchell and Aamodt [ 31 ] state that, in the serial killer population, neglect experienced in childhood does not have a significant prevalence.

Myers [ 26 ] does not mention the important fact that the phenomenon of sexual pleasure/pain can be a learnt characteristic. In this sense, it had already been pointed out that “the blurring of pain/pleasure lines can occur during abuse, exposure to violence, or as psychological training (more often seen in socially accepted sexual masochism and slave/master social circles)” [ 32 ].

In any case, Myers concludes that “the murderers’ impulses to kill did not in the least decrease as they grew up; serial killers also fit into the category of ‘predator’” [ 26 ]. Due to the limited number of child serial killers, Myers [ 26 ] was unable to extrapolate the results of his study, and the idea of biological traits being the principal influence of serial killers requires more research to either prove or disprove it. In a later study on the psychological motivations of 12 sexual serial killers, this author and his team could only conclude that this type of individual expresses their positive feelings of sexual pleasure, and even euphoria (instead of anger or other unpleasant states of mind), through their criminal acts [ 33 ].

Although serial killings would seem to be a rare event, some authors suggest that it is difficult to determine the incidence and prevalence of this phenomenon [ 34 ]. Given that this form of violence has a strong social impact, and that it can appear to be the result of interacting biological, psychological, and sociological factors, research into this phenomenon should start in infancy [ 28 ].

As the cases of child and youth serial killers are much less frequent than those committed by adults, it is necessary to approach the studies of cases in this area differently to be able to advance our knowledge of such youths. Thus, an initiative to be recommended in this sense consists of more detailed research into other criminal serial behaviour patterns used by these youths. Such behaviour patterns as are set out below.

3.3.2. The Role of Five Categories of Criminal Serial Behaviour Patterns Used by Children and Youths: Criminological History of Adult Serial Murders?

According to Myers and Borg [ 9 ], there are generally six categories of criminal serial behaviour patterns which are normally studied in the case of children and youths: (1) ‘generic’ juvenile delinquency (which provides an explicative framework for other violent or non-violent crimes); (2) crimes of firesetting; (3) crimes of cruelty to animals; (4) crimes of a sexual nature; (5) crimes of sadism; and (6) serial murders. According to these authors, “the first five categories do not represent all the possible forms of serial crimes committed by young people, and neither do they cover the more serious types or all the specific profiles” [ 9 ]. In this sense, they also point out that “a wider treatment of this area could include additional, less serious crimes which, are by nature serial, such as kleptomania” [ 9 ].

Based on a thorough review of the literature concerning the five categories of serial criminal behaviour patterns in children and youths, Myers and Borg [ 9 ] believe that many of them could be the precursors of later serial murders, by which they seem to be ‘testing things out’; for instance, how they feel upon setting fire to objects, houses, and forests, mistreating and killing animals, etc. Thus, the maximum expression of criminal behaviour would reside in the murder of one or more people. Some young people begin with other types of serial criminal behaviour patterns which serve as a ‘preparatory’ step. Does this mean that serial murder can be learned? Considering the application of the theory of social learning to acts of firesetting by children and youths, Singer and Hensley [ 35 ] found that the motivational patterns of the subjects suggested just that.

Although the research estimates that serial killers begin their criminal careers at 20 years of age, what is certain is that it is not uncommon for the first murder of this type of multicide to happen in adolescence. For example, Burgess, Hartman, Ressler, Douglas, and McCormack [ 36 ] found that 10 out of the 36 adult serial killers in their study, imprisoned for sexual homicide, had also previously committed murder when they were young. Similarly, it is important to mention that the behavioural indicators of sexual murder predict the presence of sadistic sexual fantasies in both delinquents and the general population [ 37 ].

Thus, the criminal conduct of serial sexual attacks is also an important factor to be considered when trying to better understand the criminological and psychosocial profile of serial killers [ 38 , 39 ]. This is because many of them perpetrate serial sexual homicides [ 40 ] with diverse patterns and motivations [ 41 , 42 ]. Similarly, crimes of firesetting committed by children and youths are also examples of criminal conduct that should be considered, as they appear in many cases of serial killers [ 43 ]. Juvenile sexual homicides seem, in many cases, to be correlates or criminological antecedents of adult serial killers [ 44 ].

3.4. Psychopathy, Violent Delinquency, and Serial Murder

3.4.1. the role of child–juvenile psychopathy in violence and delinquency.

It is certain that the first five categories of serial criminal conduct in children and youths studied by Myers and Borg [ 9 ] should be considered in research into both serial murders and attempts to understand the motivational psychology and criminal profiling of violent delinquents [ 45 , 46 ]. In addition to these types of serial criminal conduct, variable psychopathy is another relevant factor to be considered in these cases since these youths usually score high in psychopathy [ 47 ].

Psychopathy is a clinical–forensic construct that gives rise to serious problems in the affective, interpersonal, and behavioural domains, so much so that psychopaths can victimize and manipulate others apparently without their conscience being affected [ 48 ]. Psychopathy is characterized by a series of well-defined traits [ 49 ].

Psychopathy may appear in connection with two separate concepts: that which stresses the social factors or childhood experiences are the root of the disorder; and those who defend the view that the biological, psychological, and genetic elements are the biggest contributors to its appearance [ 50 ].

It is necessary to distinguish between subclinical psychopathy (or non-criminal psychopathy) and criminal psychopathy [ 2 ]. While subclinical psychopathy is studied in the general population [ 51 , 52 , 53 , 54 , 55 , 56 ], criminal psychopathy is studied in clinical–forensic contexts such as courts and prisons [ 8 , 50 ].

