Disturbed

Criminal profiling and the deviant mind

The Ghosts of Norway: How the Victims Tell Us About Murderer Anders Breivik

How victims of mass murder tell us about their killers

So much has been written about Anders Breivik, but little has focused on the victims of the atrocities. As a criminal profiler, the first thing you want to examine at the crime scene is the victim. If you listen, the dead do ‘speak.' The victim will tell you who murdered him. All you have to is ‘ask.'

In the Norway killings, the victims were mostly teenagers who were helpless and confined. An island was specifically used to make sure the targets could not get away. Those killed were said to be the children of political leaders of the liberal party. The victims were shot at very close range as the killer enticed his targets with a disguise. In looking at the circumstances and victim choice, you learn all you need to know about the offender.

First, he chose young victims. The majority of serial killers go after younger victims. Why? Because they are not as worldly and do not know as much about danger. They are more trusting, and therefore, they make easier targets. Though Breivik is not a serial killer as far as we know, he is a mass murderer. He chose his victims well in that he picked those who were impressionable and less guarded.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

Second, Breivik intentionally isolated his victims on an island. This is a brilliant strategy. How better to trap your victims? If they cannot get to a boat to escape, they are sitting targets. This is exactly what happened. The youngsters had nowhere to run, and as he continued his killing spree, Breivik, dressed as a policeman and approached the victims. As they were younger and less cautious, they went to the uniformed ‘officer' for help. This is when he shot them.

When a killer chooses victims who are already helpless, it tells the profiler that the offender is very unsure of his ability to subdue victims in a fair fight. In other words, Breivik did not think he could kill his victims unless they were at an extreme disadvantage. Someone like this has low self esteem and tends toward obsessive compulsive traits. Breivik certainly was someone who would demonstrate repetitive behaviors in his daily life. He would become agitated and upset if he could not perform these behaviors. His anger would be far out of proportion to any trigger. This is a man who got furious if he thought someone insulted him. Those who knew him would say it was uncomfortable to be around him. Such offenders are difficult because a person would never know which Breivik would show up day to day. Sometimes he would be overly calm, and other times, he would explode with anger.

Third, the victims were said to be the children of liberal leaders. Breivik believed that liberal leaders were destroying his people because of multiculturalism and immigration. By killing the children, Breivik was snuffing out future harm to his people. Kill the children....kill the future leaders. This is his viewpoint. The children of his enemies would grow up to become his enemies. Therefore, they had to die. Additionally, he was making a bloody point by selecting the young. He knew that killing teens and others would create more damage. People would be more upset. Thus, he inflicted the greatest harm that he could.
When looking at Breivik's victims, it is obvious that Breivik was a coward. He believed he was unable to fight fair, so he created a scenario where he could not lose. The children could not hurt him. This made him feel ultra -powerful, which fed his narcissism. Preying upon children is a strategy more typically used by females. In other words, he chose victims that a female would usually chose. This speaks volumes about his low self esteem. He was a man who struggled with how he viewed himself. Though he desperately wanted to be important, he was not. Because he lacked confidence, he selected the weakest victims. By picking the easiest victims, Breivik knew his death toll would be high. Thus, he knew he would be successful, and he knew his message would get out. He knew the world would listen.

There are others like Breivik who are waiting to determine if the world actually listened. Their view is if the liberals do not change their wicked ways, then more attacks will have to take place. Breivik said it was kind to kill as many as possible. This is because in his opinion, the more he killed, the more likely people would listen to him and change. Like minded individuals feel the same way, and if they see that Breivik's ‘plea' is ignored, they will strike. This is why there will be more attacks by this type of terrorist. It may not occur in Norway, yet it will occur. These types of predators will believe that if they kill enough of their enemies,  then the world will change. Thus, there will be others ready to step up and become the next boogeyman. Great stress coupled with a lack of coping skills can create a most vicious monster. The only question is: who will be next?

 

 

Deborah Schurman-Kauflin, Ph.D., is a criminal profiler and expert on serial crimes.

more...

Subscribe to Disturbed

Current Issue

Dreams of Glory

Daydreaming: How the best ideas emerge from the ether.