Theodore Robert Bundy. The notorious serial killer whose ghost still haunts the dreams of many women [and men] at night. His blue eyes and strong hands [had strangled uncountable women]. As he sat on the electric chair, thousands of people gathered outside the prison chanting ‘Burn Bundy Burn’ and celebrated his death with joy like none other. But behind his mask of ego and attitude, did there exist an underlying reason for his violence?
As an appeal against his presence in the death row, his attorney, Polly Nelson, who was an expert in post convinction counsel, called in a psychological expert to gauge whether Bundy was competent to stand trial in the first place.
Famously known, Bundy chose to represent himself in the defence trial, often setting his own self up for a clear loss in the case. Dr. Dorothy Lewis, a Yale psychiatrist who specialized in “understanding the brain chemistry of violent men,” had been brought in to perform a plethora of neurological tests on Bundy. It had not taken long for her to positively conclude that Ted Bundy indeed was manic-depressive.
He spoke in terms of a ‘voice’ in his head. It was during these manic episodes that Bundy would go on to kill more than 30 innocent women and choose to represent himself in court against such heightened charges about the murders at the Chi Omega sorority house.
During her examination of Bundy, Dr. Lewis also theorized that Bundy may have had a neurological impairment, that affected his mental health and ability to behave and live like all other common people.
Bundy claimed that he could not feel empathy and things such as love. It is not certain why this may be so. After his death, it was found that there was no tumor in his brain either.
It’s important to understand the psychology behind such aggressive and violent men because it’s with this knowledge that we can preempt further killings and perhaps begin to be able to deter people from doing such things as well.
When he famously ran from the county prison, hiking up in the mountains, he called up the psychologist who had evaluated him in prison, with whom he had spent a lot of time with. He spoke with such sense of pride in what he did, it felt to Dr. Al Carlisle that it was as if Bundy was talking to his father.
Ted, had learnt at a young age that he was an illegitimate, unwanted child. His father had left him, and his mother had considered even setting him up for adoption. Yet, after being urged by her father, she decided to keep the child.
He had a tense and rough relationship with his step father, Johnnie Bundy. Ted would often act out, mostly in violent ways. His illegal actions began early, with shop lifting and creating what he called “tiger traps” [he liked to dig holes and cover them up, with at least one girl falling in and hurting her leg in].
Bundy is known to having blamed his violent crimes to his addiction to pornography. Yet there is no clear link between access to pornography and violent sexual crimes. But perhaps pornography fueled a possible sexual homicidal addiction. Without pornography he might’ve taken more violent ends to feed this addiction of his.
Yet at the end of this, what can we learn from Bundy? His crimes raged terror across the country and he’s gained infamy across the world. Learning about what drives these killers can be an invaluable insight into saving thousands of innocent lives from violent serial killers across the globe.