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Case Study Of John Wayne Gacy English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1889 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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John Wayne Gacy, a serial killer who was born in Chicago, Illinois, was the only son in John Samuel Gacy’s family of three children. He grew up in a family where they had an affectionate mother but a cruel father, an alcoholic, who used to discipline Johnny, as his mother called him, using a belt. The father used to be both physically and verbally abusive to the entire family; he would call Gary a “mama’s boy” and a sissy. Gary faced some extra hard childhood problems, including being molested by a family friend at only nine and being struck by a swing right on his forehead when he was eleven. The result was a head trauma that became root to a blood clot that was first noticed five years later; that is when he started suffering from black outs (Sullivan & Maiken 2000). The arrogant father never really took the blackouts seriously and thought that John was pretending in an effort to start gaining sympathy from his family, especially his father. However, Gacy was given medical attention and a few prescriptions to dissolve the clot were made. His problems never ended there; he attended four different high schools, dropped out of every single one of them and, at the end, never graduated. After a quarrel with his father when he was twenty years old, john decided to move to Las Vegas, Nevada, where he got a job as a mortuary attendant for about three months. He then returned to Chicago, where, without having to go back to high school to seek graduation, he registered at the Northwestern Business College and graduated there. After his graduation, he managed to secure a management trainee position at a shoe company and made some major leaps in life after that, including getting promoted as a salesman in Springfield, Illinois, in 1964 and getting married to Marlynn Myers the same year (Kozenczak &Henrikson 2003). About a year letter, he was promoted into a manager and improved his activities in Springfield’s social organizations. He joined the Jaycees and in 1965, he became the Springfield vice president of the Jaycees. Gacy was appointed as the manager of his father-in-law’s three restaurants and moved to Iowa with his family in 1967, after which he had a son and a daughter (Linedecker 1986). Gacy’s kinky life started to get profoundly defined when he got fellated by a man who was his colleague in the waterloo Jaycees when he was drunk.

Outline of Crimes

Gacy’s kinky side worsened in Waterloo when he started abnormal sexual activities including pornography, wife swapping and prostitution as well as homosexuality. He also abused drugs. Teenage males at work started being sexually abused by Gacy; he constructed a basement at one of the restaurants where he opened a bar. Here, he used to take teenage male employees and forced them to perform oral sex on him. He also claimed to perform scientific research when he paid the teenagers fifty dollars each to have sex with each other; he called them homosexual experiments. Things got a little thick for Gacy in 1968 when two teenage boys claimed having being sexually assaulted by him; he got away with it when there was no evidence found. The same year, a youth confessed against Gacy; he had hired him to molest one of the two boys, trying to intimidate them. This time, he got ten years in jail after getting convicted of sodomy and on the same day, his wife filed for divorce – he never saw his children again and his father died while he was in prison, after which he had a pretty hard time trying to secure a compassionate leave to go and bury his father; he never succeeded. In 1971, Gacy was accused again by a young boy who claimed to have been sexually assaulted by him but the case got dismissed since the young boy never showed up in court. In 1972, another accusation for Gacy came up when he was arrested and accused of battering a young man. The man was claimed to have been battered when Gacy flashed a Sherriff’s badge, impersonating a police officer and luring him into his car. He allegedly forced him to fellate him but the case was dismissed after claims of the man trying to blackmail Gacy for money were raised. Gacy continued to commit more crimes after 1972 including murdering many people, most of them young boys and men, committing rapes on teenage boys and other major crimes. Between 1972 and 1978, Gacy had raped and killed thirty three teenage boys.


First, Gacy’s mental status cannot be said to have been normal, especially after what had happened to him when he was young. He grew up in a family where the father was a psychopath; he insulted and tortured Gacy as well as the rest of the family, making Gacy not appreciate the positivism of life at the time when he was meant to grow in it. Instead, he grew up perceiving life pretty negatively, making other people’s lives as hard, if not harder than his because he probably grew to believe that they played a part or were somehow responsible for the miseries he faced. The fury that he got when he got hit by a swing, getting molested by the family friend and the repercussions not being appreciated by some of the most significant people in his life, including his father also played part in the actions he perpetuated. He probably enjoyed doing it because he believed that he was taking revenge against the world that treated him so badly (Herrmann 1986). As he grew up through his teenage, he was also getting affected by the black outs that resulted from the swing hit; there is a possibility that he was having brain damage that denied him a chance to reason correctly or interact socially with people in the right way, making him a social misfit. The result of all these factors could only have been a negative attitude and approach, not only to life itself but to everything else that it had to offer including the people, the environment and the opportunities that he so badly misused. This can be seen from the way he perceived life as shown in most of his clownish paintings, one of them being where he depicts himself as “Pogo the Clown”. The negativity was further provoked by the sentences that he got after the numerous crimes that he committed; he most probably took them, not as a way to help him change his behavior, but as a way to punish him and make his life much more miserable, so he took revenge through punishing the futile teenage boys.

