More than 3,350,000 pageviews from 150 countries


Friday, June 21, 2013

Criminal Justice Quote: The Serial Killer Hysteria of the 1980s

     Psychiatry is not to blame for the emergence of the late-twentieth-century fictional monster known as the serial killer, but the psychiatric concept of criminal violence as an unconsciously motivated explosion of rage bolsters the credibility of what is in fact a bureaucratic invention....

     Ultraviolent criminals sometimes commit a series of murders....Such serial homicides are enacted most commonly by violent drug dealers, professional murderers and armed robbers in the course of doing business....The notion of an irrational, predatory "serial killer" emerged in the early 1980s amid widespread hysteria about dangers to children from pornographers, satanic cults, lethal day-care centers and kidnappers....The 1983 [Senate] hearings on child kidnapping and serial homicide by the Juvenile Justice Subcommitee, chaired by Senator Arlen Spector, [was] the public forum from which emerged the popular notion of a multitude of predatory serial killers scourging the land....

     Specter's subcommittee estimated that there had been as many as 3,600 "random and senseless [serial] murders" in 1981; by the time that number had whispered its way around the circle of public discussion, it was inflated to estimates of 4,000 or 5,000 serial-killer victims per year ( out of about 23,000 total U. S. homicides)....The actual number of [serial killer] victims is closer to two hundred a year. [That may have been true in the 80s and 90s, but the number of yearly victims is now much lower than 200.]

Richard Rhodes, Why They Kill: The Discoveries of a Maverick Criminologist, 1999 

No comments:

Post a Comment