The study of psychopathy is useful for understanding seriously antisocial behaviour and violence among children and youths [ 57 ]. In this sense, juveniles who experience a variety of antisocial risk factors, such as mental health issues, upbringing problems, a history of substance abuse, or prolonged criminal participation, are characterised by a profound impulsiveness, emotional instability, and a total absence of guilt with respect to the execution of the crime [ 58 ]. The result is the appearance of psychopathic characteristics, which seem to be risk factors for persistent violence among minors [ 59 ].

Although there are numerous myths and unspecified associations surrounding psychopathy in relation to violence and criminality [ 60 , 61 , 62 ], what is certain is that research has found that criminal psychopathy is a risk factor as far as violence and recidivism are concerned [ 63 , 64 , 65 ]. Taking into account the marked antisocial behaviour of criminal psychopathy [ 66 ] and the characteristic of criminal versatility mentioned in the Psychopathy Checklist—revised (PCL-R) [ 50 ], the main difference between subclinical and criminal psychopathy lies in the concrete perpetration of a crime, of whatever kind, as the basic structure of personality and emotions is practically the same in both types of psychopaths, the criminal and subclinical [ 2 ].

Many traits of psychopathy begin to emerge in infancy [ 50 ] and are clearly identifiable and evaluable in childhood, adolescence, and youth [ 67 ]. However, the inclusion of the concept of psychopathy in the child–juvenile population is not without controversy. While Semel [ 68 ] stresses the limitations of the evaluation of juvenile psychopathy in clinical and forensic contexts, Forth, Bergstrøm, and Clark [ 69 ] clarify the necessity and implications of this evaluation of minors. Although professionals and doctors are still reticent about using the term ‘psychopath’ in the cases of children and youths [ 70 ], the scientific evidence in this respect cannot be denied due to its relation to criminal conduct in this population.

In light of the above, Dåderman [ 71 ] studied the personality traits present in adolescents diagnosed with severe behaviour disorders who showed psychopathy-related traits, e.g., searching for intense sensations, high impulsiveness, and low conformity, socialisation, and social desirability.

Glueck and Glueck [ 72 , 73 , 74 ] were the first to focus the subject of psychopathy on chronic and serious delinquents, some of whom were minors. These authors found that psychopathy was a useful variable for differentiating delinquents from non-delinquents. They described psychopathic delinquents as ostensibly destructive, antisocial, asocial, and less susceptible to therapeutic or educational efforts. Other characteristics include insensitivity towards social demands or towards others, a superficial emotionality, egocentrism, and a total lack of empathy [ 49 ], as well as, in many cases together with impulsive behaviour patterns, an absence of stress or anxiety concerning their lack of social adaptation, serious irresponsibility, and emotional poverty [ 48 ]. Young psychopaths seemed not to respond to any attempted treatment or rehabilitation, and they did not seem to be worried by their persistent criminal behaviour [ 72 , 73 ]. These authors observed that a psychopath was almost 20 times more common among their sample of delinquents than in the control group of non-delinquent subjects.

The relationship between child–juvenile psychopathy and chronic violent delinquency is currently still being studied. Salekin [ 75 ] studied a cohort of 130 children and youths to examine the effect of psychopathic personality on legal problems and life opportunities. This author found that psychopathy remained stable over the period the subjects were followed (four years), and the children with the highest scores of psychopathic traits in their early stages of life tended to maintain these scores later in adolescence. In addition, psychopathy is a significant predictor of both delinquency in general and various forms of violent delinquency.

Current theories concerning crime (such as the situational prevention of crime) are based on the study of the circumstances in which these youths commit their crimes, rather than discovering the reasons why they committed them. Some authors have shown that it is possible to reduce the extent of the violence if the probability of detection increases and there is an effective response from the courts to dissuade young delinquents from enacting their violent behaviour patterns [ 14 ].

The effects of psychopathy on serious juvenile delinquency are more stable and persistent than the effects of the other 14 correlates of delinquency, including demographic characteristics, intelligence, previous delinquency and problems at school, parental factors, drug use, and delinquent companions, among others [ 75 ].

3.4.2. The Role of Child–Juvenile Psychopathy in Serial Murder

The role played by psychopathy in the phenomenon of serial murders can be better understood if we look at its aetiology, which is not exempt from controversy. A great part of this controversy comes from the frequent generalization of the results of much research with common delinquents and non-serial but violent delinquents.

The problem concerning psychopathy lies in the fact that many of the results of research into the typical correlates of delinquency in general have been extrapolated to psychopathic delinquents, thus generating distorted images of psychopathy [ 62 ]. Similarly, the frequent and erroneous comparison of equating psychopathy with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) becomes an additional problem because, while ASPD describes the common delinquent in general [ 8 , 49 ], most delinquents are not psychopaths, while not all psychopaths are delinquents [ 48 , 49 ]. Thus, in this respect, it should be stressed that the terms ASPD and psychopathy are often incorrectly used as synonyms [ 76 ]. ASPD is a kind of mental disorder (a personality disorder) included in psychiatric classifications, while psychopathy requires, according to the diagnostic criteria of Cleckley [ 49 ], a complete absence of any manifestation of a psychopathological nature.