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Second, insanity was another claim; Gacy’s defense argued that he acted not in his normal capacity as a human being but he was insane (Ressler & Schactman 1992). On the witness stand, testifying for Gacy, his mother tried to explain how hard Gacy’s life had been, citing as an example how his father had abused him on several occasions when he was young. He was, therefore, arguably supposed to be considered to have been insane when he committed the actions that he did (Darvick 2010). They mentioned him as a naturally pretty brilliant man who had been abused and was therefore not able to control his actions because he was insane.

Thomas Eliseo, a psychologist who was said to have interviewed Gacy before he had been taken to court described him as been a very intelligent man who, most unfortunately, suffered an impairment called borderline schizophrenia. A few other medical practitioners gave the same kind of testimony, adding that Gacy was suffering from multiple personality disorders including antisocial personality disorder (Time-Life Books 1992). Gacy was, therefore, argued as being incapable of not only being aware of committing a crime but also being incapable of understanding the committed crimes’ magnitude.

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According to Edmund Kemper, every human being experiences rage and inappropriate sexual desires but all human beings have been given a natural capability and responsibility to be the one in control of those feelings; we can all keep those “monsters” enclosed within us through self control. But one thing that is not possible to understand about serial killers is what they miss in their emotions; is it the natural taming, the social orientation or morality. It is, however, believed that, regardless of whether these virtues exist or not, the forces that exist within serial killers can be overcome by other forces that exist within the same being; if not, how did that being get to generate the urges to kill, rape or destroy while he or she bears intelligence and intellect that animals do not. In a nutshell, murder, rape and other crimes that are committed by serial killers cannot be blamed on the unstable mental or psychological health of the serial killer; maybe they can for another kind of a killer. Gacy had gone to jail several times before 1972 and had even become a leader of other inmates, but when he got his freedom, he committed even worse crimes. The question, therefore, might lie between the environment into which he got freed or the one in which he got jailed and if so, why does it matter. It might be solely because he had been in complete capabilities to take control of his urges to kill and rape but not the desire, he just never was willing to.

Psychopathy as a Personality Disorder

Gacy has also been believed t0o have been affected by, among many other personality disorders, psychopathy. Psychological evaluations run on Gacy in several interviews showed that he actually had a mental disorder. This mental disorder has been described as psychopathy by some researchers; Gacy was not mentally ill but he had a mental problem that caused him to behave in abnormal ways, commit crimes such as rape and murder while fully aware of the consequences and not seem to worry. He never seemed to care about what the consequences were going to be. Psychopathy is not exactly related to being psychotic. The main difference is that a psychotic person in normally partially or fully withdrawn from reality; such people as known to experience hallucinations and delusions and are, therefore, said to be completely unaware of the things they do. John Wayne Gacy was none of these. A psychopath, on the other hand, is said to be completely acting in his full senses (Cahill 1986). Psychopaths are rational in their actions and there are fully informed of the choices they make. The actions that they take are premeditated and they make sure that they serve their effective means to the end. A psychopath is said to be a social marauder who are socially appealing to the people around them; they are ruthless in manipulating and killing their victims while they are fully aware of what actions the society is going to take against him, yet it does not matter to them. Gacy was exactly this kind of person. However, psychopathy is sometimes brought about by the challenging or painful events that occur in someone’s lifetime (Peck & Dolch 2001). The kind of life that Gacy, his social capabilities to influence and his intelligence level could probably justify his being could be some major factors that contributed to his being a psychopath. However, his actions could never be justified; no explanation on the planet could possibly help him and his people win the case they defended him against and that is why he got convicted.


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