We all know about the atrocities of the Milwaukee Cannibal, but what drove him to commit such acts?
Dahmer pled guilty but insane before the actual trial. Psychiatric experts testified that he knew right from wrong, regardless of psychological state. So what did Dahmer suffer from, and how did this impact his crimes?
There are many different possible diagnoses for Jeffrey Dahmer. Upon psychological inspection, many different possibilities arose for Dahmer’s mental state.
Antisocial Personality Disorder
Perhaps the most obvious diagnosis, APD is a disorder that has been flirted with by psychologists to explain Dahmer’s behaviour. It is catagorised by the following:
- Exploit, manipulate and violate the rights of others - No remorse or regret - Irresponsible, no regard for social norms - Very few long term, meaningful relationships - Problems with temper and frustration - Lack guilt for their actions - Blame others for their own short-comings - Break the law consistently
This may seem like, on the surface, an appropriate diagnosis for Dahmer. However, the way in which he killed, and his self professed reasons for doing so, do not fit the criteria. Many psychologists deny this as the driving force behind his crimes, as his motives seemed to be propelled more by insecurity, self gratification and instability, rather than anger.
Autistic Development Disorder
Many children suffer from a form of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, which inevitably carries through to adulthood. It is categorized by the following:
- Social & communication difficulties - Exhibit behaviours that other would deem “different” and “repetitive” - Intense obsessions - Is often coupled with Social Anxiety and General Anxiety Disorder - Monotonous or flat speech - Uncomfortable with human touch
No two people present the same Autistic behaviors, so categorization is difficult.
Jeffrey Dahmer developed from a very young age an obsession with bones, namely animal bones. Lionel Dahmer (father) said in his book “A Fathers Story” that he encouraged this behavior, as he felt it may lead to a career in the medical field. He ultimately viewed this obsession as a harmless one.
In school, Dahmer had a lot of trouble with social interaction. He spoke of this himself in a later interview from prison, stating that “The
subtleties of social life were beyond my grasp. When children liked me, I did
not know why. Nor could I formulate a plan for winning their
affection. I simply didn’t know how things worked with other people…. And try
as I might, I couldn’t make other people seem less strange and unknowable”
Experts that assessed Dahmers behaviour, say that there is a connection between Aspergers and sexual development, aggressive behavior and low mood.
Borderline Personality Disorder
After molesting a 13 year old, psychologists found Dahmer to be uncooperative, angry, manipulative and emotionally unstable. He later told his probation officer that his life lacked meaning and purpose. Could this empty feeling, coupled with an unstable disposition be a sign of BPD?
- Emotional Instability - Disturbed patterns of thinking or perceptions - Impulsive and reckless behavior - Unstable sense of self - Extreme fear of abandonment and rejection - Intense and unstable relationships with others - Obsessive behaviors such as obsessing over other people
In his confession, Jeffrey Dahmer said he murdered the men to prevent them from leaving and abandoning him. This intense fear of being “left” is very common among BPD sufferers, and this, coupled with his extreme denial of his homosexuality (unstable sense of self) may make BPD a likely diagnosis.
Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified; with Schizoid, Antisocial, and Schizotypal Traits
Psychiatrists that assessed Dahmer found that they were unable to conclude what afflictions he suffered from. The above diagnosis was given.
How would JD have been treated on the outside?
There are many different therapies that are available for the above mental health problems. Below is a selection of these that may have been implemented:
Borderline Personality Disorder
- DBT - Dialectical Behavioural Therapy Coupled with medication for related depression and anxiety
Aspergers - A combination of Social Skills Training, Speech and Language therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Applied Behavioral Analysis and Medication
Many psychologists also think that a combination of Psychotherapy, Psychopharmacology and Hormone Therapy would have helped Dahmer to live a functional life.
How was Dahmer treated in prison?
Dahmer received no official therapy in prison for his mental health issues, other than the pastoral care of the prison minister. He converted to Christianity whilst in prison. Was this a genuine move one Dahmer’s part to seek forgiveness and live a better, more fulfilling life? Or was it yet another desperate attempt to fit into a group and establish an identity for himself?
Had Jeffrey been given the opportunity to receive quality mental health assessments and care, some believe he could’ve served as a “guinea pig” in how to treat extreme deviance such as this.
Us: Yes, you love Zac Efron, we know, you love
Zac Efron so much, he’s the light of your life, you love him so much, you just love
Zac Efron, we KNOW, you love Zac fucking Efron ok we know, we get it, YOU LOVE ZAC EFRON. WE GET IT.
Deep in the wintry parts of our minds, we know that there is no such thing as a work-free transformation. We know that we will have to burn to the ground in one way or another, and then sit right in the ashes of who we once thought we were and go on from there.
Whatever you hold in your mind will tend to occur in your life. If you continue to believe as you have always believed, you will continue to act as you have always acted. If you continue to act as you have always acted, you will continue to get what you have always gotten. If you want different results in your life or your work, all you have to do is change your mind.
The job of the linguist, like that of the biologist or the botanist, is not to tell us how nature should behave, or what its creations should look like, but to describe those creations in all their messy glory and try to figure out what they can teach us about life, the world, and, especially in the case of linguistics, the workings of the human mind.
Arika Okrent, In the Land of Invented Languages: Esperanto Rock Stars, Klingon Poets, Loglan Lovers, and the Mad Dreamers Who Tried to Build a Perfect Language
The mind is a tool, except many of us don’t realise that we must put it down once we’ve finished using it. Much like a hammer - the mind can be used for construction and destruction - the outcome depends on the user.
Learning to see the mind in this way has helped me to overcome many of the issues I was creating for myself by not using the mind in a way that benefits me. Constantly holding a hammer will encourage you to use it in all scenarios - if you use it to turn on a light switch you will probably break it.
The mind holds great power and with great power comes great responsibility - using your mind in a way that serves you is your responsibility. You can learn how to do this by quieting the mind at least once a day - during meditation.
Meditation allows us reprieve from the thoughts and feelings the mind creates - this resting state invites a quiet mind. The resting state does not need to use the mind and this is how meditation allows us to set the tool down to rest. During this time we distance ourself from the mind and we tune into our senses.
See that the thoughts and mental imagery you are experiencing are all a direct result of how you interact with your mind. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of setting down the mind after using it for your intended purpose - see that this practice can alleviate much of the stress you experience.
If you leave a power drill plugged in and switched on - the likelihood for destruction is extremely high. Treat your mind as thought it holds the same power and consider how long you leave it on for.
Use your mind when you need to, learn to set it down.