Episode 011: Nature versus Nurture – The Making of a Serial Killer

on January 7, 2011 in Podcast Episodes, Psychology, Serial Killers by

In this week’s episode, we look at what causes someone to become a serial killer.

We’ll be mostly discussing psychopathic sexual murder, rather than psychotic murder. Psychopathy, also known as sociopathy or antisocial personality disorder, is a behavioral disorder characterized by an abnormal lack of empathy combined with abnormal immoral conduct, despite an ability to appear normal. Psychosis, on the other hand, is characterized by a severe break from reality, such as the experience of a paranoid schizophrenic.

We will focus on males primarily, as females develop very differently. Although some female cases, such as Aileen Wouros profile very similarly to males.

This episode is really an introduction to these issues. I will likely explore some of these issues more completely in future episodes.

Please be aware that some of the images discussed in this episode are rather disturbing, and that profane language is included in some of the quotations.

Serial Killers Mentioned: Aileen Wouros, Henry Lee Lucas, Berkowitz, Joel Rifkin, Edmund Kemper, Joseph Kallinger, Jerry Brudos, Gary Ridgway, Ed Gein, Peter Woodcock, Arthur Shawcross, Bobby Joe Long, John Wayne Gacy, Charles Manson, Gary Heidnik, Albert Fish, Mary Bell, Earle Leonard Nelson, Carlton Gary, Richard Ramirez, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, Clifford Olson, H. H. Holmes, Richard Angelo

You can also download the episode directly.

And feel free to use the comments below for episode discussion.


  • danielle says:

    I’m curious if any of the incarcerated prostitute killers (especially Shawcross and Ridgeway) ever made any comments of any kind regarding their reaction to a prostitute who killed men the same way they killed prostitutes…..

    • Brian Combs says:

      In other words, were they ever asked about Aileen Wuornos? To my knowledge, no they weren’t, either specifically or in general. Some quick Google searches came up dry.

      To be honest, I imagine the response by either would be a blank stare. Between their psychopathy and their narcissism, they wouldn’t be able to contemplate the situation.

  • Alex says:

    Jeffrey Dahmer was scored a 22 on the PCL (Psychopathy Checklist), which means he was not a clinical psychopath. You have to get a score of at least 30 to be labelled a psychopath. Dahmer was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder with some schizotypal features. He also had major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, substance use disorder (both alcohol and drugs) and he had paraphilias (sexual disorders). Those were his official diagnosis when he was evaluated by many different psychologists and psychiatrists, both during trial and while he was in prison.

Leave a Comment