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The intent of this paper is to analyze Jeffrey Dahmer’s abnormalities, disorders and compulsions while giving a brief background of how his life went before, during and after his attacks, how they struggle in his own self-identity lead to the killings, dismembered bodies, and cannibalism of 17 men/boys. Using the psychoanalytic theory and Trait theory we will get into depth about his personality and see it in new perspectives while relevantly still addressing how the theory explains his personality. While bringing aspects of his conscious and unconscious self and seeing deficits in the traits of his personality. Examining him more thoroughly and his diagnosis which was concluded as borderline personality disorder since Dahmer went to extremes of abnormal behavior. Than by suggesting two therapies: Cognitive and psychoanalytic which could have helped Dahmer manage his violent thoughts which were then carried out as actions and help fulfill his life.
Jeffrey Dahmer was an American sex offendor and serial killer who ended up killing 17 boys/menbetween the years 1978 to 1991 before he got 16 lifetimes in prison, over 900 years. Dahmer was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to mother Joyce Dahmer who was usually bedridden suffering from illnesses and father Lionel Dahmer who was still in college for a chemistry degree. At age four he had a double hernia surgery that his father says had partake in his future actions. Growing up his parents did not have a healthy marriage and constantly fought, causing “extreme tension”so bad that Dahmer would usually leave the house and run away to the river for hours at a time. At age 6, parents let Dahmer name his new baby brother, David. The family then moved to Bath, Ohio in1968. Dahmer soon became fascinated with animal bones and how they “fit together” He then started a collection of them and looked for them everywhere he went;he would dismember the bodies of roadkill and other dead animals and put them in plastic bags and jars and hide them. At age 14 is when Dahmer started having sexual fantasies that included violence and submission but rather with men. He also started drinking heavily as a teenager, only causing his violent thoughts to deepen. His grades throughout highschool were average and he was always known as a quiet and shy kid. Once Dahmer graduated highschool his parents divorced and he moved out of there house. Only weeks after moving out is when Dahmer lured in his first victim: steven hicks, they drank a few beers together but Dahmer did not allow Hicks to leave; hitting him with a dumbell then strangling him to death. After with the victim’s body, Dahmer would live out his sexual fantasies soon after he would dissect the body and eventually burn the bones in acid causing little to no evidence. After his first attack, Dahmer went to Ohio State University for about 3 months before dropping out and enlisting in the army as a combat medic which soon backfired since he got kicked due to “bad behavior and drinking problem”. When he returned his father urged him to go live in Wisconsin with his grandmother, where there he was arrested a couple times for indecent exposure and masturbation in public. His second victim attack was in 1987, and soon after they became more frequent, with the same ritual and adding photography and canabillisum.It was finally July of 1991 where Dahmer got arrested by a victim who made a lucky escape. He then confessed everything to the police, showing all evidence including body parts, photography, and graves. During trial Dahmer pleaded guilty by virtue of insanity but got denied to find him guilty but the same on all counts and sentenced to 16 lifetimes of jail. On November 28, 1994, Dahmer was beaten to death by a fellow inmate and over court, his body was chosen to be cremated instead of being given to research.
Sigmund Freud, an Australian neurologist and founder of psychoanalytic theory developed the personality theory that truly explains the abnormal behaviors of Jeffrey Dahmer. The approach discusses the theory by arguing that human behavior comes as a result of interactions between the three levels of psyche: id,ego,and superego The id is the first to develop, which is also the biological component of the personality; it includes our natural instincts without thought of morally right or wrong. The id is the most selfish part of the personality, the part which only cares about satisfying oneself, the id works to the pleasure principle which is the idea that all of one’s needs should be met immediately disregarding others. The second part of Freud’s psychoanalytic approach is the superego, which occurs in all three levels of our consciousness. The superego is the part of someone that is always concerned about what is socially acceptable. It pushes one to obtain and maintain the ego ideal which is the view of what is right and our conscious which is the view of what is wrong. We learn what is right and wrong by our environment, parents and teachers. The last part of freud’s psychoanalytic theory is the ego operates in the preconscious and conscious mind. The ego is the part of the personality that makes the decisions, where it decides whether to lean more towards the ego or id and has to face the consequences of the decision. It manages to work with the reality principle which is the realistic way to satisfy one’s needs (id) while trying to still consider what is socially acceptable (superego). The trait theory is another concept that can be applied to the behavior of Jeffrey Dahmer. The trait theory defines personality to characteristics to their behavior that are common and repetitive. The trait theory claims that personality is developed by constant, pattern- like behaviors interacting with each other. Robert McCrae and Paul Costa developed the Big Five personality traits after analyzing Raymond Cattell’s theories and making it into a broad short list of categories that help explain one’s personality by describing it. The five categories consist of: Openness, which is if one enjoys new experiences and ideas. Neuroticism which is a tendency to experience unpleasant emotions frequently,in other words, emotional stability. Consciousness is if the individual is careful or careless, how hard they work and how they strive or don’t strive for success. Extraversion determines whether one enjoys the company of others and likes to seek stimulation and excitement. Agreeableness is the tendency to be compassionate and loving towards others, others trust and value them highly and they show the same response back.
