The Psychopath's Brain

Renato M.E. Sabbatini, PhD

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Psychopathic Serial Killers

Theodore R. Bundy

He confessed to the brutal murders of 28 women, all of them young and good-looking. All were white, thin, single, wearing slacks at the time of disappearance, had hair that was long and parted in the middle and they all disappeared in the evening. He prowled for them in college campuses, sororities or state parks. He strangled them or broke their skulls with a crowbar, raped and sodomized them, sometimes with objects. A handsome and athletic men, he was very attractive and convincing for his victims. He was a honors student of psychology at the Washington University and was in love with nice women twice before becoming a psychopath. After being arrested and sentenced to prison due to the accusations of one of his victims who was able to escape his attack, he ran from prison twice and continued his killing spree, before being caught, sentenced to death and executed in the electric chair, in 1984. His total tally was probably more than 36.

Jeffrey Dahmers Jeffrey Dahmers
The Milwaukee Cannibal

A handsome and well educated man, he was one of the worst serial killers in the history of the USA. A homosexual, he tortured and killed young boys, made sex with their bodies, dismembered them and collected several parts. He also cannibalized several of them. Twenty-one victims were his probable tally. Declared insane, he was committed to several consecutive sentences of life imprisonment, but was killed shortly afterwards in the prison by two inmates.

Fish Albert Fish

One of the most ghoulish and perverse of all serial killers of history, Fish was a frail-looking old man when he was arrested. He had a terrifying story to tell. A sado-masochist who had a bizarre behavior of self-flagellation and sticking needles in his body, as well as religious delusions, he declared: "I always had a desire to inflict pain on others and to have others inflict pain on me. I always seemed to enjoy everything that hurt." He believed that God had ordered him to torment and castrate little boys. He actually killed fifteen children and mutilated about a hundred others, in 23 states, but the figures may be much higher. He tortured, decapitated, castrated, drank their blood and ate several parts of his small victims, cooking them with delicacies. Albert Fish was executed for his crimes in the electric chair in 1936, totally without shame or remorse, and totally indifferent to his destiny. He was the main inspiration for Dr. Hannibal Lecter, in the book and film  "Silence of the Lambs".

Albert de Salvo Albert de Salvo
The Boston Strangler

A series of murders of women of several ages, strangled and sexually abused in Boston, terrorized the city in the fifties. De Salvo, a innocent-looking and respected family father was accused of the murders, based on the testimony of one of his victims who escaped alive, as well additional incidental evidence. He never confessed, and died violently in the prison.

Gein Edward Gein

The son of a religious fanatic and abusing mother, Gein became a necrophiliac, trasvestite, fetishist and brutal serial murderer in Wisconsin, where he lived alone in a farm. He dismembered and collected body parts of his victims, and made lampshades, armchairs and a suit with their skins. Gein was the inspirer of several characters in films, plays and books, such as Bates, of "Psycho" (a Hitchkock's film), and  Buffalo Bill, the psychopath of  "Silence of the Lambs". No one knows how many he has killed, but probably it was 10 or more, most of them women. He died in a asylum for the criminal insane in 1984, after 16 years of imprisonment.

There are many other terrifying real stories of psychopathic serial killers and mass murderers. Some of them are:

You can read more about them in The Crime Library.

A few questions remain:

Copyright 1998 Universidade Estadual de Campinas
Brain and Mind Magazine, Campinas, Brazil
Renato M.E. Sabbatini, PhD
Center for Biomedical Informatics