The genius of the scripting of long-running "Criminal Minds" is that the members of the BAU humanize those really bad guys - and girls. That is, the serial killers. The profile factors in difficult childhoods and the kind of stressors which derail even the well-put-together.
Journalist Ann Rule does the same for serial killer Ted Bundy in her brisk-selling book "The Stranger Beside Me." It ranks 3,956 on Amazon.
Rule recounts being part of the same crisis outreach as a volunteer that Bundy also was on a work-study program. She assesses that he probably saved lives. He was a good listener. She shared with him her own troubles about her dying marriage. His advice was solid.
Also she chronicles his trauma when he discovered that he had been born out of wedlock, his sister was really his mother, and he would probably never meet his father.
An extremely bright and sensitive man he was aware of so many inequalities and injustices. The perception of those might be what motivated him to go to law school.
Those bits and pieces of humanity are what reinforce arguments against the death penalty. Had Bundy not been executed, he might have been able to grab hold again of what made him a useful friend to Rule.
They also prevent us from totally hating anyone. In spiritual consultations with a Buddhist monk, in psychotherapy with a Freudian, and in conversations with my recovery-program sponsor I have gone over, again and again, my grudges against those whom I experienced as sadistic toward me. What usually results is coming to compassion. There is that fundamental: Hurt people hurt.
Ideally, those in the loop in the helping and law enforcement professions can figure out how to identify and "reprogram" potential serial killers and other kinds of extreme miscreants before they unleash so much harm in society.
For many, of course, it is already too late. But they can find peace. One disbarred lawyer I coached has been able to forgive himself what he had done to show how smart he was. He came to understand why.
Contact Jane Genova firstname.lastname@example.org.