November 17, 2013 update: Here is the second half of this blog-post: https://marnietunay2.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/real-life-monsters-part-two/
September 27, 2013 update: Just reading this now… The FBI has been generous enough to make public a report concerning serial murder, based on “multi-disciplinary perspectives” shared in a five-day 2005 f conference. Read it online: http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/serial-murder or pick up a PDF version: http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/serial-murder/serial-murder-july-2008-pdf
I’m reading a book I intend to examine in more detail when I finish it, on what I anticipate will be my next blog-post and not anytime soon, because I’m busy with other things as well… The book, ‘Real-Life Monsters: a psychological examination of the serial murderer,’ published in 2012, was written by Stephen Giannangelo, said to be “a special agent supervisor for the Illinois Department of Revenue’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Prior to that he served with the cops and the FBI in Illinois. The book has been exhaustively researched. I’m still in part one, a run-down of current theoretical perspectives on what turns people into serial killers. Mr. Giannangelo is keeping it objective in this section, only once vouchsafing his own decided assessment (as of page 50), when he says: “The position of this author is that deviant sexual motivation clearly has an impact on the killer’s psychology, that it is the bridge, the clearest link between mental and physical processes in the psychopathology in question.” [ibid, p. 45] Very lucidly put. I can see what’s going to be the linchpin of the second half of the book, where he promises to set out his own “theory of violence.”
The ‘glossary’ could have been better. I mean, really, is there anyone who doesn’t know what a sociopath is but who does know what ‘projective identification’ is?
This is quibbling, though. The book is riveting for the depth of the knowledge the author displays and for the clarity of his thought. And I speak as someone who, unlike Mr. Gainnangelo, is not fascinated with monsters and normally tries hard to stay away from them and any mention of them. I once tried to watch the show Dexter, out of sheer curiosity. I lasted two minutes – and he wasn’t even doing anything – except talking to himself as he went up some stairs. But the ambience of Dexter was creepy to die, and I suspect that the same applies to regular watchers of the show who don’t have business with it, such as cops and profilers.
I have to read Mr. Gainnangelo’s book in small doses, and with the teddy my kid bought me close at hand. I jest not. I find the book tremendously interesting and frightening…
Over the past eight years that I’ve worked part-time as a cashier, I’ve met thousands of people every one of those years. Most people try to be decent human beings, is my observation, and most people actually like their kids. Notwithstanding, I feel certain that three of the people I’ve met in person, during the course of my job duties, are killers.
I’m not psychic. I’ve had a lot of experience with people in general: I’ve lived in three different countries and cultures; in my younger days I hitchhiked thirty thousand km in my estimation, back and forth across North America in search of enlightenment. (BTW, if you are young and reading this: don’t take my life as an example: I’m very, very lucky to have survived those hitchhiking trips and I was in serious danger of getting killed or raped more than once.]
Anyhoo, I ‘read’ people; that is to say, I read qualities, which manifest in their faces, voices, overall physical presences, and behaviors. That’s how I see it. I don’t read their minds, which is what psychics claim to do. And I can only read qualities that are either strongly pronounced in a person as a habitual tendency, or, that are active in that moment. (Photos, even videos, are very unreliable, in my experience, especially in these days of photo-shoppy shoppy…) One of the coarsest qualities is aggression. It’s easy to read. As is misery. So when I tell you I’ve met three killers in person, that’s what I’m basing my judgment on: my experience in reading non-tangible qualities in people who are physically present to me.
The first time was a long time ago and I only met him once. I was busy cashiering, and I looked up at him to take his money, looked into his eyes, and my intuitive apprehension was that he was wondering what it would be like to kill me. Again, it’s not that something pops into my head from his head; it’s just a read of qualities, based on a lifetime’s exper-ience of making fast assessments of people and living to tell about it. I can still see his grey eyes in my mind’s eye.
The second person I won’t discuss, because the cops are actively looking for him.
The third one I see from time to time at work… Tall, maybe late forties, balding, glasses, big man, not fat, big-boned. Brown eyes. Soft-spoken, polite. Never, ever, overtly threatening. Favors the color black, but not exclusively. The first time I looked into his eyes, I read living death there. Not that he was thinking of ‘doing’ me, like the first one was, just, from what he is. He’s the only person in my whole long life whose eyes I’ve looked into and instantly understood that I was looking at a serial killer. There’s nothing I can do about it, of course. Can’t run to the cops and say, ‘You know, you should really check this guy out, because I happened to read in his eyes that he’s a serial killer.’ I managed to acquire his license plate number through a sheer stroke of luck one day when I was off work and in the vicinity. I’ve kept a record of it, and a description of the vehicle he drives, just in case I ever go missing.
But here’s the interesting thing about that guy: After the first time we met, he’d come by from time to time, and try to force himself to look into my eyes – and he couldn’t do it. I should mention that I have a bland gaze, especially at work; moreover, my daughter insists I’m cuter and fluffier than any teddy bear. I don’t manifest aggressive stances, even when I don’t like someone. So, my honest assessment is: I wasn’t doing anything to make him uncomfortable; and, my intuitive sense that he knew I’d read him is on the mark. The last time I ran into him, he’d given it up. He just stared off into the distance the whole time.
I know why he’s unhappy with the fact I read him. He doesn’t know why, can’t put his finger on the reason, because he doesn’t know how I read him.
It’s because serial killers don’t believe in ‘life after death,’ you see, and God, and Hell. How could they, and do what they do? So if I could look at a perfectly polite man and read (correctly) that he’s a killer, with no overt confirming manifestations on his part, what would that say? It would say that there is something besides the body, because I must be seeing something besides his body. And that would mean there must be ‘something’ in him, non-tangible, you see, which has recorded the effects of his bad acts in itself… Now, if he could work all that out, he’d understand why my eyes disconcert him so; but, serial killers are lamentably lacking in insight, is my guess…