Joseph Paul Franklin, born James Clayton Vaughn, Jr., is one of the most well known serial killers of our time. The white supremacist is responsible for between 7 and 20 deaths using primarily a sniper rifle and targeting primarily Jews and blacks. Born in Mobile, Alabama, Franklin is responsible for some of the worst horror stories of serial killers we have today. One of the most interesting and difficult questions to answer of course is “what makes a serial killer?” What turns a man into one, who would kill repeatedly and with purpose, ultimately glorying in the blood of others? The purpose of this paper is to use three commonly accepted models of psychosocial analysis – Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development, Defense Mechanism, and the Five Factor Model of Personality – to trace the development of James Clayton Vaughn, Jr. into Joseph Paul Franklin, murderer and ultimately death row prisoner. This will be accomplished, this ambitious endeavor, by first summarizing the three tools of analysis being used, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses as analytical tools, and comparing/contrasting the parts of each that can be used to create a full psycho-biographical profile of Franklin’s life.
Background Information and Analysis
The tools used for the analysis of Franklin are important and highly accurate, and it is predicted that they will be used in conjunction with one another to provide a comprehensive profile of a serial killer. The three analytical tools being used today have been established tools for psychology for several decades each. The Five Factor Model, for instance, is the result of decades of research and there is no other trait theory used in psychology today that has had a better consensus in terms of effectiveness. However, despite their establishment in psychological literature and utilization today, there are still strengths and weaknesses of each of these tools, and it is important to point out these potential limitations before applying them to the life of Joseph Paul Franklin.
Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development first focuses on the subject of “ego identity” and the way the ego is developed throughout life. Defined as the social reality a person is experiencing, or how well one knows oneself, Erikson theorizes that as one moves through life development the ego changes with every new social stimulus experienced. “The second major theme in Erikson’s theory focuses on competence and personal adequacy”. There are eight age ranges he labels, indicated by the table below:
First year Infancy
2-3 Early Childhood
6-11 School Age
21-35 Young Adulthood
61-Death Old Age
Each of these age ranges is characterized by what is being learned and built during this time period. For instance, the preschool age (3-5) experiences a crisis of initiative versus guilt, which results in the formation of the individual’s purpose. For those who study the lives and psychology of...