Why David Berkowitz Became a Serial Killer Term Paper by scribbler

Why David Berkowitz Became a Serial Killer
A discussion on the psychosocial construction of a serial killer, and specifically, the motivations behind David Berkowitz's killing spree.
# 152152 | 1,420 words | 0 sources | APA | 2012 | US
Published on Jan 07, 2013 in Psychology (Disorders) , Sociology (Theory) , Criminology (General)

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The paper explores the causes behind David Berkowitz's killing spree and discusses how negative labeling and low self-image can lead to deviant and even violent behaviors. The paper then considers the possibility of psychosis, such as schizophrenia, and relates that the diathesis stress model posits that people like David have a latent tendency for schizophrenia that is just waiting to be triggered by some stressful event, and in David's case, it could have been the death of his adoptive mother that triggered his psychosis. In addition, the paper notes that he may have had a personality disorder such as antisocial personality disorder or borderline personality disorder. The paper concludes that we will never know for certain what drove David Berkowitz to evolve into the "Son of Sam" anti-hero that he became.

From the Paper:

"Other than being adopted as an infant and losing his adoptive mother to cancer at age 14, David had a relatively non-traumatic childhood. Born on June 1, 1953, David Berkowitz was not beaten or sexually molested. He was not psychologically or verbally tortured. However he did exhibit many of the common 'symptoms' of a serial killer early on. He was known for his violent outbursts, often bullying other children. He also tortured animals and enjoyed setting fires, both of which seem to be a common thread among serial killers. In fact, according to the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders (2010) "David Berkowitz admitted having started more than 2,000 fires in Brooklyn-Queens in the early 1970s" (para. 20). But what caused these shocking behaviors if not a tragic or torturous upbringing? Was David simply born 'defective' or did he develop his mental illness in some other way? While no one can answer these questions with complete certainty, psychologists and psychiatrists have been attempting to understand the inner workings of David Berkowitz' mind for decades."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • CBS (1999) The Son of Sam story. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1999/06/29/archive/main44219.shtml
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM IV) (1994) American Psychiatric Association, American Psychiatric Press
  • Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders (2010) Pyromania. Retrieved from http://www.minddisorders.com/Py-Z/Pyromania.html
  • Gorenstein, E.E. & Comer, R.J. (2001) Case studies in abnormal psychology, New York: Macmillan
  • Nadraus, M. (2005) God on death row. Summerville, SC: Holy Fire Publishing

Cite this Term Paper:

APA Format

Why David Berkowitz Became a Serial Killer (2013, January 07) Retrieved September 30, 2023, from https://www.academon.com/term-paper/why-david-berkowitz-became-a-serial-killer-152152/

MLA Format

"Why David Berkowitz Became a Serial Killer" 07 January 2013. Web. 30 September. 2023. <https://www.academon.com/term-paper/why-david-berkowitz-became-a-serial-killer-152152/>