Serial Killers and Bedwetting

My wife’s reading a book on profiling serial killers. Supposedly, virtually all serial killers exhibit one or more of the following three traits during childhood: setting fires, cruelty to animals, and/or bedwetting. Now, it seems logical that setting fires and cruelty to animals are behaviors that could stem from the same underlying psychological problems that manifest themselves later in more severe antisocial behavior. However, I don’t see why these same major psychological problems would cause bedwetting.

So, what’s the tie between serial killers and early bedwetting?

Well, it could be seen as a cry for attention from a neglectful or abusive parent, or a demonstration of their lack of control or maturation. True, about 60% of serial killers wet the bed past age 12, but these factors are more like 20/20 hindsight- lots of children are guilty of at least one, but there have been very few actual serial killers.
In fact, the top 3 common behavioural traits of 36 serial killers involved in a study by FBI agents for “Sexual Homicide Patterns and Motives”
were: daydreaming, compulsive masturbation, and isolation.

:eek: You just described me!:eek:

Rico! Youngblood! Astroboy14 is on to us!! Move! Move! Move!!!

Yes, and almost all of them drank milk, played baseball, and went to school.

I hope the book referenced included the results from a control group. With only 38 subjects, random chance could throw the results a bit.

Does her book say anything about the results of the control subjects? If not, the author is either irresponsible or incompetent.

I wrote an essay in HS about the relationship between child abuse and violent crime, and one of the traits that were significent was bed wetting.
I can’t remember the stats, but *most violent criminals were abused as children, and *most abused children were bed wetters.
One theory at the time was that these children wet the bed because they didn’t want to return to the “real world”, so they would go to the bathroom in their dream world.
So there could be a connection, I think. Serial killers, though, are quite different than run-of-the-mill violent criminals.
*‘Many’ may be a more accurate term here, but as I remember it, was ‘most’.

OK, I can buy that theory. Abused kids are more likely to wet the bed and become serial killers. I don’t buy that the bed wetting is a causal factor in the serial killer, more likely a co-symptom of abuse. If that is the case, then the author should have said so.

One of the central themes in my criminology course is just how careful we have to be when using statistics to develop criminal justice policies and strategies.

While the “cruelty to animals” behaviour in early life does seem to be common amongst violent offenders (as does a lack of capacity to empathise in general), we rarely have cohort studies which allow us to evaluate the incidence of this behaviour in the non-criminal population.

We certainly don’t know why people who subsequently become serial killers often have have a history of eneuresis beyond the first few years of life. We know that they do, but we have no idea whether it’s any more significant than gender disparity in eneuresis or people who’ve developed nocturnal continence in their early teens being more likely to have offspring who develop urinary continence at a later developmental stage.

It’s entirely possible that bedwetters in general learn to emotionally distance themselves from responses to a behaviour which they cannot control, and that this emotional distancing leads to them being less empathic in general; it’s also entirely possible that the two are in no way related. Or there could be as yet unidentified co-existing medical, developmental, or psychological conditions which pre-dispose people to both bed-wetting and harming animals.

I’m surprised that “male” isn’t included on the list.

Could bed-wetting in the future serial killer be part of some kind of rebellion or power game? After all, the other two aspects of the homicidal triad, fire starting and cruelty to animals, are more about power than anything else, at least if retired FBI criminal profiler John Douglas and most of his peers are correct. In reading about serial killers and serial rapists, it seems that power-related issues are at the heart of almost every other deviant thing they do.

Just a thought . . .

It could be Mephisto; there’s also a pretty high correlation between ADD/ADHD and bedwetting, and one school of thought maintains that ADD/ADHD is behaviour is about power and manipulation.

It can be difficult to get accurate information retrospectively. One of my offspring was a bed-wetter and I honestly could not tell you with great accuracy how often they wet the bed (although there were periods where it was every night) or at precisely what age it stopped, so I’m not sure how accurate information of that nature sought long after the event is likely to be.

