Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods
Serial Killers who Surrender

It's commonly believed that serial killers cannot stop, because their compulsion is so strong that they're literally addicted to murder. In addition, they feel no remorse so they have no reason to refrain from indulging their hunger for blood - or else they're just plain psychotic.

However, there have been cases of men who have stopped themselves from killing again by going to the police to confess. Some actually express remorse, and might indicate that they'd been on drugs or were in some other state of diminished mental capacity during their crimes. They might also have come to the realization that, try as they might, they cannot stop themselves.

While it appears to be true that some people who immerse in horror imagery feel provoked to commit the same aggressive crimes they just viewed, it's also true that there is no evidence of a causal factor, and millions of people watch such films without feeling instigated to act. Some people process external images into aggressive behavior, others might gain catharsis, and still others remain altogether unaffected. A few become horror film makers or novelists. It's not easy to know just what effect a specific film might have. Whatever results, research shows that it has more to do with the viewer than the material viewed.

It stands to reason that violent imagery will affect certain people in a way that inspires them to act out. From the story that affects them, they acquire a frame and guidelines, and sometimes even interpret the film as a license to kill. Not everyone will be thus affected, but among those who are, it's safe to say there is such a thing as a "Copycat Effect" when the portrayal of violence grips a person so firmly that he or she decides follow the details of that specific template. Has the movie made him kill? No, but has it given him ideas and methods even victims? We can see that such things have occurred and are likely to continue to occur.

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