Pick Me Up! magazine asked for my professional opinion on Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, an American serial killer, drug dealer, and cult leader. I supplied the following psychological insight.
Born in Miami in 1962, Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo was the son of a 15-year–old Cuban immigrant, Delia Aurora Gonzalez del Valle.The following years she was regularly arrested on charges ranging from trespassing to shoplifting, check fraud, grand theft and child neglect. But she always escaped with probation, crediting it to her religion.
What effect would it have had on Adolfo that his mother was a criminal who’d been accused of child neglect?
The evidence suggests that Adolfo’s mother included him in her crimes, role modelling and teaching Adolfo from a young age about the art of crime.
She had six-months-old Adolfo blessed by a Haitian priest of the “palo mayombe,” religion after he declared that Adolfo was “a chosen one” and “destined for great power.”
Palo Mayombe draws no line between “black” and “white” magic and allows practitioners to choose a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ path without moral judgement – hence its popularity with criminals and drug dealers.
They moved to Puerto Rico, where she immersed herself and Adolfo in palo mayombe. When he was 10 he was apprenticed to a Haitian priest.
Delia left a string of rented houses bloodstained and littered with the remains of sacrificial animals. If neighbours gossiped about her she left headless animal corpses on their doorsteps.
Can you explain what effect all of this would have on such a young child as he develops?
As a child, Adolfo is likely to have experienced a sense of isolation and separation from the rest of the world. His world comprised himself, his mother, and a religion that allowed crime and drug dealing. Not only would he have felt different to everyone else, but he was also prevented from seeing how others live, how other mother’s behave, and how children generally are not taught to steal but to play. The impact of this is immense, from giving Adolfo a very narrow view of the world to making it very difficult for him to develop healthy interpersonal and relationship skills. This set him up for a lonely childhood and a maladjusted adulthood. Constanzo failed at high school and cruised Miami gay bars in his teens.
He knew he was gay from a young age. Again, what effect might this have had?
By 19 he and his mentor were cursing their enemies with voodoo dolls. He claimed he was psychic and could predict the future. Adolfo’s mentor told him: “Let the nonbelievers kill themselves with drugs. We will profit from their foolishness.”
Age 21 Constanzo pledged himself to Kadiempembe, the religion’s Satan. Devoting himself to evil for profit. At his initiation ceremony, mystic symbols werecarved into Constanzo’s flesh. “My soul is dead,” he proclaimed. “I have no god.”
Why might Adolfo have chosen the dark side of the religion? What else can you say about all this?
Adolfo moved to Mexico City in 1983, predicting futures for money. He was very charismatic and recruited his first disciples, including two men who he’d sleep with, one as his “man” the other as his “woman,” depending on his whim. He lived with both, collecting other followers as his reputation spread.
He read futures, offering wealthy dealers predictions of safe times to transport drugs, and freed them from curses. Offered magic to make them bulletproof and invisible to police.
As well as drugs cartels, his clients included doctors, police officers, narcotics investigators, even from Interpol. They all worshipped Constanzo as a minorgod, ambassador to Hell itself.
What can this tell us about him? What effect would this power have on him and how did it influence what followed?
Now he called himself El Padrino (the Godfather) and was earning huge sums of money. To put on a show he raided graveyards for human bones to feed his cauldron along with blood, animal remains, spiders, scorpions.
Then he started feeding his cauldron with human sacrifices. Some were dealers who he’d fallen out with, others ex-lovers or cult members who’d been disobedient. Others were kidnapped strangers, or children.
Mutilation and pain were essential to palo mayombe. The demons were more likely to smile on a sacrifice that died in agony. “They must die screaming,” El Padrino told his flock. The victims were all men – and he’d rape them all before they died and their body parts used in rituals.
Again, what can you tell us about this? It seems the rapes were simply for his own pleasure, not linked to the religion.
Constanzo seduced a formerly A-grade college student, Sara. She soon worshipped him and became La Madrina (Godmother.). Though they sometimes had sex, she reluctantly accepted that he preferred men.
What are your thoughts on this?
He took over another powerful drugs cartel, offering magic protection via his murderous rituals in return for 50% of all their profits.
