1. Visionary Killer: This killer feels compelled to kill because of ‘voices’ in their heads or visions that tell them to do so. For example, Herbert Williams Mullin claimed to hear voices that told him a disastrous earthquake was imminent, but he could save California through murder. Mullin killed thirteen people in an effort to ‘save California’. It was later determined that Mullin suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
2. Mission Oriented Killer: These individuals feel that it is their duty or mission to kill certain kinds of people. For example, Ted Kaczynski, commonly refered to as the Unabomber, started a bombing campaign in an effort to save the environment, which he felt was being destroyed around him. He targeted places that were creating ‘high technology’ such as universities and airlines. Kaczynski’s bombs killed three people and injured twenty-three.
3. Power-Control Killers: These killers seek complete control over their victims. Seuxal activity is almost always involved in these cases. John Wayne Gacy,“The Clown Killer”, would fall into this category. Gacy murdered and raped 33 teenage boys, burying 26 of them in the crawl space of his home.
4. Hedonistic Serial Killers: This is the most common type of serial killer. These individuals kill for the thrill and enjoyment they get from the act of killing. There are three subtypes of hedonistic killers:
- Hedonistic comfort killers: Killing victims provides the killer with some sort of comfort; usually money. Dorthea Puente ran a boarding house in California where she killed her elderly tenants and buried them in the backyard so she could claim their social insurance checks.
- Hedonistic lust killers: The serial sexual predator; fantasy plays a large role and their satisfaction depends on the amount of torture and mutilation they inflict on their victims. Jeffrey Dahmer is one of the best-known hedonistic lust killers. He searched for a beautiful, submissive, and eternal lover. Dahmer killed 17 men and boys in this search for his perfect lover; his murders involved rape, torture, dismemberment, necrophilia, and cannibalism (so that a part of his victims would stay with him forever).
- Hedonistic thrill killers: Their primary thrill is to create fear and death. The act is usually not sexual and is not drawn out over period of time, they are solely interested in the kill. Hedonistic thrill killers often work in teams. The notorious “Zodiac Killer” claimed to be responsible for 37 murders but investigators have only been able to pinpoint 7 victims, two of which survived. The Zodiac killer sent taunting letters to the police, and was never caught or identified.
Building a psychological profile:
Necessary items for a psychological profile include:
1) Complete photographs of the crime scene, including photographs of the victim if it is a homicide. Also helpful is some means of determining the angle from which the photographs were taken and a general description of the immediate area. One enterprising police officer developed the excellent technique of photocopying his crime scene sketch, attaching one copy to each photo, and then outlining in red the area which was included in the photograph.
2) The completed autopsy protocol including, if possible, any results of lab tests which were done on the victim.
3) A complete report of the incident to include such standard details as date and time of offense, location (by town as well as by actual site of incident), weapon used (if known), investigative officers’ reconstruction of the sequence of events (if any), and a detailed interview of any surviving victims or witnesses. These items are usually a part of all investigations and do not generally require extra report writing or extra written material. Also included in most investigative reports is background information on the victim(s). Yet, this seems to be the area where the least amount of information is available to the profiler. Usually, this is because the investigative officer cannot possibly write down all of the many details concerning the victim which he collects while investigating the crime.
When the investigator provides information concerning a victim to a profiler, some items which the officer should include are:
1) Occupation (former and present).
2) Residence (former and present).
3) Reputation, at work and in his neighborhood.
4) Physical description, including dress at the time of the incident.
5) Marital status, including children and close family members.
6) Educational level.
7) Financial status, past and present.
8) Information and background of victim’s family and parents, including victim’s relationship with parent.
9) Medical history, both physical and mental.
12) Social habits.
13) Use of alcohol and drugs.
15) Friends and enemies.
16) Recent changes in lifestyle.
17) Recent court action.
The primary psychological evidence which the profiler is looking for is motive.
(From: A Psychological Assessment of Criminal Profiling; Ault&Reese)
An important aspect of investigating a violent crime is an understanding of the victim and the relation that their lifestyle or personality characteristics may have contributed to the offender choosing them as a victim. Please do not misunderstand the previous statement. In no way are victims being blamed for becoming a victim of a violent crime. Even high risk victims (to be described shortly) have the right to live how they wish without becoming a victim of the type of offenses described on this site. Yet the fact remains, that to understand the offender, one must first understand the victim.
Victims are classified during an investigation in three general categories that describe the level of risk their lifestyle represents in relation to the violent crime that has been committed. The importance of understanding this in an investigation is directly related back to the level of risk to the offender during the commission of the crime. This information is important to the investigation to better understand the sophistication or possible pathology of the offender.
High Risk Victims - Victims in this group have a lifestyle that makes them a higher risk for being a victim of a violent crime. The most obvious high risk victim is the prostitute. Prostitutes place themselves at risk every single time they go to work. Prostitutes are high risk because they will get into a stranger’s car, go to secluded areas with strangers, and for the most part attempt to conceal their actions for legal reasons. Offenders often rely on all these factors and specifically target prostitutes because it lowers their chances of becoming a suspect in the crime. Therefore, in this example, the prostitute is a high risk victim creating a lower risk to the offender.
Moderate Risk Victims - Victims that fall into this category are lower risk victims, but for some reason were in a situation that placed them in a greater level of risk. A person that is stranded on a dark, secluded highway due to a flat tire, that accepts a ride from a stranger and is then victimized would be a good example of this type of victim level risk.
