"Monsters Aren't Monsters After All"
Imagine you’re searching for something. You don’t know what it is, and you don’t know where to find it. You keep finding things you think are it, only to find they aren’t what you were searching for after all.
Or imagine, you’ve got what you need, that one thing that makes you feel right, but someone wants to take it away from you. Wouldn’t you do anything to keep it? After all, you need it, right?
This is exactly how they feel, these beings we’ve deemed “Monsters”. These “beasts”, these “demons”; or more definitively, serial killers. Most individual murders have a clear motive – robbery, jealousy, revenge – what makes serial murders different, is that there doesn’t appear to be a particular reason. So the perpetrators of such crimes just love killing, right?
Throughout human history we’ve made a habit of this. Being unable to comprehend something, we’re quick to dismiss it as evil. It happened through the Crusades, the Witch Hunts, the massacre of the Native Peoples…and it’s still happening today. But why would we make an effort to understand these monsters anyway? What is there to understand, we already know they love to kill, we need not look any farther. Yet that is exactly why we must look deeper, we must understand that we do not know why, and even more, we need to understand that it is crucial that we find out.
It’s not a mystery that serial murderers are different from us, but there are more reasons than you’d think. Take Jeffery Dahmer for example, so frightened by the idea that his lovers would leave him, that he murdered them so they’d stay. What about Eddy Gein, so obsessed with his mother that after her death he murdered women in an attempt to recreate her. Then there’s the fictional “Blind Man Killer”, who murdered male prostitutes out of resentment for his prostitute mother who tried to abandon him at a carnival. All of these criminals have something inside that tells them this is what they need. Something that they’ve probably held off their entire life.
But you can only hold off a need for so long.
Many people are quick to blame childhood experiences for the formation of this drive, but maybe we should look at the possibility that this can develop free of external stimuli. Take Jeffery Dahmer for example, he had a relatively normal childhood, but he still grew up to become a serial murderer and a cannibal. The truth is that the answer lies not on the outside, but on the inside. This feeling, this drive that exists in some of us, is the key to it all. In some instances, these feelings are no more than undiluted versions of our regular emotions; fear, greed, even love. In the words of Lionel Dahmer, Jeffery Dahmer’s father, his son was “So intimidated by their presence, that in order for him to come in contact with them, they needed to be dead.” Number 9, in Tanya Huff’s “Blood Pact”, was motivated by feelings of love; becoming so attached to the one woman who showed him kindness that he would even murder anyone who might make her unhappy.
So is it right to call them monsters, when all their crimes are centered on our emotions? You must remember that no matter what they do, they are still humans, still, just following human nature. All these things we call inhumane are just the opposite: Humans are the only creature that is cruel. So they’re not monsters, beasts, or demons, they’re human. Maybe even, theoretically, more human than us.
I am not trying to say serial killers aren’t guilty. We know the “what”. We know what they’ve done, you and I, we know it’s against the law. In this world, however, we also know there is much more than “what”, we know it goes much deeper. We need to find the “why”. We fear what we cannot understand, because we cannot learn how to stop it. Once why find “why”, we start to understand, we stop fearing, and we start learning. Once we stop dismissing it as “evil” and leaving it there, we may be able to begin stopping it; we may be able to help these people find what they are searching for. We may be able to stop them from hurting anyone else.