“Hello. My name is Shhh and I am a serial killer fanatic.” In the imaginary circle of people surrounding me, everyone looks up at me analyzing the face of the new addition to the group. They all murmur the scripted welcome in response to my greeting, allowing me to delve into my story of how this came to be.
I am a young, teenaged college student on the surface with blue eyes and annoyingly frizzy brown, curly hair. Passing people on the street, I am just as nondescript as the average serial killer. My face elicits no shock, my actions are calm and average. Behind my eyes, however, the neurons rapidly firing in the gray matter between my ears illustrate a picture. In one of my multiple lanes of thought, it is solely dedicated to serial killers and psychopaths. Don’t misunderstand. Serial killers and psychopaths do not mean the same thing. Some serial killers are psychopaths and vice versa, but there is never an all-encompassing statement when it involves the convoluted human psyche. Let me break down the differences for you. A serial killer is any man or woman who has committed three or more murders, at least one of which was in the United States. A psychopath, this one is much more specific so I will stick to the basics for this one, is an individual who often fails to conform to social norms, is extremely adept at manipulating, is impulsive and reckless, shows signs of increased aggression, and lacks empathy and remorse for one’s actions. A serial killer is a murderer, but a psychopath can be anyone.
I didn’t truly start using brain power on these kinds of people until high school began. My AP psychology class briefly dipped into the massive web of abnormal psychology encompassing eating disorders to schizophrenia to psychopathy. All it took was a single lecture to break the dam in my mind that had kept these thoughts and curiosities at bay. Once my eyes were opened to this world I started watching more shows about twisted crimes performed by twisted people that tore families apart and left entire neighborhoods in ash.
My fascination with serial killers and psychopaths is rooted in two reasons. These people embody the most extreme form of a psychological fuck up. The most basic quality about humanity and humans, in general, is their seemingly inescapable need to feel compassion for others. This is what leads people to spew out words such as “monster,” “inhuman,” “heartless,” and “alien.” All of these thinly veiled attempts at dehumanizing this small group of people fall on deaf ears. Whether or not people want to believe that humans are capable of horrific acts of violence, people cannot ignore the fact that when examined at the core, Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, and Adolf Hitler are all humans too. The other reason I am so deeply intrigued by serial killers and psychopaths is their ability to go undetected for long periods of time.
Some of the men and women who can be categorized as either a serial killer or a psychopath went for years without being caught and some still are out loose. BTK a serial killer who started his reign of terror in the 70s in Wichita, Kansas, was not captured and arrested until 2005. He was loose for thirty years. Dennis Rader, BTK, is a prime example for the social chameleons these people turn out to be. They all spend time perfecting their fake laughs, smiles, lives, just in order to enjoy their true selves later at night when the world they created is sound asleep and they at last have solitude.
Serial killers and psychopaths could be your son, father, mother, sister, they walk beside you, live across from you, work with you, they look into the deep recesses of the human mind and instead of turning away from the horror found there, they find comfort. To most people, this kind of thought or discovery would unsettle them. To me, this is simply captivating. Some are born with the gift of song, dance, or poetry, but these individuals, they are born and ushered into a world plagued by ignorance, horror and welcome it with open arms and a fake smile plastered on their dainty cheeks.