Look at some of you coming back for part two. You just could not get enough of the tortured souls of a serial killer's inspirational conception process in relation to their additional hobbies of artistic variations, besides that of their murderous pleasures. What does that say about you and the fascination the public has with the perpetuated reliving, exploiting, and reminiscing of a serial killer’s performance and gruesomeness of death? How does this correlate with the many motivations which inspire the ingeniousness of art and art forms of serial killers? Well, let’s explore this with information provided by psychologist experts.
With regards to the public’s fascination with artwork engendered by serial killers, psychologist expert, David Gussak Ph.D.-ATR-BC, explicates his perspective. After having multiple accounts of being able to study the public’s replication to art engendered by those recognized for committing brutal acts of murder, a dynamic of the experiences became ostensible to Gussak. He expounded:
“Oftentimes, I would show art pieces that would not otherwise earn a second glance. However, once someone is told the artist murdered someone, viewers linger over the piece with fascination and disgust. Such curiosity is reminiscent of rubbernecking—a perverse desire to gaze on the results of a horrendous act. I learned that as much as we are attracted to the beautiful, we are fascinated by the ugly…people may look at a piece of art work and say, ‘oh that’s nice', or 'well, I’ve seen better,’ but then they find out that it was completed by one who killed someone, and they are riveted. They look at the image with awe, with disgust, with undue attention… The art of murderers seems to attract less a systematic evaluation and more of a compulsive, macabre curiosity.”
Gussak further explains why he believes this to be:
“Some see the ability to create art as humanizing. Others may view the art as more of a warning that while we like to think there is a clear separation between the common, average person, and the infamous, callous, murderer, the art may reflect more of a bridge between these two types of people than we would like to realize…the notion of our own Shadow, as described by Jung, the part of us that we stuff down and prevent from emerging because we are so afraid of it. I wondered if such work gives us an opportunity to glimpse and address our own fears, base elements and instincts, to give them an opportunity to be expressed… [ A serial killer’s work] is evidence of those whose Shadow reigned supreme, without control or balance, and it scares us. We can look at these pieces, and realize that as it was done by the hands of a human similar in make up to us… [The serial killer’s art] revealed the human detachment, the cynicism and sociopathy that existed simply because the images appear devoid of any emotional investment. Yet, we are still fascinated by it because [the serial killer] did it. And it is still important for us to examine such art.”
Not only does this substantiate the concept of why the public is fascinated with the artworks of serial killers, but it withal further expounds the reason why one would take such an interest. Gussak couldn’t have expressed it any plainer. There is more of a connection between both the person who is fascinated by the art and the killer who has created the art. The artwork itself is the bridge in which this concept can be reflected. How does this make you feel? Now every time you read a poem, watch a movie, play video games, listen to music, view museum exhibits of picture art (the list is long of the serial killer memorabilia offered for purchase or viewing), all inspired by or engendered by those who have committed heinous crimes of serial murder, you will start to question if this is your way of getting in touch with your inner serial killer persona.
On the other hand, let’s perceive what experts express are the reasons why serial killers create such art. A scholarly journal, “An Exploration of Trauma Markers in the Artwork of Serial Killers”, indited by researcher and psychologist, Kiran M. Haynes, in the prospect of further evaluating the process of psychological art therapy for serial killers and mass murderers, conducted a study. This study was consummated with information provided by serial killers involved in forms of art therapy, Federal Bureau of Investigations Behavior Analyst, and other sources in the field of psychology and research. Pieces of the findings, mentioned by Haynes, states some of the reasons and motivations in why serial killers’ commit their acts of violence as well as then choose certain forms of ingenious ways in which to continue reliving such acts, and why:
“Serial killers draw upon popular accounts of serial killing to understand their own behaviors… the act of creating art has been directly linked to aggression, sexuality, and escape…creating art may provide a safe outlet and expression of these libidinal urges…unusual ideation processes, perceptual peculiarities and the ability to evaluate reality, difficulties in interpersonal relations, impulse and anger control issues, all traits that have been socially constructed to be common in serial killers.”
Haynes further expounds on the results of information, discovered, had been researched and documented through the process of art therapy research done by psychologist with serial killers and mass murderers, who had been incarcerated in prison. Haynes also makes aware the concept of art by explaining, “Art forms are media and rich metaphoric modes of communication that can provide insightful meaning when words alone are insufficient” (Karin M. Haynes; page 33).
Having explored the expert opinions provided, allows us to view the connection between the public’s fascination with the artworks created by serial killers and the motivations which inspire the creativity of art and art forms of serial killers. I ask this then of you, the viewing and reading audience, can you see any of the traits mentioned within yourself? Do you find that some of the same inspirations which motivate a serial killer are what motivates you to view their artwork or creations made based on the sadistic performances of a serial killer? Maybe you are one of those where a part of you stays hidden and stuffed down, which you then prevent from emerging because you are so afraid of it, as discussed by Gussak. It gives you something to think about. Therefore, you tend to enjoy living it through the eyes of another who is willing to take it to the darker side. On the other hand, maybe you are just like me, and for no real apparent reason which can be explained, you have a macabre curiosity. Only you know the truth about yourself and which psychologist opinion you fall under. However, I do know that there is a fascination with death and understanding those who are willing to bring it, because, again, you read this article to its end.
We will see what others express, but until then, you will have to wait for part three where you will hear from my interviewee. In the meantime, please enjoy the video of serial killer artworks set to a musical classic titled, Serial Killer, by John Bartman, provided in the link below.