Serial murder as allegory : a subconscious echo of unresolved childhood trauma

Robertson, Robert Lyle (2004) Serial murder as allegory : a subconscious echo of unresolved childhood trauma. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This thesis explores the notion that we may be able to more fully understand the etiology of serial murder. Specifically, it concludes that the behaviours of serial murderers can be allegorical of unresolved childhood trauma - that in the murderous actions of the adult there can be a depth of subconscious allegorical connection to the repressed (forgotten) and unresolved trauma of the murderer's own childhood. The focus for this hermeneutic inquiry is the intersection that can be constructed between the phenomenon of serial murder and the assertion of the psychoanalyst Alice Miller that every perpetrator of violence was once a child who was (himself or herself) a victim.

Alice Miller's concept of Poisonous Pedagogy is explained and critiqued. Her belief that our childhoods tell the stories of our adult behaviours is questioned in light of the similar theoretical ground of Life History, Life Narrative, Psychobiography, and Psychoanalytic Narrative. Miller's contention that there are directly allegorical connections between childhood abuse and adult murderous behaviours is illustrated by her analysis of the life of Jurgen Bartsch. A hermeneutic examination of the biographic records of two other serial murderers (Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy) is then undertaken to question the available support for Miller's contentions

It is concluded that there is strong support for Miller's assertions regarding the etiology of violence, and that violent adult behaviour, even serial murder, can be allegorical of unresolved childhood trauma. It is suggested that there is a need to extend this area of research through face-to-face engagement with perpetrators of violence. It is recommended that we directly engage serial murderers in personal discourses that will allow further exploration of Miller's notion that serial murderers' behaviours are allegorical echoes of harm that was done to them.

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ID Code: 15917
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Wells, Ian
Keywords: Serial murder, Hermeneutics, Life History, Life Narrative, Poisonous Pedagogy, Allegory
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Justice
Department: Faculty of Law
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Robert Lyle Robertson
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:52
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:40

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