Serial and Mass Murders: Forensic Psychiatry at Its Best
Forensic Psychiatry: Mass Murderers and Serial Killers
The status of Forensic Psychiatry has suffered ignominy regarding its ethical standpoint and pragmatic effectiveness for far too long (Arboleda-Florez, 2006). That it has at all been able to gain significance as a super specialty has been mainly due to the diligent and sustained efforts of a few scattered handfuls of them who chose to brave the convicts and study prison inmates. Today, the contributions of such forensic super specialists in the legal proceedings are proving to have a major influence in lawsuits involving mass murders as well as serial murders.
The journey of Forensic Psychiatric has greatly benefitted in medico-legal adjudications in recent times. From being able to cast an offender solely as a criminal to a mentally abnormal, as well as, that requires a different treatment than being simply banished from social life is an issue that has been highlighted and put across effectively (Arboleda-Florez, 2006). There have been four milestones that provided forensic science the status it has gained as of date. The first and foremost is the understanding by legal community that a mentally sick state of an offender is a possible cause of crime. The second and of far reaching consequence is that of declaring an individual legally insane, conclusively. These landmarks led to the formulation of treating the offender under medical supervision in a very different light as opposed to the other prison inmates. The fourth and most important development involved the societal outlook to such cases and acceptance of the terrifying illness (Arboleda-Florez, 2006).
Forensic Psychiatric practitioners have greatly benefitted as a result of recognition of the co-relation amid mental state and criminal impetus. On different legal planes and levels, the points of contention revolve around the ability to stand prosecution, legal insanity sanctions and the third, dangerous impulses. The ability of accused to fully comprehend the legal proceedings and provide defense appropriately is adjudicated. This may often require the individual to be offered medico-legal assistance, courtesy the Psychiatric Forensic experts. The trial of person in question is nowadays deem fit only if he is fit for trial. The super specialist psychiatrists are entrusted with the task of assuring the court about competency to stand trial upon desired response to psychological and psychiatric treatment (Pinals, 2005). Acquittal of a mentally incompetent or unstable is often declared variously as "not culpable due to insanity" or "not criminally culpable due to mental abnormality." It is however ascertained scientifically beforehand that the criminal is not able to comprehend the full impact of terming him as such. The third set of criminality, also described as being "dangerous offender" requires very tedious work from the Forensic Psychiatrists. Possible future violence, cause of instigation and risk prediction associated with such offenders needs to be justified tangibly and in entirety (Arboleda-Florez, 2006).
The various categories of patients, thus having been declared mentally ill ought to be accorded varying receiving and treatment and if possible, rehabilitation facilities. There needs to be in place, a dedicated receiving and diagnostic center for each category of patient. The prisons, too have got to vary the therapy to mentally affected ones as against to the other inmates. Under the distinct head of "mental health," once proclaimed as such by the legal system, the inmates in various states of mental imbalance need to be paid attention to, with the aim of restoring balance and competence. Allowances and financial provisions need to be introduced as well (Konrad, 2002).
The three legal standpoints ascertaining dangerous implication, inability to be stand to trial and insanity have been the main concerns around which Mass Murderers and Serial Killers pose the most mystery as regards legal adjudication and consequent therapies to be followed to draw them back to the mainstream (Macculloch et al., 1995). The most baffling questions hover around the vicious killing spree that they inflict. The sustained need to kill over longer periods of time, often running into years are questions that have demanded the most attention of modern day investigation. It is an open question about the modus operandi used, the demonic pleasure or satisfaction that they gain from these horrific acts. The machinations of a serial killer or for that matter, of a mass murderer at the time of the act or as a precursor are still an unknown territory that the Psychiatrists are treading. It is the endeavor of this paper to shed light of these and related aspects of Forensic Psychiatry.
Bowers et al. (2010) in their study found that mass murderers are generally found to be involved in the act for short bursts of time, rarely exceeding a few hours at the most. The killings take place over a certain identified group and usually take place at a single site. Haggerty and Ellerbrok (2011) assert that serial killers, on the other hand execute singular victims, one at a time, but they keep repeating the crime over months and at times, years. The designs of a serial killer are difficult to identify and patterns emerge only after a few killings that might be far apart in time and locations of the crimes.
Bowers et al. (2010) assert that there has been a regular recurrence of mass killers taking their own lives after the execution. This trend has been attributed to the awareness on part of the killers that they may themselves be subsequently shot dead given their verified "dangerous implication" or even as a measure of self safety. The general places of attack chosen for mass murders have been public places and with least form of possible defense like a mall, theatre, marketplace and school (Bowers et al., 2010).
Haggerty and Ellerbrok (2011) assess that serial killers have been found to choose isolated places as sites of crime and most of the times any intelligible link or relation amid the murderer and the murdered is non-existent. Both forensic experts, Haggerty and Ellerbrok, have been very scholarly on the sexual connotations that dictate serial killing. On the other hand, the only unifying aspect is womanhood. It is perceived that each killer may have a different take on the sexual angle, but, that the angle exists in most cases cannot be rejected out rightly (Haggerty and Ellerbrok, 2011).
Haggerty and Ellerbrok (2011) found that even though there is no distinct or reasonable motive, the individual murders demonstrate specific methodology or prey mentality. The invention of automobiles that took place ages ago may have caused the rise in the serial killings. An automobile helps the killers to transit fast from place to place devoid of being noticed even prior to the killing being detected. Murders committed by serial killer exhibit qualities of extreme cruelty and overkill by putting the victims through uncalled for torture. The final and most distinctive quality of a serial killer is their inclination towards strangling or stabbing the victims (Haggerty and Ellerbrok, 2011).
Bowers et al. (2010) argues that generally, mass murderers wear camouflage and strike with semi-automatic weapons on schools, restaurants and universities considering these places as suitable targets for the maximum impact of mass murders. They try to kill everyone in their sight; the killing spree usually ends up when the police kill them or capture them or they commit suicide (Bowers et al., 2010).
Henson and Olson (2010) reveal that serial killers have some peculiar personality traits. More often they go on killing without being arrested. At times they have been arrested by chance or with the help of the evidence pointing towards them. They kill their prey by stabbing or strangling. Sometimes they leave behind some marks known as trophies which are their trademarks.
When someone kills many people ruthlessly and excessively at a time, he is called a mass murderer. Mass murders may give the impression to be a recent occurrence, but that is not true. Even though these deadly crimes have become common and frequently practiced these days, they are not the occurrences of the 20th century. According to the studies, in preceding thirty years, there has been a significant decline in communal contracts. As a result the moral boundaries that restrain an individual from behaving rashly and kill someone have been weakened (Henson and Olson, 2010; Marissa et al., 2010).
The mass murderers usually accumulate a number of negative feelings such as regrets, complaints and dissatisfaction inside their minds. These suppressed emotions can result into an uncontrollable anger or fury. Even the slightest incident which may or might not be pertinent to the murderer's issues can trigger the frenzied rage. The murderer accuses the people for their grief and dissatisfaction and explodes like a dynamite due to suppressed emotions of rage as well as fury inside (Henson and Olson, 2010; Marissa et al., 2010).
Most serial killers have an average or higher level of intelligence; majority of them are white males belonging to the age group 25-35 years. Many of them have a career and a family including spouse and children.…