Wuornos Attachment Theory

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Aileen Carol Wuornos was a serial killer who had killed seven men, publicly believed to be the very first serial killer in the United States. She was convicted for six of the murders and sentenced to death, thus meeting her end through execution by lethal injection on October 9, 2002 in the state of Florida. Aileen had been subjected to horrific tortures as a young girl. Her father was a psychopathic pedophile who was in jail at the time of her birth while her mother was an immature teenager who abandoned Aileen and her brother, leaving them to be raised by their grandparents. Being brought up by their grandparents, Wuornos found herself the victim of rampant childhood sexual abuse at the hands of her grandfather.…show more content…
Although Wuornos life was filled with abandonment, abuse, and neglect, Bowlby (1969) asserted that the inability to bond or form attachments and, therefore, to develop empathy for others is often a result of inconsistent or lack of caring, especially during the person’s childhood. According to attachment theory, it is critical for the child to develop trust and security from the primary caregivers. Without this development, the child begins to form an internal working model of others as unreliable, untrustworthy, and unresponsive to the childs needs. Throughout Wuornos childhood, she developed secondary conditional strategies, such as hyper-vigilance and detachment, to cope with her exposure to abuse and the failure to have her needs met. Her internal working models consisted of a view of self as unlovable and wicked, and a view of others as hostile and rejecting (Shipley & Arrigo, 2004). In order to cope with the debilitating abuse, she shut down emotionally, and became detached form her own feelings and those of friends and…show more content…
Psychopathic individuals typically turn their feelings of social isolation to feelings of withdrawal, aggression, and hostility. This appears to be the case with Wuornos. As investigators report, attachment with parents has a stronger impact on an individual’s ability to interact with others than any other relationship. Her coping mechanisms included prostitution, alcohol abuse, violence, and crime, resulting in material gain. She learned not to care about what others thought of her or how her actions made them feel. Aileen was not connected to anyone or to anything, and she was not bound by relationships or expectations. She reacted moment to moment with the only feelings that were safe to experience—rage, fear, and
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