Jeffrey Dahmer Vs Ted Bundy: Nature Vs. Nurture

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Jeffrey Dahmer Vs Ted Bundy: Nature Vs. Nurture

This essay will compare the cases of serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy through the lens of the nature versus nurture debate. It will explore their backgrounds, psychological profiles, and the factors that may have contributed to their criminal behavior. The piece will discuss the role of genetic predisposition, environmental influences, and psychological trauma in shaping their actions. More free essay examples are accessible at PapersOwl about Crime.

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It is often stated that the average person will encounter numerous amount of murders in their lifetime. Some of these encounters ended differently than others. For those women who were unfortunately lured by Ted Bundy, their encounters ended in brutal rapes that resulted in botched murders (“Ted Bundy”). For those men who were manipulated by Jeffrey Dahmer, their encounters tragically ended in inhumane, photographed murders, as well as necrophilic behavior and cannibalism (“Jeffery Dahmer). The evilest serial killers in American history, Ted Bundy and Jeffery Dahmer have many things in common, including a chemical imbalance within their brains, as well as a possible desensitizing of it.

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Countless studies mention the connection of the lack of dopamine receptors to psychopathic behaviors (Brogaard).


Ted Bundy: The Charismatic Monster

Ted Bundy was born on November 24, 1946, in Burlington, Vermont, into what was perceived as a perfect but older family. It was later discovered that Bundy’s “parents” were actually his grandparents. For most of his adolescence, his maternal grandparents had him believe his mother was his sister (‘Ted Bundy”). Bundy’s grandparents took these extraordinary measures to ensure no one would find out about their daughter’s teen pregnancy.

Following the many stereotypes surrounding serial killers, Bundy had a strange obsession with knives and had a hard time socializing with his peers. Once he hit his teenage years, he gravitated towards peering into strangers’ windows and stealing from small stores (“Ted Bundy”). Through it all, he grew up in a successful, working-class family, which pushed him toward higher education. Bundy attended the University of Washington in 1968 to obtain a degree in Psychology with an intent to law school (“Ted Bundy”).

During his first years at the University of Washington, Bundy fell in love with an attractive girl with long, dark hair. They dated for a little over a year, but their relationship did not work out (“Ted Bundy”). When they broke up, Bundy spiraled out of control. He began to work heavily on his outward appearance and personality by simply socializing and becoming more captivating. The appearance of his ex-girlfriend then became the “image” of each of his victims (attractive, dark hair).
Around Bundy’s junior year at UW (1971), he met a woman named Elizabeth Kloepfer at a bar (“Ted Bundy”). She was a perfect match as one of his victims, attractive with dark hair, but Bundy actually fell in love with her. She did not suspect

Bundy’s Crimes Until Five Years Into Their Relationship

It is theorized that Bundy killed more than one hundred women, but he only confessed to thirty-seven murders across seven states (“Ted Bundy”). His first murder, which led to his rampage, took place in January of 1974. Bundy abducted and murdered Lynda Ann Healy, who was a student at the University of Washington.

He then developed a pattern for his victims. Bundy would attempt to lure the women into his car by appearing injured or in need of help (“Ted Bundy”). He fed on the nurturing nature of the average woman. Once captured, Bundy would brutally rape them and then proceed to beat them to death. He killed eight more women from January 1974 to July 1974.

Bundy then moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, to attend law school, and his string of murders only grew. Bundy attacked and attempted to abduct a young woman by the name of Carol DaRonch. She escaped and reported the incident to the police (“Ted Bundy”). The description of her kidnapper was all over the local news, and Elizabeth saw the sketches. She gave the police her boyfriend’s name, Ted Bundy, as well as his car model, just in case he was responsible. Elizabeth did not think he was, to begin with.

The Capture and Execution

Towards the end of 1974, Bundy was pulled over by the local police. They discovered multiple burglary-like objects, including a crowbar, rope, and handcuffs (“Ted Bundy”). Once they brought Ted Bundy to the police station, they realized that he matched the description/sketch that Carol DaRonch described. He was arrested for possession/suspicion, but it was just the beginning of multiple arrests.

On March 1, 1976, Bundy was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for the kidnapping. The police began to link him to several other crimes (“Ted Bundy”). He was in and out of the courtroom for the next two years. He continued to claim his innocence to Elizabeth, who began to doubt him. The two eventually broke up.

