Term Paper: Summer of 1976

Pages: 10 (3527 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Mostly young -- raped and slaughtered -- their blood drained -- just bones now. Papa Sam keeps me locked in the attic too. I can't get out but I look out the attic window and watch the world go by. I feel like an outsider. I am on a different wavelength then everybody else -- programmed too kill. However, to stop me you must kill me. Attention all police: Shoot me first -- shoot to kill or else keep out of my way or you will die! Papa Sam is old now. He needs some blood to preserve his youth. He has had too many heart attacks. 'Ugh, me hoot, it hurts, sonny boy.' I miss my pretty princess most of all. She's resting in our ladies house. But I'll see her soon I am the 'Monster' -- 'Beelzebub' -- the chubby behemouth. I love to hunt. Prowling the streets looking for fair game -- tasty meat. The wemon of Queens are prettyist of all. It must be the water they drink. I live for the hunt -- my life. Blood for papa. Mr. Borrelli, sir, I don't want to kill anymore. No sur, no more but I must, 'honour thy father.' I want to make love to the world. I love people. I don't belong on earth. Return me to yahoos. To the people of Queens, I love you. And I want to wish all of you a happy Easter. May God bless you in this life and in the next. And for now I say goodbye and goodnight.

POLICE: Let me haunt you with these words:

I'll be back! I'll be back! To be interrpreted as - bang, bang, bang, bang ugh!!

Yours in murder Mr. Monster. ().

A few weeks later, David sent another note that ran in the Daily News. It was during his campaign of letter writing that David gave himself away. He wrote a note to Jack Cassara (his old landlord) from Sam and Francis Carr (who had never met or known Jack), sympathizing about Jack's falling off of a roof (which never happened). Intrigued the Cassaras found the Carrs who contacted the police and the link was established (but not until after his last murder) - David Berkowitz was the Son of Sam. But, before he would be caught, David shot and wounded Salvatore Lupo and Judy Placido as they left a disco. His last killing, however, would come a month after the one-year anniversary of his rampage - David approached Stacy Moskowitz who was in a car with her boyfriend Bobby Violante, fired twice into the car, killing Stacy and blinding Bobby. This time, there was an eye witness to the murder. With all the pieces in place, the police finally determined that David Berkowitz was the killer. When caught, David immediately and without hesitation confessed to all of the murders.

People like David Berkowitz have been part of our human society since humanity began. Thomas Hobbes observed that communities form for the purpose of mutual protection and that they are a refuge from the Wild. For people like David Berkowitz, communities are, in essence, the wild and their psychopathology is the protection from that. The problem, however, is that the psychology of murder is one that cannot truly prevent such people from becoming murderers, it can only explain them once the horror has happened. David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam, terrorized a community that he had perceived as rejecting him. He retreated into a world of delusion, of fantasy, and of fear of the supernatural. Once in that world, he rationalized the destruction of human life and carried out his murders with the calmness and purposefulness of a mail carrier delivering a package. "I wasn't going to rob her, or touch her, or rape her. I was just going to kill her" (Berkowitz quoted in Chelser & Robb, 1996). What psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists have determined about people like David Berkowitz, is that they almost universally suffer from significant psychological breaks, traumas often suffered in childhood, that have changed the very nature of their thought process and moral structure.

The first use of psychology in the solution and prosecution of a murder case was in 1924, in the Leopold and Loeb case. A strict Freudian analysis was used in the case, and caused a great level of concern as to its accuracy, applicability, and appropriateness in the case.

The Freudian testimony during the trial lasted over a month and created thousands of pages of transcripts. Some testimony bordered on the ridiculous, especially when great meaning was attached to a childhood picture of Loeb dressed as a cowboy. The laundry list of potential "root causes" for the murder put forth by the Freudians ranged from Leopold being taunted in childhood by other boys to Loeb's relationship with his governess. Darrow's autobiography clearly indicates he believed the Freudian opinion offered at the trial was valid scientific evidence. Interestingly, Darrow believed of all the speculations given for the murder, the primary cause was that Loeb read detective stories as a boy. Darrow appears not to have considered the parsimonious explanation that Leopold and Loeb were simply "two rich kids who tried to get away with murder." Cleary Darrow uncritically accepted information (i.e., Freudian theory) as long as it was consistent with his preexisting viewpoint (Rinolo, 2002).

What the lawyers in the Leopold and Loeb case discovered was that the psychological findings against and for defendants when taken without question as absolute fact could change the course of a case. The legacy of the Leopold and Loeb prosecution has been that psychology as a courtroom tool has proven its ability to both free and damn a defendant. Initially, some attempt was made by the defense in the Berkowitz trial to paint him as being mentally unfit for trial. But, after a court-appointed psychiatrist evaluated David, and found him fit, the psychological defense was dropped entirely.

But, even when psychological findings do not determine that a person was insane when committing murder, that finding does not mean that the person committing the murder is mentally healthy.

In fact, there is some healthy skepticism about the use of psychology / psychiatry as the basis of fact in a case regarding a person's relative sanity. There is the problem of the definition of "criminally insane." Most psychology employed in courtrooms is based in part if not wholly upon a Freudian model.

Freudian analysis deserves critical scrutiny because it (a) only offers a highly speculative after-the-fact explanation of behavior (e.g., why Leopold and Loeb killed), and (b) relies upon such non-scientific techniques as free association and dream analysis. What may strike some skeptics about a Freudian analysis is its resemblance to a psychic cold reading. Both search for after-the-fact explanations using scientifically invalid techniques, both typically provide a laundry list of possibilities, both typically provide unfalsifiable information, and both are often uncritically accepted by clients. Since both psychics and psychoanalysts merely speculate, should either be allowed to testify in the courtroom as an expert where opinion can be perceived as fact? (Riniolo, 2002).

Among those who commit serial murders, there is a commonality of psychology that is shared by David Berkowitz. "A review of the literature indicates that fantasy rehearsal of murderous and sadistic acts is commonly reported in this group [and] stresses the importance of examining environmental factors that could elicit and control violent behavior (Gresswell & Hollin, 1994)." According to research, David Berkowitz indeed does fall under the category of multiple murder known commonly as Serial Murder. Gresswell & Hollin (1994), offer this description of what characterizes a multiple murder:

1) there are at least two murders; (2) there is no relationship between perpetrator and victim; (3) the murders are committed at different times and have no direct connection to previous or subsequent murders; (4) the murders often occur at a different location; (5) the murders were not committed for material gain, but are usually either compulsive acts, or are aimed at gratification of needs which have been developed through fantasy; (6) subsequent victims have characteristics in common with earlier or later victims

The psychological portrait of the serial killer is that of a loner (which David certainly was), suffer from hallucinations or delusional beliefs that lead them to kill particular types of victims, have determined that a particular group of people within a society needed to be gotten rid of (long haired teenage girls), and experience some form of excitement (often sexual) in the act of killing, finally, there is an element of establishing power and control over a victim which is generalized symbolically to asserting the same control over the community (Gresswell & Hollin, 1994).

Understanding the "why" behind a serial murder requires the ability to decode and reconstruct the mental world of the killer (Rosenberg, 1984). Freud's assertion that the multiple murderer is, in great part, a loner, is reinforced by Glaeser, Sacerdote & Scheinkman (1996), who observed that, "serious crimes,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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