The typical correlates of delinquency in general have been widely studied, and the most frequently studied variables or factors are diverse: gender, age, race, temperament, personality, self-control/self-regulation, school records, and family/parental factors [ 77 ]. Many antisocial delinquent youths present these and many other factors that are usually related to criminality. Although there are numerous clinical–psychiatric diagnoses associated with antisocial young people with behavioural problems [ 78 , 79 ], the great majority of young delinquents do not present evident and complete psycho-pathological syndromes, but simply serious problems of aggressivity and violence that respond to other explanations, such as psychosocial and criminological, rather than psychopathological [ 80 , 81 ]. To avoid pathologizing any type of criminal conduct, psychopathology is an area of study that should not adhere exclusively to the sphere of delinquency, as otherwise we could fall into the temptation of wrongly conceptualizing delinquency as a clinical disorder when it is not. Moreover, some delinquents present mental problems of diverse natures.

As for the specific role of child–juvenile psychopathy in serial murder, it is much easier to understand if the psychopathological approach is disregarded and we focus, more adequately, on the personality and motivations of this type of individual. In this sense, it is important to stress that one of the central, defining characteristics of psychopathy is the absence of empathy, reflected in a lack of consideration for and cruelty towards others, as well as a complete absence of remorse and feelings of guilt. Thus, if we pay attention to psychopathic personality and motivations, it is even possible to distinguish between simple homicides and multiple homicides through the presence or absence of psychopathy.

Woodworth and Porter [ 82 ] found that the characteristics of so-called simple homicides carried out in cold blood (instrumental and premeditated aggressors) depend on the psychopathy that characterizes them, emotional insensitivity, and a complete lack of remorse. These authors found that simple psychopathic homicides present a type of aggression that is predominantly instrumental (that is, premeditated, planned, ‘in cold blood’, motivated by an external objective and not preceded by any possible affective reaction), while simple non-psychopathic homicides present a type of aggression that is emotional (that is, not premeditated, reactive, or on the spur of the moment, motivated by an internal objective and preceded by some personal, emotional reaction).

‘Instrumental aggression’ is also present in most serial murders, and psychopathy plays a very important role. Many serial killers, in childhood and adolescence, present the typical traits of psychopathy [ 76 ] included in the serial criminal conduct categories of children and youths studied by Myers and Borg [ 9 ].

According to Morton [ 83 ], there is no generic profile for serial killers, who differ in many aspects, including their motivations for murder and their behaviour at the crime scene. However, certain common traits can be identified for some serial killers, including the desire for thrills, a lack of remorse, impulsiveness, the need for control, and abusive practices. These traits and behaviour patterns are consistent with psychopathy. The relationship between psychopathy and serial murders is particularly interesting. Not all psychopaths become serial killers, though serial killers usually possess some or many of the traits consistent with psychopathy. Psychopaths who commit serial murders put no value on human life and are extremely cruel in their interactions with their victims. This is particularly evident in serial killers with sexual motivations who repeatedly stalk, attack, and kill without remorse [ 83 ].

Nevertheless, it is also important to stress the fact that psychopathy alone does not explain the motivations of all serial killers [ 83 ], and neither does it explain the motivations of simple homicides. So why murder people, with or without psychopathy? This question is answered by Botelho and Gonçalves [ 84 ], who carried out a critical review of the literature on factors associated with homicides. Starting from a constructivist social perspective and ensuring that the factors related to homicides could be organized into four main categories, these authors observed that the acquisition and development of aggressive and violent behaviour patterns, which could provoke such a crime as homicide, had multi-factorial origins and implied multiple interconnections.

However, in the case of serial killers, it is necessary to stress the aspects of criminal motivations since they are specific in this type of multicide. In this sense, the concept of Perpetrator-Motive Research Design (PMRD), proposed by Vecchi, Van Hasselt, and Angleman [ 85 ], is of special relevance, as it deals with an analysis strategy that helps us understand the motivations, values and tactics of such violent delinquents as serial killers, serial rapists, paedophiles, youth murderers, arsonists, and cyber delinquents. This criminal investigation methodology could also help our understanding of the specific roles played by psychopathic traits in the criminal motivations of diverse types of violent delinquent, especially in the case of serial killers.

Although the absence of remorse is a principal characteristic of psychopathy found in adolescent delinquents and which ought to be investigated, along with other variables relevant at a theoretical and forensic level [ 86 ], it is not a characteristic which, of itself, can account for the diverse criminal motivations of the different types of violent delinquent when considering serial killers, who also have many other psychopathic traits. We thus believe that applying the PMRD methodology could help to clarify such questions and evaluate to what extent child–juvenile psychopathy could be an extremely relevant correlate in serial murders.

In short, what we can say so far is that there is no specific profile for serial killers, as they are a heterogeneous group of violent delinquents presenting very varied psychosocial and criminological factors [ 87 ], some of which can be considered risk factors in this type of multicide [ 28 ].

Thus, the aetiology of the psychopathic serial killer is diverse, and its origins are usually evident from numerous serial behaviour patterns in childhood and adolescence [ 9 ]. Although the role of psychopathy in serial murders can help police investigations by create profiles [ 76 ], further research is needed to help clarify the frequency and degree with which psychopathy is present in serial killers. This would help in the creation of more refined criminal profiles aimed at identifying this type of multicide [ 83 ].

4. Conclusions

First of all, this review has tried to distinguish between two particularly controversial phenomena that reflect the current landscape of psychosocial and criminological reality: serial killer children and young people, and non-serial killer children and young people. We have tried to focus on the areas that deserve special attention, and we have focused on the extent and seriousness of the problem. The homicides perpetrated by children and young people point to a social panorama that is alarming due to the young age of these murderers. This problem is important enough to warrant study because it “raises exploratory questions about the social, psychological and biological factors that might explain such a tragic phenomenon” [ 88 ].

