Was Jeffrey Dahmer a psychopath? Neuroscientist claims killer showed 'emotional empathy' for people

Was Jeffrey Dahmer a psychopath? Neuroscientist claims killer showed 'emotional empathy' for people
Jeffrey Dahmer was not a psychopath according to a neuroscientist (Milwaukee Police Department and Netflix)

IRVINE, CALIFORNIA: A neuroscientist believes notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was not a psychopath because he showed emotional empathy for people. Physiologist Professor James Fallon of the University of California, Irvine, claims Dahmer's actions are more consistent with a borderline personality disorder. According to the Daily Mail, he said, "Jeffrey Dahmer was not a psychopath. His characteristics all point to BPD. It was never confirmed he was a psychopath but everyone assumed for simplicity's sake that a bad person is a psychopath. He showed emotional empathy with people, and many psychopaths don't have that."

Dr Fallon believes the killer, who just made the headlines again due to a popular Netflix series, has the disorder due to his chaotic upbringing. According to him, borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a condition in which a person has difficulty controlling their emotions and exhibits impulsive behavior. Psychopaths, on the other hand, are people who lack empathy, are manipulative, and often do not care about the consequences of their actions. Many believe that Dahmer and others like him are psychopaths, and misuse the term as a catchall for any unpredictable or dangerous behavior.

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According to the official University of California, Irvine website, since 1989, Dr Fallon has researched brain imaging of psychopaths, particularly murderers and serial killers. He has also conducted studies on BPD and other personality disorders. Fallon believes that Dahmer most likely suffers from BPD due to his substance abuse, strange sexual proclivities, and inability to control his anger. Each of these traits is associated with the illness rather than psychopathy. Between 1978 and 1991, Dahmer reportedly killed 16 people. Prior to his 1992 murder trial, the notorious killer reportedly received a BPD diagnosis.

Dr Fallon said, "A common thing with people with BPD is that they have these crazy fears of being abandoned. Jeffrey Dahmer seemed to fear this all the time - when the men he met tried to leave him, he would kill them so they couldn't. Even Dahmer's most notorious act, devouring his victims, which gave him the moniker ‘the Milwaukee Cannibal,’ according to Dr Fallon, can be linked to this. He asserted that the motivation behind cannibalism was probably the desire to make someone a permanent part of oneself so they couldn't leave. “A lot of people feel this with babies or puppies, like 'I love this baby so much that I want to eat it - that's an impulsive take on an otherwise normal way of thinking about ingesting someone. Dahmer took it to extremes because he needed that feeling that the person would always be with him and he'd never be abandoned,” he remarked. 

James claimed that among his other significant behaviors indicative of extreme BPD was Dahmer's unique sexuality, which included reckless, often risky sexual intercourse. He also pointed to his known substance abuse and other self-destructive tendencies, both of which were more typical of BPD than psychopathy, such as putting himself in potentially dangerous situations. Dr Fallon said, "When you think of the famous serial killers, Dahmer included, everyone loves to think for simplicity's sake, that they're all the same. It's never been confirmed that Dahmer was a psychopath, but it keeps coming up. But his characteristics don't agree and I don't believe he was. We'll never know for sure because we can't see his genetics or brain images, but I feel he was more like someone with BPD."

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