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Serial Killers in Modern American Society

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Today, a modern person faces many problems of different scale. War, terrorism, economic crises, and the games in the political arena are the topics every second individual is discussing. However, apart from these problems, the subject of serial killers is also often discussed in the community. It appears on TV screens and in newspapers. It calls attention and a public concern, but it does not shock people as a few decades ago. The issue of serial killers has always evoked the interest among psychologists, psychiatrists, and other scientists, as well as society, as a whole. These murderers belong to the group of people who have serious mental disorders being under the influence of other internal and external factors. Thus, they pose a real threat to the health and lives of other persons (Bonn). Today, the society has approached the problem of serial killers that is significantly different from the one that was in the days of its occurrence. This issue is very serious and relevant to the modern American society. The community itself provokes the appearance of these criminals, creating favorable conditions for them.

The Phenomenon of a Serial Killer

Serial murders as a separate type of crimes that appeared in the 70s of the last century. At that time, society was shocked by the stories of such notorious murderers as J. W. Gacy, David Berkowitz, and Ted Bundy. They were charged and arrested for the murders of more than 30 people committed by each one (Ramsland and Pepper 131). Their activities put the whole city and countryside into the horror, forcing people to be afraid walking down the streets even during the day. Besides, all parents were living in a constant fear being afraid for the lives of their children. Though there are serial killers in almost all countries, the United States is a leader in their number. Washington (with the highest percentage of 25 serial murderers per 100.000 inhabitants), Alaska, and Louisiana are the regions where they are located most of all (Johnston). This fact should be alarming to us.

To understand the problem better the definition of a serial killer should be provided. It refers to the people who have committed murder more than three times within one month. In most cases, they kill others due to some mental and emotional disorders. They do it for satisfaction of their psychological nature. The choice of a potential victim usually falls on unknown individuals or strangers. Criminology experts say that this type of criminals are often characterized by the presence of the personal handwriting. It could mean a way of killing, a crime scene, a type of weapon used, a sort of a victim prefered or if a specific sign left on the body or near it as a business card (Haggerty and Ellerbrok). These factors help to distinguish a serial killer from the ordinary one.

After analyzing the psychological profiles of such murderers, provided by doctors and forensic experts, the psychological and social portrait of a typical representative of this type could be formed. The characteristic features of a serial murderer are the dissatisfaction with a social status and a role in society. Such people are often very impulsive, emotionally closed, and, at the same time, aggressive and relentless. They are not the center of attention in the company of others (Ramsland and Pepper 134). They have a low level of adaptation in society. Many of them do not have the certain goals in their life or far-sighted plans. The vast majority of potential and serial killers have many serious personal complexes, including those ones derived from their childhood. They could have appeared due to the child's mind injuries, as well as the unhealthy and poor treatment by parents, peers, and other people around them. Serial killers are the individuals that ignore all laws of the state and do not accept them. Moreover, they do not support the principles of religion and morality (Bonn). They are not open malicious violators of these regulations merely because they do not want to be denied and punished. They see the world differently and perceive the scope of permission in another way. Killing is a source of emotional charge or a way to administer justice such as they see it for them.

Modern American society and Serial Killers

The wrong approach to the issue of serial killers will focus attention only on a psychological and personal side. The external factors should also be considered. In the modern American society, such conditions have been created  to promote the development of this phenomenon. The main aspects that play an important role in the emergence of serial killers are the transformation of community as a concept of strangers, the development of the cult of famous people, and the marginalization of society (Haggerty and Ellerbrok). Modern people have undergone many changes compared to the state, in which they have remained in the past centuries. The main forces that influence this issue began from modernization and urbanization later. A large influx of people into the city, which contributed to the rapid growth, has produced a society of strangers. In previous years, the persons living in a certain locality were familiar with each other and knew practically everyone in the district. Thus, this fact has also provided a certain level of security. The appearance of an unknown person has not kept a reason for the increased attention and care (Haggerty and Ellerbrok). Now due to the huge number of population in the cities where there are all strangers nobody knows who is a potential threat to them. Therefore, this situation is the today's society that creates ideal conditions for serial killers.