Many of my neighbours grew up a group of men who are now serving very long sentences for one of our most horrific murders. It constantly amazes me how different people’s recollections are of the individuals and families concerned (especially in respect of things we would now regard as being possible predictive indicators of future violence).

could you say that again in english?

These men allegedly had behaviours as children and teens which would now be widely regarded as predictive of future violent behaviour - oddly enough, many of the people who grew up with and went to school with these men and knew their families have no recollection of these behaviours having occured, which raises a lot of questions about whether they did occur or whether those people who assert that they did are mis-remembering events of 30 years ago.

Right; this was exactly the discussion we were having: fire starting and cruelty to animals behaviors are all about power, but bedwetting doesn’t seem to be a power ploy at all. Unless it’s a symptom of rebellion against parents?

billy, my assumption was that the behaviors mentioned (including bedwetting) are symptoms of underlying psychological problems rather than causitive factors, something that may not have been clear in my original post. Not having read the book in question, I’m not sure how clear the author (John Douglas, actually, I think) was on the subject, but my wife had the same assumption stated.

Thanks all for answers, particularly reprise.

I think along the same lines as reprise. We have to be careful not to use specific statistics to try and make a general point. Bed-wetting can have a number of reasons, medical and psychological. I think it would also be fair to say (wag) that some kids even exhibit violence towards animals out of ignorance - rather than out of sadistic behaviour. (Speaking of which, a lot of men carry on this behaviour in a number of ways - also, in my view, out of ignorance.)

The truth is, serial killers are still something of a rarity. The behaviours noted above most certainly aren’t. If there is a link, I think it is right to say that it would be in the causes of such behaviour, rather than the behaviour itself.

I was hoping you were asking about cereal killers and bedwetting. That’s a correlation I could probably have some success at explaining.

The link between serial killers and bedwetting is to my admittedly uneducated eye a bit more vague. Could it be that the bedwetting caused an uncomfortable degree of loss of self respect or maybe frustration at their lack of control that they later tried to offset by exerting a dominance over others?

I have ADHD, and I have NEVER wet my bed.

On the other hand, my sister does not have ADHD, and she used to wet the bed until she was about four years old.

Go figure.

I believe the study referenced in above posts refers to the Criminal Research Project conducted by Douglas, Robert Ressler, and several other agents. Problems with the study are addressed by Michael Newton in his Encyclopedia of Serial Killers; these problems include the fact that not all of the violent criminals they interviewed could be classified as “serial killers,” therefore sort of challenging the notion that bedwetting and the rest of the homicidal triad are traits particular to the serial killer. I don’t believe there was a control group in the initial study; I think the researchers simply compiled a list of violent criminals and interviewed them.

**Guinastasia **

Which one of you is a serial killer? :wink: :smiley: :smiley:

If I recall correctly from reading Douglas’ book, he was pretty convinced that serial killers tend to show all three behaviors as a child. That is, fire starting, cruelty to animals, and bedwetting beyond the “normal” age (he didn’t say what “normal” was). He did mention that any one of these were not indicators, but the three combined were a warning sign.

As others have said though, it’s hard to say if the reverse is true. In other words, all serial killers may exhibit the “homicidal triad”, but does everyone who exhibits those behaviors become serial killers? Probably not, but what is the percentage? That’s what seems to remain the unknown.

Isn’t a large part of the problem here the fact that there are so few serial killers? I mean, how many people have been classified as such in the last hundred years? 15-20? That’s a tiny sample pool to draw conclusions from. Also, as was pointed out, many of these supposed behaviors are being remembered long after the fact, by people who want to believe that certain “signs” were evident.

I’d find it hard to come up with a convincing argument that serial killers are a result of these behaviors; it seems pretty obvious that its the other way around. I think reprise made a very interesting point by mentioning the lack of empathy in serial killers; it may well be, say, a birth defect, and when coupled with something like an abusive childhood, can often lead to such deviant behavior.