TRIGGER WARNING: MENTIONS OF RAPE, SEXUAL ASSAULT, MURDER
"Society wants to believe it can identify evil people or bad or harmful people, but it is not practical. There are no stereotypes." ― Ted Bundy
Psychopathy. A word that has been repeatedly used in thriller movies and TV shows. Often, a psychopath in the movies is described as a cold-hearted criminal who lacks empathy and brutally murders or injures people just for their pleasure. In the 1970s, US citizens experienced and witnessed a psychopath brutally torturing and killing women all over the states for a few years.
Illustrated By Ira Swati Manish
Ted Bundy was one of the most famous serial killers of all time. To this day, people are shocked at the way he tortured and killed his victims. Psychologists pegged him as a psychopath because he was manipulative, egocentric, and he lacked empathy. Psychopathy is an antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) where the individual feels the need to defy society and its rules. However, in the case of Ted Bundy- he was a criminal who committed some heinous crimes.
Between 1974 and 1978, Ted Bundy had murdered and raped more than 30 women in the US. He would usually lure his victims by impersonating a disabled man, asking the victims for help and then kidnapping them. Other times, Bundy would be impersonating an authority figure like a police officer, where he would take the victims to their cars with an excuse and then kidnap them. Ted Bundy was known for the way he would torture his victims. He would rape them and torture them so that they would die a slow death. He also practised necrophilia on most of his victims, wherein he would preserve their dead bodies and perform sexual acts on them multiple times until the bodies decomposed.
According to psychologists, Bundy would usually similarly torture all of his victims to portray his dominance over them. He found pleasure in torturing and murdering his victims because he could control when and how he would kill them. All of his victims were women; when he raped them, it was not driven by lust but by the need to gain a sense of dominance over them. The need for control and dominance influenced all of his acts. Even when he practised necrophilia, he wanted the victims to know that he had control over them even after death. One other reason Bundy practised necrophilia was that he gained pleasure in knowing that there was no resistance and rejection from the victim's side. This whole act eliminated the possibility of rejection, thus letting him gain more control.
There have been many theories that suggest why Ted Bundy murdered so many women. While it is difficult to define one specific trigger, many psychologists have identified multiple triggers that could have contributed to Bundy's behaviour.
An individual's childhood experiences can majorly shape and mould his personality. We can pretend that childhood traumas do not affect our present behaviour. However, subconsciously our traumatic experiences can control our present actions. According to Bundy, his childhood did not contain any such traumatic events that would dominate his urges of killing. However, psychologists believe that some of his experiences were triggers for his current actions.
Ted Bundy was born on November 24th, 1946. However, he was an illegitimate child and Bundy's mother- Eleanor Louise Corwell was presented to him as his sister to hide this fact. It was not until later in his life that Bundy found out that Eleanor was his mother. In his last interviews, Bundy acted as if this news had not affected him; psychologists believed that this news could have been one of the early triggers in his life as a serial killer.
Additionally, Bundy's mother got married to Johnnie Bundy in 1951. Even though Ted took the last name of his step-father, their relationship was strained. Ted had a materialistic nature, and he was embarrassed by his step-father's working-class status. Thus, he could not buy anything he wanted, and Ted wanted to possess expensive things. Later, in his interviews, Bundy revealed that he thought of women as 'possessions'. It could have concurred that the urge to possess them by killing them may have stemmed from his childhood financial status.
Although childhood does shape an individual's personality, some events in adult life can completely change an individual's outlook on his/her life. For instance, Ted Bundy's first relationship deeply impacted him. His first relationship was with Diane Edwards in 1967 when they were at the same university. Unlike Bundy, Edwards was from the upper class, and that factor affected Bundy's feelings towards her primarily, as he saw her as a more sophisticated and classier person. Their relationship ended because according to Edwards: Bundy had no actual plans for the future. However, Bundy thought that his lack of status and money was one of the main reasons for their break-up.
Illustrated By Ira Swati Manish
In one of his interviews, Bundy revealed that he wanted to take revenge on Diane because their relationship ended. This break-up triggered his killing spree. Psychologists observed that there was a connection between Diane Edwards and all of Bundy's victims. It was observed that all of his victims had very similar physical features to Diane. They all had a slim physique, dark hair and were white. This could be one of the reasons why Bundy chose these specific women. He wanted to show Edwards that he was powerful and controlled the relationship. This was his way of holding a grudge against her.
In his death row interview, Bundy revealed that his addiction to violent pornography might have triggered his killing spree. He mentioned in the interview that he craved something that gave him a great sense of excitement. However, for him- it was not enough. These fantasies were not enough for him; he wanted to experience this desire. However, this theory is controversial because Bundy claimed this right before he was about to be executed. Many experts believed that Bundy had a manipulative way of speaking, and he told you what you wanted to hear.
Ultimately, it would have been easy to pinpoint a specific event or a trigger and claim that this was the reason for Bundy's killings. However, sometimes there can be multiple triggers that build up to a motive. It is human nature to classify things. Nevertheless, the truth is, human behaviour and the reason behind certain behaviours is complex and subjective. Before his killing spree, Bundy lived everyday life with no signs of psychopathic behaviour. A serial killer as charming and cruel as Ted Bundy is fascinating because he does not fit into our definition of normal and abnormal.