Secondly, the conceptualization of serial murders is still controversial in the sense that it depends on the number of victims that each author stipulates as necessary to be considered as such. In any case, the characterization of this phenomenon is clear, as it is reflected in the criminal profiles of this type of serial killer and what distinguishes them from other forms of multicide (such as mass murder or spree killing). An additional controversy is the enormous media attention surrounding serial murder [ 89 ], an effect that is even greater when the perpetrators of the serial murders are minors.

Thirdly, as for the phenomenon of serial murders perpetrated by minors, the extent of the problem is controversial because it often depends on how the number of real cases is counted, while, additionally, the official statistics are difficult to find [ 90 ].

It can be established that, despite the low prevalence of juvenile serial killers, childhood is a period in which antisocial behaviour begins to flourish. Similarly, the low incidence of serial killers who are minors may be due to the early imprisonment of minors and adolescents who commit a single murder, but who were quite likely to have turned into serial killers [ 4 ].

On the other hand, although there would seem to be a greater number of adult serial killers, some authors believe it not infrequent for the first murder of this kind to occur in adolescence [ 36 ].

In any case, the profiles of children and youths who commit murder are clearly established [ 91 ] and, however inconceivable their crimes may seem to us [ 92 ], the criminological reality of these minors as murderers is evident, with serious social and legal repercussions [ 93 ].

Fourthly, it is also important to consider the psychopathy variable as an influential factor in the diverse modalities of serial criminal conduct committed by children and youths which could be the first ‘steps’ in their criminal career as serial killers later on [ 9 ]. In addition to this reason, the importance of the psychopathy variable has also been stressed as a determinant in the process of psychological–criminal profiling of the diverse types of violent serial delinquents, in particular, those who commit sexually aggressive crimes and murder [ 94 ].

This current review article is not exempt from limitations. The low prevalence of juvenile serial killers, as well as the presence of juvenile murderers that are not serial killers, makes the generalization of the study more difficult, so the analysis should extend its scope to other serial criminal activities committed by juveniles. Likewise, with respect to the review carried out, it is necessary to comment that a systematic review would have been more valuable.

Despite these limitations, the present review underlines the importance of psychosocial factors for the better understanding of the process by which under-eighteens end up committing such serious crimes as serial murders. We have seen that, on numerous occasions, such crimes are accompanied by other equally serious criminal behaviour patterns (arson, sexual assault, animal abuse, etc.). The research works consulted provide evidence of the special relevance of psychopathy in the generation of serious juvenile delinquency [ 75 ].

In this sense, the need to design intervention plans focused on the above-described therapeutic needs is evident. This is because different serial criminal manifestations re-quire specific focuses [ 94 ], highlighting the need to deal with these problems with extreme caution in future research.

Funding Statement

Financed jointly by FEDER & Junta de Extremadura funds (Exp. GR21024).

Author Contributions

All authors conceived the paper and participated actively in the study. Conceptualization, J.M.M.-M., M.E.G.-B., E.G.-B. and M.B.-A.; data curation, J.M.M.-M., M.E.G.-B., M.B.-A. and M.G.-M.; formal analysis, J.M.M.-M., M.B.-A. and M.G.-M.; methodology, J.M.M.-M., M.E.G.-B., E.G.-B. and M.B.-A.; supervision, J.M.M.-M., M.E.G.-B. and E.G.-B.; writing—original draft, J.M.M.-M., M.E.G.-B. and M.B.-A.; writing—review and editing, J.M.M.-M., M.E.G.-B., E.G.-B., M.B.-A. and M.G.-M. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Informed consent statement, data availability statement, conflicts of interest.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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Serial Killers Research Paper

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Psychology , Brain , Criminal Justice , Violence , Family , Childhood , Disorders , Children

Words: 1800

Published: 11/13/2019


The psychology of a serial killer will be the subject of discussion in this paper. Emphasis would be placed on the events which occurred in their childhood (child neglect), their psychopathic behavior and the influence of brain disorders in pushing them towards violence.

Besides their callous brutality, serial killers are also renowned for their deception. Most of them operate for years before authorities stumble upon a clue which uncovers their violent behavior. A majority of serial killers that have been uncovered were found in America. This is quite troubling and one wonders whether the unrivalled freedoms in this country have led to the creation of psychopaths. FBI criminologists beg to differ. When compared to other countries, America is simply more aware of killings which are linked to serial killers and psychopaths (FBI, 2011). Its criminal justice system is quite rigorous and a lot of attention is paid to collecting and storing all form of criminal evidence. Take the example of Jack the Ripper. He is believed to have operated for a number of years before authorities got wind of his disdain and killing of prostitutes. The same can be said about serial killers across the globe. Some of them have been carrying out their sadistic and ritualistic killings for a long time without raising an eyebrow from the authorities. In America however, a lot of research has gone into understanding the mind of a serial killer and which external factors shape or influence their personality.

Neglected as Children

Findings by psychologist have shown that serial killers suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder. This was evident in Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and Kenneth Bianchi. These serial killers were also neglected when they were children. Antisocial Personality Disorder is developed when children are young. It’s often caused by neglect or severe abuse. “As a result of family disruption or brutality, the infant never learns to bond or trust his or her caregivers” (Magid & McKelvey, 1987, p.196). Some of these unbounded children later become serial killers who kill without remorse.

