Personality is an array of qualities a person has that serve to develop their character. Their qualities shine throughout them and makes them who why are. Behaviors, feelings, and thoughts all make their personality uniquely them. Heredity and environment are determinants of a personality. Examples of environment are natural, cultural, and social. These all help shape the type of personality a person has. Personality is how one interacts and reacts with others. The personality of an individual is expressed by some as a genetic and biological construct and remains steady throughout a person’s life.
This research paper will use the social cognitive theory and shows that a person’s personality is slightly a social construct. A person’s biological and natural instincts of the id, superego, and ego; are also shaped by an individual’s life experiences, social and cultural environment. The social cognitive theory by Albert Bandura shows how personality is an effective method where the person’s natural character is influenced by experiences, interactions with others and the environment to individual behavior and personality. This paper will delve into how Ted Bundy lived. The social cognitive theory is the way I chose to analyze how Ted’s personality developed throughout his life.
Ted Bundy was an American serial killer, rapist, serial kidnapper, and necrophiliac who preyed on young women and girls. Ted Bundy was a remorseless psychopath who exemplified wickedness and committed heinous acts in seven states between 1974-1978. They caught him and he was executed in 1989. During his criminal and serial killing years, Bundy revealed he committed 30 homicides. But, the exact number of women or girls he murdered is still unknown. He also mutilated over 12 of the victim’s bodies, sustaining the women’s heads as gifts. The ultimate shocking behavior was conducting gross acts of necrophilia to the victims’ dead bodies until the bodies were much too decayed to anything more sinister.
Ted Bundy’s biographer expressed how he was a sadistic sociopath who gleaned pleasure by applying pain, control, and suffering on his victims (Michaud & Aynesworth, 2000). Ted Bundy was known to review his crime scenes to recollect the murder and feeling of power and control. He burglarized homes and murdered some. After his capture and imprisonment from 1978 to his execution in 1989, Ted Bundy never expressed remorse for what he did. In his words, he defined himself as the “most cold-hearted person one could ever meet in their lifetime” (Hare, 1999, p.23). The lawyers that were defending him during the trials expressed how he was the most heartless form of evil they had ever interacted with.
I believe that Ted Bundy’s sociopathic, evil nature, and behavior were developed throughout his life by his interaction with his immediate environment and social networks. The most fitting personality theory for Ted Bundy’s case is the Social Cognitive Theory. This is because the theory suggests that personality is shaped by observing others and interacting with the individual’s actual environment. The social cognitive theory expresses that each behavior or interaction a person witnesses or observes in their lifetime changes the person’s cognition with how they think regarding the behavior or interaction.
It is important to analyze Ted Bundy’s life since childhood to adulthood to determine what social factors, behaviors, and interactions influenced his behavior and personality to change him into a sadistic, evil, and unremorseful sociopath. 1946, Burlington, Vermont is where Bundy was born. Eleanor Cowell gave birth to him without being married. Ted Bundy’s father’s identity is still unknown. Some believe that he was born to an air force veteran, navy man. Some believe that Eleanor’s abusive father may have sired the child. During this period, a child born out of wedlock was stigmatized by the society. The reasoning behind Ted’s maternal grandparent’s decision to raise the child was to keep him away from this social stigma.
Ted grew up believing that his grandparents were his actual parents and that his mother was his older sister. When Bundy learned of the truth, Ted resented his mother for lying to him about who his true parents were. Because of this, this served as the beginning of his hatred towards women. Ted told different stories of his early life when he lived with his maternal grandparents. He made it seem like he had it made at his grandparents, that everything was peaches. He expressed how his grandfather was respectful and a role model type person. He identified with him.
Other recollections of Ted’s grandfather detail him as a cruel and violent man who abused his wife, children and community pets without feeling any remorse. Once he beat up Ted’s aunt and dropped Ted down a flight of stairs for oversleeping one morning. By confessing that he identified and wanted to mirror his grandfather, I believe Ted was referring to his violent rage and temperament to his immediate environment and family (Michaud & Aynesworth, 2000). Ted’s grandmother, understandably, was remembered to be a timid and obedient woman who suffered from depressive episodes. In her future she would fear leaving her house.
At this point, we can conclude that her depression was ultimately caused by the domestic abuse she suffered through in her marriage. Not only had she experienced the cruelty he committed against her, but to her children and grandchildren. The grandmother remembered during Ted’s early years, he showed violent tendencies occasionally; with one time the grandmother waking up from a nap to find herself surrounded by knives taken from her kitchen (Smith, Edens, Clark, & Rulseh, 2014). In 1950, Ted’s mother remarried a cook. They moved to Washington to start their family. They had four children. They tried to include him and make him feel part of the family. Ted stayed distant and reclusive though. Ted resided in Washington when he was a teenager.
Ted detailed that during his time in Tacoma, he spent his time looking for sexually graphic crimes type comics. He broke into women’s homes and would peep at them through their windows. Ted states that during his teenage years he was socially awkward. He didn’t understand how or why people make friendly relationships. His classmates, however, detailed how Ted was an average kid. He was popular and well-liked. He was jailed twice as a juvenile for burglary and auto theft, but these records were later expunged after he reached 18 years (Michaud & Aynesworth, 2000).
