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The 3 main types of homicidal motivation in murderers

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Possibly, the act of taking the life of another human being is one of the most mediated and repudiated in our society, and one of the most difficult to understand. In this article we are going to try to answer what internal psychological processes guide the commission of a murder, what motivations "move" serial killers and why such homicidal behaviors continue; although it must be taken into account that in each case these motivations will vary to a greater or lesser degree.

  • Related article: "Forensic psychology: definition and functions of the forensic psychologist"

The concept of homicidal motivation

Homicidal motivation is a multidimensional constructThis means that there are several classic concepts to take into account related to the motivation of serial killers, such as: modeling (learn or improve a behavior by imitation), trial and error techniques (perfect their modus operandi), vicarious learning (see a behavior to learn from it), the self-reinforcement and conditioning of the behavior and the murderer's own justifications that perpetuate the commission of these murders.

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Thus, murderers can learn and model their behaviors. In fact, one of the "problems" that exist in prisons is that many convicted prisoners come to learn to commit murders more precisely thanks to the explanations of other criminals.

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The 3 types of motivation in homicides

Although the basic motivational processes are similar to those of other non-homicidal people, murderers They tend to have specific objectives, different attributions and, above all, erroneous cognitions or skewed. Let's say that the cognitive processes associated with some acts are re-evaluated through them distorted cognitive processes.

Murderers in general, and especially serial killers (a concept introduced by Robert K. Ressler in the 70s), often do what meets their needs, and use violence as a means to achieve their ends. This statement is framed within the basic motivational processes of any person, but in Instead of using violence as a method of action, non-homicidal persons employ other strategies.

The focus to know the criminal motivation in homicides is on the type of violence used. The way and means used will provide us with crucial clues about your motivation.. This is why the analysis of the crime scene is so extremely important, as it reflects the state of mood of the aggressor and his feelings, which can give us clues to know why he has committed that crime.

Next we will describe the three basic types of homicidal motivation. Obviously, they are not mutually exclusive, but in some aggressors one or the other may be more intense.

1. Revenge and justification

The main motivation of these murderers is to take revenge in a more or less specific way on those who they believe 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 unjustified rejection they have suffered. They feel that they should punish a profile of people for something they have done or for what they represent (p. For example, an aggressor who as a young man has been rejected on several occasions by women, years later will take revenge for these acts murdering several women who have nothing to do with the matter, but who look like the ones he initially rejected).

2. Control and power

If there is one thing that is totally reinforcing for a murderer, it is the feeling of power, even if it is fleeting. They have absolute control and power over the victim, over her life or death. The feeling of being "omnipotent" is common, that is, being like a kind of God. It is an experience that can become totally addictive for the aggressor, becoming a very powerful source of personal satisfaction. You can fill the void you feel in other spheres of your life, such as boredom, going unnoticed, being "one more" ...

This sense of control-power reinforces and maintains aggressive behaviors, so it is very likely that if the murderer moves by this type of motivation he will return to action.

  • You may be interested: "Femicide (murders of women): definition, types and causes"

3. Ecstasy-Relief

In view of a general state of unrelieved discomfort or excitement, you try to find a behavior or activity that releases them from that tension. They present a state of anxiety, nervousness and restlessness that often manifests itself in alcoholism or antisocial behavior, and other times it 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 there is a feeling of intense and pleasant calm, of relief. However, this feeling of relief does not last forever, and the most common is the appearance after a while of new feelings of restlessness, anxiety, tension, accumulated anger... They have learned that to "alleviate" these sensations an infallible way is the commission of a murder.

Final Reflection on Murder Motivation

We must make some nuances about the criminal motivation in homicides: the motivation of a murderer is implicit, individual and not justified. We will find as many motivations as there are murderers: it is difficult to identify all the motivations of the murderers within of the three types mentioned above, although this classification may be of initial help in order to understand their motivations.

In this sense, the motivations for committing a murder have always been very heterogeneous: there are motivations ideological, religious (proof of this is the terrorism of ISIS), passionate, selfish, economic motivations, revenge, etc. Obviously the best way to find out the motivations of serial killers is to speak directly to them conduct a thorough interview by a trained professional and draw conclusions. Some very famous interviews in this area are the one with Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy.

The most important thing, rather than being able to frame the murderer in one type of motivation or another within the classification, is being able to predict what is important to him and why he does it, understand what his personal criminal motivation is, what his story. In this way we can more safely predict their behavior, analyze their behaviors in greater detail and be able to stop them.

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