But one victim was kidnapped American Mark Kilroy. He came from a wealthy family – his disappearance launched a massive police search.
They raided the ranch after a tip off. Found numerous bodies. Cult members admitted freely to the murders but insisted they were protected by a higher power. ‘It’s our religion,’ one said. ‘Our voodoo.’
Constanzo and Sara went on the run with his two male lovers and a hitman, “El Duby”. They escaped capture for months.
But Constanzo read betrayal in his tarot cards. He kept an Uzi and rarely slept. He threatened his little gang. “They cannot kill you but I can.”
When he saw on the TV the police burning down his ranch and conducting a full exorcism over the site, he was wild with rage.
Police started searching their street – for a missing child – but Constanzo panicked, opening fire.
What does all of this tell you about him?
Soon they were in a siege with 180 armed police.Constanzo gave his Uzi to the hitman, El Duby. “He told me to kill him and Martin. I told him I couldn’t do it, but he hit me in the face and threatened that everything would go bad for me in hell. Then he hugged Martin, and I just stood in front of them and shot them.” The pair died. El Duby, Orea and Sara were arrested. El Duby cheerfully told police “The godfather will not be dead for long.”
What are your thoughts on his decision to die rather than face justice? Do you think Constanzo believed he would rise again? If not, what does it show about him?
The survivors all got massive jail sentences. It’s unknown how many victims Constanzo killed. But Sara told reporters, “I don’t think the religion will end with us, because it has a lot of people in it. It will continue.”
Posted in Psychology | Tagged Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, Crime, Criminology, Dr Nicola Davies, El Padrino de Matamoros, Murder, Nicola Davies, Non-Fiction, Serial Killer, Serial Killers, The Godfather of Matamoros | Leave a Comment »
The Rebel Personality
I have been writing a personality column for Natural Health, where each month I provide some insight into different personalities. Here is some insight into The Rebel. Does this sound like anyone you know?
Everyone has a bit of the Rebel personality within themselves – that part that wants to (and sometimes does) go against the grain and break established rules. Rebel personalities, however, almost always disregard the reasons for rules, even though the outcomes are likely to be painful or of disadvantage to them. Sometimes they do this as a way of asserting a sense of power and control over others, or to try and compensate for real or imagined inner weakness. True rebels are not simply against rules or what others say just for the sake of being different; for example, they will protest wars because they believe in a particular cause, and can articulate it with conviction. In other words, there is method to the rebel’s apparent madness.
Adult rebels can be like obstinate children – no amount of punishment or scolding is going to decrease their rebelliousness, but instead is likely to intensify defiant behavior. Some other identifying characteristics are that the Rebel:
Prefers being independent and does not like being told what to do; they would rather give the orders.
Don’t require a situation be to ‘wrong’ or ‘boring’ to choose another option or viewpoint; they do so because they feel like it, even if the current situation appears ‘perfect’ to others.
Hates to be restrained in any way.
Dislikes that people bow to authority so easily or accept the status quo without question.
Rebels are generally well-meaning and intelligent, besides being very passionate, compassionate, and determined individuals. In addition:
They have great potential to explore and lead others through uncharted waters.
It can be exciting to be around colourful characters like rebels.
They are original thinkers and show courage in the face of overwhelming opposition.
The enthusiasm of the rebel is admirable, whether or not you agree with their convictions.
Rebels habitually challenge authority wherever it exists, which can have a number of negative consequences:
It can aggravate relationships with work colleagues.
Their creativity can be embarrassing for others, such as when it comes to defending or showcasing unconventional ideas (i.e. wearing outrageous clothes or hairstyles to work just to make a point).
Don’t expect a rebel to be on friendly terms with you if you are the kind of person who accepts the status quo.
In the extreme, rebellious personalities can be undiplomatic and disruptive.
How do I deal with a Rebel?
When dealing with rebels at work, home, or in your social circle, understand that these people – like everyone – have a long history that shaped their personalities; their rebelliousness is not impulsive, nor is it designed to give others a hard time just because it’s fun to do so. Remember that:
Many, if not all, rebels are psychologically driven by a false sense of superiority and wounded sense of powerlessness stemming from early childhood experiences. Their rebelliousness can be seen as a compensatory mechanism. If you understand this, it can help you feel compassion for the rebel.
