Jack the Ripper
This essay on Jack the Ripper seeks to develop a classification (typology) of the killer by discussing certain psychological, sociological and other aspects of the killer. In addition, based on the profiling, the essay will also explore what happened to the Ripper after he committed these murders.
Based on the facts and witness accounts, the Ripper seemed to be from a background of poverty and misery, aged around 25-30 years of age, probably based in the same East End Area of London. It also seems that the Ripper probably came from a family with a dominant mother, and a weak father. Also, the Ripper might have very little or no education, and may have been working in a solitary profession possibly as a butcher. This can be inferred from the coroners reporting, and the method in which the mutilations were carried out, as well as the crude method of organ extraction from the body. It is by now a certainty that the Ripper was also unmarried, had virtually no social life and if he had any relatives or kin, he would be a person who would stay coldly distant from all such people. So it would be safe to say that sociologically he was a poor, isolated person, from a background where as a child he had no able adult to guide him, and probably employed in a menial job. Although, he wasn’t very well educated, he had a working knowledge of the human anatomy based on his profession, as well as possible information he may have gathered.
Based on the description of only two reliable eyewitnesses namely Elizabeth Long and Constable William Smith, (Ryder, 2013) we can assume that the Ripper was about 5’6’’ to 5’8’’ tall, solid build with upper body strength. He looked very non-British, with a slightly darkish skin complexion with hair of a slightly darker tone. He usually wore black clothes, and sometimes a dark overcoat that would help him mix well into the backdrop of the England of those times. And, the account which most people lack is that he usually wore a deerstalker hat of one or two different types, as witnessed by both the witnesses and the coroner at different times. It is also possible that the Ripper was scarred in multiple places, had problems with speech, and was suffering from some injury or illness. (Curtis, 2001)
The Ripper’s Interpretation of Sex and Violence
According to the Ripper, it was possibly violence that mattered more than sex. The sheer enjoyment and pleasure derived from the mutilations and the removal of organs from the bodies of these prostitutes’ paled in comparison to any other aspect for the Ripper. The Ripper was so bent on violence that he even had his own ‘signature’. (Bonn, 2014) In case of the Ripper, his signature was the overall sadistic manner of mutilation, hacking and cutting of the women’s bodies, and removing organs in some cases. This kind of signature had become very reminiscent of the Ripper, and was considered in his psychological profile as an important point. However, the interesting fact is that the mutilations and hacking were mostly carried out by the Ripper post mortem, and not when the victim was alive. (FBI, 2011) It should also be noted that of the murders committed none of them involved sexual assualt, they were purely committed to derive a thrill, and with no other feelings in the Ripper’s mind, except that of a pleasure in offering pain and humiliation to his victims. The murders were also committed swiftly without much waiting time. (FBI, 2011) Thus, the Ripper had a clear interpretation of violence, to subjugate and humiliate his victims. We can infer that since most of the bodies did not indicate clear signs of sexual assault, the Ripper’s intention was murder of a purely violent nature.
We will attempt to take an individual view here, but with reference to aspects of psychology. The Ripper probably did not suffer from guilt arising from any of the murders, which encouraged him to commit further crimes. He could have been suffering from extreme fetishes, which probably explained the reason he killed his victims, without sexual assault. The profile emerges of the Ripper being a possible psychopath or even having borderline personality disorder (BPD). (Pemment, 2013 a,b) However, BPD can be ruled out since the Ripper did not internalize his tendencies. The blunted emotions, the coolness with which the Ripper sent letters and organs in parcels suggest that he was suffering from an advanced psychopathic disorder. Such people do not feel any emotion when inflicting pain on others, and in most cases take pleasure in it, since they feel that their victims deserve it. This is because of a decreased connectivity between the frontal cortex and the sub-cortex area of the brain. (Brogaard, 2012) The Ripper fits this profile exactly, much like other serial killers.
The ritual aspect is another important aspect of the psychological profile. If one views the coroners reports from the first murder to the last reported one, we see the Ripper gaining expertise in the art of mutilation and depiction of human horror. Thus, the Ripper actually designed, improved upon and modified ‘the ritual’ with each murder.
The other important aspect of the domineering mother in his life can be extended to explain why he chose only certain type of women. It could have been possible that the Ripper’s mother may have had extramarital relationship with several men which the Ripper may have been witness to. His anger grew internally, and as he became a young man his fantasy morphed into possible domination, mutilation and cruelty toward women, especially those who he believed were sleeping with many men namely prostitutes (FBI, 2011)
Thus, the Ripper comes off as a psychopath with big family issues, possibly related to his mother. The psychopath and resulting mental imbalance encouraged him to commit these crimes without a sense of remorse or guilt.
The Ripper was a prime suspect for the murders of at least five women, but Scotland Yard did not hold him accountable for other murders in the region at around the same time. The media and others believed that the Ripper was the killer based on the letters he wrote to the media and others. Based on the psychological profile above, it should be noted that a psychopath usually does not advertise his work the way this was done. The antecedents of the letter are suspect, since the language in most letters changed dramatically, and only 2-3 of the letters had some information about the crime scene. Hence, we can conclude that the Ripper was identified as a suspect based on letters that could have been written by anybody.
The Ripper may have killed before this as well, since psychopathy does not have a definite treatment, and exists in an individual in a latent form. (Brogaard, 2012) But the earlier killings may not have involved mutilations and hacking to the degree that warranted the necessary attention by Scotland Yard. It is possible that when he found killing victims in other places extremely difficult, he started operating in the White Chapel area. Most psychopaths tend to operate in a definete area once they acquire control and learning of that area. The Ripper was no different.
Many reports speculate that the Ripper may have committed suicide after his last reported killing. However, since psychopaths suffer from no sense of guilt, we can rule out suicide. If he had gone and operated anywhere else his signature pattern of killing would have been retained, which would have warranted the necessary attention. However, it is highly possible that the Ripper felt he was close to being caught, identified by any one of the witnesses, or was caught for some other offense, which then provided deterrence for him to carry out further crimes, much against his basic instinct. (FBI, 2011)
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Brogaard, B (2012). The Making of a Serial Killer. Psychology Today. Retrieved from
Curtis, P.L (2001). Jack the Ripper and the London Press. New Haven: Yale University Press
Federal Bureau of Investigation <FBI> (2011). Jack The Ripper. Retrieved from http://vault.fbi.gov/Jack%20the%20Ripper/Jack%20the%20Ripper%20Part%201%20of %201/view
Pemment, J. (2013a). The Making and Breaking of the Serial Killer. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/blame-the-amygdala/201212/the- making-and-the-breaking-the-serial-killer
Pemment, J. (2013b). What would we find wrong in the brain of a serial killer? Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/blame-the- amygdala/201301/what-would-we-find-wrong-in-the-brain-serial-killer
Ryder, S. (2013). The Casebook. Retrieved from http://www.casebook.org/intro.html
Whitelocks. S. (2011). FBI dossier reveals chilling profile of Jack the Ripper. Mail Online. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1378432/Jack-Ripper-FBI- dossier-reveals-chilling-profile-released-100-years-late.html