This blog post aims to answer the question, “Do serial killers have emotions?” and study who serial killers are, and their traits and functionalities in order to will help understand the answer.
Do serial killers have emotions?
Yes, in general, serial killers have emotions but lack some like empathy and guilt. The following are 5 insights into how serial killers experience emotions –
- Lack of empathy and remorse.
- Lack of connection between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex.
- Lack of social conscience.
- Intensified emotional drive to harm and kill.
These 5 insights into how serial killers experience emotions will be discussed in further detail below after taking a deeper look at who a serial killer is.
Who is a serial killer?
A serial murderer is someone who murders three or more people, generally for abnormal psychological enjoyment, over a period of more than a month and with a large gap between them. While the majority of authorities establish a three-murder threshold, others raise it to four or lower it to two.
The most common reason for serial killing is psychological fulfilment, and many serial killings involve sexual interaction with the victim, but serial murderers’ motives can also include rage, thrill-seeking, financial gain, and attention-seeking, according to the FBI.
In a similar way, the murders may be attempted or completed. The victims may share characteristics such as demographic profile, appearance, gender, or ethnicity.
The FBI frequently focuses on a certain pattern that serial killers follow. Based on this pattern, vital clues about the killer’s identity and intentions will be revealed.
Despite the fact that a serial killer is a different categorization from a mass murderer, spree killer, or contract killer, there are conceptual parallels between the three.
There is some disagreement over the precise requirements for each group, particularly when it comes to the distinction between spree and serial killers.
Types Of Serial Killers.
Although it is hard to fully categorise and comprehend each serial murderer, it is possible to examine their tactics and habits in order to better characterise the sort of criminal they are.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has classified serial murderers into three categories based on how they commit their crimes. Knowing which group a serial killer belongs to can help investigators better understand their crimes and how to bring them to justice.
The Medical Killer.
Despite the fact that this sort of killer is extremely rare, certain people have used the medical field to carry out their evil crimes. Because it is not commonplace for individuals to pass away at a hospital, this sort of murderer believes they are shrouded.
They are typically knowledgeable people who know how to cover their crimes with care and deception. If a person looks to have died of natural causes, there will be no reason to assume foul play and seek for the perpetrator.
Only a few physicians in history have been able to kill scores of individuals before others notice.
The Organized Killer.
This is the most difficult sort of serial murderer to track down and apprehend. They are typically clever and extremely well organised, almost to the point of being fastidious.
Every element of the crime is meticulously planned, and the assailant takes every measure to ensure that no damning evidence is left behind. This sort of psychopath is known to observe potential victims for several days in order to select someone they perceive to be a good target.
Once the victim has been picked, the murderer would abduct them, frequently using a ruse to win sympathy, and transport them to a new place where the murder will be carried out. When someone is killed, the offender will generally take steps to ensure that the body is not discovered until they want it to be.
A criminal like this is generally quite proud of what they regard to be their “job” and pays close attention to news headlines about their crimes. One of their motivational motivations may be to elude the cops who are attempting to solve their crime.
The Disorganized Killer.
These people almost never plot their victims’ deaths in any way. The victims they kill are almost always in the wrong place at the wrong time.
When the chance arises, this sort of serial murderer appears to strike at random. They make no attempt to hide their crime and move around often to avoid getting apprehended.
Killers who are disorganised frequently have low IQs and are antisocial. They don’t have many close friends or family members, and they don’t like to stay in one area for lengthy periods of time.
These assassins are more likely to have no remembrance of their crimes or to admit that they were driven by voices in their brains or some other fictitious source.
What are these 5 insights into how serial killers experience emotions?
Lack of empathy and remorse.
Serial murderers are characterised by a lack of empathy for others and an apparent lack of remorse for their crimes. At the same time, many of them might appear to be lovely on the surface, luring potential victims into their web of ruin.
Serial killers are individuals in whom two minds coexist—one a rational self capable of successfully navigating the intricacies of acceptable social behaviour and even charm and seduce, and the other a far more sinister self capable of the most unspeakable and violent acts against others, according to one explanation for such cognitive dissonance.
