Good Research Paper On Profile Of Jeffery Dahmer
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This research paper will endeavor to examine important points and will attempt to build a profile of Jeffery Dahmer. One can understand that Dahmer’s family background and his childhood experiences may have led him to become a serial killer. In this case, the crime scene reconstruction yielded firm evidence that the police were, in fact, dealing with a serial killer. The paper will also highlight the clear linkages between the autopsy findings and the profile that emerged from these analyses. Besides, the paper would also examine factors such as the geographical mobility, Victimology and particular M.O would also be examined and used in drawing the killer’s profile. In analyzing Dahmer’s profile, this paper will find that factors such as loneliness and psychological problems such as various antisocial personality disorders, sadism, obsessive fetishism led to the emergence of a serial killer with necrophilia and cannibalistic tendencies.
Jeffery Dahmer has been slotted as one of the most horrible and depraved killers of the last century. While there have been comparable killers, not many would fit the slot that Dahmer carved out for him in the annals of criminal history. While most experts have debated his motivation in perpetrating these crimes, all of them seem to agree that Dahmer could easily be classified as the worst of all the killers. This research paper would briefly explore the background and life story of Dahmer and would also attempt to examine his behavior. Further, the paper would also discuss the manner in which psychological theories might have contributed to Dahmer’s prosecution, especially since the defense had attempted to portray him as an insane person. Lastly, the paper would also take a look at the geographical mobility, Victimology and M.O as employed by Dahmer in perpetrating these acts.
Jeffery Dahmer was from a small Ohio town named Bath. His father was a chemical engineer with a doctorate in chemistry who was absorbed in his work for the most part. His mother, on the other hand, stayed at home due to her troubled health history that included various psychosomatic illnesses combined with hysteria and depression. (Martens, 2011, p. 497) Dahmer had a sense of loneliness right from when he was a child due to his troubled family background and his peers at school isolating him completely. In his adolescent years, people around him noticed his violent outbursts and other acts of rage. During these years, he used to wander around the neighborhood and other nearby areas collecting dead animal carcasses and dissecting them. After dissecting these animals, he would place their skulls on sticks around the neighborhood that bothered a lot of people in that area. His view of his own self only deteriorated as he entered teenage years and he frequently claimed that he could never become socially and physically attractive. (p. 499) At around this time, Dahmer also discovered that he was a homosexual who preferred men, although he could never develop an intimate and lasting relationship with anyone. At age 14, he began to consume alcohol on a regular basis, primarily to control his violent impulses and slowly began to give up contact with others in his community and school. His necrophilic tendencies began developing at the age of 15 when he stole a mannequin from a shop and by the age of 17, he was fantasizing about violent sexual fantasies involving necrophilia and other related fetishes. His social isolation and drinking problem increased with the divorce of his parents that occurred when he was 18. Before joining college, he committed his first murder. Although, he joined college in Florida, he dropped out after a semester and joined the Army at his father’s insistence. He subsequently received an honorable discharge from the Army and returned to Ohio, only to move in later with his grandmother in Milwaukee. At his grandmother’s house, Dahmer relapsed into a pattern of alcoholism and unrestrained sexual behavior. He would bring young boys to his grandmother’s house and they would not be seen thereafter. In addition, the old lady began to get foul smells emanating from the basement. His behavior combined with a need for privacy led Dahmer to move into the Oxford Apartments at 924 North 25th Street Apartment No 213. In this apartment, Dahmer killed most of his victims and engaged in acts of necrophilia with the dead bodies as also harvesting body parts for consumption or merely as a collectible. The total body count of this serial killer was about 16 known victims, most of them male homosexuals who accompanied Dahmer for money. His arrest was accidental, since a couple of officers came to his apartment for a routine search when they found his last ‘victim-to-be,’ a person named Tracy Edwards walking on the street in cuffs and in a shocked state. The search revealed the house of horrors that Dahmer had built in his apartment over the last several months. The police found everything ranging from painted skulls to male genitalia in that apartment as well as various body parts that had been harvested by Dahmer for possible consumption. (Jentzen, 1994, p. 289) This finding led to his subsequent arrest and incarceration commencing in a trial and a life sentence.
This paper now proceeds to examine the various psychological aspects related to Dahmer that led to his prosecution and gave an understanding to the state in the manner in which it should contest the claims put forth by him.
