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Analysis Of Criminological Theories Beneficial In Explaining The Case Of Ted Bundy

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The phenomenon of a serial killer has always been a complex focus in the media and the general public. Two main theories which can vindicate the killings that Ted Bundy committed are known as positivism and classical theory. Theorist Lombroso, who specialised in positivism, suggested ‘that criminals are atavistic; that is, they are a throwback to an earlier, more primitive evolutionary stage of human development.’ Whereas, classical focuses on the external factors such as free will and the individual’s ideology. Alternatively, there are other theories to explore that can explicate a criminal’s behaviour such as strain theory. It is essential to explore this through some sort of an integrated approach; biological and sociological approaches. Ted Bundy was one of the most notorious killers in the states, who caused psychologists to investigate his mental psychological state. The majority believe that his behaviour is due to him being raised in a dysfunctional home environment. Bundy grew up with the mentality that his mother was his older sister and his grandparents were his parents. This was because Bundy was born as an illegitimate child causing the grandparents to enforce this belief, due to their religious background and this being frowned upon. ‘Although the family dynamics were stable, Ted was to grow up in an environment of untruths and uncertainty.’ This may have caused Bundy confusion with his identity and the belief of what is right and wrong. In one incident recalled by his Aunt ‘she’d fallen asleep for a nap and woke to find she was surrounded by knives with a three-year-old Ted smiling down at her.’ This indicates that during his childhood years signs of sociopathic behaviour were displayed. Furthermore, when Bundy was in his junior year of college, he met the love of his life Stephanie Brooks. However, Stephanie made the choice to end the relationship with Bundy as she thought he was childish, immature and lacked ambition and failed to fit into her society. This was the catalyst of his rage. For example, Lynda Ann Healy who was another university student. He broke into her apartment, knocked her unconscious, abducted her and was never seen again, however police report shows ‘part of her skull was discovered years later at one of the locations where Bundy dumped his bodies.’ Subsequently, he targeted other female victims. Reports state, ‘He would then bludgeon them unconscious before binding, raping, and killing them, dumping their bodies in a remote location in the woods. This was the result of the victims resembling Stephanie Brooks. Positivism Positivism focuses on the nature side of the debate in contrast to classical with exploring the contributing factors that makes a person a serial killer. Lombroso’s theory was mainly based on the idea of physical characteristics, where criminals exemplify a physical type distinctive from non-criminals. Lombroso recognised that some uncharacteristic features of a criminal were not inherited nevertheless due to pattern behaviour. This notion is reinforced by the case of Ted Bundy.

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The image above can confirm his theory with Bundy’s forehead attributing many wrinkles for example, due to his cynical laughter whilst committing barbaric crimes. Lombroso also had thin lips which could be considered a particular arrangement of the mouth when expressing hatred to the victims. Bundy’s jaw structure was wide due to the prolonged repetition of the contracting muscles when clenching in anticipation to attack his latest victim. Ted Bundy could easily embody the perfect image Lombroso anticipated a criminal would look like. Ted Bundy acted like his most primitive ancestors, in other words animalistic. This theory argues, humans do not have free will, they do not think rationally. This has also been beneficial for psychologists studying offenders to open various kinds of sentences and treatments that fit the criminal juxtapose to the crime they committed. In addition, from an early age in Bundy’s life he displayed unusual characteristic behaviour with a developing fascination in knives. According to his Aunt she once woke up to knives being placed around her and a three-year-old Ted Bundy smiling over her. This all indicates sociopathic behaviour and how this progressed later on in stage. He became a habitual liar and would be seen peering into windows whilst woman was undressing. These are all indications in Lombroso’s theory of a ‘born criminal’. His lawyer who knew Ted Bundy for over a decade commented, “Ted was the only person in my 40 years of being a lawyer that I would say that he was absolutely born evil.’ However, some of Lombroso’s theories over a period of time were seen inaccurate and unreliable. Another criminologist known as Ferri also studied the biological debate of criminals did not endorse all of Lombroso’s findings such as criminal’s certain physical characteristic features. From the data that Lombroso collected he concluded that ‘60 percent of criminals bore no resemblance at all to the anatomical portraits he had constructed, appearing more or less ‘normal’ even under the anatomizing gaze of the scientist.’ In today’s modern society, neuro-criminologists extracted some of Lombroso’s theories to find an explanatory explanation for criminal behaviour to occur. Whether it is due brain injuries or abnormalities in the sequencing of the human genome. Classical However, classical theory states that the cause of abnormal behaviour is due to our beliefs’ which have been shaped by external factors from early on as our childhood. Classical theory strives to reform the conception of humans as freethinking individuals. The idea that people adopt all forms of behaviour, even criminal. Criminal behaviour is rational. Therefore, fear of punishment is what keeps people from committing crimes. There are several elements to classical theory such as: rational choice, social control and self-labelling theory. Rational theory is a term used to describe an individual’s perception whether they have considered the pros and cons of the actions they will commit. For example, ‘other scholars have taken it a step further, finding evidence to suggest emotion plays significant role in subjective perception of risk and rational decision making.’ The only part Ted Bundy was rational was when he sought out his victims and his choice of torture and kill. However, the rational decision making was caused by his anger which was the trigger from his break up. This made him ignorant to the consequences of his actions. Social Control Theory is beneficial in explaining Ted Bundy’s criminal behavior. In the Social Control Theory, the deviants care about what others think about them and then conform to social expectations because they accept what other expect. Furthermore, all individuals are capable to commit a crime however, people abide by the law due to their moral beliefs knowing right from wrong. The Social Control Theory also states that when attachments to social bonds are weakened that deviance can occur. Bundy had a very unusual family situation. For most of his young life he grew up believing that his grandparents were his parents and that his mother was his older sister.

