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Why Do Most Serial Killers Wet The Bed

Our interest in serial killers is easily explained, according to Time. True crime stories can reportedly cause an influx of adrenaline in the viewer or reader, a sort of fearful fascination in these awful incidents. Beyond this, though, we're also desperate to try to understand what drives people to commit the worst of acts.

why do most serial killers wet the bed

The Child Psychology Service reports that youthful bedwetting (or enuresis) needn't be indicative of a problem in and of itself. There are a variety of factors at play: the frequency of wetting, the age of the child, and whether the incidents are primary (occur before a child is fully toilet-trained) or secondary (after a child is toilet-trained) must be considered. However, the potential underlying causes are what lead to the serial killer connection.

The Child Psychology Service also states that there's a possible link between urinating in the bed and childhood trauma. Children who have tragically been neglected, for instance, may have been left in soiled diapers. Others may have been punished for having an accident or otherwise not received the care, attention, and encouragement required to master the bathroom. Insecurity, anxiety, and trauma such as this characterize the Macdonald Triad, a list of three traits that supposedly suggest that somebody may become a serial killer.

As Psychology Today reports, the so-called Triad of Evil has a lot of detractors for its limitations (lacking depth and small sample sizes). Still, it has been very influential in spreading the story that serial killers often wet the bed as children.

It's interesting to consider what makes a serial killer, and whether or not they show early warning signs as kids. In many cases, "serial killers show traits of psychopathy, or what clinicians term Antisocial Personality, when young (before the age of 18)," Dr. Judy Ho, a clinical and forensic psychologist, tells Bustle. And there does seem to be a connection between sociopathy and serial killers. But that doesn't mean all serial killers have a mental health issue, or that all people with antisocial personalities will be serial killers.

"It appears that serial killers may have certain biological predispositions," Dr. Ho says. "For example, we find that many of them have very low brain reactivity, so that they are very difficult to stimulate, which may partially explain their thrill-seeking behavior in order just to feel a little something."

Many kids try to get away with things by lying. So all on its own, this is definitely not a sign someone will grow up to be a serial killer. But when the lying is excessive, it can be a sign of psychopathy.

Many serial killers display a lack of remorse as kids when it comes to hurting animals. For example, Dahmer was known to dissect dead animals he found in the woods, and even dismembered his own dog. And he wasn't alone.

This is one habit that's common among many serial killers, and is due to a lack of empathy plus a desire for control. And, Dr. Cara Tucker, psychologist and forensics specialist, tells Bustle, it can spiral out of control from there. "A thought like 'let me dismember an ant' starts small and may seem harmless, but for the development of a psychopath, depending on what raises their cortisol levels and adrenaline is different for each 'MO' of a killer," she says.

It doesn't take much for a serial killer to go from killing bugs, to killing cats, to killing people. "I have worked with a couple of serial killers and they are smart," Dr. Tucker says. "They can be charming and master manipulators and this is how they become good at what they do... And it's true they objectify their victims."

Many experts point to the MacDonald Triad as a set of guidelines often used by forensic practitioners to analyze the likelihood that someone may be a serial killer. While the jury is still out as to whether or not it's accurate, these three traits of the Triad include fire setting, cruelty to animals, and late-in-life bed-wetting.

There are so many factors that go into whether or not someone will become a serial killer[s]. Sociopathy may play a role, as well as environment. It's important not to label anyone, or assume the worst. But it is interesting to think about the various habits experts say some serial killers have had in common.

In 1963, psychiatrist and serial killer profiler J.M. Macdonald proposed a "triad" of factors in adolescence that predict future homicidal behavior. The first two, cruelty to animals and obsession with fire-setting, should come as little surprise, but the third might raise eyebrows: bedwetting.

