Occasionally, I get dinged by a reader for Battered Dreams, Tortured Dreams, or Mutilated Dreams because the killers are women who are not poisoning their victims.
There is a common myth that female serial killers poison their victims and that Aileen Wournos was an anomaly. Except, it really is a myth. The reason a woman kills dictates the method she uses to kill.
Women who use poison are more likely to suffer from Munchhausen’s by Proxy than women who beat their victims to death. However, there is a Soviet case of a female serial killer who beat her victims to death, probably because of Munchhausen’s. She claimed all the murders were self defense. It’s a little harder to make that claim if you are slowly poisoning your victims.
In the case of Wournos and so many other women who kill, there was a lot of rage fueling the murders. In other words, rage isn’t just a motivation for male serial killers. The majority of female serial killers are okay with getting their hands dirty.
Another myth is that female serial killers almost always work with a partner. Cases like Paul Bernado /Karla Holmolka and Myra Hindley/Ian Bradley feed into this myth, because these are women that probably wouldn’t have started killing without a male partner.
Unfortunately, like the whole female serial killers almost always use poison myth, it’s exactly that, a myth. It is true that females are less likely to become serial killers, but again that seems to be dependent on motives and temperament more than whether they get involved with the wrong guy.
Female serial killers are harder to profile then males because we understand them less, primarily because psychopathy and sociopathy is less prevalent in females. More interesting is that female psychopathy and sociopathy seem to have more genetic links than environmental. Two children who grow up in the exact same environment, with only their gender being the difference can breed one male psychopath and one normal female.
There have been studies to try to prove that social engineering is a key difference in that boy children are supposed to be tougher and not allow themselves to be abused, but recent studies have found that in societies outside the US where macho personality traits are less favored by the general population, yield the same results as children in the US. Much like the Double Y was thought to increase a male’s propensity for violence, people are starting to wonder if the X chromosome has something to do with antisocial personality disorder.
Sadly, this makes sense. Boys only have a single X chromosome and they are more prone to ASPD with sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies. Girls who have two X chromosomes would then need to inherit a gene on each X chromosome to trigger sociopathic or psychopathic ASPD thereby making it far more rare than it is in males. It would also account for the slightly larger number of female serial killers with Munchhausen’s because it has predominately been a mental health disorder diagnosed in women.