The cause of Jeffrey Dahmer’s horrible spree of murder, mutilation, and cannibalism cannot be clarified with a single explanation. One must accept his twisted psyche to have resulted from many influences including biological predisposition and external factors. From a psychoanalytic perspective, one can uncover events from Dahmer’s life that served to strengthen his obsession with murder and death.
Jeffrey Dahmer’s incorrigible actions cannot be attributed to his childhood; his environment growing up was relatively normal and stable. Dahmer’s horrific actions were merely a method of satisfying his innate, twisted impulses. According to the psychodynamic model, human beings are solely driven to satisfy their pleasure needs.
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For normal people this would involve things such as passing through Freud’s oral and anal stages, as well as overcoming an Oedipal complex. In the case of Jeffrey Dahmer, his childhood instincts for obtaining pleasure were rather obscene. Freud proposed that most young children experience their first sexual arousal from a parent of the opposite sex. This phase naturally passes when the child matures and begins to look towards other people for sexual pleasure. In Dahmer’s case, his initial childhood fantasies were predominantly violent. In order to satisfy his id impulses, he needed to engage in violent behavior. As a child, he found satisfaction in examining road kill. The pleasure obtained from deceased street meat served to satisfy his sexual drive and provide him with gratification. Dahmer became conditioned to associate death with pleasure, thus finding satisfaction and sexual gratification only while in the presence of death.
Throughout grade school, Dahmer remained an outcast. He could not associate with others because he received no sort of fulfillment from forming interpersonal relationships. At this point, dead animals were losing his interest. Soon after graduating high school, he moved on and claimed his first victim.
As an adult, Dahmer frequently tried to repress his fantasies. This is evidence that his superego was functioning to some extent because he was trying to conform to societal standards. For example, after killing a man at the age of 18, the young Dahmer felt repulsed by his action and resorted to alcoholism to aid his repression. He even joined the military briefly. After eventually abandoning alcoholism, his superego broke down and he quit repressing. This marked the beginning of his infamous killing spree. All of Dahmer’s victims were killed din similar fashion. He would drug them, engage in sexual acts, kill them and then further mutilate and molest the dead bodies.
Jeffrey Dahmer was born with an upside down pleasure drive. The discrepancies between his fantasies and the accepted societal norms prevented him from maturing into a well-adjusted and sane adult. His id became the dominant component of his psyche, for he had no ego or superego to control his sexual impulses. In the end, Dahmer’s twisted fantasies became a reality, making him one of the most notorious killers of present day.
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