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Learning Goal: I’m working on a writing question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.
The sexual behaviors of serial killers is a complex topic as there are various factors that must be taken into account when it comes to understanding their behavior. Differentiatingbetween whatsexual acts and desires are considered acceptable or normal can be challenging as these standards are determined by societyand social norms.This paper focuses on one of America’s most notorious serial killers, Ted Bundy, and his acts of sexual violence. Bundy was a charming, intelligent, and articulate individual who engaged in acts that were seemingly normal to him. This paper analyzes Bundy’s behaviors and characteristics and discusseshe could legitimize his acts of sexual aberrations.
Keywords: Ted Bundy, sexual aberrations, serial killer, normal
Ted Bundy Background and Character Traits
Theodore Robert Bundy, also known as Ted Bundy, was one of the most notorious American serial killer and rapists of the late 20th century (Jenkins, 2022). Bundyconfessed tosexually assaulting and killing 28 women in several states between the years 1974 and 1978, although many believe that number is much higher. Following two custody escapes and an exceedingly publicized trial, Bundy was sentenced to death in 1979. Just several years later, he was executedin Raiford, Florida by electric chair (Jenkins, 2022).
Growing up, it is well-known that Bundy suffered from a challenging childhood as he had a troubled relationship with his stepfather and was a regular recipient for bullying (Jenkins, 2022). However, as he grew older, he was able to acquiresufficient social and intelligence skills that allowed him to develop normal emotional relationships with women as well as a successful college career (Jenkins, 2022). Despite his evidentstability, Bundy masked majority of his psychopathic and odd character traits.
While Ted Bundy was known for being a necrosadisticsex offender, he admitted that his sex crimes began as a voyeur at just nine years old(Holmes & Holmes, 2009). As his urges and desires developed, he began to grow into a much more experienced criminal. To lure and capture his victims, Bundy used tactics such as faking an injury or impersonating authority figures. He was a very intelligent, unemotional, evil, and cunning predator that took pleasure in torturing his victims. Various reporters and criminal justice professionals have touched on his ability to change his appearance and take on many different “faces” (Terranova, 2020).
Bundy’s Sexual Aberrations
According to Holmes & Holmes (2009), there is a strong need for sexual beings to legitimize their sexual desires, preferences, and lifestyles. A key concept into understanding an offender’s decision to commit crime is their “ability to neutralize or rationalize [their] behaviors” (Pedneault, 2013). Professor Amelie Pedneaultat Washington State University explains that neutralization takes place when an offender generates a reasoning that validates their behavior and influences (2013).However, what is considered “normal” to one individual may be very different or even offensive to another (Holmes & Holmes, 2009). In the case of Ted Bundy, neutralization was a frequent thought process of his as hefaulted his childhood and upbringing as a means to his acts. It is clear from the various court roomappearances and interviews that Bundy did not accept responsibility for his crimes.
There are many theories and ideas revolving around Bundy’s childhood that believe turned him into the sadistic killer that he became. For example, because Bundy was a result of incest and he did not know who his biological father was, many speculated that could have been enough to influence him to kill(Terranova, 2020). Many have also concluded that his psychopath traits (compulsiveness, callousness, and compulsive lying) was a direct result of his upbringing.Psychologists have also hypothesized over the years that Bundydisplayed signs of a mood disorder which could explain his manic-depressive violent mood swings (Serena, 2019).
As far as Bundy legitimizing his own acts, he believed that his heinous acts of killing and violent fantasies were a result of his addition to pornography. At a young age, it has beendocumented that Bundy would frequently sneak off into his family’s greenhouse to view his grandfather’s pornography collection for hours at a time (Serena, 2019). However, crime psychologist, Dan Linz, one of the United States’ leadingexperts on pornography, notes that it is not surprising Bundy attempted to blame his murders on a topic “so believable” (Beasley, 1989). According to Linz, violent behavior cannot be pinpointed, as it is a combination of various situational, personal, and environmental factors (Beasley, 1989).
Additionally, when Bundy was convicted of three murders and originally sentenced to death, he denied any sort of involvement in those crimes and appealed his conviction (Pedneault, 2013). It was clear that Bundy did not or could not take responsibility for his acts as he chose to speak in the third person when being interviewed about his crimes. Bundy was able to disassociate himself from his killings by speaking about a hypothetical offender that would commit such offenses (Pedneault, 2013). Denial of responsibility was just another tactic of Bundy’s to justify his behaviors.
Understanding Bundy’s childhood and character traits gives insight into legitimizing his behaviors and actions as a violent killer and sexual offender. In order to gain knowledge and better understand individuals similar to Bundy, we must study their etiology along with their particular fantasies and compulsions. However, it is important to be cautious when analyzing this type of behavior as it can be easily portrayed as glorifying or condemning their behavior (Holmes & Holmes, 2009). While what is considered socially acceptable in terms of sex can vary based on cultural or social norms, it is clear that Bundy truly believed his acts were normal. His case has taught us and the criminal justice system that we cannot make broad generalizations to categorize a killer (Terranova, 2020) and that sexual acts of normalcy can vary.
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