Adolf Hitler once commented to his housekeeper “I am loneliest man in the world.” Richard Kuklinski, aka the Iceman, an assassin for the Italian Mafia, declared, “I am probably the loneliest person in the world.” Likewise, serial killers tell of lonely childhood and teen years, without friends and little family support.
Some are physically abused, others are neglected by their caregivers. Loneliness and rejection by peers is a major trait of all serial killers. Their early years deprive them of social skills that lead to forming friendships and healthy relationships. Many are rejected by their playmates or siblings, who already as children, detect something menacing or repelling in them. Isolated and lonely, these children develop and dwell on fantasies of power and revenge. Could this be a major factor behind sadism and the lust for murder?
Case Study # 1 – Jeffrey Dahmer
Dahmer was a strange young man. Quiet, a loner who didn’t instigate confrontations with his peers, and a decidedly ordinary-looking boy who attracted little attention, he seemed an unlikely candidate for committing serial murder. His yearbook picture probably nominated him as Least Likely to Kill Someone. No one seems to know what prompted Dahmer to sadistically murder, then commit necrophilic rape on his murder victims.
A significant act he committed was his attempt at creating human zombies. He lacked human companionship and was allegedly seeking the latter when he drilled holes and poured battery acid into victims’ heads. Forensic psychiatrists believe this was Dahmer’s attempt to create human companionship without social skills and emotional attachment. Had he been successful, he would also have had ultimate control over his victims, preventing them from abandoning him.
“The only motive I had was to control a person I found physically attractive and keep them with me as long as possible,” he admitted. Cannibalism was the ultimate attempt at possessing and keeping a human companion.
Case #2 – Theodore Bundy
Notorious poster boy for serial rape and murder, Bundy was known to re-visit murder sites where he’d dumped women’s corpses. Sometimes he lay down beside dead victims. Bundy also severed women’s heads and brought them home, applying makeup and talking to the lifeless heads. Bundy’s last interview, where he described his upbringing as coming from “a wonderful home, with two dedicated and loving parents, ….we regularly attended church…there was no physical abuse…” was a delusional lie.
Bundy’s home life was a nightmare. The result of incest between his mother and his grandfather, Bundy was falsely told that his mother was his sister. His grandfather was a tyrannical bully who swung cats around by the tail, and once threw his daughter over the stairs for “sleeping late.”
His need to hail from a perfect family was partly due to his narcissism and his loneliness. His own home couldn’t provide him with a haven he craved and the ultimate betrayal by his family was when he discovered his sister was actually his mother.
Case#3 – Charles Manson and The Family
“I never had a childhood,” Manson declared in an interview. “I never said it was terrible. A child don’t know what terrible is. I never had a childhood.” In spite of that, Manson was lost and he spent a number of years wandering around Southern California, making himself known as a guru and gathering his own family. He was the head of his family and he led the cult to believe he was God, bringing about the Second Coming. He pronounced his name Man-Son – the Son of Man.
Until he created his family, Manson was often in jail, in trouble with the law and a loner. Needing companionship yet lacking the social skills to treat people as equals, and being a supreme narcissist, Manson created and controlled his own small community. Those that became a threat in his eyes were killed somewhere on the property and buried. Newborn infants were often left to fend for themselves within hours of their births in order to “toughen them up.” Naturally, the children died.
Unable to parent children, unable to love anyone, Manson abused, dominated and ultimately destroyed the family. Even when he was surrounded by followers, Manson remained alone. Rejection of any kind was a fatal mistake and led directly to the murders of Sharon Tate and the LaBiancas.
Nilson was a homosexual serial killer who dated then murdered and had necrophilic sex with 15 men. He kept their corpses in his apartment, arranging them in different poses and treating them as roommates. Occasionally he had sex with the decomposing cadavers. After his arrest, Nilson admitted he killed out of loneliness and a need for companionship. Like Dahmer, he ate parts of his victims.
The problem with children who are outcasts and who spend a lot of time alone is that they have time to dwell on their hatred towards their peers and develop revenge fantasies, often involving violence. Eventually these fantasies become detailed and deadly. The child no longer distinguishes reality from fantasy and this results in psychopathic behaviour in the teen years or more often, during adulthood. Being abused or neglected, along with spending a great deal of time alone, is a dangerous cocktail for eventual murder.