Title page for ETD etd-09122005-140352

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Barkhuizen, Jaco
Email j-barkhuizen@yahoo.com
URN etd-09122005-140352
Document Title An exploration of the intrapsychic development and personality structure of serial killers through the use of psychometric testing
Degree MA (Psychology)
Department Psychology
Advisor Name Title
Mr L Daws Committee Chair
  • serial murder
  • Test of Object Relations (TOR)
  • criminology
  • object relations
  • Freudian psychology
  • criminal psychology
  • Kleinian psychology
  • Forensic psychology
  • profiling
  • projective techniques
  • policing
  • Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)
  • homicide
  • criminality
  • Picture Test of Separation and Individuation (PTSI
  • serial killer
Date 2004-10-09
Availability unrestricted
The mystery surrounding serial homicide is the apparent lack of motive for the murder. No extrinsic motive such as robbery, financial gain, passion or revenge exists, as there usually is in the case of other murders. Serial homicide is a serious, worldwide problem that has received a large amount of media attention, but only a relatively small amount of scientifically based research exists on this phenomenon.

Since the 1970s various models such as the psychosocial theory model, learning theory, the motivational, fantasy, neurological theory, psychiatric, post-modern, feminist and the paranormal/demonological models were used to explain the phenomenon of serial homicide. The researcher, however, states that these models do not satisfactorily address the intrapsychic/object relation development of the serial killers personality.

The structure of the research project consists of analysis of the background information of two serial killers which was gathered from one semi-structured personal interview, psychometric testing (Thematic Apperception Test, Test of Object Relations and the Picture Test of Separation and Individuation) as well as from relevant literary sources. The information was interpreted using the selected psychoanalytic theory of Sigmund Freund and the object relation theory of Melanie Klein and the data was then analysed, interpreted and tested against the following research questions: “What is the intrapsychic origin of serial homicide?”; “What is the parent-child relationship like?”; “How does the parent-child relationship influence the object relations of the serial killer?”; “How does the parental relationship influence the serial killer’s interpersonal relationships?”. These questions determine the specific internalised factors that may have contributed to the eventual development of a serial killer’s personality.

The research method that is employed is a qualitative, exploratory case study method. A qualitative study was selected due to the fact that there are currently not enough incarcerated serial killers in South Africa and from those incarcerated serial killers only two were willing to participate in the research. The case study method was selected because it deals with contemporary events, multiple data sources may be used and the findings can be generalised to other case studies.

Data gathering was done by psychometric testing (TAT, PTSI and TOR), a semi-structured interview and other biographical information on the subjects. The data was analysed by the descriptive-dialogic case study method. The data integration method that was selected is the data integration method of the descriptive-dialogic case study method. The data was discussed in relation to the already developed theories. This implies that parallels were drawn between the processed information and the theories. Similarities and differences between the two case studies were discussed and a general overview of the intrapsychic structure of the serial killer was stated.

© 2004, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Barkhuizen, J 2004, An exploration of the intrapsychic development and personality structure of serial killers through the use of psychometric testing, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-09122005-140352 / >

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