The need to control.
The most important aspect of Jeffrey Dahmer’s life is his need to control. Control is the fuel of his actions. Many serial killers suffered forms of extreme abuse (physical, mental, sexual) in their childhood: they were humiliated, felt defenseless. Later, as they grew up, this people developed a need to inflict the same pain they had to others, and the only way for them to overcome this feeling of impotence is to totally control others. Even though Jeffrey never had to suffer from any abuse, it is clear that some elements in his life gave him an inferiority complex, made him very vulnerable, and lead him directly to the development of a need to control. He would take a lot of pleasure by being in control.
His objective was to render his victim unconscious as fast as possible with the drugs. By depriving them of their waken state, he could do with them whatever he wanted without having to communicate his desires to them, or having to manage their possible resistance. He always tried not to know too much about his victims. This gave him the impression that they were intimate objects. The fact that he considered his victims as objects and not people gave him a feeling of power and domination that would enhance his libido. The victims were there for him, objects only destined to satisfy his own sexual pleasure. He based all his motivation in knowing that he had total control over his victims and that he could do with them whatever he wanted.
All his MO is based on control and domination
- The con approach gave him control from the start
- He drugged the victims to get them unconscious
- He posed the victims to take pictures
- Even his necrophilia and cannibal practices had control as origin
This absolute need to control took him to rather strange paths: one of the paths he took was to use some sort of lobotomy that he tested on some of his victims. Once the victim drugged, he would dig a hole in the victim’s skull and inject some type of acid in their brain. His intention was to destroy the victim’s intellect and free will and to keep the body alive but totally submissive.
Jeffrey Dahmer’s necrophiliac practices started after the third murder. He used to go to saunas, where he would render his partners unconscious to take advantage of their body. Also, and very important in the development of his necrophilia, was the incident at the morgue when he read about the death of a 18 year old. Just by looking at the body he felt attracted and had to masturbate.
According to numerous studies from Rosman and Resnick (1989), there are several types of necrophilia:
- Homicidal necrophilia: consists in killing in order to have sex with the corpse
- Common necrophilia: the use of the corpse of somebody already dead for sexual pleasure
- Necrophiliac fantasy: the fantasy of having sex with a dead corpse, but without doing it in reality
According to these studies, Jeffrey Dahmer would be part of a different category, considered more as pseudo necrophilia: he was attracted by lifeless corpses, but that was not the ultimate goal of his sexual fantasy. Indeed, the death was only a means to an end. He demonstrated and repeated it on many occasions; his desire and fantasy were about domination. He would not get any pleasure from killing. Moreover, he would have rather met a young man in his taste, alive but submissive to the extreme. Necrophilia was only a way for him to satisfy his fantasy, and not the culmination of it.
We can consider Dahmer’s cannibalism as an escalation of his practices based on power and domination. Indeed, he liked to experiment on his victims. For example, he started biting one of his victims in the neck after killing it, or drank the blood of another victim, to see what turns him on.
His cannibalism started after Konerak Sinthasomphone, during his dismemberment. He decided to keep his heart and biceps:
« And I would cook it, and then look at the pictures and masturbate. » Jeffrey Dahmer
He tried various seasonings, techniques to make the meat even more tasty. He savored human meat, and described like a tender and juicy filet mignon. He liked eating the heart, the liver, the meat from the hip, and even tried a bicep.
For him, eating human flesh was sexually gratifying. It started as an experiment, but gave him the impression that his victims became part of him. It excited him, gave him the ultimate control over his victims, and made him feel like he and his victims became one. He would often be sexually aroused while eating human flesh.
But he would only practice cannibalism with his favorite victims, those he really liked. He wanted them to become part of him, to be with him all the time.
Of course his orientation towards cannibalism emanates from a perversion, but above all from his desire for possession. In her book « Cannibalism: the Ancient Taboo in Modern Times », Rachel Bell describes the different forms of cannibalism, so as their origins. We discover that Jeffrey Dahmer’s cannibalism joins all the different forms of existing cannibalism
- Epicurean cannibalism: in the preparation of the organs, and in his way of describing the taste and texture of these organs (compared to a filet mignon), it is clear that he really enjoyed human flesh in the way of a gastronome.
- Sexual cannibalism: the fact of consuming human flesh would give him an erection, and would at the same time enable him to relive, enhance and extend the experience he had with the person. He would regularly masturbate while cooking and eating his victims.
- Spiritual cannibalism: Jeffrey thought that it would give him power, would increase his potential to reach a higher level of existence.
« It made me feel like they were a permanent part of me, besides the mere curiosity of what it would be like to feel like they are a part of me, it gave me sexual satisfaction » Jeffrey Dahmer