HomeExplainersThe Psychology Of Serial Killer, Jeffrey Dahmer: Explained

The Psychology Of Serial Killer, Jeffrey Dahmer: Explained

How can anyone kill? How can they keep their victims’ heads and hearts as a reward? What goes inside their mind? These are among the many lingering questions currently plaguing the minds of anyone streaming “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” on Netflix. But how does one turn so cruel? How can someone lose all empathy for human life? Let’s take a deep dive into Dahmer’s past and uncover the psychology behind his serial killing.

Jeffrey Dahmer’s name often pops up while debating the question of the most notorious psychopaths and serial killers. His story is particularly unsettling, given the brutality with which he had murdered his captives. Dahmer was a disturbed man whose actions throughout his life have many people wondering how he eluded authorities for so long. Dahmer killed 17 boys between 1978 and 1991 and confessed that his crimes were horrific, claiming that he surely deserved to be executed for them.


Dahmer Had Been Showing Signs Of A Psychotic Killer Ever Since Childhood

Jeffrey was born in 1960, and at the age of four, he underwent an operation to fix a double hernia, following which he grew pretty reclusive. When he was a teenager, no one cared about him, and he had very few pals. Dahmer said that he first felt the impulse to kill when he was 14 years old, and it is debatable whether or not his parents could have helped him if they had pursued professional psychiatric care earlier. His mom was reportedly depressed and had tried to kill herself many times. His dad was absent frequently, and whenever he returned, he focused only on his mother. As a result, when his mother bore his younger brother, he disliked the new arrival and struggled for her time and affection.

Dahmer’s fascination with skeletons and skulls began shortly after his operation. His father had requested his assistance in removing dead animals from the crawl space beneath their house. Dahmer reflected on how, as a child, he delighted in hearing the bones rattle together when his father threw them aside. As a result, Dahmer’s interest in this area grew and, as a result, into something his father never considered dangerous. As a matter of fact, Dahmer’s father saw his son’s comments as innocent displays of enthusiasm and attempted to assist him. During their time together, he instructed teenage Jeffrey on ways to scrub and polish the bones. Tragically, he would utilize this talent to polish the skeletons of his victims in the future.

Jeffrey spent summers walking across ravines and streets searching for animal carcasses, which he kept in his father’s barn. His dissection methods grew increasingly gruesome; at one point, he severed the neck of a deceased dog and nailed the rest of its corpse to a branch. As a senior in high school, Jeffrey had presented his biology professor with a frog. The professor naturally had no need for a frog and passed it on to a different pupil. Upon hearing this, Dahmer traveled to the student’s home, where he removed the frog from its tank, doused it with petrol, and set it ablaze. At the age of 16, Dahmer confessed he had fantasized about murdering a female runner he often noticed jogging past. Until his senior year of high school, he had been able to keep his obsessions under check. During this period, Dahmer’s parents separated, and the young boy was kicked into therapy. And then it happened!


Dahmer’s First Victim

The horrors of these psychotic fantasies began in June 1978. He often stated that he constantly fantasized about killing and torturing other men. Two weeks after he finished high school, he picked up Steven Hicks, an 18-year-old wanderer who had been headed to a music festival at Chippewa Lake Park, Ohio. He extended an invitation to his place for some drinks.

Hicks consented. The duo played some songs and took a few shots. Hicks finally decided to leave, but little did he know his beer buddy had different plans. Dahmer picked up a heavy dumbbell and attacked Hicks as he was seated in a recliner. After knocking him out, Dahmer suffocated him, finally sucking up whatever life was left in him. He took his corpse downstairs and started dissecting it. He dealt with his body by burying it in his garden. He unearthed the corpse months later, stripped the skin of the skeleton, and disintegrated it in acid, ultimately flushing his remains into the gutter. He used a hammer to smash the skulls and then scattered fragments throughout the garden.

Later in life, he started drinking and was forced by his father to join the military in 1978. He left the military in 1981 after being medically released. His return to Ohio resulted in two arrests for indecent behavior; one of these incidents had him engaging in inappropriate behavior in the presence of two teenage boys.

