Top 10 Serial Killer Characteristics

Not much is generally known about serial killers aside from their crimes. It is widely believed, at least amongst experts, that those who commit multiple homicides are a different breed altogether, at least in terms of criminology, from those who commit murder on one single occasion. Given the regularity of murder cases in most, if not all societies worldwide, the scope with which said experts have to work with when determining the likes of motive is now larger than ever. Despite this, pinpointing the relevant characteristics of a serial killer with any form of certainty, remains a task most challenging. Whilst each killer is presumably different from the next in terms of mental constitution, background, origin and ultimate motive, we must also consider the conflicting opinions which are likely to arise amongst the professionals tasked with deriving the necessary answers. Whilst this field of study continues strongly, evolving with the times, and will undoubtedly continue to do so for years to come- there are in fact those points upon which most agree. The following list outlines ten prevalent characteristics said to reside within a majority of serial killers.


10. Substance Abuse

Referring to an exposure to elicit substances whilst in their mother’s womb as well as later in life, it is widely believed that children who grow up in an environment which advocates such abuse are not only more likely to suffer from the onset of particular mental conditions, but from substance dependence themselves later in life. Whether sustained alcohol intake acts to affect the growth and natural development of an unborn child, or the heroin addiction of an infant’s parents ensures that they are emotionally destabilised for good, FBI statistics suggest that around 70% of serial killers experience problems linked with substance abuse early on in life.


9. Sexual Abuse

Not many people would argue with the perspective that the people we become in adulthood largely, though perhaps not wholly, depends on the nature of our upbringing. Whilst substance abuse can act to hinder the psyche of a child through isolation, negligence and physical abuse, the matter of sexual abuse is very different. Whilst the term may suggest it, sexual abuse in this setting does not solely refer to direct physical abuse. Though such abuse is unfortunately common, it is not the only sexually themed form of childhood torment likely to influence a future killer. Acts of humiliation in relation to the likes of masturbation, the witnessing of the abuse of parents or close relatives, or just about anything else that prohibits healthy growth in relation to this most sensitive and natural of human functions can all have adverse effects.


8. Loneliness

Whilst loneliness and isolation may be considered natural amongst grown-ups, they are states which can be extremely detrimental to the rounded development of a child. The ability, or lack thereof, to forge meaningful relationships with other people is often what sets serial killers apart from their societal neighbours. It is widely believed that most serial killers grow up in environments that are unstable as a result of warring family members. This home life then transfers to other areas of their life, such as school, and soon they find themselves friendless and at the mercy of playground bully’s. Resentment and disregard for others and their feelings comes next, followed by the fulfilment of hateful urge and fantasy.


7. Animal Abuse

It is believed that a great deal of serial killers, in fact 99% of them, complete childhood apprenticeships in their trade upon animals. As violent fantasies and tendencies develop within the increasingly warped mind of a troubled child, they are likely to seek appropriate animals as necessary targets upon which to vent their torturous desires. What’s more, due to the typically dysfunctional settings in which children performing such acts grow up in, their behaviour is likely to go largely un-noticed.


6. Trouble With Employment

Opinions tend to vary more-so with regards to this characteristic than with any others on the list. Whilst FBI research maintains that serial killers need not be considered to have any specific troubles when it comes to the world of work and holding down a job, there is countless research which suggests they do. Presumably, this characteristic stems from the fact that social and academic exclusion during education leads to a disregard for the institutions importance rather early on in life. Under qualified for more professionally orientated roles, serial killers are then left with more menial unskilled societal roles.

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