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Aileen Wuornos` Life in The Film 'Monster'

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While studying criminology it is important to also get an understanding of why people go into a life of crime. There are those who fall in and out of crimes such as petty crimes, burglary, and kidnapping, then there are those who fall into more serious crimes such as serial murders. Serial murder is the killing of several victims in three or more separate incidents over weeks, months, or even years. Being able to murder someone is not a crime that just anyone can do, serial killers have distinct characteristics. Many serial killers fall under one of the General theories of crime categories. We can see an example of this when we look into the life and crimes committed by Aileen Wournos, a female serial killer. Through the biological theory and psychological theory, we see how these theories can determine criminal behavior.

The film Monster is based on the life of a female serial killer named Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute in Florida who violently murdered seven men in a twelfth-month period by shooting them at point-blank range in 1989 and 1990. Aileen accused her victims of both rape and attempted rape while working as a prostitute, and that she had killed in self-defense. Aileen was tried and convicted of first-degree murder for one of the six of the murders she committed the other murders ended with “guilty” or “no contest” pleas and she died by lethal injection in October of 2002. Aileen had both a revenge typology and profit typology, Revenge typology is when someone kills because of jealousy or hate, and Profit or crime typology is someone who kills for a gain of profit or because another crime occurred incidentally.

Throughout the film Aileen Wuornos brought up her childhood and upbringing during the film, giving us a better understanding of how and why she’s become a criminal and serial killer. Wuornos lived a life full of abuse and abandonment by her family and community members. Coming back from Funderland with her girlfriend Shelby Wuornos tells Shelby about the shame and heartache she experienced growing up. Abandoned by her mother, her father killed himself, and was raised by her grandparents. By the age of 15, Wuornos was abusing alcohol, drugs, and was sexually promiscuous, and she started prostituting in life in order to obtain a living. Another time that Aileen expressed abuse in her childhood was right before she killed a former police chief, she mentioned that her dad’s friend raped her and her dad didn’t believe her and use to beat her up for it.

Aileen Wuornos’ life and later actions can be correlated with several criminal behavior theories. The two theories studied and associated to Wuornos include the biological theory and psychological theory. The biological suggests it is linked with genetics. Lombroso’s hypothesis claimed that offenders were raised and not born. This means that criminals inherit their criminal behavior by developing certain genetics from their parents. The psychological theory plays into her diagnoses of anti-social disorder, and borderline personality disorder. The anti-social disorder is a type of chronic mental condition in which a person’s ways of thinking, perceiving situations, and relating to others are dysfunctional — and destructive whereas borderline personality disorder is a mental health condition characterized by unstable emotions, impulsive reactions, and chaotic relationships.

When correlating Wuornos to the biological theory, her family and genetics could have played a crucial role in her behavior. Aileen’s dad was known to be a physically abusive alcoholic, verbally abusive, and sexually abusive. Although she did not really grow up around her father is traits may have been passed on. Causing her to genetically inherit the volatile and violent behavior he represented. Wuornos herself showed hostile and volatile behavior when she brutally murdered seven men and also demonstrated numerous other criminal incidents. It was also indicated that Wuornos came from a family of alcoholics, Wuornos demonstrated her own abuse of alcohol. She was always drinking before killing or shown drinking with the victim right before she killed them. This suggests that children with who grow up around violent households are more likely to grow up violent themselves.

The psychological theory suggests that Wuornos’s experiences in life might have made her a serial murderer. Aileen fit the conditions of anti-social personality she was unable to comply with social norms concerning lawful behavior (shown by continuously being involved in criminal behavior), dishonesty (she lied to Shelby about the vehicles she was bringing home and lied to the victims she was luring into the woods to kill), she was impulsive (she never had a plan of what to do next or how to handle the situations), she was short-tempered and aggressive (she yelled at Shelby for going out in her “friends car” and she also yelled and pushed over a restaurant manager for telling Shelby she could not smoke in the restaurant), she also shows a lack of remorse when it came to the victims (she justified her actions by convincing herself that the people she was killing were bad people so that she felt better for killing them). Additionally, she also fits the conditions for border personality disorder. She tried to kill herself hours before she met Shelby at the bar under a bridge. She had unstable relationships that blurred the line between idolization and not being of worth. She was constantly unstable because of her mood swings and alcohol abuse.

A serial killer’s life and personal experiences can help analyze and understand what led them to kill. While some may blame psychological, environmental, or social factors, others feel that it is simply an option of self-control. The general theory models are important. It provides other people with insight into criminals ‘ minds and development. The more people are informed about criminals, the greater the society and the justice system work to remove crime to create a safer society. Although Aileen’s killings are not justified we can see the biological and psychological disorders that followed her since her youth lead her down the path that ultimately led to her death.  

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