Finding out that almost everything he thought to be true was a lie, caused almost all of his family bonds to be completely destroyed. The breakup with his girlfriend also broke a major social bond. The breaking of these bonds, which represented truth and love, is most likely the reason that pushed Bundy to not value human life. Labelling theory explains how an individual creates an image to others leading them to be inferior to the individual. For example, the ‘labelling perspective focuses on how a person’s self-concept may cause them to engage in crime.’ This can place emphasise in court. For instance, in the case of Ted Bundy this was experienced. Bundy gave a confident demure that made the public attracted to his charm. This can be seen in the quote “I don’t know what it is he has, but he’s fascinating,” the teenage spectator explained to me at the time. “He’s impressive. He just has a kind of magnetism.” Even to the extent, Bundy was primarily not labelled as a suspect to the violent acts. He used his looks to his advantage so that the public did not perceive him as ‘different’ but as an innocent man. Bundy was also, an active part in his own denial of responsibility to the crimes, adopting the mindset of an innocent man as a result of the public’s perception of him not being able to commit such violent crimes. Where criminals have the same needs as everyone. But were not born rich or have the privilege to access this. As we do not all have the same opportunities. So, there are people who try some tricks to reach the same things as privileged people have. Anomie theory is focused on society’s differences on how to achieve goals and values of each individual. Yet since the 20th century the American dream has asserted to us all that we must rise to reach this utopia of happiness. On the contrary the path towards this differs between obtaining lawfully and illegally. ‘Murder is not about lust and it’s not about violence. It’s about possession. When you feel the last breath of life coming out of the woman, you look into her eyes. At the point, it’s being God.’ This statement emphasises Bundy’s superiority complex that he created in order to feel more in control and confident which allowed him to carry out the murders. This can also be linked during his targeting of female victims where he had given his identity and ‘had approached at least six women on that Sunday afternoon in broad daylight. Clearly, Ted was feeling invincible.

There was nothing that the bungling law enforcement officials could do to stop him.’ This emphasises the theory’s whole notion of Bundy’s urges outweighing the fear of punishment. Conclusion In conclusion, we have theories such as positivism and classicism since society, want to reduce the amount of criminal activity we have. There are theories which take different approaches for example, some theories focus on the specific characteristics of people whereas some focus on external categories that have shaped the way our mind works in terms of what we think is right and wrong. Labelling is another theory that states that because of the constant stereotyping; we have become accustomed to labelling certain individuals, from different backgrounds, as criminal due to their ‘anti-social behaviour’. However, In the case of Ted Bundy classicism is better associated with his deviant behaviour as it focuses on environmental factors such as his parents who have manipulated him throughout his childhood which didn’t allow him to develop mentally, as a normal child should. In other words, due to the multiple events that have triggered his behaviour, such as the break between Stephanie Brooks and Bundy, he has never been able to differ between right and wrong. The theory is not deterministic as it doesn’t focus on just the biological factors. Therefore, since childhood Bundy’s experiences is what shaped him to behave in a particular manner which is what led him to commit crimes out of violence and anger. Reflection All knowledge acquired on the case of Ted Bundy was as a result of our group presentation assignment which was constructive to structuring this essay. This was a challenging yet rewarding experience to have accomplished in a group. We gathered our research through books but also online journal articles to supplement our ideas. The use of contemporary sources was fundamental in providing informative information to gain an analytical insight into the theories and link theory to practice. From previous experiences when constructing presentation’s, it is advantageous to use each member’s strengths and knowledge they have obtained. For instance, some members have a psychology background from their previous education which can be useful when discussing social control theory where they may have extensive knowledge in this area. Consequently, members of the group were delegated areas that were more appropriate to their ability. We continuously monitored all member’s progression in their work to ensure everyone does their share. Furthermore, if there was a member who found their work challenging others can provide assistance to all progression to continue.

01 February 2021

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