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The Psychology Behind Serial Killer Admirers

Updated June 25, 2019 5.1k views10 items

Marrying a serial offender seems like a baffling thing to do, but there are specific psychological mechanisms that drive people to enter relationships with incarcerated slayers. Whether it comes from a place of low self-esteem, a desire to exert power by inciting change within a person, or an attraction to dominance, serial killer admirers have complicated reasons for dating people behind bars. Many of these individuals have been mistreated throughout their lives, and the fact that their partner is confined provides them with a layer or protection. Some want to share the media fame that surrounds the captured criminal, and others truly believe in the person's innocence. 

Diving deeper into the reasons people are attracted to known murderers involves a host of complicated mental and emotional factors. The motivations for people like Carole Ann Boone, Ted Bundy's wife, or Doreen Lioy, who married Richard Ramirez, are likely very different, although they may well share similar psychological backgrounds. 

  • It's An Offshoot Of Hybristophilia, Or 'Bonnie And Clyde Syndrome'

    Hybristophilia occurs when someone is attracted to a person who commits violent crimes. This particular type of paraphilia often involves gaining carnal satisfaction from communicating with prisoners via letter. Although hybristophilia occurs in both women and men, prisoners are statistically more likely to be men, as women are less likely to commit physical offenses. 

    This desire is sometimes referred to as Bonnie and Clyde syndrome. Bonnie and Clyde are infamous for their unlawful love affair, and the public's fascination with the pair led to a proliferation of copycat sprees.

    Fortunately, even if you're fascinated by stories of actual offenders, you probably don't suffer from hybristophilia, as the diagnosis means you are aroused by felonious activity. 

  • Those Who Fall For Famous Slayers May Want To Share The Media Spotlight

    Sheila Isenberg, an author and journalist who wrote Women Who Love Men Who Kill, believes that the main motivation of those who enter romantic relationships with famous offenders is a love of the spotlight. These slayers garner attention, and their admirers know that by being associated with them, they'll share in the fame. Isenberg goes as far as to discount any genuine carnal motivation.

    Although she believes it's subconscious, Isenberg says, "They want to be noticed. They want to be important, like we all do."

  • For Some, Killers Represent The Perfect 'Alpha Male' 

    Some people are attracted to those who appear dominant and display traits of confidence bordering on cockiness. To those who are attracted to these offenders, their actions may come off as authoritative. This power dynamic emerges most often between younger people and the incarcerated slayer, who is typically older - their age is associated with wisdom and power, and the younger person finds comfort in those qualities.

    In conjunction with this view, some may believe that underneath the person's aggressive exterior lies a tender, vulnerable side that they are capable of unlocking.

  • Low Self-Esteem May Be Behind These Unions

    Outlaws often target vulnerable people. It's telling that many admirers fall for actual slayers because they lack confidence and have had trouble finding a romantic partnership because of their insecurity.

    Others avoid entering relationships that could turn physical - dating or marrying someone behind bars makes it significantly more difficult to consummate a relationship.

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