If you think you can sway a rebel easily with logical arguments, you need to think again; hardcore rebels thrive off intellectual challenges, and often have the most convincing viewpoints.
Show the rebel that you respect their views, even if you don’t agree with them. This way you will help defuse, rather than intensify any defiant stance.
When working with a rebel give them space to express their own ideas and use concrete outcomes to show the rebel whether their ideas were good ones or not.
Are you a Rebel?
You know you are a true rebel if you:
Find the mere thought of accepting authority spine-tingling.
Have a strong preference for doing things your way.
Find yourself automatically nominated for leadership positions in group settings.
Stick to your convictions, even if they go against the grain and get you into trouble.
Are prepared to live and die alone rather than have your freedom to think for yourself restrained by the needs or desires of a partner.
How can I curb my Rebelliousness?
Since you value independent thinking and can be persuaded by logic, reflect on the fact that independence and a sense of freedom are not necessarily cancelled out by cooperation and acceptance – neither is cooperation inferior to independence.
Rebelliousness doesn’t mean being irresponsible. You know this, but not everyone sees it that way. Keep this in mind when you express your views.
Living a balanced life is key – learn to strike a balance between compromise, cooperation and independence.
Posted in Psychology | Tagged Behaviour, Dr Nicola Davies, Nicola Davies, Personality, Psychology, Rebel, Rebel Personality, Rebellion | Leave a Comment »
Counselling Studies Level 3 Learning Journal – The Gloria Films
This week we watched three videos showing a client, Gloria, in three different counselling sessions – one with Carl Rogers (Person-Centred), one with Fritz Perls (Gestalt), and one with Albert Ellis (Rational Emotive). The videos were fascinating and it was interesting to see the differences between theoretical perspectives in practice. They made me think more deeply about how the counselling relationship contributes to counselling work, in particular what is necessary to develop an effective working relationship with clients. I believe that the components of an effective working relationship are likely to differ across clients, counsellors, and problems. On the other hand, I also believe that there are some basic components that are necessary to at least create the foundations for an effective working relationship.
By far one of the most important elements of developing an effective working relationship is trust. Many people who attend counselling are likely to have been let down and therefore it might take some time for them to be fully trusting of their counsellor (Sutton and Stewart, 2008). The skills within person-centred theory, such as active listening, accurate responding, reflecting feelings, and empathy, are productive of building trust. They show the client that the counsellor is fully present and really hearing their thoughts and feeling their emotions.
Once trust has been gained, clients are likely to feel more able to be themselves and to share their thoughts and feelings without censorship. In turn, such genuineness and authenticity will strengthen the therapeutic relationship further, particularly as unconditional positive regard continues to be demonstrated towards the client regardless of what they divulge. For me, this has been essential within my own personal counselling. While I need to be challenged, like Perls and Ellis challenged Gloria, more than that I need to feel safe and I need to feel ‘held,’ which is what came across within Roger’s approach to working with Gloria. Roger’s gained trust within minutes, to the extent that Gloria could confess she wished he was her father. Furthermore, by the end of the session, it appeared that Gloria was no longer in need of the advice she was initially seeking. Instead, by being open and developing trust, Roger’s had empowered Gloria to find her own answers.
The videos were also useful for seeing the three stages of the counselling session in process – the beginning, middle, and end:
The beginning starts with the first impressions that a client has during their initial session. First impressions count and the quick development of rapport can help put the client at ease and feel safe. The counsellor and their environment need to be warm, comforting, and approachable if the client is to feel empowered enough to discuss what has bought them to counselling (Mearns and Thorne, 2007). With rapport and trust gained, the middle stage of a session is likely to be more open and detailed, where the client now feels ‘held’ enough to address any painful thoughts and feelings.
It is when such thoughts and feelings are expressed that the middle stage also becomes a time for the counsellor to demonstrate the three core conditions of congruence, unconditional positive regard, and empathy. This is part of the healing process, which will continue well beyond the session.