In 1987, Dahmer murdered 24-year-old Stephen Tuomi, a guy he had befriended at a pub. They checked into a motel, where Dahmer was horrified to uncover Tuomi’s body the next morning. His whole face was bruised, while his torso was broken. He claimed he couldn’t recall murdering the man. He bought a trunk just to move the corpse to his grandma’s cellar. He then severed his skull, limbs, and body into digestible chunks. He bagged up the remains and discarded them outside. He ended up keeping the head as a prized memento.

To preserve the skull, he simmered it in caustic soda and chlorine. He photographed the dissection, kept  Toumi’s head and genitalia, and ate human flesh. Because he wished to feel connected to and own his targets forever, he confessed to devouring their hearts or cardiac muscles. He formed an unhealthy fixation on resurrecting the dead. He urged them to show deference to him. Strange noises and odors were emanating from his flat, and his neighbors had started to complain. He first made incisions in his victims’ heads and then poured hydrochloric acid or hot water directly into their heads. According to police reports, he had at least murdered 12 men in the same flat.


Dahmer’s Luck Finally Ran Out In 1991

On the evening of July 22, 1991, Jeffrey offered Tracy Edwards some cash to visit his flat. Dahmer shackled Tracy and led him to his bedroom, where he brandished a meat cleaver. After a brief struggle, Edwards managed to get away and ran, shrieking and sobbing, onto the roads. He stumbled onto a patrol vehicle. When authorities searched Dahmer’s flat for a key, they discovered a knife instead. After searching the flat, they uncovered 7 skulls as well as a heart stored in the freezer, respectively. His wardrobe served as a temple to his fetish for skulls. Following Dahmer’s incarceration, he admitted to being guilty of his crimes and provided details of every gruesome aspect of them. All of his targets were young men, and the majority were either homosexual or black. In spite of his success for nearly a decade, his murdering spree eventually came to an end.


Dahmer Knew What He Was Doing

The judges concluded that Dahmer was aware of the viciousness of his actions yet chose to carry them out regardless. So, he was judged guilty on all charges but otherwise mentally stable. The judge imposed 15 separate life sentences on him. Officials initially isolated him from other detainees; however, he eventually persuaded them to allow him to socialize with them. On November 28, 1994, another convict, Christopher Scarver, murdered him. According to an article published in 2015, Scarver explained why he had murdered Dahmer. He claimed that Dahmer’s atrocities troubled him and that the former would shape his jail meals like dismembered limbs to annoy his other prisoners. The two inmates, Jeffrey and another, had been taunting him, and he had finally snapped. He said that the jail officials were aware of his activities but did nothing to stop him.


Those Like Dahmer Are Often The Byproduct Of Troubled Childhood

Serial killers or psychopaths often have troubled upbringings. They suffer from relationship issues and an overwhelming feeling of being abandoned. They may subsequently transgress legal bounds since they were not raised with control, affection, or restrictions. Most of the time, they are brilliant and strategic, which helps them escape imprisonment for a long time.

Serial Killers exhibit abnormal behavior, like an addiction to erotica. Some of them will have run-ins with the law when they are young adults. They might be pardoned because of their young age. As two examples, the cops knew  Ian Brady and Fred West from when they were teens. Their offenses often include arson, petty theft, or animal abuse. When taken to trial, Jeffrey appeared to be a normal guy in his teens. He donned attire that would make him less noticeable to the general public and law enforcement. He was shy, reclusive, and preferred to avoid crowds and celebrations.

Jeffrey had several psychotic and other mental health symptoms. However, he was never properly diagnosed or treated. Dahmer’s entire childhood was marred by his predilection for bone collection and cruelty to pets. So, Milwaukee was unprepared for the horror that was going to erupt.


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Rishabh Shandilya
Rishabh Shandilya
Rishabh considers himself a superhero who is always at work trying to save the world from boredom. In his leisure time, he loves to watch more movies and play video games and tries to write about them to entertain his readers further. Rishabh likes to call himself a dedicated fan of Haruki Murakami, whose books are an escape from his real being.

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