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10. H.H. Holmes

Any one of these seemingly harmless people may in reality be a stone-cold killer that preys on others. Psychopaths are social chameleons that rarely stand out in a crowd. This characteristic makes them unobtrusive and, therefore, very difficult to apprehend 1. Many of the most infamous and prolific serial killers in U. A cool and unemotional demeanor combined with keen intellect and charming personality makes the psychopath a very effective predator. A lack of interpersonal empathy and an inability to feel pity or remorse characterize psychopathic serial killers.

They do not value human life and they do not care about the consequences of their crimes. They are callous, indifferent, and extremely brutal in their interactions with their victims. Increased attention has been given to the connection between psychopathy and serial murder in recent years by both scientists and criminal justice practitioners. The attendees of a symposium on serial murder conducted by the FBI concluded that psychopathy is manifested in a specific cluster of interpersonal, affective, lifestyle and antisocial traits and behaviors that are frequently found among serial killers 2.

As reported by the FBI, these traits and behaviors involve deception , manipulation, irresponsibility, impulsivity, stimulation seeking, poor behavioral controls, shallow affect, lack of empathy, guilt, or remorse, callous disregard for the rights of others, and unethical and antisocial behaviors. It is these traits that define adult psychopathy and they begin to manifest themselves in early childhood.

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It is important to recognize that psychopathic serial killers know right from wrong and they are able to comprehend the criminal law. In particular, they know that murder violates the laws and mores of society. Psychopathic serial killers rarely are found not guilty by reason of insanity in court simply because psychopathy does not qualify as insanity in the criminal justice system. Contrary to popular mythology, psychopathic serial killers are not out of touch with reality and, as such, are not mentally ill in either a clinical or a legal sense 4.

They rarely suffer from delusions unless they also have a separate mental illness such as psychosis or use powerful drugs such as amphetamines or cocaine. In the criminal courts, psychotic delusions are occasionally presented as a defense by the attorney of a psychopathic serial killer.

Normally, such defense claims are easily challenged by prosecutors because psychotic delusions are not a characteristic of psychopathy. A lack of interpersonal empathy and disregard for the suffering of their victims are key characteristics of psychopathic serial killers 5.


They generally do not feel anger toward their victims. Instead, they are more likely to feel cool indifference toward them. Many serial killers seem to go into a trance when they are stalking and killing their victims. The violence they commit often has a dissociative effect on them emotionally. As explained Dr. Their ability to dissociate themselves emotionally from their actions and their denial of responsibility effectively neutralizes any guilt or remorse that a normal person would feel in similar circumstances 6.

Washington, D. Department of Justice. He is available for consultation and media commentary. I find it rather interesting that the media manages to mix-up sociopaths with psychopaths, seeing as they are exact opposites.

Seeing as how they feel moderately indifferent to other people's feelings no remorse, anger, sadness , I would think it would be rather easy to catch on after a while that something is wrong with the person, seeing as they don't react the same as other people would in a normal situation. Unless psychopaths are good at pretending to have feelings and try to act 'normal'? No, they are not complete opposites.

In contrast, they share many of the same characteristics.

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It might be more useful to understand psychopathy and sociopathy as two sides of the same coin. Most psychopaths are great at pretending to have feelings and acting normal.

It is something they learn from the time they are small children all the way through adulthood. That is why they are hard to spot. I found this article interesting in the fact that you never know who is capable of such terrible acts.

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It could be your best friend, a teacher, a police officer, your mother or father. It can be anyone and this is very scary to think about. A recent documentary I watched on Richard Kuklinski, "The Iceman" was very eye-opening because not even his wife or children suspected that Kuklinski had killed so many people. It just goes to show that you may think you know someone, but the next day this could all change.

In the case with Kuklinski, he was abused as a child and I am curious if all psychopaths act out in such horrible ways, due to their encounters as young children. All I know is that it is sick to think that these psychopathic killers actually understand that what they are doing is wrong, but still continue to carry out these crimes.

Gary Ridgway: The Gruesome Story Of The Green River Killer | Thought Catalog

I am curious if all psychopaths act out in such horrible ways, due to their encounters as young children. In the mental health field there is some consensus that psychopathy is more of an innate phenomenon whereas sociopathy, which has a similar clinical presentation to psychopathy, is more the result of environmental factors poverty, exposure to violence, permissive or neglectful parenting, etc.

This is of course difficult to prove, as the nature versus nurture debate never seems to have a winner, and for good reason—it is very likely that both our biological components and environmental exposures influence and shape us. Most psychopaths do not act out in such horrible ways as murder, as most of them do not desire to. However, most of them do engage in some criminal or otherwise frowned upon activity, such as petty theft, embezzling, filandering, lying under oath, etc.

I found this article very informative and interested. I liked how it went more in detail about how we perceive serial killers, especially through the media. We hear about serial killers being scary and threatening when in reality they could be even an acquaintance or someone you are in contact with on a daily basis.

I find the mind set of serial killers very interesting because it is really only a certain type of person that is driven to be a serial killer, and there is a difference between a serial killer and a one time killer out of rage or passion. A serial killer is wired differently than the average human and really has no disregard for human life or feelings.

The sociopath will lie, manipulate and hurt others, just as the psychopath would, but will often avoid doing so to the select few people they care about, and will likely feel guilty should they end up hurting someone they care about. The article is very insightful and brings to light one of the most long existing question of nature vs. The author appears to take the side that both play a role in the development of a psychopath. First, the argument is made that the killers our "wired" to kill suggesting a genetic derivation.

Further supported by the published findings that the many homicidal individuals appear to have repressed traits concerning empathy or remorse towards their victims as well as, poor impulse control all despite being aware of societies accepted norms surrounding them. In addition, I find it interesting that the killers are reported to become machine like in there actions further supporting the notion of how far removed they can become from normal socialization values.

Last, a nurturing position is introduced suggesting the majority of mass killers deviant personalities begin to surface during early childhood. Though not mentioned, one it left wondering whether the circumstance and household environment these individuals were raised in. Furthermore, one is left to ponder whether individuals can be screened for psychopathic tendencies in early childhood and if so - can early interventions prove useful in thwarting future morbidity and mortality.

Gary Ridgway: The Gruesome Story Of The Green River Killer

In other words, can we over-power clear natural tendencies. I found this article extremely interesting, and a little bit frightening. It is scary to think how easily these killers blend in with society. Also i find it extremely odd how these men just feel nothing. No remorse, guilt or anything. I wonder if the only real feeling they perceive is the rush of actually murdering there victims.

follow url Very interesting. This article is informative as it clarified many misconceptions that I had of serial killers prior to reading the article. This article clarified the fact that serial killers are well aware of the law and their actions ultimately ruling out the possibility of using the insanity defense.