Dr. Katherine Ramsland Talks About What We Can Learn from Serial Killers

Nov 14, 2023, 10:00 PM

What drives a serial killer to the brink of suicide? This question serves as the centerpiece of a compelling conversation on the "Hidden Killers" podcast, hosted by Tony Brueski and featuring esteemed forensic psychologist Dr. Katherine Ramsland.
 In their discussion, the duo explores the complex psychology of serial killers, particularly focusing on their propensity for suicide and the cryptic messages they leave behind. Brueski questions the value of suicide notes from killers, probing whether they offer any real insight into their psyche. Dr. Ramsland brings up the case of Israel Keyes, a serial killer who engaged in a twisted game with law enforcement, attempting to emulate Ted Bundy but ultimately falling into similar pitfalls.
 Keyes, who sought a quick execution in exchange for revealing the identities of his victims, represents the convoluted thinking patterns of such criminals. "He was trying to be Ted Bundy without making Bundy's mistakes, and yet he made some mistakes that were actually similar to Bundy," Dr. Ramsland notes. This conversation sheds light on the killers' often contradictory and complex mental states.
 The discussion then shifts to the distinction between mass murderers and serial killers. Dr. Ramsland points out a significant difference in their suicidal tendencies: "About 37 percent of mass murders are overtly suicidal versus 6.6 percent of serial killers." She explains that mass murderers often act on a 'coercive suicide' impulse, seeking to end their lives while inflicting harm on others, driven by a desire to make a statement or punish. This contrasts sharply with the motives of serial killers, who rarely act out of a suicidal impulse.
 Addressing public misconceptions about serial killers, Dr. Ramsland emphasizes the diversity among these individuals. "We have over 5,000 serial killers documented. They're not all alike," she asserts, debunking the notion of a homogenous profile. She explains that serial killers vary widely in terms of personality, motivations, and psychological states, with only a few showing genuine remorse or turning themselves in.
 The conversation dives deeper into the nature versus nurture debate surrounding serial killers. Dr. Ramsland criticizes the oversimplification of this complex issue, often propagated by fiction. She argues that each killer's journey toward violence is unique, influenced by a mix of genetic factors and life experiences. "It's a lot about perception and what they, you know, maybe entitlement in some cases," she explains.
 In conclusion, the dialogue between Brueski and Dr. Ramsland not only dispels common myths about serial killers but also offers a nuanced understanding of their psychological makeup. It leaves the audience pondering: How much can we truly understand the inner workings of a serial killer's mind, and what implications does this have for preventing future crimes?
 This episode of "Hidden Killers" with Tony Brueski and Dr. Katherine Ramsland offers a profound exploration into the minds of some of the most enigmatic and dangerous individuals, challenging our perceptions and inviting us to contemplate the intricate interplay of psychological factors in the realm of extreme criminal behavior.

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