Psychological Theories played a very important role in prosecuting Dahmer, although his apprehension and arrest happened quite accidentally. The early signs of these were visible in Dahmer, but both the parents could clearly not understand these signals. Nathan Carlin (2011) mentions the fact that Dahmer’s father noticed his son’s fascination with dead animals and bones as well as other fantasies, often violent, but decided it had no connection with a sinister future for his son. (p. 382) If one were to decipher the personality of Dahmer further through psychological theories, in a sense, one would observe that Dahmer killed mainly to stave off his own death, killing others rather than himself. In theory, the Dahmer case is a typical instance of a serial killer who reacts outward, in that he performs homicide on his victims in a bid to prevent himself being killed (by committing suicide). (Gibson, 2013, p. 132)
At the preliminary hearing of the murder trial, Dahmer plead guilty but insane. (Jentzen, 1994, p. 293) Since he had already pleaded guilty, the main point that arose was the treatment that the law should accord to this particular case. The key question that, therefore, arose before both counsels were whether he should be tried based on if he suffered from either a mental or a personality disorder. During the trial that would determine his sanity seven psychiatrists and psychologists, testified for the defense, prosecution, and the court endeavored to answer these complicated questions. Psychiatrist Carl Wahlstrom was amongst this group and he interviewed the defendant at least four times and reached a conclusion that the defendant was, in fact, insane and suffered from a mental illness. (Dickinson, 1992) The coroner who performed the autopsies wrote in his findings that Dahmer’s acts indicated the sexual fetishes of a serial killer. (Jentzen, 1994, p. 290) The coroner’s reports further mentioned that Dahmer had a mixed personality disorder with sadistic, obsessive, fetishistic, anti-social and necrophilic features typical of a lust murderer. Most of the psychiatrists at the trial were of the opinion that the necrophilic and cannibalistic aspects that Dahmer exhibited were encouraged by psychodynamic factors. (Martens, 2011. P. 503-504)
While the court considered all these psychological and psycho-social factors in the trial to arrive at an understanding of the motive of the murders, the decision of the jury prevailed. Given the gravity of the crimes, the jury decided to go ahead with the prosecutor’s version and decided to disregard the psychological aspects of the crime. Dr. Carl Wahlstrom does feel that the jury might not have understood the psychiatric aspects of Dahmer’s personality, although most of the psychiatrists testified that the mental condition of Dahmer was far from normal, which led to a life conviction in jail, rather than in a mental institution. (Dickinson, 1992)
Situational Factors (M.O, Geography and Victimology)
As stated, Dahmer specifically picked up men who were willing to accompany him lured by either free alcohol, money or sex, or all of the above. Optionally, he would invite these men to view sexually explicit videos or pose for photographs. (Bardsley, 2001) He would gradually win their trust and bring them to his house. In the drinks, he served them, Dahmer would mix certain drugs that would render these potential victims unconscious. He would sometimes strangle them with a leather belt or a similar instrument or he would drill holes in their brain and inject muriatic acid in an attempt to liquefy the brain. (Bardsley 2001) After killing them, he would proceed to have sex with the corpse. Having satiated his sexual desire, he would then proceed to dissect the bodies, dispose of the parts that were of no use to him and harvest the organs which he later consumed. (Martens & Palermo, 2005, p. 301) Dahmer employed the same M.O in nearly all the murders that he committed. The enticement for the victims was always money or sex.
One can observe from the descriptions that Dahmer’s preferred to operate locally. When committing his first murder as well as when he was residing at this grandmother’s place, he frequently picked up men who were locally available and lured them to his house where he killed them. The only exception to this rule was the murder of Steven Tuomi who Dahmer murdered in a hotel. (Bardsley, 2001) Even when he made a move to his grandmother’s place, Dahmer always brought the men to his grandmothers place and performed his acts in that place. He followed the same pattern even when he moved to the Oxford Apartments. His preferred locations for picking up these boys were either gay bars or bathhouses that were not very far from his residence. One can, therefore, understand that his geographical area of operation was highly localized with his residence at the center of his activities.
With regards to Victimology, Dahmer had no racial preferences, but preferred ‘handsome boys’ between the ages of 14 and 33, barring exceptions. However, most of his victims were black, not due to design, but because the places he frequented for such endeavors had a larger number of black men available. Further, most of them were willing to do anything to make some money, which made this racial group an easy target for Dahmer. (Jentzen, 1994, p. 290) Although, he was a homosexual, Dahmer did not have sexuality as a crucial factor when choosing his victims. Some of his victims were heterosexuals, which indicated that his choice of victims were across sexual parameters, but male. One can surmise that since his sexual acts occurred when these victims were dead or unconscious, Dahmer did not have to take into account the victims preferences or objections when making a choice.
As mentioned, a large part of Dahmer’s anomalous and deviant behavior had its roots in his childhood, which was troubled and lonely, both at school and at home. His early fascination with explosive material and fire, his interest in dead animals and dissection of these animals were telltale signs. (Martens, 2011, p. 498) In his personal life, his isolation amongst peers, his mother’s failing mental and physical health combined with the divorce of his parents were all tipping points that led to the development of his deviant mental state. His father’s long periods of absence due to his own work related issues deprived Dahmer of a complete masculine identification leaving him grappling with complex issues of his own sexuality and twisted ideas of masculinity. (Jentzen, 1994, p. 288) These family related issues were key factors in Dahmer’s development into a serial killer.
