Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jeffrey Dahmer

Why?

Why does a Jeffrey Dahmer happen? How does a man become a serial killer, necrophiliac, cannibal and psychopath? Very few convincing answers are forthcoming, despite a spate of books that propose to explain the origins of the problem.

Many of the theories would have you believe that the answers can always be found in childhood abuse, bad parenting, head trauma, fetal alcoholism and drug addiction. Perhaps in some cases, these are contributing factors, but not for Jeffrey Dahmer.

His father, Lionel Dahmer, wrote a very sad and poignant book called A Father's Story, which explores the very common phenomenon of parents trying desperately to give their child a good upbringing, and discovering to their horror that their child has built a high wall around himself from which their influence is progressively shut out. While fortunately, most parents do not have a Jeffrey Dahmer to raise, too many have seen their children succumb to drugs, alcohol, and crime, despite their very best and often frantic efforts to intervene.

"It is a portrayal of parental dread... the terrible sense that your child has slipped beyond your grasp, that your little boy is spinning in the void, swirling in the maelstrom, lost, lost, lost."

Lionel seems to be fairly straightforward in recognizing the negative influences in Jeff's life. No family is perfect. Jeff's mother had various physical ailments and appeared to be high strung, coming from a background in which her father's alcoholism deeply affected her life.

Lionel, a chemist who went on to get his Ph.D., stayed at work more often than he should to avoid turmoil on the home front. Eventually, the marriage dissolved in divorce when Jeff was 18. However, none of this commonplace domestic discord accounts for serial murder, necrophilia, or Jeff's other bizarre behaviors.

 

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