Life and psychological portrait of Ed Gein, “The Butcher of Plainfield” (1/2)

Ed gein was one of the most infamous assassins in U.S. criminal history, Also known as the “Butcher of Plainfield” (Wisconsin), in honor of the locality where he committed the acts. His case has inspired many of the best known and iconic characters in literary and cinematographic horror and suspense works of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, such as Norman Bates (“Psycho”, by Alfred Hitchcock, 1960 )., Leatherface (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, by Tobe Hooper, 1974) or Buffallo Bill (“The Silence of the Lambs”, by Jonathan Demme, 1990).

The Context of Ed Gein’s Life and Murders

To better understand Gein’s story, we need to move to the deep America of the 1950s, a society marked by prejudices and sexist ideals already outdated today. A clear example would be the radio and television censorship of married life (many have been shown in television programs or commercials sleeping in separate beds in the same room), as well as an obvious desire to eliminate all those symbols and images that could make us commit “carnal sins”.

Ed Gein was born and raised on a farm on the outskirts of a village called Plainfield (La Crosse County, Wisconsin), the result of the union of George, an abusive alcoholic who was characterized by his lack of devotion to his family, and Augusta. She, who was a religious fanatic with strong convictions who looked down on men, he considered women to be the object of sin from which he had to keep his two children away, Henry (1902) and Ed (1906).

This marriage was characterized by a deficient parenting style which was the first relevant factor that helped create the Ed’s antisocial personality: Many sociopaths are not only because of the inherent characteristics that shape them this way, but mostly because they received an education from their parents that took them away from any prosocial activity and led them to deviant socialization, returning – able to take responsibility and / or adapt to the rules and expectations of the society in which they live.

Therefore, the childhood of Ed and his brother was very hard: his mother imposed strict discipline on them and constantly punished and beat them, unable to show affection or love for their children; while the father spent all his money in the village tavern. Contrary to what one might think years later, Ed Gein felt a great aversion to blood and the slaughter or sacrifice of animals, activities otherwise typical of villages devoted to ranching. In fact, he was very marked when, as a teenager, he saw him hiding through the glass of the slaughterhouse door of his parents’ shop while he held one pig by the legs while the other, armed with a long sharp knife, opened his belly in a channel and tore the intestines with great skill from the animal, which was dying between shrill cries.

The personality of Ed Gein: a stormy adolescence

However, it is also true that Ed is passionate about reading comics, magazines and books about murder, death or violence (“Tales from the Crypt”, among others), and even the torture that took place under the Nazis. Concentration camps. These subjects caused a great fascination to him, getting to him to absorb and to isolate until losing the notion of reality. He always went to school, his mother forbade him to form any friendship with his classmates (let alone his classmates) alleging, Bible in hand and verse, that they were sinners and should stay away. of them.

While the first parental responsibility is to provide for the basic needs of the children (feed, nourish and protect), the second most important function is their socialization and can be carried out by both parents, the father or the mother. In this case, the mother. So, because of Augusta’s incompetence in educating Ed, giving him the resources she needs to be able to live in society and allow herself to socialize with her peers, this increased his tendency to retreat, marginalize and be lonely, Taking refuge in the fantasies of death and depravity in the comics and books he read locked in his room. This hermit and obsessive predisposition would be the second factor that forged his personality and defined him for the rest of his life.

The death of his father, George Gein

After years of drunkenness, beatings to his wife and children, harassment and constant contempt, George Gein died in 1940 at the age of 66. From that point on, the family business started to go wrong and Ed and Henry had to look for work and bring home money. This made their relationship strained, but it became strained when Henry observed the dependent relationship and the obvious Oedipus complex developed by his younger brother.

The Oedipus Complex is an expression Sigmund Freud used to refer to the supposed conflict that children experience when they feel incestuous desire for their mother, while towards their father and whoever threatens this relationship they are hostile and angry. This is why Henry chose to walk away and try to stay out of this toxic relationship, going against his mother’s orders.

He died under strange circumstances in a fire caused by stubble that he and his brother burned after the garden of his farm, and although his corpse had obvious blows to the head with a blunt object, in the report of death was classified as death by suffocation. It operated in 1944. Shortly thereafter, Augusta Gein suffered a heart attack and Ed cared for her devoutly until her death twelve months later.. After what happened, he locked his mother’s room, keeping it intact as she had left it, and started doing small chores for his neighbors.

The loss of her mother signified the third factor that he shaped Ed Gein’s personality and was the trigger for the murders and acts he committedThey had two clear reasons: first, the desire to keep alive the idea or the illusion that their mother was still alive and at home. The second, the obsession with the feminine gender following years of repression, reprimands and punishments that Augusta had inflicted on her.

His first murders

On December 8, 1954, a village farmer named Seymour Lester entered the Hogan Tavern and found it deserted despite the door opening and the lights on. Seeing that no one came out to take care of him, he inquired about the stay and found a .32 caliber round next to a trail of dry blood that started right behind the bar and went through the back door..

The trail led to the parking lot behind the premises, where the man could see that owner’s car, Mary Hogan, was still parked in its usual spot and the river of blood was lost next to a few brands of freshly made tires in the area. snow.


Read the 2nd part of Ed Gein’s story: Life and psychological portrait of Ed Gein, the butcher of Plainfield (2/2)

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