One perplexing characteristic of serial murderers’ brains is that they appear to lack — or can overcome — the emotional reactions that allow us to recognise other people’s agony and suffering as akin to our own, and empathise with it. A new brain imaging research found a plausible cause for this deficiency.
Lack of connection between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex.
This revealed that criminal psychopaths had a lower connection between the amygdala—a brain area that processes negative stimuli and those that cause scary responses—and the prefrontal cortex, which interprets the amygdala’s responses.
When there is a lack of connection between these two areas, the amygdala’s processing of negative inputs does not result in any strongly felt unpleasant emotions. This might explain why criminal psychopaths have no remorse for their deeds or are unconcerned when their victims suffer.
Many serial killers are insecure individuals who feel forced to kill out of a pathological dread of rejection, according to one theory. The fear of rejection appears to be a result of being abandoned or abused by a parent in many circumstances.
A rookie serial murderer may feel compelled to remove any objects of their love as a result of such anxiety. They may assume that by killing the person they like, they would be able to avoid being abandoned, humiliated, or otherwise injured as they were as children.
Lack of social conscience.
Serial killers also don’t seem to have a social conscience. We learn to differentiate good from wrong through our parents, siblings, teachers, peers, and other adults who impact us as we grow up.
It is because of this that we are unable to engage in anti-social behaviour. Serial killers, on the other hand, appear to believe they are free from the most crucial societal consequence of all: not killing another person.
Serial murderers are capable of feeling emotions, particularly those that incite them to kill, such as anger or sexual pleasure, but they are unable to feel regret or remorse for their victims, allowing them to continue committing crimes without feeling guilty.
Intensified emotional drive to harm and kill.
Serial killers, on the other hand, appear to have an intensified emotional drive that leads to a desire to harm and kill other people. On a brain level, this apparent inconsistency in emotional reactions still has to be explained.
At the same time, we must not overlook the role of societal forces in the formation of such contradicting drives. Serial killers may have learnt to consider their victims as nothing more than an object to be tortured, or even as a collection of disconnected components.
This may explain why some criminals have sex with their victims after they’ve died, or even convert their remains into useful or decorative things, but it doesn’t explain why they appear so motivated to harm and kill their victims.
This blog post aimed to answer the question, “Do serial killers have emotions?” and reviewed who serial killers are, and their traits and functionalities to help determine if serial killers have emotions. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions or comments you may have.
Parrington, J. What can neuroscience tell us about the mind of a serial killer? (2021, April 19). Retrieved from https://blog.oup.com/2021/04/what-can-neuroscience-tell-us-about-the-mind-of-a-serial-killer/#:~:text=This%20may%20explain%20why%20criminal,and%20kill%20other%20human%20beings.
Do serial killers typically feel emotions? Why? Quora. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/Do-serial-killers-typically-feel-emotions-Why
Rosewood, J. An expert reveals the 12 key traits common in serial killers, and some of them might surprise you. (2018, May 31). Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/common-traits-of-serial-killers-2018-5
What emotions do serial killers have? EveryThingWhat.com. (2022, January 30). Retrieved from https://everythingwhat.com/what-emotions-do-serial-killers-have
Angrilli, Alessandro & Sartori, Giuseppe & Donzella, Giovanna. (2013). Cognitive, Emotional and Social Markers of Serial Murdering. The Clinical neuropsychologist. 27. 10.1080/13854046.2013.771215. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/235646647_Cognitive_Emotional_and_Social_Markers_of_Serial_Murdering
Perry, J. M. Failures of empathy: The killer with no remorse (Psychopathy). (2014, October 24). Retrieved from https://sites.tufts.edu/emotiononthebrain/2014/10/24/failures-of-empathy-the-killer-with-no-remorse-psychopathy/
Conroy, J. O. What makes a serial killer? (2018, August 10). Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/aug/10/what-makes-a-serial-killer
Mallett, X. Psychopaths Versus Sociopaths: What Is The Difference? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/psychopaths-versus-sociopaths-what-difference/
Malizia, N. Serial Killer: The Mechanism from Imagination to the Murder Phases. (2017, April). Retrieved from https://www.scirp.org/journal/paperinformation.aspx?paperid=74772