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Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Women who fall in love with/marry serial killers in prison

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Question
I am working on a paper for school (I am taking college level psychology courses) on the topic of serial killer groupies. I wondered if I could get your opinion on the subject. What is it that you think certain women find so attractive about men who kill? And do you think that women who get involved with these men are always psychologically unhealthy? What about the men themselves. Do you think they are truly capable of loving these women and forming a bond with them? Or are they just using them and manipulating them to get something from them? Thank you.

Answer
Dear Andrea:

The common explanation is that one is fascinated with evil and evildoers because, through them, one vicariously expresses the repressed, dark, and evil parts of one's own personality. Evildoers, according to this theory, represent the "shadow" nether lands of our selves and, thus, they constitute our antisocial alter egos. Being drawn to wickedness is an act of rebellion against social strictures and the crippling bondage that is modern life. It is a mock synthesis of our Dr. Jekyll with our Mr. Hyde. It is a cathartic exorcism of our inner demons.

Yet, even a cursory examination of this account reveals its flaws.

Far from being taken as a familiar, though suppressed, element of our psyche, evil is mysterious. Though preponderant, villains are often labeled "monsters" - abnormal, even supernatural aberrations. It took Hanna Arendt two thickset tomes to remind us that evil is banal and bureaucratic, not fiendish and omnipotent.

In our minds, evil and magic are intertwined. Sinners seem to be in contact with some alternative reality where the laws of Man are suspended. Sadism, however deplorable, is also admirable because it is the reserve of Nietzsche's Supermen, an indicator of personal strength and resilience. A heart of stone lasts longer than its carnal counterpart.

Throughout human history, ferocity, mercilessness, and lack of empathy were extolled as virtues and enshrined in social institutions such as the army and the courts. The doctrine of Social Darwinism and the advent of moral relativism and deconstruction did away with ethical absolutism. The thick line between right and wrong thinned and blurred and, sometimes, vanished.

Evil nowadays is merely another form of entertainment, a species of pornography, a sanguineous art. Evildoers enliven our gossip, color our drab routines and extract us from dreary existence and its depressive correlates. It is a little like collective self-injury. Self-mutilators report that parting their flesh with razor blades makes them feel alive and reawakened. In this synthetic universe of ours, evil and gore permit us to get in touch with real, raw, painful life.

The higher our desensitized threshold of arousal, the more profound the evil that fascinates us. Like the stimuli-addicts that we are, we increase the dosage and consume added tales of malevolence and sinfulness and immorality. Thus, in the role of spectators, we safely maintain our sense of moral supremacy and self-righteousness even as we wallow in the minutest details of the vilest crimes.

Some serial killers are sadists. Most serial killers are psychopathic narcissists. The following resources apply to them:

Click on these links for detailed topic guides - everything you ever wanted
to know about narcissists and psychopaths:

============================================
Toxic Relationships with Malignant Narcissists and Psychopaths
============================================
How to Recognize a Narcissist or a Psychopath on Your First Date, Before It
is Too Late?

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4976

Narcissists and Personality disordered Mates, Spouses, and Partners

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/5013

Narcissists, psychopaths, sex, and marital fidelity

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4920

Narcissistic and Psychopathic Parents and Their Children

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4727

Projection and Projective Identification - Abuser in Denial

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/5002

Approach-Avoidance Repetition Complex and Fear of Intimacy

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/5000

The Narcissist or Psychopath Hates your Independence and Personal Autonomy

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4959

I miss him so much - I want him back!

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4934

Guilt? What guilt?

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4931

How Victims are Pathologized and re-abused by the System

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/5068

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The Narcissist and Psychopath in Society
============================
The Narcissist and Psychopath as Criminals

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/5003

The Narcissist is Above the Law

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4983

The Narcissist as Liar and Con-man

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4951

============================================
Pathological Narcissism, Narcissistic Personality disorder and Psychopathy
============================================
Does the Narcissist Have a Multiple Personality (Dissociative Identity
Disorder)?