On the subject, Martens and Palermo (2005) were of the firm opinion that the root cause of Dahmer’s mental problems lay in his isolation from society and consequent loneliness. Due to the lack of emotional bonding and relationships, Dahmer had a very little chance to develop emotionally, socially, and morally in a normal and healthy way. (p. 304) This particular aspect of Dahmer’s development was confirmed once again by Willem Martens (2011) wherein he clearly demonstrated the psychodynamic dimensions between severe loneliness and sadism in the Dahmer case. (p. 512) The close link between loneliness and sadism, was also observed by the court appointed psychiatrist who noted that Dahmer was a sexual sadist with co-morbid necrophilia. (Martens, 2011, p. 502 – 503)
Dahmer’s internalization of his feelings of loneliness manifested itself in this strange and grotesque manner of thinking. In his own bizarre way, Dahmer killed other men merely to satiate his lack of company and then had sex with dead bodies for the very same reason – he wanted them to stay with him. (Martens, 2011, p. 501) The lack of societal interaction, therefore, completely changed the way in which Dahmer responded to social stimuli and may have lead to a very deviant form of development. His behavior, thus, became increasingly destructive and fetishistic, with the passage of time.
While the biological factors in this case are a matter of debate, one must consider the background of Dahmer. His mother had a history of mental illnesses which might have already traumatized the boy and isolated him. At age four, he had a double hernia (a genetically acquired disorder) that required an operation and the intense pain traumatized him to an extent where he began to believe that his penis might have been cut off. (Martens, 2011, p. 498) One can only imagine a boy of that age with his highly sensitive background living with such a feeling. Maybe that experience may have led him to believe in his later years that he was a homosexual, but he still had ambivalent feelings about his sexuality. (Jentzen, 1994, p. 288) These ambivalent feelings led to intense frustration and anger which Dahmer directed outward that gave him strong urges to kill men and possess them, thus eliminating the possibility of rejection from their end. One can understand that these biological factors may have been psychodynamic in nature and infused in Dahmer since childhood. These psychodynamic factors may have been responsible for Dahmer’s sadistic and cannibalistic tendencies since his development was disturbed in the oral sadistic stage. (Martens, 2011, p. 503)
Further, as per Stephen Giannangelo (2012), most of Dahmer’s significant biological factors that promoted his development as a serial killer appeared to be inherited from both his mother and his father. (p. 83) Dahmer’s father Lionel had a habit of playing with fire as a child as well as building small bombs which he deployed in his neighborhood nearly killing a boy, including a deep rooted bond between the father-son duo in the sharing of recurring violent fantasies. (p. 83) One could surmise that Jeffery Dahmer might have inherited these latent traits from his father, who had managed to channel his energies in the field of chemistry. (Carlin, 2011, p. 382) In case of Jeffery, however, he might not have been able to channel his energies as successfully as his father had, although he had a full time job. Further, he had no biological defects or factors that might have aided his insanity, although Dahmer received several injections as a child to quell various infections that he contracted. One can surmise that these may have played some role in his development as a murderer, but there is no valid evidence to this effect although Jeffery’s father Lionel Dahmer too believed this to be true. (Carlin, 2011, p. 382)
One can see that a number of factors came into play in Jeffery Dahmer’s life that led to his flawed and destructive lifestyle. His own family background was the starting point since he was ignored most of the time by his parents as a child, who tended to be busy with the second child. His mother used to ill most of the time, while his father used to be constantly involved in his work and studies. Although he was duly prosecuted and the defense (even the prosecution appointed psychiatrist felt that Dahmer had a mental condition) made a liberal usage of various psychological theories to illustrate his mental health condition, the jury refused to buy the argument and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Between developmental, biological and situational factors, one can understand that Dahmer was most strongly affected by developmental factors, including some biological factors that he may have possibly inherited from either parent. The situational factors in his case ensured that his area of operation was highly localized with his victims usually being men without regard to sexual preference or race, but selected by Dahmer depending on their body type. Further, his M.O was also quite unique. Barring a single exception, Dahmer altered some aspects of his killing depending on his residence (whether it was at his grandmother’s place or at his apartment).
Bardsley, M. (2001). Jeffery Dahmer. The Crime Library. Retrieved from http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/notorious/dahmer/7.html
Carlin. N (2011). Confession and Forgiveness: A Pastoral Reading of A Father’s Son by Lionel Dahmer. Pastoral Psychology Journal (60), 377–397.
Dickinson, C. (1992). The Inner Life of a Psycho Killer. The Chicago Reader. Retrieved from http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-inner-life-of-a-psycho- killer/Content?oid=880359
Gibson, B. (2013). Killing in the Name of Nothing. Canadian Journal of Film Studies. (22.2), 120 – 142.
Giannangelo, S. J. (2012). Real-Life Monsters: A Psychological Examination of the Serial Murderer. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Jentzen. J. (1994). Destructive Hostility: The Jeffrey Dahmer Case. The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology (15.4), 283 – 294.
Martens. W. (2011). Sadism Linked to Loneliness: Psychodynamic Dimensions of the Sadistic
Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer. The Psychoanalytic Review Journal (98.4), 494 – 514.
Martens, W., and Palermo.G (2005). Loneliness and Associated Violent Antisocial Behavior: Analysis of the Case Reports of Jeffrey Dahmer and Dennis Nilsen. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. (49.3), 298 – 307.
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