In the trial of another young girl’s murder, Bundy acted as his own attorney (“Ted Bundy”). He had library access, and with that, he plotted his first escape. He jumped out of the courthouse library window. It only took eight days for the police to find him and put him back into custody (“Ted Bundy”). He escaped again that December by carving a hole in the ceiling of his maximum-security prison cell. Bundy was missing for fifteen hours until authorities noticed his cell was empty.
During this second escape, Bundy traveled to Tallahassee, Florida (“Ted Bundy”). He broke into the Chi Omega Sorority house and attacked four members, killing two of them. During this time, Bundy also abducted and murdered a 12-year-old girl (“Ted Bundy”). His killing spree ended again when he was pulled over by police a few weeks later. Through his troubles, Bundy began dating and soon married a woman named Carole Ann Boone (“Ted Bundy”). She gave birth to his daughter, Rose Bundy.

At his final trial, Bundy unknowingly created a cult following while fighting for his life. He was convicted for the two murders at the Chi Omega Sorority house and the murder of a 12-year-old girl (“Ted Bundy”). During this time, Bundy called Elizabeth and admitted that he fantasized about killing her. Soon after, she cut ties, and they never spoke again. He had a total of three death sentences stacked against him (“Ted Bundy”). He was executed in 1989 by an electric chair. To this day, Ted Bundy “is one of the most notorious criminals of the late twentieth century” (“Ted Bundy”).

Jeffrey Dahmer: The Horrific Monster

Jeffrey Dahmer was another one of the most intense serial killers in American history. He was born on May 21, 1960, into a normal family. Growing up, Dahmer was an energetic child until he underwent a double hernia surgery (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). The surgery seemed to shift Dahmer’s personality. After the birth of his younger brother and the many moves, his family endured, he became withdrawn, tense, and anti-social.

Escalating Desires

Once his parents finally divorced, his personality became more intense and led him to fantasize about necrophilia and murder (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). As Dahmer grew older, he became dependent upon alcohol, and his addiction spiraled out of control. Within a few years, he dropped out of college and enlisted in the Army in 1978. However, due to his drinking problem, he was discharged three years later (“Jeffrey Dahmer”).

Between 1978 and 1991, Dahmer murdered seventeen men. Just like Bundy, Dahmer was very careful when it came to choosing his victims (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). He would choose men that would not be missed by society. Most of his victims were either African American or homosexuals. He was able to lure these men to his home with a motive of cash or sexual favors. He would then strangle them to death (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). Once dead, he would engage in necrophilic acts. He would keep body parts and polaroids as trophies and use them to relive the kill over again.

For Dahmer’s first murder, he picked up a hitchhiker and brought him home. He intoxicated the man and, when he tried to leave, strangled him to death. Dahmer chose to dismember the body and bury it in the backyard (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). It was not until September 1987 that Dahmer claimed his second victim in a hotel room. He had an obvious drinking problem which made it effortless for him to black out. Dahmer had no recollection of killing this man, but once again, he dismembered the body after bringing it home (“Jeffrey Dahmer”).

Arrest, Trial, and Death

In September 1989, Dahmer faced his first criminal charge. He was charged with “sexual exploitation and second-degree sexual assault.” While awaiting this sentencing, Dahmer lured an aspiring model into his basement and murdered him (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). He dismembered the body, like usual, but this time, he photographed the entire process.

He was arrested and pleaded guilty to the sex charges. He manipulated the courts into believing that he felt remorse and planned on turning his life around (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). They granted him a one-year prison sentence and a day’s release. This allowed Dahmer to work during the day and return to prison at night. He only served ten months of his one-year sentence (“Jeffrey Dahmer”).

Over the next two years, Dahmer murdered thirteen men. He began to experiment with torture and cannibalism. In May 1991, Dahmer’s neighbor reported to the police that a boy was running naked in the street (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). When the police arrived, they discovered that the boy was incoherent. They took Dahmer’s word that the boy was his nineteen-year-old lover. In reality, he was fourteen years old and was killed once the police left the scene (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). Dahmer killed four more men after this.

