Psychological Triggers and Obsessions of the Serial Killer Mind

“We’ve all got the power in our hands to kill, but most people are afraid to use it. The ones who aren’t afraid control life itself.”  –Richard Ramirez (The Night Stalker, Los Angeles, CA)

We hear about serial killers crossing that dangerous psychological line into the act of murder.  There is a big leap from the fantasy phase to the actual criminal act.  It’s the impulse control mechanism that is instilled in human beings.  Basically, we know it’s wrong to kill another human for personal reasons or motivations.  When you combine the traits of psychopaths with the lack of impulse control, it can be the formula for disaster.

What triggers these individuals to kill?  According to Joel Norris author of Serial Killers, he outlined seven stages (phases) of the serial killer: aura, trolling, wooing, capture, murder, totem, and depression.  This is an interesting theory and definitely has merit from what we know to date.  I would like to see more study in this area based on his observations in input.  I would also like to see other cases of serial killers that aren’t the same “high profile” cases that are reexamined frequently, i.e. Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Zodiac, John Wayne Gacy.  Every serial case has merit and something to be learned for law enforcement, criminal psychologists, and profilers, but every year there are many new cases in every country that should be scrutinized.

The first phase Norris describes in his book is “the aura phase”.  This is the first step that the potential killer takes and it occurs when he begins to withdrawal from reality and enters into his/her own private world of perverted fantasy. Friends, family and those who encounter this person may not be able to detect this person’s change in personality. Time can slow down in his/her mind, colors tend to become vivid, sounds more intense and the person becomes completely cut-off from any normal stimuli. When in this phase, a killer becomes antisocial and life no longer has meaning to him/her.  They are pushed to fulfill their fantasy.  It’s the insatiable need to fulfill their own purpose and motivations.

Fantasies of serial killers have been studied and documented over time.  Such triggers have been described from various serial killers as when they see a woman that reminds them of someone that has abused them, ridiculed them, or even infatuated them.  Other descriptions of this behavior pattern of the “triggering factor” is the “thing” that sets serial killers off in which their fantasies have been lying dormant: specific type of physical victim, victim behavior, lust, unforeseen opportunity, trust from a child or adult, desire to maim, control, or take a life away, etc.

“We serial killers are your sons, we are your husbands, we are everywhere. And there will be more of your children dead tomorrow.”  – Ted Bundy (rapist, kidnapper, necrophile, and American serial killer)


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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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4 Responses to Psychological Triggers and Obsessions of the Serial Killer Mind

  1. Imelda Evans says:

    This is fascinating, Jennifer. I think it’s the crossing of the line that is the fascination we have with these people. What drives them there, and could it ever happen to us? Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sue Coletta says:

    That’s a chilling Bundy quote.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post Jennifer. I agree that the in-depth look at the same serial killers over and over is problematic. Time to analyze others (sadly there are others) to gain insight. These killers are without end.

    Liked by 1 person

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