Concluding comment Self-psychology and serial killers

Concluding comment Self-psychology and serial killers

It seems adequate to ask, whether the experienced rejections of mother, father and the rest of the world that was analyzed, really offered D.B. any other alternative than those actions he made. Put in another way, the forensic psychiatrist, Seymour Halleck asks; “If mother, parents, or authority are consistently visualized as all powerful, cruel or arbitrary what behaviors are available to the individual?”  (Halleck, 2001, p. 168). It seems quite likely that an answer to that question, in relation to D.B., should be that his earlier experiences had restricted his alternatives substantially.

However, it can attract criticism, that there are people who have gone through the same as D.B., but who managed not to kill anyone. The concept of resilience can be mentioned in relation to this. Resilience is a quality that seems to be manifested different from individual to individual, and is influencing the degree of how the individual is affected by trauma and other difficulties. A study of Kim-Cohen et al. (2004) indicates that resilience is both a result of genetic and environmental factors. Apparently, resilience is not a quality that D.B. seems to own. This is as it does seem quite clear, that there are factors that have affected him and influenced the personality, and consequently the murdering behavior.

The suggestion in this thesis is that understanding serial killers is essential. If one are not able to understand the behavior, one can not either expect, to do anything about it: “We cannot treat, except empirically, what we do not understand and we cannot prevent, except fortuitously, what we do not comprehend.” (Robert Brittain in Meloy, 2000, p. 19). The following quote made by D.B., does also imply a need for understanding what is really happening in a serial killer: “I believe it is vitally important for workers in the mental field, and the public at large to understand what was on my mind and what really motivated me to commit my crimes. No doubt another ‘Son of Sam’ (multiple murder) will follow in my path.” (Abrahamsen, 1985, p. 224).

Concerning “the myth of untreatability”, Strasburger (2001) has stated that the myth is not only due to the effect of countertransferences, but that it also is a cause to them (Strasburger, 2001, p. 302). This statement it indicating that the widely held pessimism is unfortunate. It is thus to be suspected that the pessimism concerning treatment of psychopaths is based on a contagious epidemic, where the worst threat is that it can become a self fulfilling prophecy.

The intent in this work has included a suggestion to some therapeutic strategies with serial killers that seem likely to be efficient. The suggestion is not necessarily a final solution, but as Kohut has stated in a lecture regarding therapy; “… there is nothing else to do but to work, to improve, to correct. There is no perfection. There is only a striving for perfection.” (1974, p. 4).


Understanding Son of Sam