Finally, as the end of the session approaches, the counsellor can once again demonstrate their sincerity by summarising the client’s issues and providing the client with the space to clarify any misunderstandings. Leaving the session feeling heard is essential and also something that every client should experience after the bravery of sharing their inner thoughts and feelings. It cannot be guaranteed that clients will leave feeling positive, but at least if they feel heard, they can feel less alone. They can also be reassured that their healing has begun.
If any of these stages go wrong, the client is unlikely to return, unless they are addressed satisfactorily at the time in a congruent manner.
Sutton, J. and Stewart, W. (2008). Learning to Counsel: Develop the Skills, Insight and Knowledge to Counsel Others. How To Books Ltd: Oxford.
Mearns, D. and Thorne, B. (2007). Person-Centred Counselling in Action. SAGE Publications Ltd.
Posted in Counselling, Psychology | Tagged Albert Ellis, Carl Rogers, Counselling, Counselling Theory, CPD, Dr Nicola Davies, Ellis, Empowerment, Fritz Perls, Gestalt, Nicola Davies, Perls, Person-centred, Person-Centred Counselling, Personal Development, Professional Development, Psychology, Rational Emotive, Rogers, Theory | 2 Comments »
The Backstabber Personality
I have been doing a personality column for Natural Health, where each month I provide some insight into different personalities. Here is some insight into The Backstabber. Does this sound like anyone you know?
Backstabber’s will say the nicest things about you in your presence, only to turn around and tell others what a good-for-nothing, hopeless waste of space you are. They feel insecure, emotionally vulnerable, and angry with themselves and the world, so make up stories about others or exaggerate minor mistakes and weaknesses of people. They like to stir up conflict and drama, and enjoy seeing people going at each other’s’ throats. Often, these people leave us astounded and confused when we realise what they are up to due to their stealth and subtlety. Unfortunately, Backstabber’s are everywhere. Here are ways in which you can spot one:
Some are overly friendly and can be full of flattery for no apparent reason. This is to win your trust and to disguise their unsavoury motives.
They can make a show about being friends with your, yet indulge in poisonous gossip about you.
They almost always deny their role in spreading lies or starting untoward rumours about people.
They are adept at making you, when you confront them, feel like the guilty party
Nobody likes being bad-mouthed or being the unwitting target of someone’s aggressive actions or intentions. Hence, there’s hardly anything positive to say about Backstabber’s It is what we can learn from them, however, that can be positive:
You soon learn that going behind someone’s back, even with the smallest thing, can make matters worse.
You learn to keep away from overly friendly people, especially if you don’t know them well.
You learn to empathise with people who gossip, rather than take their backstabbing personally.
You want to avoid having anything to do with the Backstabber because:
Through vicious rumours and twisted truths they can damage your reputation and integrity.
They have no problem in belittling you in your absence, making negative comments about your work while taking the credit for your ideas.
Stirring up trouble among unsuspecting people is what they delight in and thus they are unlikely to stop their backstabbing behaviour.
They pretend to look after your best interests, only to walk over you with disdain when you are not around.
They are deeply unhappy, jealous, envious, and pathological.
How do I deal with a Backstabber?
If possible, stay away from Backstabber’s. Otherwise, the following suggestions could help in dealing with them:
As challenging at it might be, confront the Backstabber when you have evidence that they have been saying negative things about you. If you don’t, they will delight in their triumph and continue with more of the same.
It’s not wise to want to back-stab in return. You don’t want to become their enemy.
Avoid getting drawn into private conversations with backstabbing individuals. They will use it as an opportunity to bad-mouth someone. Keep the conversation brief if you can’t avoid being alone with such a person.
Am I a Backstabber?
You know you are a Backstabber when:
You habitually think negative thoughts about others and are always finding fault with someone.
Your unhappiness with your life is so profound, and you hate it when others are joyful and successful.
Bad-mouthing people is your main strategy for drawing attention to yourself.
Spreading lies about others makes you feel good, and you use it to manipulate people
Posted in Psychology, Uncategorized | Tagged Backstabber, Backstabber Personality, Behaviour, Dr Nicola Davies, Nicola Davies, Personality, Psychology | 2 Comments »
Pick Me Up! magazine asked for my professional opinion on Herman Webster Mudgett (Dr Henry Howard Holmes), one of the first documented American serial killers. Holmes opened a hotel in 1893 designed specifically to facilitate his murders. While he confessed to 27 murders, four of which were confirmed, his actual body count could be as high as 200. Out in the 21st February 2013 edition, I supplied the following psychological insight.