Ted Bundy epitomized the character of a serial killer. He was quite ingenious in outwitting law enforcement officials, yet sadistic in killing his victims. Bundy started life as an unattached child and this could be the reason why he did not have a conscience. Besides neglect, his lack of attachment was also linked to a genetic predisposition. Studies on serial killers like Ted Bundy have shown that the first two years of a child life are very critical in shaping his character as an adult. “A complex set of events must occur in infancy to assure a future of trust and love” (Magid & McKelvey, 1987, p.198). If proper bonding and attachment fails to occur, then the child will develop mistrust and a deep-seated rage (Magid & McKelvey, 1987). Like Ted Bundy, he will become a child without a conscience.

Kenneth Bianchi

Another serial killer who was an expert at deceiving everyone was Kenneth Bianchi. He was a clever psychopath. He even fooled his own wife who never believed that he could hurt anyone. “He just wasn’t the kind of person who could have killed anyone” Magid & McKelvey, 1987, p.200). Kenneth Bianchi’s psychopathic character was linked to his childhood. His mother was ‘far from saintly’ and psychologists believe he suffered from neglect as a child. He also suffered from Antisocial Personality Disorder and claimed to have a vivid recollection of some of the events in his childhood.

According to Dr Ralph Allison, Bianchi had difficulties in his family and was considered to be a disturbed child (Magid & McKelvey, 1987). As a child, he was constantly moved from one medical doctor to another as they tried and failed to diagnose his symptoms. Bianchi had rolling eyes, tics and kept falling down after petit mal-type seizures (Magid & McKelvey, 1987). He late turned into a deeply hostile boy, according to doctors’ records, and he had severe dependent needs which were fulfilled by his mother. “He depends upon his mother for his very survival and expends a great deal of energy keeping his hostility under control and undercover” (Magid & McKelvey, 1987, p. 201).

Charles Manson

Charles Manson was once labeled as the most dangerous and feared man alive. He earned this title when he embarked on a 2 day killing spree which left 7 people dead and mutilated. Manson’s early life was spent in a succession of different homes (adoption homes) and it can be assumed that he also suffered from neglect. He did live in a reform school from the age of 12-19 years. However, he did escape once but was later returned.

He wrote in his book that jails, courtrooms and prisons were part if his life from the age of 12. He stated that throughout his life, he was more accustomed to rejection than love and acceptance. Manson’s violence was linked to his horrible childhood. His neglect as a child fueled his deep-seated rage which was unleashed on his innocent victims. My feeling is, I’ve been raped and ravaged by society, by attorneys and friends (Magid & McKelvey, p. 203). The rage which is evident in all these serial killers comes from unfulfilled needs as infants. Understanding Psychopaths

In a scale of gauging humanity at its best and worst, serial killers like Charles Manson and Ted Bundy would be at one extreme end with Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa being classified at the other end. The people in the middle of the scale represent the majority of the population who may have problems but are otherwise mentally balanced and functional members of society. Those on the extreme end of the scale like Ted Bundy and Charles Manson suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder and they are the most dangerous. These are psychopaths. Some of them inevitably end up as serial killers.

Psychopaths are known to possess varied character traits which range from blunt arrogance to a peculiar charm. Psychopaths are not only found in jails and mental institutions; they also work in respectable professions which do not arouse suspicion. Psychopaths tend to have a ‘clingy’ or dependent behavior in early childhood (like Kenneth Bianchi).This is later replaced by attention seeking traits like indiscriminate friendliness. Finally the individual will display a lack of guilt and an inability to follow rules.

These symptoms tend to manifest themselves during school going age. Typically, most of them have school problems in their backgrounds. Their school records may have incidences of truancy, fighting, suspensions or expulsions (Magid & McKelvey, 1987). Walter Sickert was a serial killer who had problems despite being exceptionally intelligent. Like the serial killers looked at earlier, Walter Sickert also had a troubled childhood and was bounced from school to school. “He was later expelled from University College School in his early teens” (Grande, 2011, 44). Teachers had difficulties coping with his mood swings. He was characterized as being arrogant, manipulative and having no fear of consequences; these traits are common in a fully-fledged psychopath.

Brain Disorders

Many serial killers report hearing voices which urge them to kill. Psychologist Joel Norris attributes their insanity to damaged brains. “They often confuse the victim with someone from their past; to silence the voice, they kill the victim” (Norris, 1988, p. 212). Their brain damage has been attributed to physical trauma or chemical imbalances brought about by chronic malnutrition, and substance abuse. The brain is remarkable organ and when damage occurs it tries to compensate itself. “Paradoxically, it is the brain’s gyroscopic capacity to right itself and compensate for damage and error that constructs the matrix out of which serial killers are produced” (Norris, 1988, p. 219). When a normal person is pushed to the edge and they fight back, their violent outbursts will always be accompanied by queries like “don’t you know what you are doing?”Such queries exemplify the defense mechanisms which exist in all brains. The most basic of all defense mechanisms in humans is the desire to survive. Reproduction is also a manifestation of a need to survive. Sexual arousal which accompanies manifestation of reproduction is a primal chemical reaction which is as innate as the desire to survive. Self defense is also manifestation of the desire to survive. “Therefore, fear, rage, violence, flight, terror, and panic are all chemically induced reactions that exist in almost all living creatures in one form or another” (Norris, 1988, p. 220).

The behaviors exhibited by serial killers are simply the behaviors of their brains which are compensating for physiological and emotional damage they have incurred. Vital components of their brain are either missing or weren’t fully developed because of neglect. The way their brain compensates against primal emotions like survival and reproduction is largely influenced by the nature of childhood. If the childhood environment was nurturing, then the child learns to control his primal urges. However if the child suffers from neglect and is unattached to the parent, he has an abstract view of life. He only sees himself and nothing else; he recognizes no physical limitations to himself. He has no remorse for his actions or fear of consequences. The violent outbursts which are exhibited by serial killers are actually a form of defense mechanism. Their defense mechanism is unfortunately labeled as criminal behavior by society. They choose to become violent inorder to survive. Referring to Charles Manson, he stated that he had to embrace the creature he had become inorder to survive (Norris, 1988).

