Friday, 26 October 2007

The chilling self-awareness of a killer with an eye for posterity

As another serial killer finds his exploits pored over by the public and the media, the self-perpetuating dynamic of such crimes is particularly evident. Convicted serial killer Alexander Pichushkin, or the Chessboard Murderer as he has been inevitably dubbed, is the classic example of a demented egotist whose self-delusions are being gratified by the storm of publicity and psychological analysis his case has created.

Although particular responsibility might be laid with pathological consumers of the ghoulish industry of serial killer books, films and documentaries, we are all culpable to an extent for this phenomenon, simply through a completely reasonable fascination with the mentality and motivation of murderers.

Pichushkin’s courtroom statements bear the patina of self-regard that suggests the killer is only too aware that he is speaking to a worldwide audience. They are comments from a man relishing his time in the limelight. He must be only too aware that when he claims that he broke no laws and was “above” his victims that he imaginatively invokes Raskalnikov’s rationale in the minds of many of the public (particularly in Russia).

“I alone decided the fate of 60 people. I was prosecutor, judge and executioner. I decided who was to live and who was to die. I was almost God."

It is a chilling but aphoristic assertion full of awareness that it will be repeated in posterity as part of the narrative of its utterer’s crimes.