What effect did the religious mania of Herman’s mother have on him?
Religious indoctrination through regular Bible readings can be dangerous to the mental health of children. It is not a coincidence that a number of serial killers had parents with strong religious convictions that were forced onto them. Some religious content can be extremely scary for children, contributing to fearful and anxious adults who only have their childhood understanding to go on. Fear played a significant role in Herman’s young life.
What can we make of the incident where he was made to touch a skeleton by his classmates?
Herman was scared of skeletons and of the doctor, hence why the bullies used a skeleton to torment him. However, it would appear that Herman’s fear was so great that in order to cope his brain literally went from fear to fascination in an effort to gain some control over what was initially a traumatic experience. This drastic change in his perceptions of skeletons, from something to fear to something to obsess over eventually led him to medical school.
What would make a child like him become so obsessed with death?
Children can become obsessed with death for a range of reasons, most notably because the concept of death is difficult to understand – sometimes even for adults. Therefore, brief obsession can be healthy and a sign that a child is developing and starting to question the world around them. The concern is when the child can’t move beyond that obsession, which can be due to fear of death and a need to control it, or even due to a fascination with the peaceful aspect of death, the latter most often being the case if children are in pain and want the pain to stop. For Herman, it is likely that he wanted to control death, just like he wanted to control his emotions. He wanted to make anything that seemed beyond the control of others to enter his control. Power was important to him.
He started stealing bodies and disfiguring them while a medical student. What motivated this?
Herman was an ‘entrepreneur.’ He was motivated by money and saw an opportunity in medical school to steal bodies and then disfigure them in order to claim they were killed in an accidentally so that he could collect insurance money from policies he took out on them.
Was his polygamy solely motivated by financial gain, or was it something more sinister? A power game, perhaps?
The way in which Herman made a business out of stealing the skeletons of the deceased in many ways demonstrates an ambitious, albeit sinister, side. Just as his crimes would mount, so would the number of wives and children he had. Holmes was never happy with what he had and always thrived for more. It is likely that this did make him feel powerful. Indeed, Herman might have recalled the many examples of polygamy in the bible, as read to him by his mother, as well God’s commandment to “multiply and replenish the Earth.” Interestingly, polygamy and the subsequent necessity to support and provide for more than one wife and child often leads to hardship – not for Herman though – finances were not a problem given his ‘trade.’
How was he able to con the widow of a man who died of cancer? What prevented him from having any pangs of conscience?
Herman was purely financially motivated, at least the beginning of his crimes. He wanted to become more successful by expanding into pharmaceuticals. This poor widow was, in his eyes, the only thing preventing him.
Why did he feel the need to create such a complicated way of killing his victims?
As we have seen, Herman didn’t see this as murder as such, but more like a business that required a ‘production line.’ By using thought and intellect rather than pure emotion, it is likely that he was able to convince himself that he was an entrepreneur, not a cold-blooded murderer.
Why did he choose such varied ways to dispatch his victims? Some were asphyxiated, others tortured and so on.
This is less about variety of dispatch and more about Herman’s crimes progressing in severity and intention. While he started his crimes motivated by money, he would later take more interest and involvement in the actual act of murder, with torture rather than asphyxiation facilitating this.
What can we understand from his dissecting his victims and selling their skeletons to medical schools?
As sinister as it might sound, the simple fact appears to be that Herman was a business man with a keen eye for how to make money.
He seems to have killed his partners in crime, the Pitezel family. Why would he have felt it necessary to do this?
Just as the widow of the pharmacy was a ‘tool’ to be disposed of when she was no longer needed, so were the Pitezel family.
During his trial, he said he was possessed by Satan. Could he truly have believed this?
The evidence would indicate that Herman never truly believed this. He was an intelligent man with a history of lying and the ability to think up complex systems of murder. Herman knew what he was doing.
Before his execution, he was reported to have been in a jolly mood. How could anyone facing execution feel like this?
