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Essay: Criminal psychology

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  • Published: 25 October 2015*
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  • Words: 1,048 (approx)
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Have you ever wondered what causes Serial Killers and Psychopaths to do what they do? Here you may find reasons to explain the actions of these individuals as well as the findings of psychologists who specialize in this field. Psychologists that specialize in these individuals are Criminal and Forensic Psychologists.
Criminal psychology is the study of the wills, thoughts, intentions and reactions of criminals, all that partakes in the criminal behavior. Forensic psychology is the study of psychology and the law. Psychologists interested in these fields may be found working in prisons, jails, rehabilitation centers, police departments, law firms, schools, government agencies, or in private practice.
‘Criminal psychology studies everything that is related to criminal behavior ‘ this includes the thought processes, intentions, motivations and reactions of criminals. Why do criminals do what they do’? this very question is answered by criminal psychologists. Criminal psychologists try to understand and examine why certain people commit crimes. Their findings and analyses are quite useful and often assist in cases and legal trials.’ (Psychology School Guide, 2014).
Usually, forensic psychology uses the principles of psychology and applies them to the criminal and the justice system. The intent is to develop a more detailed and well-rounded criminal justice system. Forensic psychologists use their findings to improve the delivery of the legal system to ensure that the results of the case or proceedings are undeniable.
Criminal psychologists may spend a lot of time researching and digging. It involves a bit of analysis of cases, past events, study of trends and identification of patterns. You can also get to compile first-hand research, which may help out with future criminal psychological studies.
‘A forensic psychologist works close to where the action is. Here, action could entail coming in proximity to the criminal, visiting the crime scene to collect evidence, and taking part in critical court trials and proceedings to witness and even help determine the outcome of the case. Your findings and discoveries as a forensic psychologist could be critical in shaping the outcome of the case. Therefore, if you think you would enjoy the excitement and thrill present in a forensic psychologist setting, then this is the right line of work for you.’ (Psychology School Guide, 2014).
Berit Brogaard D.M.Sci., Ph.D did a study and published an article called ‘The Making of a Serial Killer.’ According to this, the causes for a psychopath remain a mystery. ‘We don’t even have a satisfactory answer to the question of whether psychopathy is a product of Mother Nature or a feature of upbringing. One of the best sources of information about whether traits are a result or nature of nurture comes from the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart.’ (Berit Brogaard, 2012). A Psychology Professor of Minnesota Thomas Joseph Bouchard, Jr led this study. When conducting this study showed that being a psychopaths is about 60% heritable. Due to the percentage found, it seems as though psychopathic traits are more developed through DNA than the upbringing of the individual.
Another study was conducted at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. This study measured criminal psychopaths. According to this particular study not all psychopaths are criminals. Furthermost psychopaths are manipulative, aggressive and impulsive, but these types of characteristics do not always lead to criminal behaviors. They still do not know what causes the reduction on of the feeling in the emotional system. But after many years of investigating the minds of psychopaths, researchers have been unable to find any factors that could contribute to the development of psychopathic traits.
There is always a motivation for serial killer’s actions. Usually a fear of rejection, power, and perfection is what motivates a killer. Serial killers usually are insecure, and irrationally scared of rejection. Killers will try to avoid initiating a painful relationship with their targets because of their fear of need, scared of being abandoned, humiliated, or exposed. Killers have sex with their victims usually because the feeling of dominance. Serial killers enjoy stretching the pain of the victims, as it tends to feel as a sense of power over the victim to them. They decide whether the victim dies or lives, and how it will happen if that is their plan.
‘The power to cause pain is the only power that matters, the power to kill and destroy, because if you can’t kill you are always subject to those who can’ (Card). Killing is usually the only way these individuals can achieve the feeling of empowerment and domination. The fears of rejection and power are major topics of many serial killings, but excellence plays a role in particular cases. Some killers find to ‘improve’ their murders thinking they may never be caught.
They often see women or prostitutes, as ‘unclean’, and by removing these women they think it makes an improvement in the world. Serial killers think that killing their victims frees them from their wrong doings. The killer believes the victim is ‘chosen’ and that they should be grateful that they are. Serial killers always kill simply because they are addicted to the feelings they get when they do.
They also adjust every aspect and detail of their behavior so they think there is no reason to stop their killings. They know the consequences of their actions, and how to avoid getting caught. Most serial killers, and psychopaths in general, are able to hide their rage and true intentions behind a charismatic, civilized cover-up that many psychologists call the ‘mask of sanity.’
Psychopaths are unethical and while they know the difference between right and wrong, they do not care and lack feelings of remorse or guilt. They tend to symbolize others and handle them like objects. They do not have sympathy for others, due to their feelings and state of mind. They often usually imitate the feeling to fool their victims. They become extremely good at the imitation of emotions, and lies become more believable.
‘Most serial killers are highly charming and persuasive, but it is only a manipulative act designed to lure victims into a trap. Their killings are material symptoms of the combination of their lifelong habits and personal motivations and fears. Though those factors are not excuses for hurting others, they are interesting explanations and provide fascinating insight on the killers’ minds.’ (Psychology School Guide, 2014).

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