In July 1991, Dahmer was arrested for his killings. Police found one of Dahmer’s victims wandering the streets in a daze, with handcuffs dangling from his wrists (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). He led the police straight to Dahmer, who handed them the key to the handcuffs. The officers then found Polaroid pictures, preserved body parts, and the alleged weapon he was going to use on the victim (“Jeffrey Dahmer”).

Dahmer’s trial began in January 1992. He was a considerable racist due to the majority of his victims being African American. Strict security precautions were taken, including a barrier of bulletproof glass that separated him from the gallery (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). He initially pleaded not guilty to all his charges, despite his confession. However, he changed his plea to guilty by virtue of insanity.

His team of attornies did their best to prove that only the insane could commit such vile crimes. The jury then favored the prosecution, which explained that Dahmer was fully aware of his acts and still chose to commit them anyway (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). On February 25, 1992, Dahmer was found guilty and sane on all accounts and was sentenced to sixteen consecutive life terms in prison (“Jeffrey Dahmer”).

He adjusted well to prison life and eventually convinced authorities to allow him to join the general population (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). This ultimately led to his murder by his fellow prison inmate, Christopher Scarver. On a regular workday, Dahmer was assigned to work with two other convicted murderers, Scarver being one of them. They had been left alone to complete whatever work needed to be done (“Jeffery Dahmer”). Scarver brutally beat both men with a metal rod, and both were pronounced dead. Scarver, a convicted murderer himself, claimed to have been disturbed by Dahmer’s crimes. He blamed the guards for leaving the three men without supervision (“Jeffrey Dahmer”).

Although Jeffery Dahmer had significantly less amount of murders compared to Ted Bundy, Dahmer’s murders were much more inhumane and horrific (“Jeffrey Dahmer”). He is one of the most feared serial killers. With the overwhelming amount of serial killers throughout history, it is often debated whether they were born or made (Brogaard). Is it possible that Ted Bundy was born a normal child who was formed into a monster by his surroundings? Or that Jeffery Dahmer was born with a lack of dopamine receptors in his brain? Both are possibilities that scientists are researching everyday nature or nurture (Callaway).

Nature vs. Nurture: Unraveling the Minds of Two Serial Killers

Through interviews with living serial killers, a pattern was discovered. Most of these murderers never thought that they would ever intentionally kill someone. In fact, they explain a strong feeling of anxiety that was entirely too much to handle during their first experience. (Brogaard). Each of them thought that their first murder would be their last. However, the human brain has the amazing ability to desensitize. While traditionally used in therapy for phobia patients, exposure can reduce the likelihood of fear neurons firing, which prevents the anxious feeling as a whole (Brogaard). The more murders the criminals committed, the more desensitization occurred. After a while, the act itself would feel normal. This would be considered an environmental factor (Brogaard). At first, the killing was too intense and not enjoyable, but the more murders committed, the less it affected them.

This is the case for Ted Bundy; while it is unknown if he panicked during his first few murders, it is known that he had a tough childhood. That in itself can desensitize a person as a whole, causing them to become numb (Brogaard). Bundy admitted that the dark desires that led him to kidnap, murder, and necrophilia were like a chemical tidal wave washing through his brain, resembling an addiction to a narcotic (Callaway).

In contrast, Dahmer was born a serial killer. He never went through the desensitizing process. He experimented with dead and living animals as a child and never had any reactions to them (Brogaard). It is theorized by scientists that some individuals are born with a lack of dopamine receptors. It would take a significantly more intense action to release the brain chemical dopamine (reward chemical). Therefore, intense activities and behaviors are the only way the reward chemical is released (Brogaard).


Some serial killers are created in the womb, and their brains simply do not properly develop (Callaway). Other serial killers are created through repeated exposure to murder; in a way, they choose exactly who they want to be. They can mold themselves to become numb beings who simply do not care.


  1. “Ted Bundy.” A&E Television Networks, LLC.

  2. “Jeffrey Dahmer.” A&E Television Networks, LLC.

  3. Brogaard, Berit. “The Making of a Serial Killer: What Makes Serial Killers Tick?” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC.

  4. Callaway, Ewen. “Serial Killer Chemistry.” Nature News. Nature Publishing Group, 09 Jan. 2009.


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Jeffrey Dahmer vs Ted Bundy: Nature vs. Nurture. (2023, Aug 03). Retrieved from