Serial Killers

Written by Sam Vaknin


Countess Erszebet Bathory was a breathtakingly beautiful, unusually well-educated woman, married to a descendant of Vlad Dracula of Bram Stoker fame. In 1611, she was tried - though, being a noblewoman, not convicted - in Hungary for slaughtering 612 young girls. The true figure may have been 40-100, thoughrepparttar Countess recorded in her diary more than 610 girls and 50 bodies were found in her estate when it was raided.

The Countess was notorious as an inhuman sadist long before her hygienic fixation. She once orderedrepparttar 126199 mouth of a talkative servant sewn. It is rumoured that in her childhood she witnessed a gypsy being sewn into a horse's stomach and left to die.

The girls were not killed outright. They were kept in a dungeon and repeatedly pierced, prodded, pricked, and cut. The Countess may have bitten chunks of flesh off their bodies while alive. She is said to have bathed and showered in their blood inrepparttar 126200 mistaken belief that she could thus slow downrepparttar 126201 aging process.

Her servants were executed, their bodies burnt and their ashes scattered. Being royalty, she was merely confined to her bedroom until she died in 1614. For a hundred years after her death, by royal decree, mentioning her name in Hungary was a crime.

Cases like Barothy's giverepparttar 126202 lie torepparttar 126203 assumption that serial killers are a modern - or even post-modern - phenomenon, a cultural-societal construct, a by-product of urban alienation, Althusserian interpellation, and media glamorization. Serial killers are, indeed, largely made, not born. But they are spawned by every culture and society, molded byrepparttar 126204 idiosyncrasies of every period as well as by their personal circumstances and genetic makeup.

Still, every crop of serial killers mirrors and reifiesrepparttar 126205 pathologies ofrepparttar 126206 milieu,repparttar 126207 depravity ofrepparttar 126208 Zeitgeist, andrepparttar 126209 malignancies ofrepparttar 126210 Leitkultur. The choice of weapons,repparttar 126211 identity and range ofrepparttar 126212 victims,repparttar 126213 methodology of murder,repparttar 126214 disposal ofrepparttar 126215 bodies,repparttar 126216 geography,repparttar 126217 sexual perversions and paraphilias - are all informed and inspired byrepparttar 126218 slayer's environment, upbringing, community, socialization, education, peer group, sexual orientation, religious convictions, and personal narrative. Movies like "Born Killers", "Man Bites Dog", "Copycat", andrepparttar 126219 Hannibal Lecter series captured this truth.

Serial killers arerepparttar 126220 quiddity and quintessence of malignant narcissism.

Yet, to some degree, we all are narcissists. Primary narcissism is a universal and inescapable developmental phase. Narcissistic traits are common and often culturally condoned. To this extent, serial killers are merely our reflection through a glass darkly.

In their book "Personality Disorders in Modern Life", Theodore Millon and Roger Davis attribute pathological narcissism to "a society that stresses individualism and self-gratification atrepparttar 126221 expense of community ... In an individualistic culture,repparttar 126222 narcissist is 'God's gift torepparttar 126223 world'. In a collectivist society,repparttar 126224 narcissist is 'God's gift torepparttar 126225 collective'". Lasch describedrepparttar 126226 narcissistic landscape thus (in "The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an age of Diminishing Expectations", 1979):

"The new narcissist is haunted not by guilt but by anxiety. He seeks not to inflict his own certainties on others but to find a meaning in life. Liberated fromrepparttar 126227 superstitions ofrepparttar 126228 past, he doubts evenrepparttar 126229 reality of his own existence ... His sexual attitudes are permissive rather than puritanical, even though his emancipation from ancient taboos brings him no sexual peace.

Fiercely competitive in his demand for approval and acclaim, he distrusts competition because he associates it unconsciously with an unbridled urge to destroy ... He (harbours) deeply antisocial impulses. He praises respect for rules and regulations inrepparttar 126230 secret belief that they do not apply to himself. Acquisitive inrepparttar 126231 sense that his cravings have no limits, he ... demands immediate gratification and lives in a state of restless, perpetually unsatisfied desire."

The narcissist's pronounced lack of empathy, off-handed exploitativeness, grandiose fantasies and uncompromising sense of entitlement make him treat all people as though they were objects (he "objectifies" people). The narcissist regards others as either useful conduits for and sources of narcissistic supply (attention, adulation, etc.) - or as extensions of himself.

Similarly, serial killers often mutilate their victims and abscond with trophies - usually, body parts. Some of them have been known to eatrepparttar 126232 organs they have ripped - an act of merging withrepparttar 126233 dead and assimilating them through digestion. They treat their victims as some children do their rag dolls.

