Posted: March 30th, 2022

Applying Criminology Theory in Iceman



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“The Iceman” was a prolific assassin, Richard Kuklinski, whose title was owing to his modus operandi of freezing victims using cyanide (which was a rapid acting agent hard to identify by pathologists conducting autopsies) for impeding forensic analysts. He died nearly a decade back and left behind a self-confession of innumerable murders. The man’s own account and popular theory indicate that he was a happily married man with children who served as a contract killer for New York mobs prior to separating from them and continuing his gruesome work. His victims included acquaintances and friends. Psychiatrists claim he had a tendency to murder those who antagonized him (Anderson).




Family Background and Education



Born on 11th April, 1935 into a poor Jersey City household to a railroad brakeman (father) and a meat-packing factory worker (mother), Kuklinski demonstrated a preposterous degree of nastiness towards animals, right from his childhood. He enjoyed tying cats together by their tails, throwing them onto clotheslines and witnessing them tearing one another apart. He also frequently put felines in his building’s incinerator and watched them burn to death. His cruelty also extended to canines: He would throw dogs off rooftops or dangle them from bus bumpers. He quit studying after grade 8. In his young adulthood, he grew into a recognized face among pool hustlers and street toughs. At 25 years of age, he met and fell in love with Barbara, to whom he sent gifts and flowers often. He finally won her affection and had 3 kids with her. However, his poor educational background meant he was unable to earn enough for supporting his family. He pirated porn and sold it to individuals having links with the notorious Gambino Crime Family, from a film laboratory (Kuklinski, Richard).




Criminology Theory that applies on Richard



Kuklinski’s interview with Dr. Rietz indicates the following two criminology theories applicable in his case:




1. Antisocial Personality Disorder (APD)




This constitutes a classification of people who are constantly not complying with societal norms and are exhibiting disruptive or felonious conduct. Antisocial conduct during the childhood phase is of particular concern as it may offer an explanation for developmental pathways resulting in long-run antisocial conduct. While youth brain imaging was earlier restricted on account of the possible dangers linked to the administration of ionizing radiation or radioactive isotopes, magnetic resonance imaging now facilitates brain imaging of youngsters. The PFC (prefrontal cortex) is the best imitated anomaly across a broad gamut of antisocial clusters and diverse imaging methods. Functional as well as structural aberrations have been noted in the frontal lobe. Positron emission tomography has helped identify decreased frontal functioning among aggressive impulsive people, killers, and psychiatric clients committing violence. Decreased prefrontal cortex blood flow has been noted among alcohol abusers and violent criminals having APD. Conduct disorder (an enduring pattern of rule-breaking and infringement of law, which includes manipulation, bullying, vandalism, aggression, treachery, burglary, forced sex and fleeing from home) is the key childhood indicator of APD (Glenn and Raine).




A succession of psychologist interviews clearly established that Kuklinski was both aggressive and unemotional. He did not show the mental and emotional stability typical of normal people. Indeed, he admitted to frequently feeling nothing when murdering people and simply experiencing curiosity regarding the extent he could go to. At the end of the interview sessions, he was diagnosed as having APD, which explains his overall absence of guilt, his outbursts and his violent tendencies (Hidalgo).




2. Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD)




This represents an eccentric personality disorder (EPD) variant. EPD is characterised by peculiar conduct. PPD-diagnosed persons are highly distrustful of others, and feel others wish to do them harm. Further indications of PPD are: reluctance to divulge one’s thoughts and feelings to other people, holding resentments, and wrongly sensing belittling or hostile connotations even in extremely innocent events or statements. PPD-diagnosed individuals are often quick to antagonize and develop unfriendly feelings about others. What causes PPD is currently not unknown; nevertheless, scholars hold that it is triggered by environmental and biological factors combined. It surfaces more within households depicting a family history of delusion and schizophrenia. Exposure to traumatic incidents in the early childhood phase is another potential contributor (Legg). According to Dr. Dietz, Kuklinski had developed PPD, marked by antisocial conduct and mistrust. Such people generally tend to doubt the aims and behaviour of other people where it isn’t warranted. They expect others to cause them harm and do not budge an inch from their wrongly formed expectations and opinions (Andrew).







The video depicts Dr. Dietz explaining that the two aforementioned disorders combined helped Kuklinski do terrible things no other human would contemplate doing. However, the diagnoses fail to account for how he could simultaneously play role of an affectionate father and husband, and a callous murderer. Kuklinski’s APD results in him not feeling anything (or to put it in more scientific words, he doesn’t display internal biological reactions to events triggering severe responses among normal individuals). When killing people, he felt absolutely nothing; he was merely, in his own words, committing those tasks for the funds that he earned as an assassin in the Mafia. This is a concept impossible for us to comprehend. While one cannot discern what was so different in Kuklinski’s life as compared to a person who suffered childhood abuse and ended up with a mild disorder like depression, one can conclude that abuse had a highly significant, devastating impact on the Iceman’s life (Nolan).

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