Serial killers tend to have a troubled childhood which is characterized by neglect. Research studies have also shown that serial killers have Antisocial Personality Disorder which enables them to kill without remorse. This affectionless personality which causes them to act without having consequences can actually be linked to brain damage. The damage suffered to their brains affects the way they process and act on primal emotions like survival and reproduction. Serial killers like Ted Bundy and Charles Manson were simply responding to their defense mechanisms and they killed their victims because they believed they were under threat.

Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2011). Serial Murder: Multidisciplinary perspectives for investigators. Retrieved from: http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/serial-murder Grande L. (February/March 2011). Walter Sickert: Capturing the darker side of life. History Magazine, 44-45. Magid K. & McKelvey A. (1987). High Risk. New York: Dell Publishing Group Norris J. (1988). Serial killers. New York: Dell Publishing Group


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Published on August 7, 2022 by Courtney Gahan . Revised on August 15, 2023.

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  • Decide on the subject of the paper
  • Write down all the ideas you want to include or discuss
  • Organize related ideas into sub-groups
  • Arrange your ideas into a hierarchy: What should the reader learn first? What is most important? Which idea will help end your paper most effectively?
  • Create headings and subheadings that are effective
  • Format the outline in either alphanumeric, full-sentence or decimal format

There are three different kinds of research paper outline: alphanumeric, full-sentence and decimal outlines. The differences relate to formatting and style of writing.

  • Alphanumeric
  • Full-sentence

An alphanumeric outline is most commonly used. It uses Roman numerals, capitalized letters, arabic numerals, lowercase letters to organize the flow of information. Text is written with short notes rather than full sentences.

  • Sub-point of sub-point 1

Essentially the same as the alphanumeric outline, but with the text written in full sentences rather than short points.

  • Additional sub-point to conclude discussion of point of evidence introduced in point A

A decimal outline is similar in format to the alphanumeric outline, but with a different numbering system: 1, 1.1, 1.2, etc. Text is written as short notes rather than full sentences.

  • 1.1.1 Sub-point of first point
  • 1.1.2 Sub-point of first point
  • 1.2 Second point

To write an effective research paper outline, it is important to pay attention to language. This is especially important if it is one you will show to your teacher or be assessed on.

There are four main considerations: parallelism, coordination, subordination and division.

Parallelism: Be consistent with grammatical form

Parallel structure or parallelism is the repetition of a particular grammatical form within a sentence, or in this case, between points and sub-points. This simply means that if the first point is a verb , the sub-point should also be a verb.

Example of parallelism:

  • Include different regions, focusing on the different arguments from those against immunization

Coordination: Be aware of each point’s weight

Your chosen subheadings should hold the same significance as each other, as should all first sub-points, secondary sub-points, and so on.

Example of coordination:

  • Include immunization figures in affected regions
  • Illnesses that can result from the measles virus

Subordination: Work from general to specific

Subordination refers to the separation of general points from specific. Your main headings should be quite general, and each level of sub-point should become more specific.

Example of subordination:

Division: break information into sub-points.

Your headings should be divided into two or more subsections. There is no limit to how many subsections you can include under each heading, but keep in mind that the information will be structured into a paragraph during the writing stage, so you should not go overboard with the number of sub-points.

Ready to start writing or looking for guidance on a different step in the process? Read our step-by-step guide on how to write a research paper .

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Gahan, C. (2023, August 15). How to Create a Structured Research Paper Outline | Example. Scribbr. Retrieved November 24, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-paper/outline/

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  • Serial Killer

Essays on Serial Killer

The Story of America's Brutal Serial Killers The story of America's brutal serial killers during the past few decades is told in the movie Men Who Like to Kill the Zodiac, The Son of Sam, Charles Manson, and Ted Bundy.Charles Manson: A Disturbed Childhood The focus of the film is on the...

Words: 1055

Capote Manipulates Details to Expose the Killers Capote manipulated Hickock and Smith by exposing everything, even small details, in this crime novel. For example, at the start of the book, he identifies one of the serial killers as Dick. He also states that Dick had just completed his parole but intended...

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Serial Killers: A fascination in popular culture Serial murderers have been popular names in the mainstream and on the national level since the 1970s. The overwhelming prevalence of serial killers in popular culture reveals that not only am I intrigued by serial killers, but so are many others. Typically, a serial...

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From the outside, The Misfit in Flannery O'Connor's tale "A Decent Man Is Hard to Find" appears to be blameless, honorable, pale, and innocent. He has good manners, which he seems to have learned from his parents. Despite his nonviolent appearance, he proceeded to murder his grandmother in cold blood....

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107 Serial Killer Essay Topics & Examples

🔝 top-10 serial killer research paper topics, 🏆 best serial killer topics & essay examples, 🎓 good serial killer research topics, ⭐ argumentative essay topics about serial killers, ❓ research questions about serial killers, 💯 free serial killer ideas generator.

