It is possible that the act of taking the life of another human being is one of the most publicized and repudiated in our society, and one of the most difficult to understand. In this article we will try to give an answer to what internal psychological processes guide the commission of a murder, what motivations “move” serial killers and why these homicidal behaviors are maintained; but we must not forget that in each case these motivations will vary more or less.
The concept of homicide motivation
Homicidal motivation is a multidimensional constructThis means that there are several classic concepts to consider related to serial killer motivation, such as: modeling (learning or improving behavior by imitation), trial and error techniques (honing your modus operandi), vicarious learning (see a behavior to be learned from him), self-reinforcement and behavior conditioning, and the killer’s own justifications that perpetuate the commission of these murders.
So the killers can come and learn and shape their behavior. In fact, one of the “problems” in prisons is that many convicts come to learn how to commit murders more accurately from the explanations of other criminals.
The 3 types of motivation in homicides
While basic motivational processes are similar to those of other non-homicidal people, killers often have certain goals, different assignments, and most importantly, faulty or biased cognitions. Let’s say that the cognitive processes associated with certain acts are reassessed through them distorted cognitive processes.
Homicides in general, and serial killers in particular (a concept introduced by Robert K. Ressler in the 1970s), often do what meets their needs and use violence as a means to achieve their ends. This statement is part of the basic motivational processes of any person, but instead of using violence as a method of action, non-homicidal people use other strategies.
The emphasis is on knowing the criminal motivation for homicides and the type of violence used. The way and the means employed will provide us with crucial clues as to their motivation. This is why the analysis of the crime scene is so important, because it reflects the abuser’s mood and feelings, which can give us clues as to why they committed this crime.
We will describe below the three basic types of homicidal motivation. Obviously, they are not mutually exclusive, but in some abusers, either can be more intense.
1. Revenge and justification
The main motivation for these killings is to take revenge more or less specifically on those who, according to them, have contributed to their misfortunes.
these killers they justify their acts as lawful and just; for them, Murder is a natural consequence of the mistreatment or unwarranted rejection of which they have been subjected. They feel they need to punish a profile of people for something they have done or for what they represent (e.g. an abuser who as a young man has been repeatedly rejected by women, years later, he will take revenge for these facts by killing several women who have nothing to do with the case, but who look like those who initially rejected him).
2. Control and power
If there is one thing that is totally empowering for a killer, it is the feeling of power, even if it is fleeting. They have absolute control and power over the victim, over his life or death. It is common to feel “omnipotent”, that is, to be like some kind of God. It is an experience that can become totally addictive for the abuser, becoming a very powerful source of personal satisfaction. It can fill the void they feel in other areas of their life, such as boredom, going unnoticed, being “one more” …
This sense of control-power reinforces and maintains aggressive behaviorIt is therefore very likely that if the killer moves for this type of motivation, he will return to action.
in front of a general state of unrelieved discomfort or excitement, An attempt is made to look for a behavior or activity that releases them from this tension. They exhibit a state of anxiety, nervousness and agitation that often manifests itself in alcoholism or antisocial behavior, and other times ends in a homicidal act.
The cathartic moment of expression of feelings and anger it is the murder itself, and an intense feeling of euphoria and ecstasy is common. After the murderous act comes a feeling of intense calm and pleasure, of relief. However, this feeling of relief does not last forever, and the most common is the appearance after a certain time of new feelings of restlessness, anguish, tension, accumulated anger … They have learned that to “relieve” these sensations infallibly is the commission of a murder.
Final Thoughts on Motivation in Murders
We must qualify the criminal motivation of homicide: the motivation of a murderer is implicit, individual and unjustified. There are as many motivations as there are murderers: it is difficult to identify all the motivations for homicides among the three types mentioned above, although this classification can be of initial help in understanding their motivations.
In this sense, the motivations for committing murder have always been very heterogeneous: there are ideological, religious (proof of this is ISIS terrorism), passionate, selfish, economic, revenge, etc. Obviously, the best way to find out the motivations behind serial homicides is to talk to them directly, conduct a thorough interview with a trained professional and draw conclusions. Some well-known interviews in this field are those conducted with Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy.
The most important thing, rather than being able to frame the killer in one type of motivation or another within the classification, is to be able to predict what is important to him and why he is doing it, to be able to understand what his criminal is. staff. motivation is, what is its story. In this way, we can more accurately predict their behavior, analyze their behavior in more detail and be able to stop it.