No one ever gets voted as the most likely to be a serial killer when they grow up.
But did you know that there’s a way to tell? There’s this thing called the Macdonald Triad (or the triad of sociopathy or the homicidal triad), which is a set of three factors associated with violent tendencies, specifically related to serial killing.
In 1963, J.M. Macdonald, a forensic psychiatrist, observed three behaviours that often showed up among the most aggressive and sadistic of his patients. While this is not conclusive, the result of his study is nonetheless significant and really worth looking into. And even though some of the results are still being contested by other experts, the influence of the Macdonald Triad is undeniable as many criminologists of today rely on this theory to test potential offenders.
So are there really tell-tale signs that someone could be a serial killer in the future? According to Macdonald, the three significant traits of serial killers to watch out for during childhood are the following:
While there are many kids who are fascinated by fire, there are some who develop an unhealthy obsession with it. The signs particularly point to those who intentionally use fire to harm, such as setting fire to a place frequented by people. This is said to be a young person’s first attempt at showing aggression or violence. In other cases, firesetting can also be a way of releasing pent-up frustration and anger.
Famous Serial Killer Who Committed Arson:
Bruce George Peter Lee, one of Britain’s most prolific serial killers, committed a total of 11 acts of arson. His first act of arson was against the family of Charles Hastie, with whom he had some sexual contact. Lee was also rejected by Hastie’s sister, Angeleena.
2. Cruelty to Animals
An interesting theory about the tendency to be cruel to animals is it serves as a rehearsal for killing human victims. It is also theorised that these kids were not able to retaliate toward their abusers, leading them to act out their vengeance on weaker beings, particularly smaller animals.
According to studies, the cruel acts and torture they did to animal victims were usually the same methods they used when they moved on to human victims. Through this, they gained the power and control they felt they needed.
Famous Serial Killer Who Tortured Animals:
Jeffrey Dahmer, one of the most infamous serial killers ever, exhibited interest in animals as a child. He reportedly collected animal carcasses and dismembered them. Once he decapitated a dog before nailing the animal’s body to a tree.
3. Enuresis (Bed Wetting)
Finally, bed-wetting is the last significant childhood trait of serial killers according to Macdonald. They were referring to persistent bed-wetting that still occurs after the age of five (5) and continues at least twice a week for at least three consecutive months.
Experts believe that while enuresis does not directly cause aggression and violent tendencies, there can be a correlation between bed-wetting beyond the age of 5 can be humiliating for a child and can be traced to abuse.
Famous Serial Killer Who Suffered Enuresis:
Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins endured a very terrible childhood filled with abuse and trauma. He experienced constant convulsions as the result of accidentally drinking kerosene when he was 1, and he suffered from night terrors and bed-wetting.
These traits that they say determine a future serial killer may or may not be true. However, they are all connected to a childhood filled with trauma and abuse and is definitely worth scrutinising.