The Macdonald triad (also known as the triad of sociopathy or the homicidal triad) is a set of three factors, the presence of any two of which are considered to be predictive of, or associated with, violent tendencies, particularly with relation to serial offenses. The triad was first proposed by psychiatrist J. M. Macdonald in "The Threat to Kill", a 1963 article in the American Journal of Psychiatry.[1] Small-scale studies conducted by psychiatrists Daniel Hellman and Nathan Blackman, and then FBI agents John E. Douglas and Robert K. Ressler along with Ann Burgess, claimed substantial evidence for the association of these childhood patterns with later predatory behavior.[2] Although it remains an influential and widely taught hypothesis, subsequent research has generally not validated this line of thinking.[3][4]

Per Singer and Hensley (2004), arson or fire-setting is theorized to be a less severe or first shot at releasing aggression. Extensive periods of humiliation have been found to be present in the childhoods of several adult serial killers. These repetitive episodes of humiliation can lead to feelings of frustration and anger, which need to somehow be released in order to return to a normal state of self-worth.[5] However, the triad combination has been questioned in this regard also, and a review has suggested that this behavior is just one that can occur in the context of childhood antisocial behavior and is not necessarily predictive of later violence.[8]

FBI special agent Alan Brantly believed that some offenders kill animals as a rehearsal for killing human victims.[9] Cruelty to animals is mainly used to vent frustration and anger the same way firesetting is. Extensive amounts of humiliation were also found in the childhoods of children who engaged in acts of cruelty to animals. During childhood, serial killers could not retaliate toward those who caused them humiliation, so they chose animals because they were viewed as weak and vulnerable. Future victim selection is already in the process at a young age. Studies have found that those who engaged in childhood acts of cruelty to animals used the same method of killing on their human victims as they did on their animal victims.[10]

The most commonly-cited empirical support for the triad comes mostly from a 1966 study by Daniel Hellman and Nathan Blackman. They found that of 31 prison inmates convicted of violent crimes, 45 percent exhibited the triad and 74 percent showed at least one of the three behaviors, much higher than for nonviolent criminals. In particular, 68 percent of the violent criminals had been bed-wetters versus 28 percent of a group of nonviolent criminals.

6. Substance abuseMany serial killers struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. Jeffrey Dahmer began drinking in his teens and was an alcoholic by his high school graduation. His alcoholism resulted in both his expulsion from college and his discharge from the military.

In Sexual Homicide Patterns & Motives, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents Robert Ressler, Ann Burgess, and John Douglas examined the childhood traits of 36 serial killers for commonalities collectively expressed by the group. The following information summarizes the main findings from this study examining the serial killers' childhood backgrounds.

As a child, future serial killers exhibit certain behavioral traits or tendencies that are not considered "normal." Taken separately, such tendencies may not be indicative of a problem. That is, bed wetting is not only common to future serial killers. However, such a behavior expressed with many other indicator behaviors increases the correlational validity between reported childhood behavior indicators and serial murder.

Most notable was the severe violence witnessed in childhood by serial killer Richard Ramirez. His older cousin, Miguel Ramirez, had returned from the Vietnam War and told a young Richard details of the torture and mutilation of Vietnamese women. Miguel even showed him photographic evidence of what the victims endured.

Most people have heard of "The Homicidal Triad" in reference to serial killers...bedwetting, fire-setting, and cruelty to animals. It's believed that a serial killer will have all of these in their past and that they alone can be signs of a sociopathic personality in childhood. Neither of those things is completely true, there's a little more to it than those simple statements.

Not every serial killer will have the triad show up in their past and not everyone who has these three characteristics is destined to grow up to kill (though they certainly should be watched carefully and, preferably, gotten professional help as soon as possible). Each of these warning signs are a touch more complex than would first seem and signify deeper issues for those that have them...and it's the deeper issues the triad represents that's consistently found in the budding sociopath.

At its most obvious fire-setting in the budding serial killer is an expression of anger and aggression (as opposed to a rather benign curiosity with other children). A child would find it very difficult to organize a meeting with a realtor at an empty house pretending to be a prospective buyer as a ruse to rape and kill like Mike DeBardeleben did, but they sure could set the neighbor's shed on fire without too much trouble. There is, however, another emotion that comes to the young sociopath who sets fires...sexual arousal. Just like with killing it's generally the power they feel and the destruction they cause in setting the fire that really gives them the sexual charge. In the words of serial killer Joseph Kallinger, "Oh, what ecstasy setting fires brings to my body! What power I feel at the thought of fire...Oh, what a pleasure, what a heavenly pleasure! I see the flames and no longer is a fire just a daydream. It is the reality of heaven on earth! I love the excitement of the power fire gives me...The mental image is greater than sex!"


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