Serial Killer Social Construction Theories A Serial Essay

Length: 4 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Family and Marriage Type: Essay Paper: #5016125 Related Topics: Serial Killers, Social Control Theory, Labeling Theory, Ted Bundy
Excerpt from Essay :

Serial Killer Social Construction Theories

A serial killer can be defined as a person who kills more than four victims in a moderately short period of time usually 72 hours (Larson, 2011). Serial killings usually take place in different locations and have no connection with the preceding assassination. For a serial killer, substantial gain is not the drive for killing his victim. Instead, it is his craving of power and strength over the 'prey' that motivates him to take an innocent life (Giannangelo, 1996).

There are a number of theories that have been propounded in order to understand the origins, foundations and causes of the social construction of a serial killer. The first theory that needs to be discussed is the Social Process Theory. The childhood experiences of a serial murderer contribute significantly in his making into an atrocious 'animal'. The personality of a serial murderer is seriously affected by the early experiences of childhood. These experiences have a permanent, long-lasting impression on the individuality and behavior of a person. Children who tolerate and observe family violence are expected to reveal the same characteristics and behavior when they grow up. It is not necessary to be the victim of violence to become such a personality in the future. The viewing of family violence during childhood can also be a reason to develop a mentally-ill personality. Continuous denunciation in childhood by parents can be said as another reason why the future activities of a child...


This theory can be justified by glancing over the life of Albert DeSalvo, a serial murderer of 13 women. He had an adverse childhood in which he watched his mother cruelly beaten by his father. He eye witnessed murders in his vicinity. Not only this, he was bought as a slave. The story of another serial killer named Henry Lee Lucas further justifies the Social Process Theory. This man had an ill-fated childhood in which he was raised as a girl. He experienced ruthless physical abuse as a routine. Such childhood experiences destroy the self-esteem and self-respect of a child and catalyze the development of a socially diminished individual in the form of a serial killer (Giannangelo, 1996).

Another theory known as Social Structure Theory relates the development of a serial killer with his socioeconomic position. Such a person tries to achieve success through 'out of the ordinary' ways. Poverty is the basic factor that encourages people to commit crimes. Serial killers are frustrated because of their social and financial standing in the society. They murder people of the community of which they wish to be a member. In this way, they take vengeance by killing people who seem to reject them with their conduct, belongings or positions from entering in their class. They justify these murders as a mutiny against the societal classification (Egger et al., 1990).

Yet another theory known as the Social Control Theory explains that deviant criminal acts can be prevented by inculcating a sense of belonging to the social order, family and culture in people. In this regard, four 'social-bonding' rudiments were introduced. These bonds of connection, conviction, contribution and commitment can help any person to either build up or abate his association with the community. However, these bonding elements were not found when the personalities of serial killers were observed and studied. Thus, it was concluded that children who are neglected by their parents tend to develop deviant behaviors. Children who are guided and controlled by their parents are less likely to engage in criminal activities when they grow up (Larson, 2011). Ted Bundy and Jeffery Dahmer are such examples of serial murderers who were rejected by their parents in their childhood and were adopted by other families in the early stages of their lives. They were reported to have detrimental relationships with their parents. According to the Social Control Theory, the unstable and negative association with the parents and family members was one of the basic causes…

Sources Used in Documents:


Egger, S.A., Doney, R.H., Ford, D.A., Hickey, E.W., Kiger, K., & Vetter, H. (1990). Serial Murder: A Synthesis of Literature and Research. Serial Murder: An Elusive Phenomenon. Westport, CT: Praeger. Retrieved May 19, 2011, from

Giannangelo, S.J. (1996). The Psychopathology of Serial Murder: A Theory of Violence. Westport, CT: Praeger. Retrieved May 19, 2011, from

Knight, Z.G. (2006). Some Thoughts on the Psychological Roots of the Behavior of Serial Killers as Narcissists: an Object Relations Perspective. Social Behavior and Personality,34(10), 1189+. Retrieved May 19, 2011, from

Larson, D. Serial Murderers: The Retrieved May 19, 2011, from

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