SMU Journal of Undergraduate Research


Psychopathy and serial murder have been topics of great public interest and media attention for several decades. Dennis Rader, a serial killer well-known by his pseudonym “BTK,” was responsible for the gruesome torture and murder of ten people between 1974 and 1991. Although some information is known about him through media accounts, little work has been done to synthesize information about his life and crimes, and to examine him as a case study of psychopathy. Through careful literature review and analysis, this study aims to provide insight into Rader’s life and crimes, and to delineate his psychopathology to gain a better understanding of psychopathy. The results of this case study indicate that Dennis Rader exhibited many features of psychopathy, as well as antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders. This case study has important implications for the public perception of psychopathy and serial murderers, and the investigation of individual psychopaths, emphasizing the value of a comprehensive review of an individual’s life factors in relation to their criminal behavior.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License