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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Psychotic Characters: Types of Serial Killers

Since I got feedback last week from readers wanting more posts like this one, here's a second in what is now a short series on serial killers.

Serial killers come in one of two basic types, both having to do with their motives:


These killers generally don't kill for the gratification of the kill, making the act itself their primary emphasis. They kill quickly, and in two subtypes:

Visionaries - usually directed by them getting a vision or hearing voices telling them to kill (either God or the devil), both of which legitimate their violence.

Missionaries - are on "missions" to eradicate a specific group of people, such as prostitutes, white-collared bankers, etc.


The majority of serial killers are process-focused. They get off (yes, in that way) on the method of their kill. They kill for the enjoyment of it, and usually get a perverse sexual thrill out of it, so therefore they take their time and go very slowly. Hedonism at it's worse. So these killers fall into 4 subtypes, based on their motives as well:

Gain - they get some profit or personal gain from the kill. Most females usually fall into this category, like Lavinia Fisher, who would murder her hotel guests and keep whatever belongings and cash they had. You can read up on the 10 most infamous females here....and almost every one of them stood to get personal gain.

Lust - sexual pleasure is associated with murder. These sick folk actually will have sex while in the process of killing or engage in necrophilia after they have killed. Either/or....twisted.

Thrill - killing someone gives these folk a rush or high. They especially like to watch the lights go out in their victim's eyes. It's the ultimate adrenaline rush...makes them feel alive and euphoric. They typically don't engage in sex either before or after.

Power - The pleasure comes from manipulating and dominating, although the argument could be made for this to fall in with any of the above. Usually sex is involved, but it's not as important to this killer than to the Lust killer? That's confusing, I know. Some research I found led me to think that this is considered the "sociopath," but I think you and I both know that every person talked about on this post would be one of those.

Next week I'll do one more post on Lust Killers, since they seem to be the most prevalent. Stay tuned, although I know some of you will absolutely NOT click back on my blog next week for that post, and that's okay too. :)

Let's Analyze: Most of us probably have heard of a few serial killers. Can you see how these killers fit into either Act-Focused or Process-Focused? Which do you think would make for better fiction?