Why Some Serial Killers Get Sexual Satisfaction From Committing Murder

ted bundy/edmund kemper

Most people cannot understand what drives someone to kill, let alone become a serial killer. Among serial killers are an even more perverse group called erotophonophiliacs; or those who derive sexual pleasure from murder. 

There are some psychological explanations on how a person comes to the point of doing something so entirely heinous on multiple occasions (serial killers have to murder at least three victims on separate occasions to be considered a serial killer). First, you have to understand that serial killers who derive sexual pleasure from their crimes are process-focused killers. Process-focused killers are those that enjoy the act of murder. One type of process-focused killer is a hedonist, or someone that finds people expendable and finds murder a thrill-seeking activity with a goal of pleasure.

There are three sub-types of hedonists, one of which is lust. Lust serves as the motivator for these killers, who chase the ultimate sexual satisfaction by repeating the act, with cooling-down periods in between. This is the result of traumas experienced in childhood, such as sexual or violent abuse. 

As you can imagine, these traumas are incredibly complicated to cope with. Without access to help or the desire to be helped, these children are unable to cope with what they've experienced. They internalize feelings of helplessness and crush their belief in themselves. They cannot allow themselves to get close enough to others so that they might form any bonds or relationships and isolate themselves, further hindering their ability to form relationships. As they grow up, they shift inward. 

To make up for the social relationships they are lacking, these people often revert to daydreaming and fantasy. They rely on these fantasies more and more until they become obsessed. It behaves like addiction in some respects; a person gets drawn deeper and deeper in. This pushes an individual further and further until they are unable to blur the lines between their obsessive fantasies and reality and leads them to becoming violent. 

Lust serial killers fall under four classifications that help further explain the psychological processes that lead to violence:

  • Power Assertive: The power-assertive killer doesn't plan to kill their victim. They are driven by attaining power and dominance over another. They need to sexually assault someone as a means of asserting their masculinity. 
  • Power Reassurance: Like the power-assertive killer, they do not intend to kill their victim. They are looking to control but will exert no more dominance than what's absolutely necessary to meet their goals. 
  • Anger Retaliatory: The anger-retaliatory killer seeks revenge. This kind of killer is interested in degrading his victims as a means of getting back at someone, typically a woman figure who embarrassed or abused them in childhood.
  • Anger Excitation: An anger excitation killer needs the violence for the sexual gratification. It's intrinsic to the experience. They are well-planned out and methodical killers.

It may be hard to understand the motivations of a person who commits violent crimes, but it is important that we continue to dedicate resources to doing so. It helps not only in solving unsolved crimes, but rehabilitating those on a dangerous path before anyone gets hurt.



Angela is a native New Yorker, pop culture junkie, and bibliophile. In her free time, she is a connoisseur of good times, and even better french fries.


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