Dahmer is a 2002 American biographical horror film directed by David Jacobson. It stars Jeremy Renner as the American serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, a mentally unstable recluse in Wisconsin, who captured seventeen men. He is a shy and socially awkward factory worker in metropolitan Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Troubled by a turbulent childhood and his religious father’s denial of his homosexuality, Dahmer begins luring attractive young men to his home, where he conducts experiments on his victims before he murders them, trying to create a living zombie.
The story is based on the real life, and the truth is more horrified. Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer (May 21, 1960 – November 28, 1994), also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, was an American serial killer and sex offender, who committed the rape, murder, and dismemberment of 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. Although diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder and a psychotic disorder, Dahmer was found to be legally sane at his trial. Convicted of 15 of the 16 murders he had committed in Wisconsin, Dahmer was sentenced to 15 terms of life imprisonment on February 15, 1992. He was later sentenced to a 16th term of life imprisonment for an additional homicide committed in Ohio in 1978.
From the many studies carried out in this field, it was possible to identify a serial killer’s thought pattern and action, which is divided into five phases that are repeated in a circular process (Ciappi, 1998): 1) distorted thinking phase: it is the psychological stage common to all serial killers. The subject is unable to properly assess the impact of a deviant act, as he fails to consider the consequences and is more interested in the emotional gratification that can result from his actions; (due to Dahmer’s childhood, he is more interested in dissecting animals than communicating with human beings. )2) motivational phase: a single event or set of events, which are real or imagined, because of the transition to this stage. The stimulus is perceived as something personal, and the distorted mentality of the subject produces a disproportionate response to incidents. The subject, in fact, feels the need to physically offload, and begins the process of hunting his prey/victim; (after Dahmer’s parents divorce and being ignored for so long, living alone provide him a perfect opportunity to hunt for his first victim in his wood house. )3) inner negative answer phase: at this point the murderer has to deal with feelings of inadequacy, especially when there are negative messages from the society that surrounds him. He needs to strengthen his unstable sense of identity and does so using the means he knows best: domination, control and violence; (Dhamer knows his sense of domination and control gain from violence and abuse) 4) external negative response phase: This element helps the subject to confirm his superiority as a person. There is no kind of interest in the possible consequences of his criminal actions. The behavior has the objective of increasing and stabilizing the sense of power; (the police is not consider him a criminal even when a victim run out of his house asking for help, due to discrimination and stereotype about white male and his friendly look) 5) restoration phase: This phase restores the balance that the subject had at the beginning of the process. Once back in this state of mind, the serial killer reflects on previously ignored dangerous consequences, realizing that his technique needs to be improved by choosing the victims properly, and dealing with where to leave the bodies so that they are found easily. The killer also thinks about how to minimize personal risks in upcoming murders. The subject, therefore, completes the cycle and returns to the “distorted thinking” phase. (He always chose the attractive young Hispanic, Mexican, or Africa American in order to lower the risks in murders, sadly, it works. Monster Culture (Seven Theses) mentions that the monster always escapes, and no monster tastes of death but once. Dhamer always escaped, and always returned. It is not drama, but reality. In 1991, a boy was discovered on the street, wandering naked, heavily under influence of drugs and bleeding from his rectum. Police officers did not do anything, and did not make any attempt to verify the boy’s age or identity, nor locate someone who could communicate with him, failed to run background check that would have revealed Dahmer being a convicted child molester still under probation. This time, the monster escaped, not because of his luck, or anything related to his brilliant plan, it is because the ignorance from the authority, even they got witness.
Although Dahmer was doted upon as infant and toddler by both parents, his mother was know to be tense, greedy for attention, and argumentative with her husband and their neighbors. His father spent much of his time away from home, and his mother Joyce attempted suicide from overdose to which she had become addicted. Consequently, neither parent devoted much time to their son. He recalled his early years of family life as being of extreme tension. At elementary school, he was regarded as both quiet and timid by his peers. Stressful and isolated unhappy childhood leaded to his personal persistence needing for dominating in his personal world. When he reached puberty, he found himself as a homosexual, therefore stimulating his fantasy about male and starting planning his first murder.
When the serial killer murders his first victim, he activates what is known as “cyclical mechanism”, entering a circular complex mental process, like an addic- tion, which leads him to kill again (Bruno & Marrazzi, 2000). The murder becomes, therefore, the transposition of one or more mental images within a real context and the dynamic process is bound to repeat itself with particular features of rituals (Musci, Poor, & Tavella, 1997). For the serial murderer, the victim is like a checkers pawn to be manipulated at will in order to “win the game”. These individuals compensate for their social loneliness by retreating to their fantasy world, which is in fact dominated by their imagination. The more time spent fantasizing, the faster he will become dependent on the fantasies that feed the sense of self. At one point, he feels
Obliged to enact the fantasies, dominate the victims and transform them into objects to be used for his pleasure (Scott, 2000). Any serial killer, regardless of the reason behind the murders, always begins his destructive path due to fantasies. The murder is “lived” obsessively through increasingly elaborate fantasies, fueled by intense and prolonged exposure to violent pornography (Skrapec, 1996).