The second factor that contributes to the emergence of such murderers is the media that often turns to the topic of serial killers. These criminals are getting more attention. They are being at the center of the films’ plot, TV shows and books (Johnston). Their stories are familiar to ordinary citizens. They evoke curiosity and interest in more details of the lives of these brutal murderers. Thus, a serial killer is becoming a celebrity spoken by everyone about. All people want to hear about him or her. This fact carries a devastating effect. First, it distorts the perception of the real situation. Since the closer acquaintance with a serial killer, the background, and the reasons why he or she started the  killer path can cause even the compassion and understanding from other people (Haggerty and Ellerbrok). It can be explained by an ability to empathize. However, the question is if this is the correct position considering  the real context of events. Secondly, such coverage of stories about serial killers to the public can be dangerous due to those ones that want to become famous by being the  members of  the serial killers’ clan. Such an outcome is possible, because the glory of the murderer can extract a person from the grayness of one’s life and make notorious. Becoming famous and getting attention to oneself is the desire of one per three individuals today. Moreover, the media today practically advertise the detailed instructions for the commission of such crimes from different angles; thus, it has become an auxiliary factor.

Though serial killers choose their victim at random, they have their target audience. Today, we have a large number of marginal people who do not fit into the accepted framework of those ones with the proper and lost life direction. They live the way that the public does not accept or anyone being significantly different from the total mass. To marginalized people, the homeless, beggars, prostitutes, and homosexual people should be included. These individuals are often the victims of serial killers (Haggerty and Ellerbrok). One of the recent cases confirming the existence of the above trends while choosing the victim is the story of a serial murderer Darren Deon Venn. He was arrested in 2014 for the murder of a prostitute.Then, it turned out that she was the seventh victim (Locker).The isolation of the peculiar group of people being outside of society, as well as their low degree of protection makes the choice of these criminals easier.

The phenomenon is that the modern society loves serial killers. It sounds crazy, but now many people admire their intelligence and thoughtfulness of their crimes. They eagerly seek and absorb the information about the perpetrators of this kind. To explain this, some of the most common reasons could be provided. The first is their rate compared with other types of offenders, for instance, thieves. In addition, they think outside the box and consequently kill in an extraordinary way. Their actions are beyond the scope of humanity; they are filled with cruelty, aggression, and brutality (Bonn). Therefore, many people on the strange grounds are wondering what a man is capable of, how wild his or her animal nature could be, and what demons dwell within them. Serial killers are the persons that have gone far beyond the limits of what is permitted. Thus, ordinary people become interested, what happens behind this line and how far it is possible to go.

Today, the number of serial killers has decreased by 85% compared with the same phenomenon thirty years ago. Law enforcement agencies are now successful in catching them after the first or second victim, and not the fourth as it used to be before (Johnston). Nowadays, not only community but also law enforcement agencies are showing the increased secondary attention to this matter. They have progressed in revealing the cases of serial killers.It means  that these criminals are often imitators or followers that makes it easier to find them.


Serial killers are a separate type of criminals that despite having the short history of existence instill the feeling of fear and terror. They walk among everybody like shadows without causing any suspicion. According to the summary data in 2016, cooks, nurses, janitors, and, most of all, truck drivers were among the serial killers. The modern society has changed its attitude to these murderers. Due to mass media, they have become a source of hot topics for discussion, as the terrible and, at the same time, unusual intriguing stories. They cause an increased interest among the public. People have begun to forget about serial killers as the monsters, not realizing that everyone can become their victims. The modern community has provided a fertile ground for the emergence of serial killers. Thus, despite the efforts of the police to deal with them, the call that society directs to potential serial murderers nowadays is rather strong.

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