When analyzing psychopathy, it is evident that such a state is defined as a personality disorder distinguished by lack of emotions, along with interpersonal and behavioral functioning. Psychopathy includes different traits such as callousness, fearlessness, and nonconformity. Psychiatrists use different methods to assess psychopathy in individuals such as interview-based clinician rating Psychopathy Checklist-Revised and also the self-report Psychopathic Personality Inventory-Revised. By using these two psychopathy methods, Richard Kuklinski’s criminal activities were assessed. He was known as The Iceman Killer for freezing the bodies of his victims so that their time of death could not be evaluated. Kuklinski was an American contract killer who worked under the Italian Mafia. He accepted having murdered over a hundred men during his life time. Kuklinski was finally caught in 1988 and imprisoned on the charges of multiple murders and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Using Hervy Checkley’s list of Psychopathy Symptoms, various psychopathic traits have been exhibited by Kuklinski. Hervy states one characteristic which is ‘absence of delusions’ which Kuklinski exhibits as he wasn’t delusional nor was he an irrational thinker. He carried his murders based on business dealings as he was working for an Italian Mafia. Also, Hervy’s list states that a psychopath lacks anxiety and it associates with Kuklinski as he has been extremely calm about the murders that he committed, and he admits to not feeling anything when carrying out his plan. A third trait on the list is the antisocial behavior, and this is one of the major traits found in Kuklinski. Killers such as Kuklinski have shown to be highly antisocial, and this is one of the reasons why they were able to get away with murder so easily. Kuklinski’s environment at home can be seen as a motivator of antisocial behavior. His parent’s treatment of him and his surroundings have influenced him to the point that he committed murders to let out his anger. Kuklinski did not exhibit suicidal behavior and was satisfied with his married life. However, he did mention wishing to kill his wife a few times in the interview, but he never carried out the plan.
Coming to the psychopathic traits highlighted by Robert Hare, it can be seen that Kuklinski showed a glib and superficial charm (Hare, 2003). He was in the least shy of his actions and was fearless which led him to murder over a hundred people from his teens to old age. Hare mentions the grandiose self-worth trait found in psychopaths, which was not present in Kuklinski as he did not think of himself to be a superhuman being. Another attribute mentioned in the list is that of the need for stimulation or proneness to boredom which wasn’t present in Kuklinski as he was cautious in the murders that he committed and did not leave a trace behind till at a later stage in his life when he got old. Kuklinski was extremely deceptive since his family and friends could not see him for his real self and continued to believe that he was a family man. In the interview, Kuklinski was asked if he felt anything for the victims that he had killed and he admits to not feeling any remorse or guilt at all. He felt sad after killing his first victim, but soon he felt empowered, and that led him towards continuing his murderous intent and killing off people one by one.
After analyzing Kuklinski’s behavior, it can be said that his family and environment played a significant role in turning him into the man he had become. His parent’s harsh treatment and the abuse that he faced at the hands of others made him into the abuser. In the interview, Kuklinski admits to being a different person if he could back in time, which shows that he had not intended on becoming the Iceman Killer if he had the choice. His surrounding had impacted him to the point that he became aggressive and antisocial both of which helped him in carrying out murders. I do feel sorry for him because if he had gone through a better childhood, he wouldn’t have turned into a psychopath.
Hare, R. D. (2003). The psychopathy checklist–Revised. Toronto, ON.