Criminal behavior of Aileen Wuornos

Aileen Wournos is one of the America`s few female sexual serial killers. In 1991, she was convicted and killed by lethal injection for the murder of six men between 1989 and 1990. During her trail, the defense team indicated that she suffered from borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder conditions which predisposed her to commit the crimes. In her defense, Aileen indicated that she murdered the men to defend herself from being raped. A number of scholars including Myers et al. (2005) recognize Aileen Wournos as a sexual serial killer. The authors define a serial sexual murder as repeated, “intentional killing during which there is sexual activity by the perpetrator” (Myers et al 2006, p. 900)
Sexual serial killers are motivated by a number of reasons to kill their victims. Myers et al (2006) recognize that in the history of psychology and behavioral science, sexual thrill and intoxication were viewed as the prime motivators. The authors continue to say that recent studies in the field have identified other motivating factors as attainment of “power and control over victims or the expression of anger toward them as opposed to sexual gratification” (Myers 2006, p. 900).
Aileen`s childhood, which involved an absentee dad and abusive grandparents, predisposed her to Borderline personality disorder which was cited by the defense team during the trial. According to Minzenberg, Poole, and Vinagradov (2008), BDP is a paradigmatic disorder of adult attachment, with high rates of antecedent childhood maltreatment. Their study on a sample of 43 BDP outpatients showed that history of childhood abuse and neurocognitive deficits were correlated significantly with adult attachment disturbance.
Aileen manipulated the behavior of her victims by posing as a prostitute. Meloy (2000) notes it is a common behavior among serial killers to shape the behavior of their victims to ensure reinforcement and compliance. Therefore, it is possible that Aileen posed as a prostitute as a means to an end in spite of her psychosocial disorders.
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personality disorder: Effects of childhood sexual abuse and relationship to adult social attachment disturbance. Development and Psychopathology, 20 (2008), 341 – 368.
Myers, W.C., Gooch, E., Meloy, J. R. (2005). The Role of Psychopathy and Sexuality in a
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Myers, W.C., Husted, D. S., Safarik, M. E. & O`Toole, M.E. (2006). The motivation behind
serial sexual homicide: is it sex, power, and control, or anger? Journal of Forensic Science, 51(4), 900-907.