Deadly Women by Davina Odebunmi
Could you imagine standing over another human being that you have chosen to stab to death over 77 times or have been able to shoot multiple times? It is quite hard to do so without feeling a tremendous amount of guilt or shame. There are several reasons why such thoughts would stir up such emotions, the primary reason being is that most of us have compassion towards other people and understand what it means to value human life.
As it is documented that only 10% of women become cold blooded killers such a small amount is shocking and deserves severe analysis it is easy to conclude they lack the humanity the rest of us have, but why? This question has led many psychologists in the conquest to understand what drives women to perform the worst of crimes. Dr. Michael Stone has managed to delve deep into the motives, emotions and psychological tendencies of women who kill he has created a scale at which we can determine the level of evil within these women, the higher the score the more evil the person.
As life experiences shows there are many factors that can shape a human being which can subsequently lead to them committing murder. One, must question how many factors (such as parental neglect, sexual abuse, parental brutality, drug and alcohol use etc) must we take into consideration before judging the acts of murderous women, if we do take into too much consideration these factors we may end up with the excuse that these factors determined the actions and future of these women which would allow them to relinquish responsibility.
The extent to which life experiences determines individual’s decisions is a debate that many philosopher’s have grappled with over many centuries and from looking deep into the history, decisions, explanations, aftermath and level of remorse the killer displays may or may not reveal that the individual in question acted with complete free will and autonomy.
In order to answer this question it is extremely important to examine the circumstances under which individual women kill, one of the most superficial and disturbingly high, types of female killers are highly narcissistic and kill due to their narcissistic tendencies their need to ‘keep up appearances’ be the centre of attention (be it good or attention) reveal either a deep rooted existence of evil in their personalities or their misinterpretation of what it means to be socially desirable and valued as people in society.
These narcissistic female killers are able to act in seemingly normal ways, similar to the way that Susan Smith (1994, South Carolina America) convinced a whole community that her two children had been abducted by an African-American man. She like many others were able to appear on press conferences detailing the destruction that her missing children had caused her knowing the truth. When psychologists read deeply into such cases they are able to identify the thrill and pleasure these killers get from knowing they have the sympathy of the public on their side, they may even start to believe their own lives as they bask in the glory of their staged anguish.
As that is a psychological analysis of her behaviour, many of us begin to question her actions and motives on a practical level, we all have basic knowledge that in most criminal investigations the police are able to bring to justice the perpetrator (s) so we wonder why these individual’s commit such crimes with the knowledge that they will more likely than not be caught red-handed. In this case it is clear that narcissism has consumed Susan Smith even in the face of being subjected to lie-detector tests she proclaimed her innocence, her reason the illusion that her relationship will blossom by getting rid of the obstacle between her and her partner, that obstacle being her children. Days before her children’s ‘disappearance’ her partner ended the affair with a letter stating that they could not be together as he did not want to be her children’s stepdad.
As we can see throughout her life experiences everything centred around her and her happiness and was prepared to do anything to ensure that she was happy, her need to be self-centred drove her to evil. Interestingly narcissism does not appear to be an evil trait we generally deal with narcissistic people on our daily lives and Dr. Stone agreed when he scaled her at 10 far beyond 7 which is the place he scales narcisstic killers, at level 10 Dr. Stone describes Susan as an egocentric killer of ‘persons in the way’ this shows that beyond being narcissistic Susan was arrogant, nonchalant which makes her dangerous and unable to be rehabilitated into society, if released Dr. Stone is convinced she will kill again, without remorse.
As psychologists, criminal profiler’s and detective try to understand and listen to the explanations of convicted female killers it is common to find that they deny having intent (it was an accident, I wasn’t as involved as the trigger man etc). They may even show a delight in their actions and recall the fateful events with glee and reminiscence, whether they appear remorseful or lack any remorse at all they all fabricate unsatisfactory excuses for the human mind to comprehend. Neurologist Dr. Ruben wanted to prove that due to evolution women are less violent than men and conducted MRI scans on the brains of 57 men and women. He found that the Amygdala and Orbital Frontal Region controls emotion and aggression, with male’s Orbital Frontal Region being relatively smaller than women. Men have less capacity to inhibit an impulse to attack and murder. As women have larger Orbital Frontal Regions Dr. Gur believes they are more capable of controlling aggression than men. The findings still leave the question; what happened to the women who kill?
Are they lacking in the size of the Orbital Frontal Region? Or do they choose to fight and ignore their instinct to nurture and be the less violent sex? Such questions become more obscure and difficult to answer when we look at the case of Cathy Wood (1984, Michigan America) and Gwen Graham, as lesbian lovers the basis of their relationship was the killing of patients on a hospital where both women nursed the secrecy of the murder’s sadistically solidified their unhealthy bond. Interestingly it wasn’t until 1987 , when Gwen left Cathy for another women that their murderous bond was shattered and the truth finally revealed to the authorities. Cathy lets the secret out to her ex husband and he reports the crimes 14 months later.
What is to be observed in this case is that the secrecy of the murders is what united these women and strengthen their relationship. However once the relationship is destroyed the realisation of what they have done hits one of the women and they no longer feel the need to keep the secret as they believe that keep their deeds a secret no longer makes them happy. Whilst on trial Cathy paints Gwen as the mastermind and Gwen is subsequently sentenced to 5 life terms, and Cathy 20-40 years imprisonment.
As I reflect on the murderous deeds of seemingly ordinary women, it is clear that either a childhood trauma led to murder or a women to an interest in the activity .What is certain is that it is hard to detect or predict the crimes of these women as they most often look unassuming, act in unsuspicious ways able to blend in the frameworks of society.
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Tags: davina odebunmi, deadly women, true crime, women killers