We all know what fantasies are because we all have our own. Sometimes the lottery jackpot is enormous and we buy a ticket, because, hey, somebody is going to win, why not me? Then millions fantasize what they will do with the jackpot and many prayers wing their way heavenward.
Imagination is a precious part of the human psyche, closely akin to creativity. It may be the major reason why we soft, slow, fragile critters have survived through the millenia. We’re constantly coming up with creative solutions: What can I cook for dinner? How can I make more money? How will we kill that leopard that’s eating the village children?
Fantasy, or creative imagination, is behind all human accomplishment. As the popular song says,
If I can see it, then I can do it
If I just believe it, there’s nothing to it
I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
Fantasy, creative imagination, is a good thing, but like any good thing, it can get twisted and go bad. Forensic shrinks tell us (and the more truthful killers confirm) that they are driven by fantasy. “I will grab a girl and make her my sex slave. She will learn to submit to me. We will repopulate the earth with awesome people like myself.” (That’s actually a combination of several serial killers’ fantasies.) I think you would agree that is fantasy gone bad. Yet it has the same power of motivating the dreamer to try to bring the dream to pass as a good one.
So he grabs a girl and rapes her. But the reality doesn’t quite match the fantasy; it was fun, but it could be even more fun. He learns and will do it better next time. He may take pictures, make videos, create his own custom porn, so he can whack off to his fantasy in between kills.
Ed Kemper is an unusual serial killer. 1) He has a genius IQ 2) He has amazing self-awareness 3) He called the police and turned himself in. He said in an interview, “I knew long before I started killing that I was going to be killing; that it was going to end up like that. The fantasies were too strong. They were going on for too long and were too elaborate.”
Perhaps you were wronged and indulged in a little revenge fantasy. You may have imagined whacking your tormenter with a bat and felt pretty good during the imagined scene. But that fantasy was just passing through. You definitely were not going to ruminate on it; you were not going to do it. As Billy Graham once said, “It’s not a sin to let a bird to fly over your head, but it is a sin if you let it build a nest in your hair.”
Fantasy is like the Force, it has a dark side and a light side. Fantasy cannot be eradicated, nor should it be. But these future killers start darkly fantasizing very young, sometimes around five years-old. All five year-olds daydream, no big deal. They mature and go on to other dreams. When I was five I wanted to grow up and buy the whole candy rack, but when I grew up I didn’t even much like candy. But some kids get stuck and probe the depths of their dark side, like sticking their tongue in a rotten tooth, because it gives them pleasure, or at least relief from pain. Then puberty kicks in and fires up the self-programming.
As the story goes, we are born with two dogs battling inside us; a good dog and a bad dog. Which one wins? Whichever one you feed. To feed their dark fantasy, they start young, perhaps setting fires, or torturing animals to death, or peeping in windows. Power…control…I am doing these forbidden things and getting away with it because I am superior.
They aren’t “Born to Kill” like the title of a TV show, though they may have been born with the tendency to grandiosity, a sense of entitlement and a lack of connected-ness to others. Abuse and neglect can aggravate these tendencies. But it takes years of feeding the bad dog to turn into monsters, and those are choices. They can’t be educated out of their self-programming, they can’t be ‘cured’, and they can’t manufacture remorse. It does not exist in them.
Until we understand the thousand variables that mesh together to produce a serial killer-in other words, probably never-please just lock them away from the rest of us.