What Mental Illness Did Jeffrey Dahmer Have: Critical Essay

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Imagine the kid you sat next to in your high school turned into a worldwide known serial killer. As a child, there were many red flags for his personality and actions towards people and the world. Now as he grows up he is known as “Milwaukee Cannibal” or the “Milwaukee Monster” (̈Jeffrey Dahmer”). It's Easy to see serial killers as monsters, but when we see Jeffrey Damer as a real person it is easy to see the red flags early in his childhood. Dahmer became who he was because of his family. Jeffrey Dahmer was born on May 21, 1960, in Bath Ohio, (“Jeffrey Dahmer”) at the time they seemed like a perfectly normal boy until he started to grow up. Jeffrey Dahmer's personality as his dad wrote in his notebook called 'A Father's Notebook.'(Left ) in his words, it started at the age of only 4 after Dahmer had surgery and his personality never actually went back to normal. Jeffrey's mood continues to grow darker (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). 

At age 6 states to break glass and likes to play with bones. By his teenage years, he has started his road-kill cemeteries and planted a dog's head on a stake. By the age of 18, he has committed his first murder. (Anft ) this all may be because of his parents. At a young age moving from place to place, he was isolated with only his parents now having no social skills to make friends. “Dahmer’s father, Lionel Dahmer, was a research chemist. The bone bleaching was an extension of professional expertise,΅ (“Anft”) Dahmer caught on to this but in his way. “That’s according to Carl Wahlstrom, a forensic psychiatrist who interviewed and evaluated Dahmer and served as an expert witness in his trial. “He and his dad, as a father-son activity…bleached the connective tissue and the hair” off rodents’ corpses when they found animals who’d died under their house, says Wahlstrom” (“Cannibal and Serial Killer”). But for the most part, his father had a large absence in his life. “Jeffrey Dahmer's mother, Joyce Dahmer, suffered from depression and attempted suicide”(Anft). 

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This was very haunting to Jeffrey at a young age and learned that it was a normal thing in his family. After a couple of years his mother gave birth to his little brother David Dahmer this sparked even more anger in Dahmer's life motivating his evil. He would go on to drop out of The Ohio State University. His father wanted him to that he join the Army. Dahmer enlisted in late December 1978 and was posted to Germany shortly thereafter. His drinking problem persisted, and in early 1981, the Army discharged him. Although German authorities would later investigate possible connections between Dahmer and murders that took place in the area during that time, it is not believed that he took any more victims while serving in the Armed Forces (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). By age 31, he was on almost every newspaper in the United States, labeled as the “Milwaukee Cannibal” or the “Milwaukee Monster”. He took into his own hands, satisfied his evil deeds, and killed 17 men. Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer had an IQ of 145, which is considered a gifted person and in the top 2% of the population of the world(“Jeffrey Dahmer”.)  Think about these multiple sources claiming that the number 13 had something to do with the crazy list of events that occurred in Dahmer's life. Dahmer's name was 13 letters long, his killing spree lasted 13 years, 13 people did not escape from him, and his apartment number was 13. 

Dahmer was very smart, he had a very high IQ (“Cannibal and Serial Killer”).  Dahmer sought out men, mostly African-American, at gay bars, malls, and bus stops, lured them home with promises of money or sex, and gave them alcohol laced with drugs before strangling them to death. Dahmer had many different methods during his killings, some including drugging his victims, dismembering the body after, or even pouring acid or boiling water on their heads. Dahmer’s father, Lionel Dahmer, was a research chemist. The bone bleaching was an extension of professional expertise. This is where he learned his evil ways. Jeffrey Dahmer after killing his victims, Jeffrey would sometimes even have sex with the dead bodies. To remember the victims Dahmer killed he would keep polaroids in a drawer in the kitchen, next to the freezer where he kept their heads and other body parts. There were over 100 different Polaroid pictures that he had taken which each of his victims. When law enforcement went into Dahmer's house they found a grisly scene (Richmond ) seven skulls and four decapitated heads stuffed into a refrigerator; photographs of murder victims, in various states of dismemberment; and a 57-gallon barrel, containing multiple headless torsos and other body parts, decomposing with the assistance of corrosive chemicals. Dahmer was a really intelligent person but his crazy obsessions soon got him in trouble.   

Tracy Edwards was his last victim, and he was able to escape after fighting off Dahmer, he then turned Dahmer into the police this was the end of Dahmer (“Cannibal and Serial Killer”). Only one survived and ran to the police, 3 escaped 2 died, and didn't make it helped. After he went to the police Jeffrey Dahmer was Arrested in 1991. At Jeffrey Dahmer's sentencing, he was pronounced “legally sane” and sentenced to 16 life terms for the killings (Cannon). Jeffrey only survived one attempt on his life in July of 1994, but he was killed by another inmate named Christopher Scarver on November 28, 1994, in Portage Wisconsin. Scarver used a 20-inch (51 cm) metal bar, which he had removed from a piece of exercise equipment in the prison weight room, to beat Dahmer, and Jesse Anderson another known murderer. Both later Dahmer and Anderson both died from their injuries. Scarver was sentenced to two life sentences for the killings. After the murders, Christopher Scarver was interviewed, and he stated “Some people who are in prison are repentant- but he was not one of them.” (Jeffrey Dahmer) Scarver also said that Dahmer would carve what looked like human limbs out of the prison food, and apply ketchup to represent blood  (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). Scarver told the reporter that he had gone to get a mop from the backroom and was approached by three men. One of them hit him in the back and he knew it was Dahmer so he followed him to the locker room and then confronted him. Dahmer tried to escape, but Scarver reached for a metal bar and swung at his head, crushing Dahmer's skull. Just like Dahmer would do to his victims. 

The death of Dahmer was a relief for everyone and was like a weight lifted off their shoulders. It's easy to see serial killers as monsters, but when we see Jeffrey Dahmer as a real person it is easy to see the red flags early in his childhood. All the things early in his life made him who he was. Now imagine the kid you sat next to in your high school turned into a worldwide known serial killer. 

Works Cited

    1. Anft, Michael. “Dahmer's Dad Puts Blame on Himself.” Baltimoresun.com, 24 Oct. 2018, https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/bs-xpm-1994-03-09-1994068149-story.html.
    2. “Cannibal and Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer Is Caught.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 13 Nov. 2009, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/cannibal-and-serial-killer-jeffrey-dahmer-is-caught.
    3. Cannon, Angie. 'Crime Stories of the Century.' U.S.News & World Report, Dec 1999. sirsissuesresearcher, https://explore.proquest.com/sirsissuesresearcher/document/2263045304?accountid=14934.
    4. “Jeffrey Dahmer.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 17 Oct. 2019, www.biography.com/crime-figure/jeffrey-Dahmer.
    5. “Jeffrey Dahmer Facts.” Math, www.softschools.com/facts/biography/jeffrey_dahmer_facts/3426/.
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