Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Secret Mind of a Serial Killer

Here are some more notes from the LTUE symposium. The first is a quote I love from he keynote speaker, James A. Owen, whose presentation I only caught the end of:

“Never ever sacrifice what you want the most for what you want the most that moment.” 

After that I attended the class on serial killers. It was fascinating and terrifying to get into their minds. 
A serial killer named Kenneth Bianchi either lived in or guarded a house where he killed two women in a neighborhood where I grew up. He was known as the Hillside Strangler, because he'd kill women and leave their bodies on hillsides. We used to hang out in a friend's yard who lived across the street from him and run through his yard in the dark while playing night games. One day his house was all taped off by the police and we found out later who he was and what he'd done. Scary! 

Kenneth Bianchi
The Hillside Strangler

Anyway, the class was given by Dr. Al Carlisle. Here's what he had to say, if you dare to know:

Serial Killers

Serial killers start out by wanting someone they can’t have. The First time they kill is usually an accident. The killer considers the woman a slut and thinks she’s no good, that she’s daring him. After the first time he kills, he feels horrible and like he’s falling apart. He goes back to the scene of the crime and checks the evidence to make sure didn’t leave anything incriminating. He typically takes a souvenir to remember and relive it.

One of the main problems is that it’s not enough. He can’t stop. He kills a third and fourth victim and starts getting sloppy. He becomes depressed and suicidal. Then he tells two or three people about the killings. The murders become more frequent. The killer might go to church in an effort to try to comfort himself.

Multiple Vs. Split Personalities

It’s not a multiple personality serial killers suffer from. One part of them argues with the other part and says, “You can’t do this.” But another part sees a girl and starts the cycle all over again.

Hannibal Lector
Silence of the Lambs

Hannibal Lector, the serial killer in “Silence of the Lambs,” was a psychologist. The main character in the movie was warned not to tell him anything personal about herself or let him get inside her head.  When the killer finds a worthy opponent, he exerts control. This is called social engineering.

The more isolated one becomes the more they need to exercise power over others. It’s more of a split personality, not a true multiple personality. A trigger fumes the feeling and it doesn’t go away until something happens and they act on it. One good example is: Red Dragon. With multiple personalities the person has time loss periods of very severe dissociation that they block in with walls.

Sociopaths have front lobe damage. They become a psychopath by shutting down guilt. They don’t hold down jobs very often. People become objects to them. That’s how they justify what they do. Bundy would never say he felt guilty about killing. There you have it. Now you know a little more about how a serial killer's mind works just in case you want to write about one or you discover one in your neighborhood!

Ted Bundy


  1. One of my current MCs is a sociopath - it happened by accident, and then I couldn't stop her!

    Thanks for the rundown.

    1. How interesting. I haven't written about one yet, but might in the future.

  2. No way-you really grew up next to a serial killer?

    Thanks for the LTUE notes. Not serial killers in current MS's, but you never know, maybe one day.

    1. Who knows, one could pop up in your story like Annalisa's

  3. How scary that you lived so close to a serial killer! I was at LTUE too, maybe next time we'll have to meet up :) Have you watch that show (it's on Netflix) about the Female Serial Killers. Really interesting look into the minds of why women kill. I could never write about a killer though, I would have nightmares!

    1. Ir would be nice to meet up at LTUE next time. I haven't watched that show about female serial killers, but it sounds really interesting.

  4. I'm taking pysch right now, and our serial killer unit is coming up soon. It's fasinating in a completely horrific and dark way. I might try to write a secondary character who's a serial killer in the future, but yikes, it seems like a feat.

    Thanks for the follow:)

    1. Your psych class unit on serial killers sounds interesting. I"m sure that will help when and if you write a secondary character who's a serial killer.