Just as Herman had turned the childhood bullying from a situation of fear to fascination, he was able to cope with his execution by adopting a fearless, even happy, mood. Even up to his death, it was essential for Herman to be the one to control his emotions – no one else.
Why are the people still so fascinated by this story?
The story of H.H. Holmes is by far one of the most unique cases of serial killing in history. The sinister act of making a business out of murder is so difficult to comprehend, even more so than comprehending murder itself. People are intrigued and what to know how this man’s mind worked. What drove him to this? As America’s first documented serial killer, Herman remains an enigma.
Posted in Psychology | Tagged Crime, Criminology, Dr Henry Howard Holmes, Dr Nicola Davies, H.H. Holmes, Herman Webster Mudgett, HH Holmes, Murder, Nicola Davies, Non-Fiction, Psychology, Serial Killer, Serial Killers | Leave a Comment »
Supervision in Counselling: A Issue of Ethics
Supervision has been defined as “A working alliance between the supervisor and counsellor in which the counsellor can offer an account or recording of her work; reflect on it; receive feedback and, where appropriate, guidance” (Inskipp and Proctor, 2001, p.1). Supervision is essential for ethical practice within counselling, as well as being fundamental to continued professional development (BACP, 2007). Within the BACP Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy, “There is an obligation to use regular and on-going supervision to enhance the quality of the services provided and to commit to updating practice by continuing professional development” (BACP, 2013, p. 2). This comes under Beneficence and a commitment to promoting the client’s well-being. In addition, “There is an ethical responsibility to use supervision for appropriate personal and professional support and development . . .” (p. 3). In other words, supervision is not only essential for providing effective care for clients but also for providing effective self-care. As a consequence, it is mandatory for BACP-accredited counsellors to have supervision throughout their career.
The nature of the supervisory relationship is one where counsellors can gain professional support and enhance their self-knowledge. Issues that might be taken to a supervisor include concerns over personal fitness to practice due to health or changing circumstances, and instances where harm may have been placed on the client. It is also a useful place to discuss and clarify personal responsibilities as a counsellor. In all cases, it can be productive to have a more experienced supervisor who can act as a mentor. In a systematic review commissioned by the BACP (2007), it was found that in 25 studies there was limited evidence that supervision can benefit client outcomes, counsellor confidence, skills development, and client satisfaction. More research is needed on the role and benefits of supervision within counselling, however, the limited evidence thus far is favourable.
Although I am in the early stages of my training, I feel that I have already gained insight into supervision – both giving and receiving. When discussing skills practice scenario’s with a peer, some of the questions that seemed to help provide support during case discussion include:
What will be in the best interest of the client?
Is that decision in keeping with what is best for the client?
What benefit will that be to the client?
What is your agenda?
What is your rationale for that?
What are the possible options?
How did that make you feel?
How does this client make you feel?
What advice would you give someone in your position?
Are you being non-directive?
Each of these questions, to differing levels, prompts the counsellor to consider the key components of person-centred theory and whether their practice adheres to that. In particular, the questions encourage them to remain focused on what is best for the client while also remaining self-aware, ethical, moral, and accountable.
One of my course goals is to use such questions on myself after every skills practice to ensure that I examine my own strengths and weaknesses through enhancing my self-awareness. Indeed, my goal will also be to pro-actively utilise the feedback provided to me by my peers and tutor. For example, my tutor commented on feedback I had provided to a peer that, “Good feedback – but I’m wondering if an extended action point giving more information could be more in line with the ‘bun’ of your feedback.” This feedback has been placed at the forefront of my mind so that I ensure I address it. It can be all too easy to read and acknowledge feedback without acting on it. I have learnt that feedback is a gift that can be used constructively to help you meet your personal and career goals. As a result, I no longer see feedback as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – it is always ‘good’ if processed and, where appropriate, acted upon.
BACP (2007). Ethical framework for good practice in counselling and psychotherapy. BACP, 2007.
BACP (2013). Ethical principles of counselling and psychotherapy. BACP, 2013.
Inskipp, F. & Proctor, B. (2001). Becoming a Supervisor, Twickenham, Cascade: McMahon, M. & Patton, W. (2000). Conversations on clinical supervision: benefits perceived by School counsellors. British Journal of Guidance & Counsellors, 28(3).
