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[Special Feature] Psychology and Horror: Inside the Mind of a Psychopath… Dissecting ‘The Collection’!

Written By: Joseph Forsberg

There are currently more than 100 active serial killers in the United States and there is no explanation as to why a normal person could grow up to commit murder and sexual homicide. We see killing and rape as the most severe types of crime; we wonder how someone could find it fun to slit the throat of an unsuspecting victim and sexually assault the body. To a sociopath this is normal behavior; in fact, they find it weird that we do not have a similar impulse. Sociopaths have no conscience, they do not feel pain, they are impulsive, and will do whatever it takes to get themselves off! They are pure evil!

Today I am introducing a new segment to the site called “Psychology and Horror”. Each week I will break down specific serial killers from all of our favorite horror movies and give an in-depth explanation as to why these horror icons commit their crimes. My young friend “Mr. Guts” and I thought of Psychology & Horror when we discussed the reality aspect of horror movies. Are there really people who are as sick as Norman Bates, Mrs. Voorhees, Michael Myers and The Collector? As much as I want to give movie writers all the credit; the fact is that some horror movies are inspired by real life events. One such case would be Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho which was based on the life of Ed Gein. With that said, the real life story is NEVER as exciting as the movie; it takes a talented writer to take a real life incident and turn it into a classic that will never die! The Collector – from The Collector and The Collection (in theaters November 30) – will be the first killer I take on because of how unique and original he is. The Collector is different from Michael Myers and Jason due to the fact that he is human; he feels pain and can be killed. Arkin was more than able to bring out the human qualities in The Collector in the last 20 minutes of the movie. This movie takes on a realistic view because people like this exist; as a result, people begin to feel themselves get nervous while watching the movie, which has a long lasting affect! A movie where someone goes to hell and then ends up in space some in the following film (Jason X), just does not scream “HOLY SHIT THIS IS REALLY GOING TO HAPPEN!!” I am a Forensic psychology major and I admit I can be a little obsessive when it comes to horror movies.

Next week begins the “fans choice”! Choose from the following movies-Halloween Human Centipede 2 Psycho the original Friday the 13th or The Strangers. Users are also more than welcome to tell me what they would like to see in this segment!

The Collector

(Directed by Marcus Dunstan from a script he co-wrote with Patrick Melton)

The first killer I will discuss is the man known as “The Collector”. He is of course the serial killer in the movie The Collector and will continue his trail of carnage in the much anticipated sequel The Collection. Many people love watching these type of horror movies; they love the suspense, the gore, and they love being scared. The one thing holding these movies back is that most people do not believe this could happen; they love the movies, but believe they are unrealistic. Notice that new horror movies have taken on the “found footage” approach in an attempt to make their movie more realistic, and therefor provide the audience with a true sense of fear. While this new technique has proven to work, let’s take a step back and understand that The Collector represents a true psychopath; he is someone that cannot be reasoned with and someone who will never stop. Can someone like this really exist? Of course; let’s examine the most notorious serial killers in American history, which include Ted Bundy, John Gacy, and BTK. Both Bundy and Gacy sexually assaulted their victims while also dismembering them. BTK stands for Bind Torture Kill and he truly defined horror in the United States. BTK also displayed the most similarities to The Collector; their techniques were similar, but signature and MO were slightly different. So while these “found footage” movies (Paranormal Activity) seem more real, do me a favor and ask your-self one question; when is the last time you have seen a ghost? And then ask yourself the last time you heard about a serial killer or violent murder; I guarantee you will understand what I am saying.

The Collector would be categorized as a disorganized asocial offender; this means he is socially inadequate, but is still able to find a job that allows him to fulfill his fantasies. In this case The Collector was able to put on a fake image and work with the exterminators in the original film; although he did not really talk, his demeanor made him fit in. With this type of personality, the killer is not able to move outside of his comfort zone; he usually stays in the same area, lives alone, and has a secret hiding place. This type of personality is nocturnal and usually finds an external object that matches his personality (the spider/bugs). Although this personality also suggests some organization, no one serial killer can meet every standard within the definition. These crimes are clearly organized which tells us that this is not impulsive behavior and he is truly an unstoppable force. Although The Collector displays some of the characteristics found in an organized nonsocial personality, the majority of his behavior matches that of an asocial offender.

All murders are sexually motivated, and while The Collector did not have sex with his victims, he got off by the amount of power and control he had when torturing these individuals. He gets his power by knowing he can play god; he controls the victim’s pain level and knows he can make them do whatever he wants. Although he sets traps for everyone else, he picks certain individuals and kills them slowly; prolonging the crime gets him off. There is something about these specific individuals; he seems to pick the dominate person (The dad, husband, and Arkin) which allows him to demonstrate his strength and power. This man is not truly insane, but he does display signs of a personality disorder which I will get to later. Based on the information provided to me, I would consider The Collector to be Power/Control Serial Killer.

We are a product of our environment and childhood plays a huge factor in determining the type of person we are going to be. Most serial killers are abused in some kind of way (sexually, physically, verbally) or witness this abuse happening to others. When a child experiences this type of trauma, he is unable to comprehend the severity of the incident and does not recognize it as inappropriate behavior. This results in violent fantasies and prevents the child from having a normal relationship with children his age. Psychodynamic theory explains that childhood trauma leads to violent behavior; while the fantasies of children start out innocent, the isolation from the outside world and the continued abuse causes the fantasies to turn violent. Children begin to mirror their abuse onto others until it becomes difficult to distinguish fantasy from reality. At some point the child needs more than the fantasy; he might choose to kill animals if he is a victim from physical abuse, or molest a young family member if he has been sexually assaulted. In the case of The Collector, he loved the dominance he felt in the fantasies; he loved the control and felt sexual gratification. This is the same type of control he saw his abuser have when the incidents occurred. Psychopath and sociopath are used interchangeably; it is my determination that The Collector is a full functioning psychopath. He is unable to control his urges, no indication of fear or guilt, and fantasizes about murder, dismemberment, and torture. People like him walk among us; No treatment exists!!

About the Author: I am currently going to school for Forensic Psychology; I am finishing up my Bachelor’s Degree and plan on continuing my education until I receive my Doctorate. Although I am still in school, I spend hours a week studying human behavior and psychological profiling; my main focus is on sexual homicide but study all types of murder. I do not currently work in law enforcement or around people suffering from personality disorders; this psychological profile on ‘The Collector’ is based on years of research, school, and books written by retired FBI Profilers. – Joseph Forsberg




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