For each serial murderer, fantasy is the central element of a murder (Hazelwood & Douglas, 1980) according to the following scheme: 1) relational: concerns the way in which the criminal fantasizes about establishing a relationship with the future victim. An extreme variant of an imagined relationship is the master/slave one, which is very exciting for the subject because it allows him to fully exercise his domination and control needs; 2) paraphilia: concerns the sexual sphere of the fantasy. The criminal acts almost always start from a set of sexual perversions which are a concrete expression of his inner fantasy world; 3) situational: represents that part of the fantasy with regards to the setting in which the criminal wants to carry out the murder and how he wishes to kill the victim. The subject can fantasize about building a “tor- ture chamber”, and may wish to take the victim to a remote forest, or dress the victim in a certain way and let her pronounce certain words in order to increase the excitement. To implement this component, the ritual criminal becomes a di- rector who organizes the crime scene at his will; 4) type of victim: the serial killer needs to choose a specific type of victim that reflects his fantasies as regards gender, age, race, complexion, and height; all those aspects that make the prey unique and irreplaceable in the killer’s mind. The attack is part of a ritual that allows the subject to find momentary relief from their internal tensions and the energy is channeled to the kind of victim that responds better to the needs of the criminal; 5) self-perception: the last component concerns the way in which the murderer is perceived within the fantasy. A serial killer can have a diversity of roles, which can range from interpreting the feeling of complete inadequacy to a sense of divine omnipotence, through which he can exercise absolute control over another human being whom he cannot control in daily life.
The research cannot provide definitive answers to the problem about serial murderer, however, it can be useful for further research in the field of serial killers.
Ciappi, S. (1998). Serial Killer. Milano: Edizioni Franco Angeli.
Giannangelo, S. J. (1996). The Psychopathology of Serial Murder: A Theory of Violence (pp. 85-92). Westport, CT: Praeger.
Bruno, F., & Marrazzi M. (2000). Inquietudine Omicida, i Serial Killer: Analisi di un Fenomeno. Roma: Edizioni Phoenix.
Musci, A., Scarso A., & Tavella, G. (1997). Vivere per Uccidere. Anatomia del Serial Killer.
Scott, S., & Westley A. D. (2000). Diary of a Child Predator.
Skrapec, C. (1996). The Sexual Component of Serial Murder. In T. O’Reilly-Fleming ( Ed.), Serial and Mass Murder: Theory, Research and Policy (pp. 175-179). Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.
Hazelwood, R. R., & Douglas, J. E. (1980). The Lust Murderer (pp. 18-22). FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, US Department of Justice.
McCauley, Clark. “Toward a Psychology of Humiliation in Asymmetric Conflict.” American Psychologist, vol. 72, no. 3, Apr. 2017, pp. 255-265. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1037/amp0000063
The basic information in this Academic journal is expressed the idea or the reasons why that people are become violence, and explain from three different perspective, which are Anger, Shame and Humiliation. This is the quote that I may use it in my essay, because can be the cause that why people can become a monster. “it is the pernicious effect of repeated, small humiliations that add up to a feeling of nearly unbearable despair and frustration, and a willingness on the part of some to do anything— even commit atrocities—in the belief that attacking the oppressor will restore their sense of dignity. “(Jessica Stern 2003, p.62)
Veldhuis, T. M., Gordijn, E. H., Veenstra, R., & Lindenberg, S. (2014). Vicarious group-based rejection: Creating a potentially dangerous mix of humiliation, powerlessness, and anger. PLoS ONE, 9(4), e95421.
The article is expressed that how rejection can potentially raise the dangerous part of human, that social conflicts is often started with the rejection or humiliation. Rejections can actually turn nice people into other ways. The reason why this article may be useful for me is that I think rejection, what most people will face everyday, and sometimes if the rejection didn’t express well or it did not respond well, by many times, that will cause people start become doing something bad, because they feel humiliation, anger and so on. That could be the reasons that why people can become a monster.
Goldman JS, Coleman PT (2005) A theoretical understanding of how emotions fuel intractable conflict: The case of humiliation. Paper prepared for Round Table 2 of the 2005 Workshop on Humiliation and Violent Conflict, Columbia University, New York, December 15–16, 2005. Available:
“The paper proposes that the way emotions are socially constructed influences the way they are experienced, acted upon and recalled and that this process directly affect the intractable nature of some conflicts. “(Goldman) As we know for example Victor Frankenstein and the serial killers, they are the best example for this kind of statement, because their emotion and the recall memory that cause them become monster in the movies, and reality. this can be use in my essay as start the cause why Dr. Frankenstein and Geinn is a monster, and what reason that cause them to act like monster.