Posted in Counselling, Personal/Professional Development, Psychology | Tagged BACP, British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, Counselling, Counsellors, Counsellors in Training, CPD, Dr Nicola Davies, Ethics, Nicola Davies, Person-centred, Personal Development, Professional Development, Psychology, Supervision, Trainnee Counsellors | Leave a Comment »
Pick Me Up! magazine asked for my professional opinion on John Wayne Glover, a British-born Australian serial killer convicted for the murders of six elderly women on Sydney’s North Shore over a 14-month period. Out in the 24th January 2013 edition, I supplied the following psychological insight.
John had issues with older women in his life. Firstly, his mother. She was promiscuous and had many boyfriends/lovers and four husbands. How did this affect John in later life?
Having a promiscuous mother would have affected John in his childhood and in his later life. One message John’s mother was giving him was that women are sexual objects. The key message being conveyed, however, was that there was no security within relationships. No man was good enough for John’s mother, which was why she moved from one to the next. Was this message also conveyed to John? That he too was not good enough for her, hence why she put all of her attentions into her promiscuous indulgences? Whatever the case may be, this type of childhood can lead to insecure adults who lack self-esteem and the ability to maintain healthy relationships with the opposite sex due to feelings of inferiority. In some, this feeling of inferiority can lead to anger at the source of those feelings – in this case, older women.
How would he have felt when she turned up in Australia years later, having followed him there from the UK?
Again confronted by the first woman to make John feel small and inferior, John would have been psychologically and emotionally shunted back to his childhood and any pain experienced during his younger years.
The other troubled relationship with an older woman in his life involved his mother-in-law. He and his wife lived next door to him. She was a demanding woman and there were frequent rows. Why was he so sensitive about this relationship?
John’s previous experience with his own mother provided the foundation for his relationship with subsequent maternal figures. Even if his mother-in-law hadn’t been demanding, John would likely have found it difficult to connect with her. Unfortunately, however, this woman was extremely demanding, perpetuating any negative feelings he had towards his own mother and maternal figures in general.
While in Australia, his mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and later died of it. John was also diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy. How would having this particular cancer have affected John?
This would have been a final straw for John. Not only had his mother ruined his childhood and impacted his adulthood, but even after her death she had left her legacy behind. John was again faced with a reminder of his mother, and this time it was a life-threatening reminder.
John became impotent after the cancer. Did this play a part in his crimes?
Impotence is relatively common in serial killers and, indeed, many serial killers use their crimes for sexual satisfaction. For John, however, there was no sexual element to his crimes. Even the taking of the pantyhose to strangle the victims was not of a sexual nature, but merely to make sure they were dead and also to trick the police. The impotence, however, did likely increase his anger and the motivation to kill.
He was also addicted to playing poker on fruit machines etc. What does this say about him?
The very nature of poker requires a person to be disagreeable, cunning and motivated by self-interest. Such people do not get on well with others.
He started killing at 59, which is late in comparison to the other monsters we’ve looked at. Why did he start so late?
Only John can tell us this, but it does suggest that he controlled his urges in his younger years through keeping his anger inside. Ultimately, this has to come out some time and for John it was when he was older.
The violence he inflicted on his victims was truly horrific. Why did he beat them in this way? Why such extreme violence?
This again supports the notion that he spent so many years suppressing his anger that when he did let it out, it came out in a truly horrific way.
After killing his last victim, he tried to kill himself in the bath. What does this say about him?
This could suggest a number of things. While his suicide could indicate remorse, the evidence suggests that it is more likely that he was no longer gaining relief from the murders. The quenching of his anger and ceased and he felt at a loss of what he could do to kill the anger. In many ways, that is what he was doing every time he violently battered his victims – trying to kill his own anger. Yet, the anger was still there. It would seem that John had lost hope.
Before killing himself in prison, he drew a strange map with the letter 9 on it. What do you think he was trying to say?
There are a number of theories, but was John telling us that there were 9 victims of his endless rage?
Posted in Psychology | Tagged Crime, Criminology, Dr Nicola Davies, Murder, Nicola Davies, Non-Fiction, Psychology, Serial Killer, Serial Killers | Leave a Comment »
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