Serial killers and politicians
by Jim Kouri, Law Enforcement
www.examiner.com/, June 12, 2010
Psychopathy is a personality disorder manifested in people who
use a mixture of charm, manipulation, intimidation, and occasionally
violence to control others, in order to satisfy their own selfish
needs. Although the concept of psychopathy has been known for
centuries, the FBI leads the world in the research effort to develop
a series of assessment tools, to evaluate the personality traits
and behaviors attributable to psychopaths.
Interpersonal traits include glibness,
superficial charm, a grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological
lying, and the manipulation of others. The affective traits include
a lack of remorse and/or guilt, shallow affect, a lack of empathy,
and failure to accept responsibility. The lifestyle behaviors
include stimulation-seeking behavior, impulsivity, irresponsibility,
parasitic orientation, and a lack of realistic life goals.
Research has demonstrated that in those
criminals who are psychopathic, scores vary, ranging from a high
degree of psychopathy to some measure of psychopathy. However,
not all violent offenders are psychopaths and not all psychopaths
are violent offenders. If violent offenders are psychopathic,
they are able to assault, rape, and murder without concern for
legal, moral, or social consequences. This allows them to do what
they want, whenever they want. Ironically, these same traits
exist in men and women who are drawn to high-profile and powerful
positions in society including political officeholders.
The relationship between psychopathy and
serial killers is particularly interesting. All psychopaths do
not become serial murderers. Rather, serial murderers may possess
some or many of the traits consistent with psychopathy. Psychopaths
who commit serial murder do not value human life and are extremely
callous in their interactions with their victims. This is particularly
evident in sexually motivated serial killers who repeatedly target,
stalk, assault, and kill without a sense of remorse. However,
psychopathy alone does not explain the motivations of a serial
What doesn't go unnoticed is the fact
that some of the character traits exhibited by serial killers
or criminals may be observed in many within the political arena.
While not exhibiting physical violence, many political leaders
display varying degrees of anger, feigned outrage and other behaviors.
They also lack what most consider a "shame" mechanism.
Quite simply, most serial killers and many professional politicians
must mimic what they believe, are appropriate responses to situations
they face such as sadness, empathy, sympathy, and other human
responses to outside stimuli.
Understanding psychopathy becomes particularly
critical to law enforcement during a serial murder investigation
and upon the arrest of a psychopathic serial killer. The crime
scene behavior of psychopaths is likely to be distinct from other
offenders. This distinct behavior can assist law enforcement in
linking serial cases.
Psychopaths are not sensitive to altruistic
interview themes, such as sympathy for their victims or remorse/guilt
over their crimes. They do possess certain personality traits
that can be exploited, particularly their inherent narcissism,
selfishness, and vanity. Specific themes in past successful interviews
of psychopathic serial killers focused on praising their intelligence,
cleverness, and skill in evading capture.
Experts recognize that more research is
needed concerning the links between serial murder and psychopathy,
in order to understand the frequency and degree of psychopathy
among serial murderers. This may assist law enforcement in understanding
and identifying serial murderers.__Over the past twenty years,
law enforcement and experts from a number of varying disciplines
have attempted to identify specific motivations for serial murderers
and to apply those motivations to different typologies developed
for classifying serial murderers. These range from simple, definitive
models to complex, multiple-category typologies that are laden
with inclusion requirements. Most typologies are too cumbersome
to be utilized by law enforcement during an active serial murder
investigation, and they may not be helpful in identifying an offender.
As most homicides are committed by someone
known to the victim, police focus on the relationships closest
to the victim. This is a successful strategy for most murder investigations.
The majority of serial murderers, however, are not acquainted
with or involved in a consensual relationship with their victims.
For the most part, serial murder involves
strangers with no visible relationship between the offender and
the victim. This distinguishes a serial murder investigation as
a more nebulous undertaking than that of other crimes. Since the
investigations generally lack an obvious connection between the
offender and the victim, investigators instead attempt to discern
the motivations behind the murders, as a way to narrow their investigative
Serial murder crime scenes can have bizarre
features that may cloud the identification of a motive. The behavior
of a serial murderer at crime scenes may evolve throughout the
series of crimes and manifest different interactions between an
offender and a victim. It is also extremely difficult to identify
a single motivation when there is more than one offender involved
in the series.
Identifying a homicide series is easier
in rapidly-developing, high profile cases involving low risk victims.
These cases are reported to law enforcement upon discovery of
the crimes and draw immediate media attention.
In contrast, identifying a series involving
high risk victims in multiple jurisdictions is much more difficult.
This is primarily due to the high risk lifestyle and transitory
nature of the victims. Additionally, the lack of communication
between law enforcement agencies and differing records management
systems impede the linkage of cases to a common offender.
While many political leaders will deny
the assessment regarding their similarities with serial killers
and other career criminals, it is part of a psychopathic profile
that may be used in assessing the behaviors of many officials
and lawmakers at all levels of government.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president
of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a staff
writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition,
he's the new editor for the House Conservatives Fund's weblog.
Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe
winning actor Michael Moriarty.
He's former chief at a New York City housing
project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City"
by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition,
he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university
and director of security for several major organizations. He's
also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police
and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for
many police and security magazines including Chief of Police,
Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer
for TheConservativeVoice.Com and PHXnews.com. He's also a columnist
for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's
syndicated by AXcessNews.Com.