Loneliness Key to the Making of Serial Killers

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"Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters" a book by Peter Vronsky recently published by Penguin Berkley Books, describing the history of serial homicide from ancient to modern times, reports that loneliness is the most frequent reported characteristic among serial killers and children who grow up to become serial killers.

"Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters" a book by Peter Vronsky recently published by Penguin Berkley Books, looks at the culture and psychology of serial murder throughout history. In a chapter describing recent research done into the childhood of serial killers, Vronsky reports that the most common trait mentioned is loneliness. While certain warning signs such as bullying, bedwetting, animal cruelty and arson have been noted in the childhood histories of serial killers, loneliness and rejection by peers is the most common denominator. (See: http://www.petervronsky.com )

Loneliness works both ways, according to Vronsky. Some as children are inherently shy and withdrawn. Others, however, are rejected by their playmates or siblings, who already as children detect something menacing or repelling in them. Isolated and lonely, these children can develop and dwell on fantasies of power and revenge as a means of overcoming their rejection. Some of these lonely children succeed in their quest for redemption and power by becoming successful politicians, performers, artists or corporate CEOs. Others, with less talent or skill find their quest for revenge and power fulfilled through acts of homicide and rape.

The danger with loneliness, writes Vronsky, is that the incipient serial killer has the time and space to dwell on these homicidal fantasies of revenge, power and dominance and finds comfort in these thoughts. At some critical point in their life, either as children or adolescents, these individuals take their fantasy on a “test run” into the world of reality. These test runs can consist of things like window peeping while armed, lightly stabbing a playmate with a pencil, burglary, killing an animal, stealing an item of female clothing, or some other non-homicidal transgression. If the child successfully escapes being detected in this act and finds the commission of the act satisfying or sexually exciting, it could be a matter of time before the “test runs” become full-blown acts of homicide.

The dividing line between the lonely child as serial killer instead of corporate CEO, happens long before the first homicide. It occurs somewhere in the “test run” when some children, once they take their fantasy into reality are repulsed or have a negative experience as the consequence of their act. These children no longer find comfort in their violent fantasies and either those fantasies fade and are replaced by other more constructive ideas or the children sink into deeper despair. Other children, however, who find that the realization of their fantasy was a rewarding experience, become addicted to refining and improving the experience. It could be weeks, months or years before they realize their fantasy in an actual murder, but many inevitably do. Serial killers are made long before they commit their first murder.

Vronsky explores the mystery of how children are both made and born as serial killers looking at the complex combination of genetic and environmental factors identified and argued over by psychopathologists today. "Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters" is a 430-page book covering the historical, cultural, psychological and investigative aspects of serial homicide and includes a chapter on the childhood histories of some of the most notorious serial killers.

Peter Vronsky is currently completing his doctorate in history at the University of Toronto and is a former international investigative documentary producer.

For more information or to contact the author: http://www.petervronsky.com

Serial Killers: The Method and Madness of Monsters

Peter Vronsky

New York: Berkley Publishing Group, 2004.

432 Pages, Illustrated

ISBN: 0425196402

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