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Serial Killer Ted Bundy: Background and Psychological Theories

Background Information

Ted Bundy was born at Elizabeth Lund home for single mothers in Burlington, Vermont. His real name was Theodore Robert Cowell and his mother’s name was Louise Cowell but his father was unknown, however, according to Louise she was seduced by Jack Worthington a famous war veteran, and was blessed with a baby boy but her family never believed this. To shun social disgrace Bundy’s grandparents, Samuel and Eleanor took him as their real son. He grew old taking his mother as his older sister unknowingly. Eventually, he came to learn that Louise was his real mother while in high school.

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In early 1950 he moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with his mother and later to Tacoma Washington where they lived with their relatives. Louise later met Johnny Culpepper Bundy in1951 at Methodist church in a night party which was organized for single adults, the two married in May of the same year. Then Ted’s last name was changed to Bundy after Johnny Bundy successively adopted him. Though they had many children they tried to involve Ted in many activities together with other children but unsuccessfully the boy didn’t like it.

Ted was so shy when he was in high school and his initial years in college. He remained distant on matters relating to social life and he was not sure how to get along with his colleagues, he couldn’t understand what made people to be attracted to each other and what social interactions meant. His favorite readings were detective publications and books on crime. It was believed that while in high school he was a shoplifter where he stole skis and other equipment and faked ski-lift tickets to show that he loved skiing (Stephen & Hugh, 1999).

He later transferred from UPS to Seattle’s University of Washington (UW). While studying at Seattle’s University of Washington, Ted worked as a grocery bagger and shelf stocker at a store in Queen Anne hills and other awkward jobs but he couldn’t hold any of the jobs for more than months. He was never caught stealing while working in these shops but the employers would always suspect him. It was this time he went to work on a night shift as a volunteer at Seattle’s suicide hotline which is a suicide crisis center within the area, this was with respect to the course he was pursuing to gain experience. He met former Seattle police officer who was then working as a crime writer Ann Rule and they worked together (Stephen & Hugh, 1999).

Ted Bundy was a young, good-looking young man and had a dream of becoming a politician. He started a relationship with his fellow women colleague whom he came to know while he was studying at UW in early 1967. She later broke the relationship after she graduated later in 1968 and went back to her home in California, and also tired of what she termed as Bundy’s lack of focus and no ambition. Bundy became so distressed because of this fallout; he dropped from college and traveled Far East to live there.

He decided to visit his birthplace in Vermont and toured the record station where he decided to reveal the truth behind his birth and his real mother. At home in1968 he managed to secure a place in Nelson Rockefeller’s Seattle office as a supporter and attended the 1968 republican national convention in Miami (Cole & Cole, 1993).

He returned to UW to major in psychology. In 1969 he fell in love with Elizabeth Kloepfer well known as Meg Anders, a secretary who was a single mother with one daughter, she loved Bundy so much. After graduating (in 1972) with a psychology degree Bundy, went back to work for the Washington state Republican party and came in terms with Governor Daniel J. he could follow secretly Daniel’s Democratic opponent in his campaign gathering taking photos and recording the speech and gave feedback to Daniel himself.

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This didn’t go well when democrats learned of his evil behaviors. He left the job and joined UPS to pursue law but his performance was poor, this is when he decided to start skipping classes but eventually stopped in 1974, at this time cases of young women’s disappearance were being reported. During a business trip to California in 1973, he remembered his former ex-girlfriend Brook and this time around his intention was to take the relationship seriously as a law professional. He dated Brook for about one year and proposed marriage to her and she never turned down the offer. Later he abruptly dumped her by ignoring all her calls. It is after this fallout that Bundy started murderous events all through the state of Washington (Sullivan, 2009).

He entered the U.S books of history for being one of the most abundant killers in the entire country. It is not well known where and when he started this massacre of killing, he refused to give relevant information regarding this matter. During the investigation, Bundy claimed he committed his first murder sometime in 1972. In January 1974 it is believed that Bundy entered into a room of Joni Lenz 18-year-old student of UW University and a dancer; assaulted her sexually and hit her with a metal rod. She was found the next day lying unconscious and blood all over her body she stayed in a coma for a period of ten days and narrowly escaped death.

Another victim was also a UW student Lynda Ann Healy; he broke into her room very early in the morning and knocked her unconscious wrapped her with beddings and fled. Another one was Kathy Parks who was last seen at Oregon state university in Corvallis on May 1974. That is how female students in colleges started disappearing. This is what made the detectives start investigation from the information they gathered from various witnesses who early encountered Bundy. Detectives were told of how Ted could trick a lady that he needed some help to unload the boat and from there no one was ever seen alive again after following him. Later several bodies were found near Issaquah by hunters (Sullivan, 2009).

