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Serial Killer Development Essay

Many serial killers have faced similar problems in their childhood development. Hickey’s Trauma Control Model explains how early childhood trauma can set the child up for deviant behavior in adulthood. [31] The child’s environment (either their parents or society) is the dominant factor in whether or not the child’s behavior escalates into homicidal activity. Family, or lack thereof, is the most prominent part of a child’s development because it is what the child can identify with on a regular basis. [32]

“The serial killer is no different than any other individual who is instigated to seek approval from parents, sexual partners, or others. [33] This need for approval is what influences children to attempt to develop social relationships with their family and peers, but if they are rejected or neglected, they are unable to do so. This results in the lowering of their self-esteem and helps develop their fantasy world in which they are in control. Hickey’s Trauma Control Model clearly shows that the development of a serial killer is based on an early trauma followed by facilitators (porn, drugs, and alcohol) and disposition (the inability to attach). [34]

Family interaction also plays an important role in a child’s growth and development. “The quality of their attachments to parents and other members of the family is critical to how these children relate to and value other members of society. “[35] Wilson and Seaman (1990) conducted a study on incarcerated serial killers and what they felt was the most influential factor that contributed to their homicidal activity. [36] Almost all of the serial killers in the study had experienced some sort of environmental problems during their childhood, such as a broken home, or a lack of discipline in the home.

It was common for the serial killers to come from a family that had experienced divorce, separation, or the lack of a parent. Furthermore, nearly half of the serial killers had experienced some type of physical and sexual abuse and even more had experienced emotional neglect. [37] When a parent has a drug or alcohol problem, the attention in the household is on the parents rather than the child. This neglect of the child leads to the lowering of their self-esteem and helps develop a fantasy world in which they are in control.

Hickey’s Trauma Control Model supports how the neglect from parents can facilitate deviant behavior especially if the child sees substance abuse in action. [34] This then leads to disposition (the inability to attach), which can further lead to homicidal behavior unless the child finds a way to develop substantial relationships and fight the label they receive. If a child receives no support from those around him or her, then he or she is unlikely to recover from the traumatic event in a positive way. As stated by E. E. Maccoby, “the family has continued to be seen as a major—perhaps the major—arena for socialization”. [38]


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