  • What is the nature of serial killers?
  • Criminal profiling of John Wayne Gacy.
  • Popular culture: true crime documentaries.
  • The mind of H.H. Holmes.
  • Psychological research of serial killers.
  • Nature vs. nurture: are serial killers born or made?
  • Cold cases: The Zodiac Killer.
  • The story of Ted Bundy.
  • Serial killers and forensic science.
  • Psychology and sociology of Jeffrey Dahmer.
  • Serial Killer “Theodore Robert “Ted” Bundy” As much as the psychiatrists related his problems to mental disturbances, this was not a major issue that determined the outcome of the cases.
  • Albert Fish – the Serial Killer Fish’s mother, forced to look for another source of livelihood due to her inability to take care of her son following the death of his father, took him to Saint John’s orphanage in Washington.
  • Serial Killers: Women and Men Comparison Most of the time, crimes of men serial killers are heard regularly as they are more horrible than that of women serial killers. The physical counting of the men serial killers victims is very high […]
  • The Psychology of Serial Killers These are just a fraction of questions that require answers in order to have a complete understanding of the psychology of serial killers.
  • Frankston Serial Killer: Background, Crimes, and Motives At the time, the police noted that Denyer was with his girlfriend. The letter claimed that Denyer knows his whereabouts, and that he was planning to break out of prison to kill him.
  • Jeffrey Dahmer: Serial Killer At the center of the legal debate was the interpretation of insanity, and how it could be utilized to absolve a criminal. George Palermo, a psychiatrist, made the conclusion that Dahmer was not insane.Dr.
  • Serial Killer Psychology: Eileen Wuornos Eileen was a woman without remorse as she was not bothered by the death of her victims. It is said that her intention was to capture the attention of the man she was dating.
  • Richard Angelo: A Serial Killer and His Ethical Dilemma The convicted claimed he made the injections to cause crises to be able to revive patients and become a hero in front of his colleagues.
  • A Study on Serial Killers: “Encounter and death: The Spatial Behavior of U.S. Serial Killers” From an analysis, of the article, it is evident that the research focuses on the geographical locations that surround the killings; the location of the first meeting between the serial killers and their victims, the […]
  • J. Dahmer as a Sexually-Motivated Serial Killer The paper at hand is devoted to the investigation of the life, personality, and criminal behavior of one of the most notorious American serial killers of 1980s-1990s, Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer.
  • Serial Killers: Tommy Lynn Sells It is believed that in October of the same year he killed a 13-year-old girl in Missouri and moved to Texas.
  • Arthur Shawcross and His Serial Killer’s Behavior Although most of his victims were killed in the late 1980s, his case still evokes a lot of debate since he is considered to be one of the most demonstrative examples of prisoners who were […]
  • Charles Manson: Serial Killer Profile One of the first crimes that he committed was connected to a stolen car that Manson took to have some fun and visit his relatives.
  • Serial Killers and Their Social Construction Social construction of serial killers has become the subject of various studies, and it is recognized today that the social position, social interactions, and perceived social image may play a significant role in the process […]
  • Serial Killers, Their Crimes, and Stereotypes The other serial killers presented in the killers list also conform to the stereotypes presented in Fox’s and Levin’s article. Most of the killers also rape, mutilate, and degrade their victims in order to feel […]
  • Ted Bundy, a Serial Killer and Psychopath The same was said about Ted Bundy, one of the most notorious serial killers in the criminal history of the United States.
  • Aileen Wuornos: Anatomy of a Female Serial Killer Moreover, feminist scholarship has recently begun to examine serial murder as “sexual terrorism” or as a perpetuation of gynocide, the systematic crippling, raping and/or killing of women by men.
  • Criminal Profiling of Serial Killers Ted Bundy was one of the most famous serial killers of the 20th century. These are the types of serial killers that will target gays, minorities, and prostitutes.
  • Serial Killer Imagery: “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates The present paper argues that whereas Arnold Friend is portrayed by Oates as a “superhuman” copy of Carl Schmid, the murderer, and the situation with Connie is partially sketched from the case of Alleen Rowe, […]
  • Principles of Justice: Serial Killers and Rapers On the same note, Ernest van de Haag mentions the use of principals relating to the utilitarian perspective where the law would be lenient and work for the greater good of people as a whole […]
  • Edmund Kemper: The Serial Killer Kemper committed most of the murders in one year and confessed to his crimes only after he killed his mother. However, in a short time, Kemper decides to stop and report on his crimes to […]
  • Serial Killers: Law Enforcement Response to Serial Killing The law enforcement agencies such as the FBI maintain that there are several serial killers in the United States and they are expected to increase and hit an epidemic proportion with many people losing their […]
  • Serial Killers in Modern American Society Based on the above-stated arguments, this paper forms research for evidence from some of the serial killers in modern American society and various tactics utilized by the investigative departments to determine and differentiate between serial […]
  • American Serial Killer Joseph Paul Franklin’s Crimes The reason for changing his name as because he wanted to join the Rhodesian Army and due to his criminal background, he was forced to change the name. The couple were killed and Franklin confessed […]
  • Ted Bundy, an American Serial Killer He was part of the team that worked in the campaign of the Republican governor of Washington, who later rewarded him with a recommendation letter.
  • Aileen Wuornos: The Serial Killer After four years since the birth of Aileen, her mother abandoned the family, leaving the girl and her brother with their maternal grandparents, whom the girl considered her birth parents.
  • Serial Killer Profiling Dimensions In order to better understand their practices and attempt to put a stop to their actions prematurely, there was a need for proper classification and consequent analysis.
  • A Serial Killer: Typology and Abnormal Psychological Gratification
  • Luis Garavito: The World’s Worst Serial Killer
  • Existentialism: Serial Killer and Right Things
  • Charles Cullen: Healthcare Serial Killer
  • Israel Keyes: The Reluctant Serial Killer
  • Countess Elizabeth Bathory: Serial Killer
  • Arousal Theory and the Serial Killer Jeffery Dahmer
  • The Dangerous Mind of a Serial Killer
  • Clifford Olson: Canadian Serial Killer
  • The Development of Serial Killers: A Grounded
  • Exploring the Life and Possible Motives of Serial Killer
  • How Edward Theodore Gain Became a Serial Killer
  • Blood Loss, the Decline of the Serial Killer
  • Sociological Theories: Rationalization and Motivation of the Serial Killer
  • Serial Killer Era: So Many Murders in 1970 – 2000
  • Famous Serial Killer: Jack the Ripper
  • Defining the Factors That Contribute to Serial Killer’s Identity
  • Deadly Motives: The Hedonistic Drive of Serial Murder
  • Details of a Typical Female Serial Killer
  • Profiling Art and Australian Serial Killer Ivan Milat
  • Brilliant Serial Killer Jack the Ripper
  • America’s First Serial Killer
  • Serial Killer and Racism: African-Americans and Serial Killing in the Media
  • Life and Death of a Serial Killer: Are Serial Killer Born or Created?
  • Serial Killer: Erikson’s Theory-Based Analysis of the Behavior of Robert William Pickton
  • Differential Association Theory and Serial Killer
  • Aileen Wuornos America’s First Female Serial Killer
  • Mary Bell Was Britain’s Youngest Serial Killer
  • Criminal Shadows: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer
  • America’s Sweetest Serial Killer – Sugar
  • Unique Characteristics of a Serial Killer
  • American Serial Killer: Albert Fish
  • Serial Killer: The Mechanism From Imagination to the Murder
  • Critical Theories: Crime Ted Bundy Serial Killer
  • The Uncatchable Serial Killer: No Motive, No Victim Profile
  • Serial Killers: Death and Life in America’s Wound Culture
  • The Life of a Serial Killer: Edmund Emil Kemper Lii
  • Criminal Justice: The Criminology Behind Serial Killers
  • Canadian Serial Killer: Robert Pickton
  • What Are Serial Killers?
  • Are Serial Killers Born Psychopaths or Pushed to That Limit?
  • What Causes Serial Killers to Kill?
  • How Do Serial Killers Get Attention?
  • What Makes Serial Killers Kill?
  • Why Are the People Interested in Serial Killers?
  • What Is the Nature of Serial Killers?
  • How Do Juveniles Become Serial Killers?
  • What Is in the Mind of Serial Killer?
  • How to Cure a Serial Killer?
  • What Steps Are Taken by the Country to Control Serial Killers?
  • Where Did the Term “Serial Killer” Come From?
  • What Are the Main Objectives of a Serial Killer?
  • Is It Possible to Diagnose a Would-Be Serial Killer?
  • What Are the Common Types of Serial Killers?
  • How Does a Serial Killer Differ From a Maniac?
  • What Lies Behind a Serial Killer’s Signature?
  • Are There Naturally Born Serial Killers?
  • What Makes a Serial Killer Tick?
  • Are There Death Penalty Alternatives for Serial Killers?
  • What Makes a Serial Killer Do What They Do?
  • Are Humans Naturally Good or Evil?
  • What Is the Difference Between a Mass Murderer and a Serial Killer in Modern Culture?
  • Is There a Tendency to Increase or Decrease in Serial Killings in the Us in the XXI Century?
  • Can Modern Therapies Available for Sociopathic and Psychopathic Disorder Set Serial Killers to Rights?
  • What Are the Effects of Childhood Abuse on Serial Killing Behavior?
  • How Are the Serial Killers Portrayed in Hollywood Compare to Real-Life Serial Killers?
  • What Are Some of the Trademarks of Female Serial Killers?
  • Do Serial Killer Partners Always Have a Dominant Personality and a Submissive Personality?
  • How Has Modern Technology and Criminology Made It More Difficult for Serial Killers to Remain at Large?
  • Chicago (A-D)
  • Chicago (N-B)