Before execution Bundy retaliated by how he murdered Wilcox, he initially intended to rape her but not to kill, when he saw Wilcox walking in a dark street alone he attacked her and pulled her into a hidden area stubbed her to death thinking that he was just silencing her. Until his death he never admitted that he was guilty but he couldn’t escape death in the electric chair which eventually became imminent for him. It is still not know the correct number of those who were killed by Bundy because he might have started killing when he was still a young teenager (Bandura, 1973).

Psychological Theories

Psychoanalytical Theory

It is believed that all humans are driven by a certain natural situation, according to this theory all human beings have criminal tendencies. This tendency can be controlled through socialization which leads to development of self-control that is gained or discovered in early childhood. The major element that makes the children eventually become criminals is related to partly or fully with their parents. If the child does not socialize well during his or her tender age, this may lead to development of anti-social disturbances which may be reflected inwards or outwards. If the child directs these antisocial impulses outwards, he or she becomes a criminal, and those who direct them inwards turn out to be neurotic (Freud, 1961).

Cognitive theory

This theory states that criminal behaviors arise from the way people frame their minds about morality and the governing law. Moral reasoning actually acts as a major contributor to this act of crime, according to the theory there are three sets of moral reasoning. Each of these sets is divided into two stages (Eysenck, & Gudjonsson, 1989). This is observed at the middle age of a child where the first level of moral development is noted. At this stage/level reasoning is based on how the child obeys the parent’s rules and how the child escapes punishment. The second stage can be viewed when the child is at the last part of the middle level.

This level is also called conventional level, the moral reasoning at this stage tries to focus on the fortunes of their family and how significant they are to them. Then the theory finally focuses on the third and final stage of child development, this normally occurs during the start of adulthood. This is where individual now goes far beyond their social behaviors and levels. They know all what law requires and the social setup; at this stage the person now values the law and recognizes it with respect to the rules on the ground. The theory further clarifies that people who do not pass these three levels may fall victim to arrest and consequently faces charges (Kohlberg, 1976).

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Learning theory

This theory is reflected through psychological behaviors; it states that individual behaviors are based on the reward factor. The value of the reward after performing a certain act triggers the individual to act in a certain manner. The rewards may include; money, social status among others, these are direct results. Indirect results involve observing what other people do and the rewards they receive. And finally self-regulation measures, those people who do not control their emotions or feelings.

All this can be eliminated by abolishing the rewards that are accompanied by acting in a certain way. According to Eysenck (1964), he believes that a child who subsequently gets punished for wrongdoing over time will develop an evil motive physiologically and respond by acting inappropriately. However people may eventually increase or decrease their resistance to sufficient socialization.

When we look at the first theory Bundy’s father according to her mother was a war veteran this could have in one way or another made him be a criminal by the fact that he inherited some of her father’s genes. Secondly Bundy while he was in high school and also during his childhood he was so unsocial this reason could have caused personality disturbances that caused him to direct his antisocial impulses outward and eventually he became a criminal (Freud, 1961).

The second theory shows us how people develop their behavior through their thoughts and the way they organize their mind. As we saw earlier Bundy spent most of his time reading books with pictures of dead bodies and also articles featuring sexual violence. This could have triggered him to act in a certain manner through visualization of these articles which he consequently read. We also remember how he killed a lady unintentionally by the fact that he wanted to rape the woman but when he was trying to silence her he, unfortunately, killed her. His intention initially when he sported her walking through a dark street was to rape her but he killed her later, that evil mind that controlled him is the one that caused him to kill her (Kohlberg, 1976).

Reference List

Bandura, A. (1973). Aggression: A Social Learning Analysis. Engle-wood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Cole, M. & Cole, S. R. (1993). The Development of Children. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.

Eysenck, H.J. (1964). Crime and Personality. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Eysenck, H.J., & Gudjonsson, G.H. (1989). The causes and cures of criminality. Contemporary Psychology 36, 575-577.

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Freud, S. (1961). The Complete Works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 19). London: Hogarth.

Kohlberg, L. (1976). Moral stages and moralization: The cognitive-developmental approach to socialization. In J. Laconia, Moral development behavior: Theory, research, and social issues. New York: Prentice Hall.

Stephen, G., & Hugh, A. (1999). The Only Living Witness. New York: Barnes and Noble.

Sullivan, K.M. (2009). The Bundy Murders. New York: amazon.

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