Jeffrey Dahmer’s behaviors of personality are connected to both the psychoanalytic theory (Freud) and the Big Five trait theory (Robert McCrae and Paul Costa). Dahmer was someone who could not surpass the id, he never got to the stage of ego or superego since he only cared about pleasing and satisfying his own needs without thinking about what would be morally correct. Dahmer would feel no remorse after killing his victims but in fact, keep doing it since it was pleasurable. There was no superego or ego to prevent him from acting selfishly and think about how his actions were beyond wrong. Raping and killing his victims fulfilled him not caring whether the action was morally right or wrong. The id is consistent throughout dahmer’s lifetime and is completely uninfluenced by logical reasoning when the ego cannot manage the id the person has selfishly abnormal thoughts which then get carried into action, like how Dahmer would strangle his victims and chop their bodies up with an axe and be able to go to work the next day showing no signs of remorse or guilt. Dahmer has stated that he had “sexual fantasies about having full control” when he was a teen and that one day he just decided to make those fantasies a reality. The trait theory shows a lot of dahmer’s personality characteristics, even from his childhood. Dahmer was very high in openness, he was very curious and imaginative, he would further what he would do with his victims every time, it even got to a point of cannibalism, where Dahmer was curious enough to see what his victims would taste like, dahmer had the unusual idea of eating the meat of one of his victims after chopping them up, so he did. Dahmer was very low in agreeableness, he was more focused on his own needs even if it conflicted with the needs or wants of others. Dahmer would force innocent men to come back to his apartment where he would drug them, rape them and than kill them. Even as a teen classmates always described Dahmer as anti-social, non-talkative and dark; these behaviors only worsened as an adult, causing criminal mindsets which soon became action.
Therapies that would help Jeffrey Dahmer live a more fulfilled life would be cognitive behavioral therapy which helps the individual reduce their symptoms by changing the way they view expressions, emotions, and opinions. The cognitive approach would be beneficial to someone like Jeffrey Dahmer since it would completely give him new ways of thinking and acting so that he wouldn’t have to compulsively attack and kill his victims. Dahmer had no sense of reality and did not see that there was a problem with his actions, the cognitive therapy would help him establish a sense of right and wrong by having realistic goals, and interpretations of a situation. The therapist will directly tell Dahmer that his actions were uncalled for and wrong, a reality check as some like to call it. Dahmer and the therapist would meet once a week for around two hours but to make the process go faster and more realistic in different environments, the therapist would give him homework like: practicing coping strategies, and rehearsing new skills; so that he can apply his new skills in natural, everyday environments. Another therapy that would help Jeffrey Dahmer would be psychodynamic therapy, which is where the individual attempts to relate their personality to the interplay of conflicting impulses within the individual, some of these are what the individual can’t consciously recognize. Dahmer would be able to freely talk about his emotions, impulses, and anger while the therapist interprets all these behaviors trying to figure out where the root of the problem, a self- realization. The psychodynamic theory involves the id, ego, and superego which Dahmer had struggled with since his id would take over and do valiantly selfish acts of danger and harm others. The psychoanalytic therapist interprets the patient’s unintended choice of words that could have slipped from the past calling this a Transference. In Dahmers case, a reason why he killed the men he would have pleasures with is because his father was a homophobic and always thought that same-sex relationships were wrong. Which tends to change their perspective on how they live their lives and think before they act impulsively.
Jeffrey Dahmer without a doubt had abnormal behaviors, his were so extreme that he was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Borderline personality disorder involves behaviors that make it difficult for the individual to interact with others and insecurity and questioning oneself. Dahmer was confused in his sexuality and inner self since he was sexually attracted to men but did not identify as a homosexual, this led to unclear self-image, feelings of emptiness and anger. It got to a point of a disorder when he had violent and harmful behavior that also led to a compulsion. Dahmer couldn’t stop killing, it became a force in his inner self, and became constant. Another symptom of borderline personality disorder that was undeniably present in Jeffrey Dahmer is fear of abandonment, he had an extreme urge to keep his lovers with him at all times. Dahmer would seduce his victims with a drug so that they couldn’t leave him after he pleasured himself with them,then would save their bones in plastic baggies and take pictures so that they “are always with him”. The behaviors of abnormality are always distress, disability, and an increased risk of harm.
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