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Case Study Criminological Theory


Criminology is a scientific study of crime aimed at drawing conclusions about the causes, nature, and control of crime. It combines tools from different scientific fields in order to achieve its goal. On the other hand, theories provide explanations of various phenomena. Criminological theories, in their turn, seek to explain and analyze criminal behavior of offenders from different perspectives to help in the justice process. They look into a crime from intrinsic and extrinsic points of view to arrive to a relevant explanation. When well used, these theories greatly enhance the process of criminal justice .

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The study of criminology seeks to scientifically determine the nature and to what extent a given crime has been committed, what caused its commission, how it can be controlled, and the possible ways of preventing crime within the society. It combines several scientific disciplines in an attempt to draw conclusions about crime. It has led to the development of theories that ensure criminal justice and are aimed to provide information that helps in the formation of insights about a crime.

These theories of criminology describe law making and breakage, behavior of criminals, and patterns in which criminal activities occur. The theories are broadly classified into two categories, which are “theories of criminal and deviant behavior and theories of law and criminal justice”. These theories have revolutionized greatly in the recent past. This paper analyzes the case of a serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, to explain in what way the offender’s childhood and adolescence, as well as psychological, behavioral, environmental, and cognitive factors, led to criminality.

Case Study

Description of the Offences

On July 22, 1991, the police patrol group of Milwaukee noticed a potential crime during a night patrol at approximately 11:30 pm. They recognized a man on North 25th Street with a handcuff hanging from his waist and partially clothed. This man reported that a certain individual in the apartment building threatened his life. As a result, the investigation by the police led to the arrest of Jeffrey Dahmer based on the discovered evidence of eleven bodies’ physical remains and the tools that were used to dismember and torture the victims. This case was later referred to FBI for subsequent forensic investigation.

Dahmer later confessed that he had been involved in the murder, torture, sexual abuse, and mutilation of the victims and corpses. In 1992, he was charged with the killing of 15 men and sentenced to a life imprisonment. He was extradited to Ohio, where he was later involved in another killing. Finally, he was killed by fellow inmates in Wisconsin prison.

Investigation of the Crime

The case of Dahmer was investigated by the FBI, which offered laboratory support in the identification of victims involved in the case. In addition, they helped in tracing the trail of the killer in the world. Behavioral analysts were also involved in the analysis of the criminal.


From the investigation, Dahmer was found guilty of threatening the life of the man found on North 25th Street with a knife. Moreover, he was eventually linked to murder, dissection, and sexual assault of seventeen other victims. Some of the victims were later identified with the help of photos and other persons.

The Historical Analysis of the Life of Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer was born in 1960 by a mother who had complications during her pregnancy. He was observed to have eye gaze behavior, facial expressions without emotional glow, rigid body posture, and was described as a “zombie-like” person during his childhood. He was later observed as a silent person who lacked social interests during his adolescence years. Moreover, he was observed to have emotional limitations. He later joined the army and showed emotional distances, lacking close relationships. Dahmer later became a homosexual and had distant relationships with fellow gay men. It was also observed that he loved routines. His father described him to have had a social dread since childhood.

Dahmer was once observed playing with rodent bones when he was four years old, and the activity seemed fascinating to him. He later moved from rodents and insects on to higher animals. He developed interests in the anatomical exploration of animals and their chemical analysis. This prompted the father to make him study chemistry. In later years, he developed interests in human samples. However, he had poor performance in school and later developed masturbation behavior during his adolescent years. Finally, Dahmer became an alcoholic.

Analysis of the Case Study

The life of Jeffrey Dahmer indicates the possibility that neuropsychiatrically determined challenges in his early development led to criminality. This is due to the psychological difficulties that were recognized in his childhood. He had symptoms consistent with Asperger Syndrome (AS) of the autism spectrum. This disorder is characterized with impaired social interactions, loss of body posture, intense preoccupation behavior, and delayed language development among others. The features of Dahmer had much consistence with these characteristics.

AS that he experienced is the possible cause of his deviant sexual behaviors. In addition, he experienced necrophilia, which has been linked to various sexual behaviors consistent with his case. This is evident in his sexual preoccupation with the bodies and body parts of humans: a common form of repetitive behaviors that are consistent with AS.

The sexual activities that Dahmer had with dead human bodies indicate sexual partialism behaviors. Moreover, this explains why he kept the body parts of the dead victims. These parts might have been used by him to evoke the sexual memories he had with the victims in order to masturbate. This is a form of preoccupational behavior that transforms to the sexual one when a person reaches adolescence. The result of this behavior is the dehumanization of strangers, which leads to the development of the violent attitude towards them. This is evident in Dahmer’s crimes, which involved exclusively strangers.

Dahmer also experienced various other sexual fantasies. Investigators have discovered that the formation of pervasive fantasies affects the decisions in sexual crimes. This is visible to the case of Dahmer, where he was preoccupied with human bodies and parts to receive sexual satisfaction. This behavior was the basis of his anti-social behaviors, which lead to mental isolation. This form of pervasive mental isolation mostly results in idiosyncratic and violent fantasies. The outcomes of these fantasies may be homicidal thoughts and activities.

Studies on the mental theory that seeks to determine an individual’s mental status has been linked with AS as well. It has been observed that children with AS have challenges in determining the mental status of the other children and understanding their social environment. This indicates possible deficits of the mind that Dahmer may have had due to AD.

Moreover, the alcoholic behavior of Dahmer can be linked to his criminal activities as well. According to the investigations, some of the victims were not tortured by Dahmer. This fact may suggest that he used alcohol as a tool to carry out the dismembering activities that seemed unpleasant to him. This is an extrinsic cause of serial killing.

Serial killing behavior has also been linked to certain environmental factors Dahmer experienced during childhood. These factors include child abuse, family wrangles, stress, and poverty. This might have had an effect on the life of Dahmer when his parents had an unstable marriage that later resulted in divorce. It is possible that the effects of this divorce resulted in serial killing and other criminal actions. 


The theories of criminology have advanced over time, building information and facts from previous cases. In reference to Jeffery Dahmer’s case, the use of these theories is beneficial in the understanding of the development of criminal behavior, which helps in the process of criminal justice. From the investigation, the psychological history of Dahmer was linked to Asperger syndrome. The analysis of the characteristic features Dahmer demonstrated during childhood and adulthood supported the hypothesis of having this disorder.

The preoccupational behavior of Dahmer that was recognized in his childhood transformed with time and resulted in his pervasive sexual behaviors. This is supported by his homosexuality and masturbation behaviors that later led to the abuse of corpses and sexual violence. In addition, substance abuse is linked to the activities of Dahmer as well. Environmental factors as well as his mental incapacitation could have been a contributing factor to Dehmer’s serial killing behavior. The study of this case provides much insight in the revolutionization of criminological theories that enhance criminal justice.

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