After getting his high school diploma, Ted chose to attend the University of Puget Sound UPS. He transferred to the University of Washington in 1966. Here, Ted met Brooks and he secured a strong and romantic relationship with her. Ted became a part of Fletcher’s campaign for the Lieutenant Governor of Washington State. He didn’t do so well. Brooks ended their relationship which Ted felt lonely and isolated. By losing the things that gave him an identity, Ted fell into an isolation and social reclusion, which contributed to his later murderous and evil personality (Michaud & Aynesworth, 2000).
Memorial Day at a beach, of 1969, Ted was very angry. He was lonely and was searching for an identity. This was when he set his eyes upon two women, one named Susan, the other named Elizabeth. His basic instincts washed over him which made him have an overwhelming sense of wanting to commit rape. He also discussed how he believed he didn’t have any choice but to kill them. This was the start to his raping and murderous ways. Ted later recollected himself and attended UW for a psychology degree. He met Ann Rule, and they became friends. Their friendship lasted until he was executed.
By this time, Rule and his professors described Ted as a goal oriented, focused, kind, empathetic and solicitous individual. In 1973, after learning of his quick change into a focused and driven individual, Brooks and Ted rekindled their romance. Ted had also been romantically entangled with Kloepfer. After planning to marry Brooks, Ted ended the relationship where he claimed that the entire thing was planned to avenge the painful breakup that Brooks had done in the past. It is during Ted’s university years, that he perfected his serial killing and sociopathic methods.
Ted was believed to use his natural handsomeness and charisma to gain trust with his innocent victims. He also faked being disabled or injured to attract sympathy from victims who volunteered to help him, only for him to overpower them and kill them when they entered a reclusive place or street (Michaud & Aynesworth, 2000). Ted Bundy early life was troubled and damaged, and contributed to the beginning of Ted’s negative personality development.
Ted was born out of wedlock to a questionable father who exposed him to social stigma from Ted’s immediate community. The community was very religious and moral. Ted’s mother also hid from him his true parentage for many years, leaving Ted to believe that his mother was her older sister. After figuring out his mother had lied to him of his origins for many years, ted was angered, and he grew to hate his mother for this. Ted also grew up in a violent, hateful, authoritarian and depressive environment. Ted’s grandfather was violent and exerted absolute control over his wife and family. The grandfather violently abused his children as a form of disciplinary action. Ted’s grandfather taught the young boy to hate blacks, Italians, Catholics, and Jews. This cultivated hate and intolerance in young Ted.
Ted felt that his mother had abandoned him, and he loathed her for that. This hatred may have grown to include distrust and intolerance towards all women. In his own confession, Ted discussed that he wanted to copy his grandfather’s behaviorism and personality (Michaud & Aynesworth, 2000). The grandfather used authoritarianism, fear, and violence to make his wife and other women in his household stay obedient and submissive. Pajares, Prestin, Chen, & Nabi (2009) note that it is this satisfaction gained by overpowering, subduing and controlling women that Ted learned from his grandfather. This shaped Ted’s personality development into a controlling, violent, unremorseful individual using this learned behavior to control his female victims into submission.
Since birth, Ted had always struggled to secure his identity, and when Ted’s mother remarried and started a family, Ted’s feeling of lacking his identity and lack of a sense of belonging further isolated Ted from his new family and step-siblings. During his teen years, Ted was a lone teenager who spent his time perusing graphic crime stories with sexually violent themes and breaking into women’s homes to peep and observe them in their birthday suits. Ted experienced heartbreaking relationships with his girlfriends on campus, and after being dumped the feeling of isolation, lack of identity and powerlessness grew more. By this time, Ted had grown to totally mistrust women in his life because of constant heartbreaks and ‘deceptions.’ Ted’s interactions with women had left him mistrusting and hating women.
Ted has also grown addicted to pornography and sexually violent content since his early years. This provided him disturbed and twisted beliefs in women as objects, that one could own for their own personal satisfaction and gain. The only way handling women, according to Ted, was to exert full authority and control over them. He believed this could be achieved through rape, violence, intimidation, kidnapping and even conducting acts of necrophilia to show full control and dominance over women (Rebecca, 2007). This feeling brought Ted a feeling of power, control, and satisfaction over his victims, and thus giving him a sense of belonging and identity, which he had been searching all his life.
The psychotherapy approaches that I would recommend for Ted Bundy’s case includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Evidence-Based Practices (EBP) treatments. CBT involves understanding the cognitive behavior, thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes of an individual, to identify cognitive distortions that negatively influence behavior to restore the patient to the usual mental and cognitive state. According to Field et al. (2015), in Ted’s case the fantasy, twisted hatred, and bias for women, social disassociation and emotional compartmentalization will be treated by the CBT treatment designed for Ted Bundy.
In Ted Bundy’s case, EBP will involve providing similar treatments that have been tested and proven by psychology professionals. As per Barth et al., (2013) Ted should be confined in a high-security prison environment and given group assignments and tasks to enable him to improve his interaction skills and equip him with socialization skills to fight off feelings of isolation and lack of identity. Ted should also be given a new platform and environment to interact with well-established and astute female citizens to enable him to develop positive beliefs and perceptions of women. The patient should also be provided with other activities like sports, new courses, and projects which can bring him satisfaction and joy which will keep him away from his psychopathic tendencies and fantasies.