Title

An Appetite for Crime: Case Studies of Cannibalism and the Criminology Theories that Explain It

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Event Website

https://source2022.sched.com/

Start Date

18-5-2022

End Date

18-5-2022

Keywords

Cannibalism, Jefferey Dahmer, Issei Sagawa, Idi Amin, Social-Bond Theory, Strain Theory, Social Learning

Abstract

One of the most important aspects of studying crime is identifying how and why certain crimes happen. There are several questions one should ask: Why did this event happen? What caused this to happen? How could it have been stopped? Criminologists use various theories to seek the answer to these questions regarding various types of crimes – from petty crimes, such as stealing a pack of gum from the grocery store, to major, violent crimes, such as cannibalism, the latter of which is analyzed here. The goal is to prevent these crimes from happening in the future by identifying why they are happening now. In this paper, I hypothesize that the same theory, or theories, can explain the crimes of different cannibals. To test this, I use Jeffery Dahmer, Idi Amin, and Issei Sagawa as case studies. Various sources are analyzed, from books to articles to movies, to come up with brief biographies of each man, discussing events from early childhood into adulthood that could have contributed to their crimes. Then, I use this biographical information and analyze three traditional theories: Hirschi’s social-bond theory, Agnew’s strain theory, and Aker’s social learning theory. When examining these three men, it becomes clear that though the number and demographics of their victims differ, these theories explain all three men’s actions. Similar life events and personality traits contribute to an increased likelihood of criminogenic behavior, and their motives for murder and cannibalism are rooted in similar places.

ReSOURCE 2022 award winner.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Bernadette Jungblut, Sara Toto

Department/Program

Political Science

Additional Mentoring Department

Political Science

Additional Mentoring Department

Law & Justice

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An Appetite for Crime: Case Studies of Cannibalism and the Criminology Theories that Explain It

One of the most important aspects of studying crime is identifying how and why certain crimes happen. There are several questions one should ask: Why did this event happen? What caused this to happen? How could it have been stopped? Criminologists use various theories to seek the answer to these questions regarding various types of crimes – from petty crimes, such as stealing a pack of gum from the grocery store, to major, violent crimes, such as cannibalism, the latter of which is analyzed here. The goal is to prevent these crimes from happening in the future by identifying why they are happening now. In this paper, I hypothesize that the same theory, or theories, can explain the crimes of different cannibals. To test this, I use Jeffery Dahmer, Idi Amin, and Issei Sagawa as case studies. Various sources are analyzed, from books to articles to movies, to come up with brief biographies of each man, discussing events from early childhood into adulthood that could have contributed to their crimes. Then, I use this biographical information and analyze three traditional theories: Hirschi’s social-bond theory, Agnew’s strain theory, and Aker’s social learning theory. When examining these three men, it becomes clear that though the number and demographics of their victims differ, these theories explain all three men’s actions. Similar life events and personality traits contribute to an increased likelihood of criminogenic behavior, and their motives for murder and cannibalism are rooted in similar places.

ReSOURCE 2022 award winner.

https://digitalcommons.cwu.edu/source/2022/COTS/89