Killingrepparttar 126234 victim - often capturing him or her on film beforerepparttar 126235 murder - is a form of exerting unmitigated, absolute, and irreversible control over it. The serial killer aspires to "freeze time" inrepparttar 126236 still perfection that he has choreographed. The victim is motionless and defenseless. The killer attains long sought "object permanence". The victim is unlikely to run onrepparttar 126237 serial assassin, or vanish as earlier objects inrepparttar 126238 killer's life (e.g., his parents) have done.

In malignant narcissism,repparttar 126239 true self ofrepparttar 126240 narcissist is replaced by a false construct, imbued with omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. The narcissist's thinking is magical and infantile. He feels immune torepparttar 126241 consequences of his own actions. Yet, this very source of apparently superhuman fortitude is alsorepparttar 126242 narcissist's Achilles heel.

The narcissist's personality is chaotic. His defense mechanisms are primitive. The whole edifice is precariously balanced on pillars of denial, splitting, projection, rationalization, and projective identification. Narcissistic injuries - life crises, such as abandonment, divorce, financial difficulties, incarceration, public opprobrium - can bringrepparttar 126243 whole thing tumbling down. The narcissist cannot afford to be rejected, spurned, insulted, hurt, resisted, criticized, or disagreed with.

Likewise,repparttar 126244 serial killer is trying desperately to avoid a painful relationship with his object of desire. He is terrified of being abandoned or humiliated, exposed for what he is and then discarded. Many killers often have sex -repparttar 126245 ultimate form of intimacy - withrepparttar 126246 corpses of their victims. Objectification and mutilation allow for unchallenged possession.

What is Narcissism?

Written by Sam Vaknin


A pattern of traits and behaviours which signify infatuation and obsession with one's self torepparttar exclusion of all others andrepparttar 126198 egotistic and ruthless pursuit of one's gratification, dominance and ambition.

Most narcissists (50-75%, according torepparttar 126199 DSM-IV-TR) are men. The Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is one of a "family" of personality disorders (known as "Cluster B"). Other members of Cluster B are Borderline PD, Antisocial PD and Histrionic PD. NPD is often diagnosed with other mental health disorders ("co-morbidity") or with substance abuse and impulsive and reckless behaviours ("dual diagnosis"). NPD is new (1980) mental health category inrepparttar 126200 Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM). There is only scant research regarding narcissism. But what there is has not demonstrated any ethnic, social, cultural, economic, genetic, or professional predilection to NPD. It is estimated that 0.7-1% ofrepparttar 126201 general population suffer from NPD. Pathological narcissism was first described in detail by Freud. Other major contributors are: Klein, Horney, Kohut, Kernberg, Millon, Roningstam, Gunderson, Hare. The onset of narcissism is in infancy, childhood and early adolescence. It is commonly attributed to childhood abuse and trauma inflicted by parents, authority figures, or even peers. There is a whole range of narcissistic reactions fromrepparttar 126202 mild, reactive and transient torepparttar 126203 permanent personality disorder. Narcissistic Supply is outside attention usually positive (adulation, affirmation, fame, celebrity) used byrepparttar 126204 narcissist to regulate his labile sense of self-worth. Narcissists are either "cerebral" (derive their Narcissistic Supply from their intelligence or academic achievements) or "somatic" (derive their Narcissistic Supply from their physique, exercise, physical or sexual prowess and romantic or physical "conquests"). Narcissists are either "classic" [see definition below] or they are "compensatory", or "inverted" [see definitions here: "The Inverted Narcissist"]. The classic narcissist is self-confident,repparttar 126205 compensatory narcissist covers up in his haughty behaviour for a deep-seated deficit in self-esteem, andrepparttar 126206 inverted type is a co-dependent who caters torepparttar 126207 emotional needs of a classic narcissist. NPD is treated in talk therapy (psychodynamic or cognitive-behavioural). The prognosis for an adult narcissist is poor, though his adaptation to life and to others can improve with treatment. Medication is applied to side-effects and behaviours (such as mood or affect disorders and obsession-compulsion) usually with some success. The ICD-10,repparttar 126208 International Classification of Mental and Behavioural Disorders, published byrepparttar 126209 World Health Organisation in Geneva [1992] regards Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as "a personality disorder that fits none ofrepparttar 126210 specific rubrics". It relegates it torepparttar 126211 category "Other Specific Personality Disorders" together withrepparttar 126212 eccentric, "haltlose", immature, passive-aggressive, and psychoneurotic personality disorders and types.

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