Low Risk Victims - The lifestyle of these individuals would normally not place them in any degree of risk for becoming a victim of a violent crime. These individuals stay out of trouble, do not have peers that are criminal, are aware of their surroundings and attempt to take precautions to not become a victim. They lock the doors, do not use drugs, and do not go into areas that are dark and secluded.
After all the information has been gathered, a timeline of events leading up to the crime should be created in order to better understand how this specific individual became a victim of a violent crime.
Reinforcement Vs. Punishment
BF Skinner, a famous behavioral psychologist of the 20th Century, founded his own form philosophy of the science known as “Radical Behaviorism,” along with beginning the ideas of a type of learning known as Operant Conditioning.
Many people have heard of positive and negative reinforcement, but often times do not know of positive and negative punishment. All four of these methods are parts of Operant Conditioning and are often used in the wrong context.
Positive reinforcement: the most common types of positive reinforcement we see are rewards and praise. For instance, when teaching a dog to do a trick when the action desired is achieved the dog is rewarded with a treat or toy and often praise.
Another way of thinking of positive reinforcement is thinking of it as ADDING something to the learning process to better results in increasing a certain behavior. For example: younger aged children may receive stickers or stamps on a poster or calendar to indicate their good behavior which reinforces the good behavior and motivates them to repeat the behavior.
Negative reinforcement: negative reinforcement in the learning process is the act of TAKING AWAY a negative stimulus to provide better results in increasing a certain behavior. For example: driving to work and getting stuck in traffic may ultimately cause tardiness and a bad mark upon your record which will teach you to leave earlier in preparation for traffic and removing the negative stimuli (which in this case can be the traffic and/or a bad mark on your attendance record).
Positive punishment: positive punishment has become a questionable method in teaching in recent years to do the pain that is generally inflicted during the learning process to decrease a certain behavior. Positive punishment, for example, would be spanking a child for inappropriate or rude behavior, or getting bitten by an animal for touching it in the wrong place. The pain induced during the learning process teaches the receiver to not repeat their actions. Positive punishment ADDS pain/duress to a situation.
Negative punishment: negative punishment is a much more docile way of punishment during the learning process to decrease a certain behavior. Negative punishment would be grounding a child for their rude or inappropriate behavior, or locking a dog up in its cage for misbehaving. Negative punishment TAKES AWAY something from the learner in order to teach them.
The image above from the wikipage for Operant Conditioing shows a breakdown of the different types of learning. The image also shows two more examples to negative reinforcement which are escape and avoidance.
When suffering from this disorder the person cannot form new memories, but can recall most memories from before the traumatic incident and are still able to speak at the level which they previously could prior to their accident.
Generally they remember almost all people whom they met before the incident, but when meeting someone new after the incident it’s like they are meeting a stranger for the first time each and every single time they see this person.
The span of one’s short term memory after the incident can be anywhere from a few minutes to even a span of multiple hours.
Although learning new things and different abilities may seem almost impossible there have been cases where the use of classical conditioning is effective due to the fact that a different part for the brain is trained to learn these new things, rather than being stored in the short term memory bank at first.
One of the most well known cases of anterograde amnesia is that of HM, a man who had had his hippocampus removed in an effort to ease his epileptic sufferings. A side affect of this psychosurgery was anterograde amnesia.
Pictured above is HM outside of his home in Connecticut during the 1970s
Disorganized crime scenes exhibit the following characteristics:
- contain lots of evidence
- exhibit a frenzied attack
- involve single or clustered scenes
- indicate the victim was not a stranger
- indicate spontaneous attack
- assault and disposal site of the body of the same
- contain weapon of opportunity
- postmortem sexual activity
- include symbolic positioning of the body
The disorganized crime scene corresponds to the disorganized offender:
- below average intelligence
- socially immature
- poor work history
- sexually incompetent
- anxious and confused
Ľubomír Harman (31 March 1962 – 30 August 2010) was a Slovak spree killer who on 30 August 2010 killed 7 gypsies, and wounded 17 more in a densely populated suburb of the Slovak capital Bratislava, before committing suicide after receiving what would have been a fatal wound from the police. After murdering a family of 5 inside a neighbour’s flat in a local apartment building, he killed another man from the same family outside the building, proceeding to shoot in a busy street and also targeting people standing on their balconies, killing another woman.
Disorders of thought possession
Disorders of thought posession in schizophrenia are sometimes called thought alienation. The patient has the experience that his thought are under the control of an outside agency or that others are participating in his thinking.
Thought insertion: The patient believes that thought that are not his own are being put into his mind by an external agency.
Thought withdrawal: The patient believes that thoughts are being removed from his mind by an external agency.
Thought broadcasting: The patient believes that his thought are being ‘read’ by others, as if they were being broadcast.
Thought blocking: Involves a sudden interruption of the train of though, before it is completed, leaving a ‘blank’. The patient suddenly stops talking and cannot recall what he has been saying or thinking.
It’s just so bizarre, in this world, if you have asthma—you take asthma medicine, or if you have diabetes—you take diabetes medicine, but as soon as you have to take medication for your mind, there’s such a stigma behind it.
A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”
Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”
It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses. As early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down. Don’t carry them through the evening and into the night. Remember to put the glass down!
I think this just changed my life.