Inside the Mind of a Psychopath

What is a psychopath?
The Beginning
Stereotypes & Myths
Is there a cure?
Infamous Psychopaths

Infamous Psychopaths


Although Anthony Hopkins portrayed a psychopath by the name of Hannibal Lecter in several movies such as Silence of the Lambs, he is not the true psychopath.  Out of the four pictures, if you chose the third one, Ed Gein, you were correct! Read on to learn more about some infamous psychopaths.



Born in Plainfield, Wisconsin, Edward Gein grew up on a 160-acre farm with his brother and domineering mother who had always taught Gein that sex was sinful.  Within a year of each other, Gein's mother and brother both died, leaving him behind on this solitary farm. After their deaths, Gein sealed off all the rooms inside the house besides the one downstairs room and kitchen. He began to be known by the locals as "Weird Old Eddie."  

Soon after, Gein began to find an odd fascination with the intimate anatomy of the female body.  He read up on his interest in medical encyclopedias, pornographic magazines, horror novels, and anatomy books. His interest began to grow more with the Nazi's medical experiments in concentration camps during World War II.  It wasn't long before Gein began to dig up decaying bodies of women in Wisconsin cemeteries.  He would keep certain parts of the woman's body including sex organs, heads, and livers. After dissecting the body, Gein would often take the skin of the body and drape it over his own face, wearing it around his farm home with intense gratification.  (Later came the inspiration for the movie, Texas Chainsaw Massacre.) 

Gein soon began looking for fresh bodies mainly of his mother's age.  Women began to disappear in town, and when a sheriff deputy spotted Gein in town when his mother went missing, he headed to the old farmhouse out of curiosity and found the evidence he was looking for.  The naked headless body of the sheriff's mother was hanging upside down in the woodshed from a meat hook and slit down the front. Some of her organs were found in random places in the home, such as her heart on a table in the dining room. The skins of several women were fashioned as upholstery on chairs and as hangings on walls.  Gein later confessed that he enjoyed dressing in these skins and pretending to be his own mother. Fifteen bodies were found in Gein's home when he was finally arrested and found guilty as well as criminally insane.



Vlad the Impaler was the real vampire that the movie Dracula was based off.  Born in 1431, Vlad was welcomed into the family of a military governor.  He was knight in the Order of the Dragon, which was a secret fraternity that protected the empire from the Islamic Turks.  Vlad became known as Vlad Dracula, Dracul meaning "Dragon" or "Devil," a meaning "son of."  When Vlad's father died, he begain his reign of terror and murder.  He found and killed his father's murderer and forced slaves to work on the construction of his castle.  Many of the slaves were forced to work naked as the clothes on their bodies had worn off.  Most died from unlivable conditions.  

Vlad asked all the poor and handicapped people to come to his castle so that he could help them out.  When he asked them all how they felt if they were to never go hungry and be taken care of, they screamed in enthusiasm.  Vlad then ordered the hall they were in to be boarded up and set ablaze.  He then impaled 30,000 merchants who disobeyed trade laws and left their bodies to rot on the outside of the city walls to remind passersby what would happen if anyone were to disobey him.  

Rumors came about that Vlad would hold dinner parties next to the corpses of the freshly impaled and drink their blood as well as eat their flesh.  He would arrange the corpses in circular patterns according to the rank of the person so that others could see that no matter who they are, they will suffer the same.  His reign continued with having people decapitated and having their eyes gouged out.  He especially liked to kill women and cut out their sexual organs as well as genitals.  

Vlad eventually died in one of his own battles with the Turks. Some say he was disguised as a Turk and killed by one of his own men. 



Jeffery Dahmer was born in 1960 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  He was a shy boy with low self-esteem and was molested by a neighbor throughout his childhood.  At a young age, his mother and father got divorced and left him with his father and no contact or whereabouts of his mother and brother.  His loss and rejection led him to a twisted childhood where he would impale the heads of animals he killed on stakes in his yard.  He was fascinated with killing animals and even used acid to burn the skin off of the corpses.  

By the age of 17, Dahmer began becoming obsessed with the thoughts of mutilating men.  At the age of 18, Dahmer comitted his first murder by inviting a hitchhiker into his home and killing him with a barbell and smashing his bones because he reportedly "didn't want him to leave." He began to have problems with alcohol and, in 1988, sexual molested a 13-year-old boy and was forced to register as a sex offender.  

Nine years after his first murder, Dahmer killed another 15 young men and began killing one a week. He would go to gay bars and drug individuals in order to dragthem home to perform sexual fantasies before stabbing or strangling them to death.  Dahmer kept their heads and genitalia as trophies and kept their biceps and other muscles in the freezer for future consumption.  He reportedly drilled holes in his victims skulls and poured acid into them, making his victims walk around in zombie like states for days before dying. 

