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Serial Killers are an entirely special breed of people and there is some controversy about if they can benefit from rehabilitation and be placed back into society. Their killings are violent, and sadistic, and have a general lack of empathy for their victims. These types of murders make it almost impossible for society to sympathize with the killer. Is it possible to humanize someone that carries out such heinous acts on another person for their own selfish motives and release them back into society? Are they misunderstood, are their brains wired differently, do they suffer from mental illness or severe, chronic childhood trauma, or are they simply pure evil? Can we truly know if these master manipulators are sincerely rehabilitated or just playing us so that they can be released only to carry out their crimes again? For example, would the infamous female serial killer, Aileen Wuornos have benefited from rehabilitation to make her into a productive member of society, or was her execution an appropriate sentence for her violent crimes?
Aileen Wuornos was convicted of murdering seven men off the Central Florida highways from 1989 to 1990. Aileen had gone on a killing spree, seducing these men with the lure of prostitution, shooting them point-blank, and then robbing them. According to Aileen, these men either raped her or attempted to rape her and rob her, therefore she had killed them in self-defense. At this time, Aileen was working as a prostitute and living with her lesbian girlfriend, Tyria Moore for about four and a half years. Aileen was described as a heavy drinker, impulsive, and would also have violent outbursts. As a matter of fact, before these murders, she was involved in regular criminal activity that was becoming increasing violent throughout her adult years. These included an arrest for DUIs, disorderly conduct, forged checks, resisting arrest, car theft, and armed robbery.
Equally important, Aileen had a long history of abuse and neglect, that started in her early childhood. She was born in February 1956 to her sixteen-year-old mother, that was not able to meet her needs both emotionally and physically. Her father was a psychopath and was incarcerated for child molestation when Aileen was born. He had committed suicide years later while in prison. Aileen’s mother had abandoned Aileen and her older brother with the grandparents when she was just four years old. Even though the grandparents formally adopted them, they were neglectful of their needs. The grandmother was an alcoholic and Aileen was physically, verbally, and sexually abused by her grandfather throughout her childhood and early adolescence. She learned at the early age of eleven that she could trade sexual favors for cigarettes, drugs, and food from the neighborhood boys. She got into fights, did poorly in school, and was an outcast among her peers. When Aileen was fourteen, she was raped and became pregnant with the rapist’s child. The grandparents sent her away to a school for unwed pregnant mothers where she gave birth and had to give the baby up for adoption. Shortly after she returned home, the grandmother died of liver failure and the grandfather kicked Aileen and her brother out of the house. As a result, sixteen-year-old Aileen started her lifelong career as a prostitute and slowly made her way to Florida.
At first look, Aileen doesn’t seem to be the definition of what society would consider a serial killer. Her murders were not a sadist or sexually motivated and the victims were not tortured or mutilated. It almost seems as though she was defending herself from a prostitution scheme gone wrong. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines a serial killer as “The unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offenders, in separate events”. Aileen Wuornos’s seven murders fit this description. Additionally, the FBI specifies that some motives of serial killers could be sexual-based, anger-related, mental illness, power and/or thrill-related, or financial gain. While Aileen’s crimes were not sexually based, she was however possibly motivated by anger, mental illness, and power. In fact, while in prison on trial for the murders she committed, Aileen was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and antisocial disorder. While this diagnosis does not make someone a serial killer, it can explain some of the characteristics of why they are able to follow through with the murders.
For example, Antisocial Personality Disorder which is another term for sociopath has a disregard for laws and social customs as well as for the rights of other people. Additionally, they do not feel remorse or guilt and have a tendency to display violent behavior. They can become easily agitated and volatile with motional outbursts. In the same fashion, Borderline Personality Disorder affects one’s self-image, and behavior and they have a pattern of varying moods. These people have unstable relationships, are impulsive, and are not able to control their emotions and behavior. They may also experience intense periods of anger, depression, and anxiety that can usually last several hours to several days. As you can see, Aileen Wuornos fits perfectly into these two mental illness descriptions and you can see how it has impacted her as a person.
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