I think I have a problem. Serial killers and gruesome murders fascinates me. Not in a way that I enjoy reading/watching what they do to innocent people but just understanding their behaviors, mindsets and environments they were in when they do those acts.
My interest into these developed when I started watching Netflix documentaries such as “Conversations with a serial killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes”, “The Keepers” and “Don’t F**k with cats”. This intrigued me to look into other serial killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer, Dennis Rader, Pedro Lopez and Jack the Ripper.
I lose sleep reading about serial killers and the horrific murders online. Even though it scares me, I still watch or read about them. This led to me thinking something was actually wrong with me. Like why am I so interested in these, why do I show so much interest when talking about it with my friends and so on.
Before I go into the discussion why me and many of us are so interested in serial killers, let’s understand who exactly is a ‘serial killer’. According to the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies,
“Serial killing is the rarest form of homicide, occurring when an individual has killed three or more people who were previously unknown to him or her, with a ‘cooling off’ period between each murder.”
Moreover, the FBI and Scotland Yard claims that serial killers have some common traits such as previous history of crime within the family, physical/sexual abuse and parental problems.
Since the existence of newspapers, the population always had a unique interest towards serial killers. This is one of the main reasons why people are attracted towards serial killers, it’s because of mass media. Nowadays, mass media are turning serial killers such as Ted bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer “Milwaukee Cannibal”, Dennis Rader “BTK Killer” into “celebrity monsters” through a lot of exaggeration and ‘almost-fictionalized’ story-telling. This helps the media attract a wider audience and increase profit margins. I guess the media has achieved their goal. More people are fascinated and obsessed with serial killers plus they do get a lot of revenue.
Second reason why we are drawn to serial killers is that they are in fact quite different from us. Most of us lead a normal life with normal problems. We exhibit normal emotions. Serial killers may act like normal people but they do have different behaviors and a different mind to do ghastly acts. That’s basically what attracts us to them. At least I know why I got attracted to serial killers in the first place, because they are different. I want to understand the working of their minds and behavior that led to them killing their victims.
Finally, we are attracted to them because they activate our darkest emotions. We feel terrified, scared and angry. Just as there are horror stories for children, serial killers give us real-life horror tales to get scared for life, sending us ecstatic adrenaline rush crawling in our spines.
So why are we fascinated by serial killers? Because the mass media does a good job in creating serial killers as ‘celebrity monsters’. Because we want to get inside the minds of the serial killers to understand it and why they did those killings. Because there’s an ecstatic adrenaline rush that these people bring upon us. Also, Scott Bonn who is the author of Why We Love Serial Killers: The Curious Appeal of the World’s Most Savage Murderers says in his article that
“….the serial killer is one of us. From a sociological perspective, he offers a safe and secure outlet for our darkest thoughts, feelings, and urges. He excites and tantalizes us. He also reminds us that despite all of our faults, the rest of us are just fine. Why are we fascinated with serial killers? Because, oddly enough, we need them.”
I kept reading the above paragraph over and over again, trying to understand what he’s trying to say. I mean, do serial killers actually provide us with a safe channel for our deepest and darkest thoughts? Do we have those darkest thoughts and feelings to do gruesome acts that serial killers had done in the past? It is true that serial killers excite and tantalize us, but do we actually need them? All I know is that I’m fascinated by them because they have a distinct mind and would love to know more of their mindsets.