I read an article last week about a 26 year old man in Brazil who has admitted to killing 39 women. When asked if he regretted his actions, he said no, and that he would kill again if released. Apparently killing “calms” him – it scratches an itch, so to speak. These are not crimes of impulse or passion though. From the sounds of it, he’s methodical, and stalks his prey before taking their lives. A sociopath, I’d think, as he doesn’t seem to derive either enjoyment or guilt from his actions. It’s simply what he does in response to a restless feeling, and then the feeling goes away for awhile. Very much like an animal acting on instinct rather than any kind of intellect.
Not that that in any way excuses his actions, of course. And obviously, I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist, so my opinions are exactly that, and nothing more.
I’m quite sure he’s not the only person in the world with that specific “mental anomaly” (for lack of a better term), and I can’t help but wonder – what if there were a way to harness that instinctual killer and somehow put it to use. Perhaps not “good” use, as I’m not sure there is such a thing when you’re talking about the urge to kill, but something productive, and useful for society as a whole.
Jeff Lindsay explores this notion in the Dexter series, which follows an instinctual killer who’s been taught by his cop step-father to put his skills to use for “good”, insomuch as he hunts and kills only bad guys. I haven’t read the books, but I’ve watched a few seasons of the TV series, and it’s an interesting take on turning an urge most of us would consider morally/socially wrong into something…well, useful, if not passably acceptable. Of course a majority of people would have to buy off on the idea of either vigilante justice, or a sanctioned death-penalty-by-torture in order to make that a reality.
Of course there’s always the option to turn them into soldiers, though I’m not sure that would work either, unless a fairly foolproof way to identify them young and control/redirect them early on was found. But that would have to be done no matter what, if scientists are correct and the brain is pretty well “set” by age 30 or so.
What’s your take? Do you think there’s a place in society for people like this, or do you feel they should either be kept locked up or euthanized for the safety of all? I’m pretty sure there’s no cure (yet) for sociopaths, so working within their natural instincts seems to be the only other option…