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4950

Narcissists as Drama Queens

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4948

The Narcissist as Know-it-all

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4945

The Narcissist as VAMPIRE or MACHINE

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4944

Narcissists and Psychopaths Devalue Their Psychotherapists

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4939

Violent, Vindictive, Sadistic, and Psychopathic Narcissists

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4938

Portrait of the Narcissist as a Young Man

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/5048

Grandiosity, Fantasies, and Narcissism

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/4923

Narcissists and Emotions

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/5248

Narcissists and Mood Disorders

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/narcissisticabuse/message/5067

I wish you success with your work.

Sam

Psychiatry & Psychology--General

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Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.

Expertise

Personality disorders. I have collaborated with Israeli psychologists and criminologists in the study of personality disorders and am the author of "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited" (available from Barnes and Noble and as an e-book from my publisher). My expertise is: the Narcissistic Personality Disorder and pathological narcissism.

Experience

I am the author of Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited. (number 1 bestseller in its category in Barnes and Noble). The Web site "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited" was, for many years, an Open Directory Cool Site and a Psych-UK recommended Site. I am not a mental health professional though I am certified in psychological counseling techniques by Brainbench. I served as the editor of Mental Health Disorders categories in the Open Directory Project and on Mentalhelp.net. I have my own websites about the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and about relationships with abusive narcissists here and in HealthyPlace. You can read my work on many other Web sites: Mental Health Matters, Mental Health Sanctuary, Mental Health Today, Kathi's Mental Health Review and others. I also served as the author of the Personality Disorders topic, Narcissistic Personality Disorder topic, the Verbal and Emotional Abuse topic, and the Spousal Abuse and Domestic Violence topic, all four on Suite101, as well as the moderator of the Narcissistic Abuse Study List , the Toxic Relationships Study List, and other mailing lists (c. 7000 members). I wrote a column for Bellaonline on Narcissism and Abusive Relationships.

Publications
"Managing Investment Portfolios in States of Uncertainty", Limon Publishers, Tel-Aviv, 1988 "The Gambling Industry", Limon Publishers, Tel-Aviv, 1990 "Requesting My Loved One: Short Stories", Miskal-Yedioth Aharonot, Tel-Aviv, 1997 "The Suffering of Being Kafka” (electronic book of Hebrew and English Short Fiction), Prague, 1998-2004 "The Macedonian Economy at a Crossroads – On the Way to a Healthier Economy" (dialogues with Nikola Gruevski), Skopje, 1998 "The Exporter’s Pocketbook" Ministry of Trade, Republic of Macedonia, Skopje, 1999 "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited", Narcissus Publications, Prague, 1999-2007 (Read excerpts - click here) The Narcissism, Psychopathy, and Abuse in Relationships Series (E-books regarding relationships with abusive narcissists and psychopaths), Prague, 1999-2010 Personality Disorders Revisited (e-book about personality disorders), Prague, 2007 "After the Rain – How the West Lost the East", Narcissus Publications in association with Central Europe Review/CEENMI, Prague and Skopje, 2000 More than 30 e-books about psychology, international affairs, business and economics, philosophy, short fiction, and reference (free download here) Winner of numerous awards, among them Israel's Council of Culture and Art Prize for Maiden Prose (1997), The Rotary Club Award for Social Studies (1976), and the Bilateral Relations Studies Award of the American Embassy in Israel (1978). Hundreds of professional articles in all fields of finance and economics, and numerous articles dealing with geopolitical and political economic issues published in both print and Web periodicals in many countries. Many appearances in the electronic and print media on subjects in psychology, philosophy, and the sciences, and concerning economic matters.

Education/Credentials
1970-1978: Completed nine semesters in the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa. 1982-3: Ph.D. in Philosophy (dissertation: "Time Asymmetry Revisited") – California Miramar University (formerly: Pacific Western University), California, USA. 1982-5: Graduate of numerous courses in Finance Theory and International Trading in the UK and USA. Certified E-Commerce Concepts Analyst by Brainbench. Certified in Psychological Counselling Techniques by Brainbench. Certified Financial Analyst by Brainbench. Full proficiency in Hebrew and in English.

Awards and Honors
Winner of numerous awards, among them Israel's Council of Culture and Art Prize for Maiden Prose (1997), The Rotary Club Award for Social Studies (1976), and the Bilateral Relations Studies Award of the American Embassy in Israel (1978).

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