One of the most disturbing conclusions of Mark Seltzer’s remarkable and important study, Serial Killers: Death and, Life in America’s Wound Culture (1998), is “that the only difference between the normal subject (the psychic killer) and the pathological one (the psycho killer) is the passage from fantasy to act” (146). The psycho killer is the one who does what others merely think, or in this study, make “noise” about. He (usually male) collapses the distance between private desires and public acts. An identifiable profile for the serial killer is not possible. Much more disturbing is Seltzer’s argument that the serial killer is “the mass in person,” as he puts it. The collapse of the distance between fantasy and act, between private and public, between the thing and its representation, between the “inner” and “outer” self, is a collapse of the self and Other, of the individual and the “mass” outside himself. A fall into psychosis, in Lacanian terminology, is a collapse where the Real overwhelms the person. The person becomes a “blank,” facing his own void where there is no ego structure any longer to imaginatively frame the symbolic discourses. Paranoid logic “literalizes a general logic of rivalry.” Quoting Lacan, “If it’s you. I’m not. If it’s me, it’s you who isn’t” (S II, Ego in Freud, 169). The psychotic becomes Everyman who no longer is able to “personalize” or “enliven” the language of the Symbolic Order, make it his own, and live with its lack.
KeywordsSerial Killer Symbolic Order Mass Murder Media Violence Christian School
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