After being charged with 15 counts of murder, Dahmer blamed no one but himself and the onlookers were astounded by his verbal intelligence.  He was faced with 936 years of prison and was eventually murdered in 1994 by a fellow inmate. 



Charles Manson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio to a young 16-year-old girl who could not take care of him.  He spent his younger years at reform schools and bouncing around to different relatives homes.  By age nine, Manson began stealing cars and burglarizing. 

After spending several years in jail, Manson met a man who taught him to play steel guitar and Manson began his dreams of becoming a famous musician.  Once out of jail, he moved to San Francisco and began his cult following. Manson was intelligent and persuasive and used bits and pieces of various religions to form his own philosophy that his cult members believed and followed.  When the Beatles came out with the song "Helter Skelter," Manson told his followers that he believed the song was a sign that an upcoming war where the blacks would slaughter all the white men would soon follow.  When that didn't happen, Manson told his followers they needed to show the blacks how to do it.  

Manson ordered four of his follwers to go to Los Angeles and kill all of the people that lived in a home that once belong to a man named Terry Melcher.  What Manson did not know was that Melcher had rented the house out to an actress named Sharon Tate, and the four followers brutally murdered her, her husband, and her unborn baby.  Another brutal murder followed the following night.  Manson was then sentenced to death upon finding out who was behind these murders.

Manson was reprieved from the death penalty when it became outlawed in California. He has been in prison for three decades and still receives more mail in prison than any other inmate in California. 



John Wayne Gacy was born in 1942 in Chicago, Illinois.  He was born into a catholic family and, along with his siblings, went to an all catholic school.  At age 11, Gacy was playing on a swing set and hit his head, causing a blood clot that was not found until he was 16.  He also was diagnosed with a heart ailment at age 17.  His relationship with his father began to diminish when his father became an alcoholic and frequently beat his wife and children.

Gacy eventually enrolled in and graduated from a business college where he learned outstanding salesmen skills that he used while working for Nunn-Bush Shoe Company.

Gacy soon began to show interest in younger boys and was accused in a violent rape of a boy named Mark Miller who said Gacy had tricked him into coming home and being tied up before being sexually abused.  He then hired an 18-year-old man to beat up a younger boy.  The judge required Gacy to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in order to see if he was competent enough to stand trial.  He was found competent enough but diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder that was unlikely to be resolved by any known form of medication. 

Gacy's interest in young boys began to unravel even more throughout the years when several boys began to come up missing.  Eventually police found enough evidence to search Gacy's home where they found a few drivers licenses of young boys and a box of several class rings. Also found was a box of marijuana and pills, a stained section of a rug, books with child pornography and homosexual themes, handcuffs, police badges, sexual toys, a hypodermic needle and small brown bottle, and clothing that was too small for Gacy and appeared to be from younger boys. 

In December of 1978, police began digging under Gacy's home after suspicions of foul play and possible murder arose.  Gacy eventually broke down and admitted to killing 30 people and burying them below his house.  One man was found preserved in the concrete of Gacy's sidewalk.

Thomas Eliseo, a psychologist who had conducted several interviews with Gacy, stated that Gacy suffered from schizophrenia, multiple personality disorder, and antisocial behavior.  The court found Gacy guilty but that his mental disorders prohibited Gacy from understanding the intensity of his crimes. Experts found Gacy to be insane at the time of his murders and was charged guilty with the murder of his 30 victims.



Jack the Ripper is a serial murderer with a case that has yet to be solved.  The name is a pseudonym given to this murderer after a letter surfaced that was by a person claiming to be the killer.

Jack the Ripper's killing spree haunted London in 1988.  The victims were all women who worked as prostitutes.  Usually their throats were slit and organs removed carefully, which gave detectives the motive that the killer had to be someone with surgical intelligence.  

Several letters came into play as people attempted to help the police find the Ripper.  Some letters were even believed to be from the Ripper, himself.  One, named the "Dear Boss" letter, was first believed to be a hoax until a piece of someone's ear cut off was attached to the letter.  Another letter, named the "Saucy Jacky" was in handwriting very similar to the "Dear Boss" letter and spoke about two deaths that happened extremely close to each other.  The most memorable letter was the letter titled "From Hell" where allegedly the Ripper sent a box with a carefully removed kidney half was preserved with wine and a note attached read that he "fried and ate" the other half of the kidney.

Despite any motives, authorities still have not agreed on any suspects that would match what Jack the Ripper had done.  The mystery still remains.

These examples of infamous psychopaths are at the most severe level. Not all psychopaths commit torturous crimes and murders such as these people did.