Theodore Robert Bundy, born on the 24th of November, is one of the most notorious criminals of all time. He is an American serial killer who is responsible for the murder of at least thirty six women. It goes without saying that there is something insanely wrong with someone who has the capacity to commit murder, however, in the case of Ted Bundy, there were many things wrong with him.
What was Wrong with Ted Bundy?
Psychologists have studied the infamous rapist and murderer for decades. What’s fascinated them most? His ability to carry on a double life, having a long term relationship, attending college, building a political career, all while secretly murdering women in cold blood.
Ted Bundy Personality Disorders
Here’s exactly what psychologists have speculated that Bundy may have had over the years:
Antisocial Personality Disorder
A group of 73 psychologists got together in the University of Kentucky to study Ted Bundy’s mental health, and the majority of them agreed that he had antisocial personality disorder. In fact, nearly 80 percent of them believed that Bundy was a perfect example of the disorder, checking off all of its criteria in the DSM-5: egocentrism, acting on personal gratification (as opposed to the law and social norms) , lacking empathy, antagonism (manipulative, deceitful, and hostile), disinhibition (irresponsible and impulsive).
Psychopathy is not the same as ASPD, though it it does fall under its umbrella. Hervey Cleckley, a psychologist who pioneered the concept of psychopathy, defined it with a “Psychopathy Checklist.” That includes: superficial charm, untruthfulness, insincerity, lack of nervousness, inadequately motivated antisocial behavior, pathological egocentricity, lack of remorse, and an inability to follow a life plan. According to clinical and forensic psychologist Darrel Turner, PhD, Ted Bundy is literally the textbook definition of a psychopath.
“There are certain traits that we tend to see: a lack of empathy and being out for one’s own interest even though the interests of other people get trampled under foot. But with Bundy, we do see a lot of the other traits of psychopathy, like pathological lying and the being very superficially charming.”
So it would be hard to insist that Bundy, who used his charm to lure women into his car, who brutally killed at least 36 women, who bounced from college to college and never finished law school (his murder spree inevitably got in the way), didn’t show psychopathic tendencies.
Ted Bundy’s words, verbatim: “I am the most cold-hearted son of a ***** you will ever meet.”
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
About 95 percent of the psychologists in the University of Kentucky study believed that Bundy showed signs of narcissistic personality disorder, which is defined by the following characteristics in the DSM-5: excessive reference to others for self esteem regulating and/or setting goals based on one’s approval, impaired ability to recognize the needs and emotions of others, largely superficial relationships that exist for self-esteem regulation or personal gain, feelings of entitlement and superiority, excessive attempts to attract attention from others, and admiration seeking.
Was Ted Bundy a Narcissist?
For someone to have narcissistic personality disorder they have to have at least five of those nine qualities. The team believes that he had that many, if not even more.
Bipolar Personality Disorder
Dorothy Lewis, MD, a psychiatrist who specialized in “understanding the brain chemistry of violent men” tried to save Bundy from death row. She said that Bundy suffered from bipolar personality disorder, a mental disorder characterized mainly by extreme mood swings.
An investigator had told Lewis that in the middle of a conversation that Bundy suddenly, “became weird on me, did a metamorphosis, a bit of body and facial change, and almost an odor emitted from him.”
Lewis allegedly noted that he would, “switch from euphoria and compulsive talking to anger followed by long periods of sullen silence”
Whether he was actually bipolar or not didn’t matter as Lewis’s attempt failed, Bundy’s appeal was denied, resulting in his execution on the 24th of January in 1989.
Borderline Personality Disorder
The majority of the same group in the University of Kentucky study said that Bundy was “above the diagnostic threshold for borderline.”
A person with borderline personality disorder usually has unstable relationships, acts impulsively, behaves in self-harming ways, goes through periods of intense depression, and experiences changes in self-image. People with borderline personality disorder tend to feel emotions intensely, which may be why Bundy didn’t fall into this category of mental illnesses.
Schizoid Personality Disorder
More than 50 percent of the experts in the University of Kentucky study labeled Bundy as having schizoid personality disorder, which is basically antisocial personality disorder but to the extreme. Someone with schizoid personality disorder “has a lifelong pattern of indifference to others and social isolation.”
It’s possible that schizoid personality disorder was attributed to Bundy because of his inability to show emotion and act appropriately. But another important symptom of schizoid is a lack of interest in sexual relations, which obviously didn’t apply to Bundy since he was a serial rapist.
Several experts noted that Bundy showed signs of an extreme form of narcissism, called Machiavellianism. This disorder was named after a Renaissance Italian political philosopher named Niccolò Machiavelli. It describes someone who will deceive and exploit others in order to achieve his/her own personal goals. “they see people as objects for manipulation, they will have normal amounts of empathy unless they have traits of psychopathy.”
Ted Bundy was in complete denial of having any kind of mental illness, in fact, when his attorneys tried to delay the death penalty by proving that he was not mentally competent to stand trial, he said: “I knew I wasn’t crazy, insane, or incompetent, or anything else. I was insulted by even the suggestion by my attorneys that we should consider the defense. They knew damn well I wasn’t crazy.”
Stephen Michaud, the journalist who interviewed Ted Bundy while on death row, said : “Ted stands out because he was quite an enigma. Clean-cut, good looking, articulate, very intelligent, just a handsome, young, mild-mannered law student. He didn’t look like anybody’s notion of somebody who would tear apart young girls.”
Ted Bundy was sick and twisted, however, he is unlike any other sick person I have ever read about. His charm is fascinating, women kept claiming that they love him, want to marry him and bear his children. He was able to convince the judge to make him co-counsel on his own murder trial, even though he didn’t graduate law school. He killed women for 4 years without getting caught. Even though I think that Ted Bundy sick and got what he deserved, I think that his personality is unprecedented, and probably one of a kind. As a result, research should be conducted on the symptoms and actions that might indicate or foreshadow that kind of gruesome behavior so that law enforcement can execute effective programs for at risk children, which will result in a reduction in crime rates and make this a safer world to live in.