IvyPanda. (2023, October 26). 107 Serial Killer Essay Topics & Examples. https://ivypanda.com/essays/topic/serial-killer-essay-topics/

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Home — Essay Samples — Law, Crime & Punishment — Serial Killer — Research Paper on What Makes a Serial Killer


Research Paper on What Makes a Serial Killer

  • Categories: Criminal Psychology Nature Versus Nurture Serial Killer

About this sample


Words: 1568 |

Published: Dec 3, 2020

Words: 1568 | Pages: 3 | 8 min read

Works Cited

  • Holmes, R. M., & Holmes, S. T. (2002). Serial Murder. SAGE Publications.
  • Hickey, E. W. (2013). Serial murderers and their victims (7th ed.). Cengage Learning.
  • Schlesinger, L. B., & Revitch, E. (2017). Serial Killers: A Cross-Cultural Study Between Germany and America. The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 28(1), 126-141.
  • Bartol, C. R., & Bartol, A. M. (2018). Criminal behavior: A psychological approach (11th ed.). Pearson.
  • Ressler, R. K., Burgess, A. W., & Douglas, J. E. (1988). Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives. Lexington Books.
  • Fox, J. A., & Levin, J. (2012). Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder. SAGE Publications.
  • Keppel, R. D., & Birnes, W. J. (2003). The Psychology of Serial Killer Investigations: The Grisly Business Unit. Academic Press.
  • Vronsky, P. (2004). Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters. Berkley Books.
  • Holmes, R. M., Holmes, S. T., & Holmes, R. M. (2009). Profiling violent crimes: An investigative tool (4th ed.). SAGE Publications.
  • Canter, D. (2004). Criminal Shadows: Inside the Mind of the Serial Killer. HarperCollins.

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