Psychopathy, Asperger's: A 'Serious' Combination; Dahmer Also Had Schizoid Personality Disorder Features and Schizotypal Pathology, Expert Says

By Frieden, Joyce | Clinical Psychiatry News, December 2004 | Go to article overview

Psychopathy, Asperger's: A 'Serious' Combination; Dahmer Also Had Schizoid Personality Disorder Features and Schizotypal Pathology, Expert Says


Frieden, Joyce, Clinical Psychiatry News


SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. -- The late convicted serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer probably had Asperger's syndrome, Arturo J. Silva, M.D., said at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.

People like Mr. Dahmer "have fantasies which go on for a long, long time before they get involved in crimes," said Dr. Silva, a psychiatrist who is in private practice in San Jose, Calif.

Like many Asperger's patients after they enter adolescence, Mr. Dahmer wanted to have sexual relations with other people but was unable to accomplish that goal because of his inability to interpret social cues. His dilemma was "how to have sex with little physical involvement with the other person," Dr. Silva explained.

"Mr. Dahmer devised a series of approaches to answer his sexual dilemma: They involved separation of the psychological from the physical components of the human experience of others."

Mr. Dahmer started out by engaging in sexual behaviors with a mannequin. "That worked for a while, but he got tired of it and wanted more action" so he began to go to gay bathhouses, sedate men, and have sex with them, Dr. Silva said.

After he got tired of that, "he got into 'zombification' via chemical lobotomy" but tired of that as well. Dr. Silva said. It was then that Mr. Dahmer went on to necrophilia. "That was a way of separating the whole mind by killing, but keeping the body intact for a while."

Mr. Dahmer also derived pleasure from dissecting his victims and making geometric arrangements with their body parts, he noted. This obsession with dissection, which Mr. Dahmer had had since childhood, was consistent with particular interests that Asperger's patients often have in a very narrow topic.

"He derived pleasure from dissecting people in stages," Dr. Silva said. "He had an elaborate series of Polaroid [photo] collections of this, so he could look at them and derive sexual pleasure."

Dr. Silva, whose research found that Mr. Dahmer exhibited a significant level of psychopathy, noted that "the combination of psychopathy and Asperger's is really serious" in terms of contributing to violent behavior. …

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Psychopathy, Asperger's: A 'Serious' Combination; Dahmer Also Had Schizoid Personality Disorder Features and Schizotypal Pathology, Expert Says
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