Not a 'Beautiful mind': Decoding the psyche of a serial killer!

Ritu Singh

Do you know the most complex object in the entire cosmos? Neuroscientist David Eagleman has the perfect answer to it- ''Of all the objects in the universe, the human brain is the most complex.”Yes, the human brain is unbounded and free and can delve into undetectable territories which you can't even think of! Speaking of such territories which can border on being absolutely weird and bizarre, the case of serial-killers particularly is gripping.

Recently, we heard about the case of the 24-year-old man, Ravinder Kumar who has been accused of being a rapist and serial killer and has confessed to killing around 15 children. The man while confessing, mind you, showed so signs of remorse and said had he not been caught, he would have continued targeting children. So what is it that motivates such people to continue doing such heinous deeds? Are they mentally unstable? No is the answer as most mass murderers are known to have very high IQs and their acts are neither random nor unplanned. Most of the acts committed are not impulsively driven but are carefully concocted.

Dr. Helen Morrison who has been studying serial killers for years has interviewed 135 such people in total and offers some profound insight into this matter.

"No matter what country, ethnicity, race, socio-economic background, education, familial background, they are all exactly the same," she says. All the serial-killers have shocking similarities regardless of how different their lives may be.

It's some sort of some sort of intrinsic thrill that they derive through killing people. They are not mad but have a fractured psyche which is incapable of connecting their crimes with the consequences, and often proclaim no memory of the murders. These people harbour shifting personalities and are missing large parts of their humanity. No one kills someone without any agenda, but serial-killers tend to go on a killing spree just for excitement. While these people are intelligent enough to pretend to live a normal life, they completely lack empathy.

Besides that, most serial killers are fluent liars, often protest against the injustice of their incarceration and are unable to understand that they did anything wrong.

According to Morrison, the typical serial killer traits include:

  • No understandable motive for killing
  • No personality structure, no personality development over time
  • They are not psychopaths; in some ways they lack self-control, and the ability to think and feel
  • Most are above average intelligence
  • They are psychologically incomplete human beings, but learn to act as though they are
  • Not all have been sexually or physically abused
  • They are uncontrollably addicted to killing
  • They occur in all societies
  • Serial killing has occurred throughout history

Another psychologist has something else to offer. He said it's, "almost like a god complex that they have the ability to kill somebody and watch them die. There's some type of thrill in doing that."

Another common indicator of possible serial killing behavior is killing animals. They may provoke, torture, or even kill cats, dogs, and other animals. Even after seeing the results of their actions, the person will show no form of regret or remorse. Young people who develop a serious tendency towards voyeurism may be displaying an early indication of psychopathic tendencies.

As said above, such people carefully and methodically plan their first crime and the satisfaction that they get from killing as well the fact that they go scott-free motivates them to go on a killing rampage. They seem to enjoy the attention and notoriety that comes along with it. Often when they hear news reports about themselves or watch themselves being talked about on TV, they derive some sense of self-worth.

The insatiable lust for power and attention is what dominates the mind of such a person. A person who is of a high intellect but feels alienated and isolated from others and fails to receive normal gratification either from their work or family tends to seek fame and power through killing. Killing is a way to get a feeling of control and recognition that he/she could not get otherwise.

Surely this abnormal psychological gratification is hard to decipher and has been one of the most bewildering conundrums that the world is grappling with!  

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