|author Patricia Gligor|
Our Fascination with Serial Killers
The blurb on the back of my mystery novel, Mixed Messages, begins: “It is estimated there are at least twenty to thirty active serial killers in the United States at any given time. There’s one on the loose on the west side of Cincinnati.”Actually, according to many articles I’ve read on the subject, that’s an extremely conservative estimate but even the FBI can’t give us actual statistics. No one knows for sure.
So, why did I write a novel where a serial killer is attacking women in their homes? Because the subject intrigues me and, from the responses I get when I tell people what my novel is about, a lot of other people feel the same way. I say “serial killer” and their eyes light up. Why?
There are lots of theories offering answers to that question. Some say it’s a throwback to the legends of vampires, which existed since the dawn of time. Those legends were romanticized and offered nineteenth century writers a way to capture the interest of Victorian society. From Dracula to Jack the Ripper to Hannibal Lectern in Silence of the Lambs, serial killers offer exciting forays into dark worlds.
Others speculate that the intrigue lies solely in the fact that, most of the time, serial killers look just like our brothers, friends, neighbors. People have a difficult time believing that someone who is described by co-workers and neighbors as “a nice guy, a sweet, quiet, awkward bachelor who lived with his mother” could be responsible for such horrendous crimes as the notorious Joel Rifkin and many of the other infamous serial killers throughout history. The fact that a killer could live next door to them, although chilling, adds a little spice to their otherwise hum-drum lives.
But, surely, there are common characteristics of serial killers. A way to identify them, to separate them from the rest of us. Yes and no. Mostly no. The majority of the research on the childhood backgrounds of these monsters reveals that many serial killers suffered either a severe psychological trauma and/or physical or sexual abuse. Also, many future serial killers are known to have tortured small animals but many SKs didn’t and, strangely enough, some people who exhibit that behavior as children, grow up to be “normal.”
Then, why do some people who endure psychological and/or physical abuse as children grow up to be relatively mentally healthy adults who contribute to society while others become serial killers? Many experts agree that serial killers lack adequate coping mechanisms. Think of it this way: while some people get the flu, others don’t because they have a strong resistance or tolerance. Serial killers, lacking this resistance, as they grow older, are unable to deal with the stress everyone has at some point in their life. They have defective emotional immune systems.
Are you fascinated with serial killers? If so, why?
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Link to book trailer for Mixed Messages
Link to Pat's bloghttp://pat-writersforum.blogspot.com/