Andrei Chikatilo To understand criminal behavior it is one has to understand criminology. Criminology focuses on why people commit crime. Many theorists have developed criminological descriptions and explanations as to why crime occurs. These theories are then applied to events or individuals in an attempt to explain criminal behavior. Serial killers are very difficult to assess, but, because of the nature and extent of their crimes, many have been pushed to examine what goes on in the minds of these serial killers.
Although some may use different criminological theories to explain different individuals, I believe that Sigmund Freud’s concept of Id, Superego and Ego best explains Andrei Chikatilo actions. Freud’s theory falls into Control Theories which argues that without appropriate socialization, people act on their preprogrammed tendency towards crime and deviance. If it weren’t for restraints on people’s innate self-tendencies, everyone would naturally commit crime (Tibbetts, 2012). Control theories concentrate on social control.
It focuses on how individuals relate to their social surrounds or how they relate to agents of socialization. Agents such as family members, school teachers, church members, mass media or police officers. It explains how bonding and interacting with society keeps people away from criminal behaviors. Freud had formed his own theory on how individuals choose crime over anything else; He developed the concept of ID, Ego and Superego. He states that individuals are all born with inherent drives and motivations that gravitate towards selfishness and greed (Tibbetts, 2012).
Freud also felt that crime is not triggered because a person has criminal tendencies; it is caused by an underdeveloped or traumatized psyche. Traumatic experiences in early childhood can tarnished individual’s psyche. The psyche is divided into three domains the Id, the Ego and The Superego. These domains also develop at different stages in our lives. The Id domain is what Freud states that we are born with; it is the force behind our desires. When we want to consume food and drink, excrete or have sexual desires, these drives are the demands of the Id.
It seeks pleasure and satisfaction; it is unaware or unaffected by reality. The Id can be seen as the dark side or the devil of an individual’s personality. Selfishness plays a huge roll with this domain, as it doesn’t care about anyone else’s needs or wants. It’s has no values, no morals and no sense of judgment. Our needs are stored up in the Id and no matter what, they must be fulfilled. As individuals begin to interact with others and society, the second of the three domains starts to develop. This is known as the superego. The superego is different from the Id.
It has demands that are contrary to the ones of the Id. The superego is the part of the psyche that demands us to act in a socially accepted way, whereas the id demands us to act selfish and inconsiderate. It controls what actions we deem to be right and wrong and also controls the feeling of guilt. The superego is what helps us to bond and mix into society. It is the driving force that controls or stops the demands of the Id. If the ego succumbs to the demands of the Id, then the superego steps in with guilt. Individuals tend to feel bad when this happen.
The last of the three domains is the Ego. The ego is the conscious part of a person’s psyche that divides thoughts into what is real from what is not. It is based on reasoning, trying to take a realistic approach to things. In addition the ego also acts as a mediator between the Id and the superego. The ego shares the same demands of the Id, but tries to obtain those pleasures in a realistic way. It is always trying to satisfy the demands of the id and moral demands of the superego. However the ego tends to gravitate more towards the demands of the id.
Freud argues that persons with a deficient superego due to poor interactions with parents and others have problems controlling the demands of the Id. Children can learn right from wrong when they are growing up. They may be born with Id desires but would be able to control those desires by what they have learnt growing up. Andrei Chikatilo grew up in a world of violence and human degradation. As a child he had to suffer the effects of the war which made food supplies go scarce. As a result of this there were mass out breaks of cannibalism. Chikatilo was also kept from the outside world at some point in time.
His mother always threatened him. She told him that if he goes out to play when it becomes dark, he will be eaten just like his brother. His father was also absent in his life as he was serving in the war. It is said that he also witness an assault and rape on his mother. As a child, Chikatilo did not learn moral values growing up; they were missing because of poor parenting. Things like these would traumatize a young child’s undeveloped psyche. So he grew up not being able to control his urges. As Chikatilo grew up his superego developed. In his late teens he tries to better himself and he attained a university degree.
At the age of twenty-eight he married and some years later he started a family. He found work as communication technician and still continued to gain a higher education. He had a family, he was a good husband, he had a house and by Russian standards, he had a pretty good life. He was even involved in the communist party. Chikatilo was now acting in a socially acceptable manner; he was living to the demands of his superego. He did what it takes to fit into society. However as he was suppressing the demands of his Id by playing the part of Mr. Nice guy, he wasn’t able to keep it under control.
I would believe that his ego was weakened; it wasn’t able to keep that balance between the Id and superego. In the early 1970’s Chikatilo started preying on young children. After he was caught he moved and started a new life. This was where his Id took over. He would have murderous desires and he acted on them; he kidnapped a young girl, nine year old, Yelena Zakotnova. It was then he discovered that violence on individuals fulfills his desires. As he molested the girl he grew increasingly excited and wanted to have more direct sexual contact with her body.
His Id is now in full control wanting him to fulfill his desires, without even thinking about how his action will affect others or the young girl. After he fulfilled his desires he’s super ego kicked back in. He almost got caught so he decided to take a break. Now, he returned to being a normal citizen and started thinking about his actions. For over ten years he was able to keep his urges under control, but he gave into those urges and killed over and over again. Andrei Chikatilo struggles with his personality. At one time he follows the demands of the super ego another time he just forgets about everything and fulfill his desires.
He was able to switch and let one part of his psyche be in control, while the other is dormant. He was able to keep his two personalities separated. Andrei Chickatilo killed fifty-three people, adults and children alike, from nine to forty-five in the space of twelve years. What could cause someone to kill this many times? In Chikatilo’s case I think that the war between his Id and superego was too much for his weakened ego. When this happened either one was able to be dominant and take over this personality. This is what caused him to kill one time and act in a socially accepted manner another time.