Wednesday, March 13, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: My Life AMong the Serial Killers by Helen Morrison M.D

My Life Among the Serial Killers: Inside the Minds of the World's Most Notorious Murderers

Read: March 11, 2013

I know this seems like a messed up book to read, but I blame my book club. But the sociologist  in me was secretly happy to read it. I love this sort of stuff. I know that sounds messed up as well. It brings me back to my university days and when I read a gazillion type of these sorts of books to write endless papers on.
Dr. Helen Morrison is a doctor who profiles serial killers, and this book shows the insights into some of the most notorious killers, including Richard Macek, Ed Gein, Bobby Joe Long to name a few.  She stayed in contact with them and spent countless hours talking to them to try and get into what makes a serial killer, a serial killer.
I liked how in the cases she stated that of course she knew they weren’t innocent, her job wasn’t to show that they didn’t do the horrible things described, which were horrible. Downright cringe worthy. I cannot believe that people are that fucked up to even do these things and my heart goes out to all the victims.  Back to the point though, her job was to see if the killers were insane or not at the time of the murder. And of course, within the judicial system if proven insane they aren’t tried the same was as a fully aware individual.
Most said they didn’t know why they did it, they just said they had to. Or they had an urge.  It seems to me that most of the killers were experimenting; they wanted to see what would happen if they did this, how much the body could handle. But being sickos as they are they tested it out on other people and toruted them instead of trying it on themselves.  They were addicted to torturing.

She is a supported that serial killers are born to kill. There is something in the DNA/brain that just happens to make a person a serial killer.  Every one deals with hardships (granted some worse than others) but not everyone goes around hacking people up.  She supports this because through her talks with the inmates, there was no common theme.  No real  answer to ‘what makes a serial killer a serial killer? Although she gave a list of some traits that some serial killers do follow;

1)      No motives

2)      No personality structure

3)      They aren’t psychopaths, they can’t control what they feel, what they do. They also aren’t mass murders. They kill one person at a time, and there is usually quite a bit of time between killings.

4)      Not mentally retarded, most are actually pretty smart

5)      Not all have been sexually or physically abused as children

6)      Not psychologically complete- although they can act like they are competent

7)      Addicted to killing, cannot control the urge

8)      Serial killers are stuck in the emotional range of an infant.

To point #5, I would like to see a case where the individual has had a great upbringing, no traumatic experiences, but still turns out to be a serial killer. I’d be interested to see the links are.
It is also interesting to notice that serial killers happen worldwide, and it is not a new phenomenon, which discounts the whole belief system that it only happens in American due to our lack of ideologies.  I enjoyed the history portion of the book too. It was crazy, albeit disturbing, to read about such people as 15th century Gilles de Rais and his horrendous children torturing and killing.
As you noticed I didn’t go into depth with any of the serial killers methods. It was hard to read and I warn you do not read it if you have a soft stomach.  There were times I was ready to put it down. SO I won’t force other people to be subject to that.

I liked it because it also reminded me of Dexter, which I am now going to re-watch.  I  also liked it because of the subject nature and that it rang my criminology interest bell.  It was interesting to read the thoughts of the serial killer and to find out why they did it, although most just did because they felt like they had to. But I also didn’t like it because she didn’t have a good enough conclusion. I  get that she wants to see why serial killers are serial killers, and she focuses on the brain. However, she had no idea what they would do if they did in fact find a ‘killer’ gene. Would they exterminate the fetus or carefully monitor the person their whole life? I also felt that her presentation of the material didn’t fully support what she was trying to show.

 I was expecting a bit more on the criminology side,  but it was still good, ya know?

3 stars.

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