Could you be living next to a serial killer? Often we hear how nice or quiet a serial killer was prior to finding out they had left a trail of bodies behind. What is it about these murderers that drive them to the unthinkable? Well, there are common traits, and here we look at the 10 characteristics most common.
Of course, this is not a pleasant thing to think about, but it may be important to know just in case you come in contact with an individual with these traits. Note, this doesn’t necessarily mean someone with these traits is a serial killer, but you may want to keep an eye on them.
It’s a little scary to say there are a lot of traits shared by serial killers, a couple just missed the list is that they tend to be very smart with above average IQ’s. Also, most serial killers like to start fires. That in itself is not too surprising, but good to know.
Are you living next to a serial killer? Worse, are you raising one? Knowing the common traits isn’t going to answer those questions, but there’s no such thing as too much information, correct? Here are 10 common traits most serial killers posses.
10. Most Are Male
Over 90% of serial killers are male. No surprises most are male, but 90% is a surprising figure. Also, most are white males. If you have ever watched Law & Order you know the profile; they definitely have gotten “that guy” nailed down. Here’s a sad fact – that guy looks very much like me! Not cool, it’s not my fault I check those three boxes. Now I have to stay close to my child at the playground to ensure people don’t call the cops on me. During my research I was worried “likes to blog and is a big fan of popsicles” would also make the list. Lucky for me, that’s not one of the common traits.
9. Substance Abuse
This is caused in a couple ways. First, mothers who drink expose their children to a number of birth defects including central nervous system problems, smaller brains or even disabilities. Any of these issues could lead to an imbalance in the head. Secondly, if someone is brought up in a home with substance abuse, it could be even worse. Per the FBI, greater than 70% of serial killers grew up in homes with substance abuse. However, to put a twist on this, most serial killers are not substance abuse abusers despite encountering alcohol and drug problems while growing up.
8. Psychological Abuse
When children are abused it can stay with them throughout their lives. Almost half of serial killers dealt with some form of neglect or psychological abuse during their childhood. Either they were heavily disciplined, emotionally abused or just flat out neglected. No home is perfect, but these circumstances were often extreme, leaving the person without anyone to go to. Specifically neglect plays a key role on the psyche, leading a person to not feel empathy or even function in everyday society. Psychological abuse can impact how a person deals with personal relationships, keep a job or form a bond within their community.
7. Childhood Sexual Stress
Being forced to dress up as a girl or punished for masturbation is likely to have long-lasting, damaging effects on children. Worse, is that many serial killers have witnessed, first-hand, violent acts of sex between family, sometimes their own parents. Then there’s the worst, being sexually abused by parents or family members. None of these situations are healthy, but the latter is known to create fantasies that are violent and don’t leave once the children turn into adults. Sexual abuse creates isolation, learning problems and sometimes physical issues (seizures) due to the stress. Those abused are afraid to seek help and for some, turns them into a life of crime, or murder.
Socialization is important that starts with having a loving family, not one that’s at odds with each other. Often, families of serial killers are on the move a lot and children are bounced around from town to town, school to school and sometimes, shelter to shelter. What this all means is that these children grow up without having or even knowing what a relationships is, never mind a meaningful one. Hence, these children grow up alone and become “loners”, some of them will find harmful hobbies such as lighting fires (arson), use of weapons or aggressiveness toward others. All traits that if not addressed can manifest into tendencies to create much bigger crimes, such as killing sprees.
You can add fantasies into dreams here. For serial killers, their fantasies revolve around validation, control and pain. What’s interesting is that serial killers don’t ever have good fantasies? Even as children they only remember dark dreams and some would even fantasize about mutilating themselves. Often focusing on their own trauma, they refuse to reach out for help and allow the thoughts to grown until they are an obsession. Serial killers fantasize about killing and then after, fantasize on the actual murder and what they could have done better.
4. Encountered Injuries
Up to 70% of serial killers have had head injuries, often extensive as children. A clear link that is really scary considering it may not be intentional. Head injuries can impair judgment or create an imbalance that messes with hormones, forms of amnesia or extra aggression. The other type of injury is forced physical abuse. Being beaten by their parents or others close to them that lead to long-term injuries is another directly linked attribute serial killers show. Again, especially if the injured area is the head is the frontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls your planning and sense of judgment.
3. Paraphilias (Fetishes)
The definition of paraphilias is a recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasy, sexual urge or behavior involving nonhuman objects, suffering, or children. In their youth, future serial killers are often “peeping toms” and interested in voyeurism. Initially this may look like innocent adolescent curiosity (and it may be), but will sometimes escalate into breaking and entering, molestation, rape or even murder. Torture and bondage also often plays a role in the fetishes harbored by serial killers. We have been taught by Law & Order to refer to these fetishes as the serial killers “calling card,” or their method of torture or murder. Fetishes are the overriding motivation that becomes too much to not carry out in the mind of the serial killer.
2. Bed Wetters
Over 60% of serial killers are not only bed wetters as children, but they continue to wet the bed past the age of 12 years old. Some research has shown there is no direct link, but that high percentage shouldn’t be ignored. They also have greater tendencies toward arson and cruelty to animals. Research has shown that any child who continues to wet the bed past the age of 5 has problems, especially if they are teased or disciplined because of it. You could argue that it’s the discipline or humiliation that is associated and not the bed wetting itself, regardless, the numbers are there and the numbers (60%) are quite high.
1. Animal Torture
Here’s a clear red flag that should not be taken lightly. Just about every serial killer (99%) admits to cruelty to animals, committing their fantasies on animals, many defenseless. Part of this is due to the neglect of their family who is often oblivious to the fact that their children are committing such acts to animals. Pre-killers are really experimenting and also may be calling out for help so what happens when no one comes to their aid? They continue the torture. Serial killers channel their loneliness and frustrations into hurting the animals, sometimes perfecting an art that later is performed on human victims.