The recent TV series, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story has renewed public interest in the story of a serial killer while becoming Netflix’s second-most popular English language program of all time. Many people have criticized the Dahmer series for desensitizing viewers and potentially “retraumatizing” the families, surviving victims, and those closely involved with the case. We live in times of viral populous acceptance of ideas, both negative and positive. Perhaps this voyeuristic pleasure by the viewers is a reflection of society and our primal fascination with evil. Tonight on Ground Zero, Clyde Lewis talks with astrologer, Jaime Paul Lamb and psychotherapist, Dr. Kirk Honda about MILWAUKEE MONSTER – THE ASTROLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGY OF JEFFERY DAHMER.
Following the release of Ryan Murphy’s true crime drama Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story on Netflix last month, it has renewed public interest in the story of the serial killer, with the series trailing Stranger Things 4 for most hours viewed on the platform and becoming Netflix’s second-most popular English language series of all time.
With Halloween coming, Dahmer-related merchandise has hit sellers including eBay — people are aghast, hoping that those who wish to go to the Halloween party as Dahmer should reconsider.
eBay has banned the sale of Dahmer-inspired costumes due to a breach of its policy on violence and violent criminals. The items included an orange jumpsuit with a mask and glasses similar to what was worn by actor Evan Peters, who portrays Dahmer in the series.
The TV series on Netflix has been discouraged by critics, however people who watch it say that it is disturbing and quite haunting. I have seen it and it does create a sense of dread — and the thought of bodies in the bedroom is enough to make anyone think about throwing up,
Many people have criticized the Dahmer series for desensitizing viewers, and it also prompted responses from the victims’ families, with one member sharing that the show is “retraumatizing” his family.
Rita Isbell, the sister of Erroll Lindsey one of Dahmer’s Victims, said she was dismayed to see her impassioned courtroom speech to Dahmer — officers had to restrain her from attacking him — reenacted word for word and transformed into a meme.
All along, show creator Ryan Murphy argued this wasn’t his intent. The showrunners were making a redeeming kind of Dahmer series, they said. Theirs would bring the focus away from Dahmer and onto his victims and to the racist and homophobic systems that failed them. One episode focuses entirely on the life of Tony Hughes, a deaf aspiring model.
That was the only moment of hope in the series… and if you didn’t know the outcome of the relationship, you would have thought that Dahmer was falling in love.
But of course, the monster would rise up and destroy everything.
Dahmer raped, murdered and dismembered at least 17 men and boys in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, between 1978 and 1991, shocking the world with the extent of his crimes, including cannibalism and necrophilia. Most of his victims were gay, black men.
But keep in mind that this was just one of the many TV shows and movies from Hollywood about the Milwaukee Monster.
Jeremy Renner starred in the 2002 film Dahmer, while the 2017 film My Friend Dahmer featured former Disney star Ross Lynch as the murderer.
Many of us that lived through the disgusting headlines in USA Today realized that one man could commit barbarous acts of terror with the blaring words of “Nightmare in Milwaukee,” through clippings of People magazine describing the heads in the freezer, through anonymous interviews with nauseated policemen — It was also a moment where civil rights creeped into the story with Jesse Jackson rallying in the streets declaring that what Dahmer did was a hate crime.
I have been a fan of Ryan Murphy shows. They show all types of people and all types of characters that we may encounter in our lives. All kinds — meaning Gay, straight, black or white. He has also had success producing American Horror Story and has reflected on the OJ Simpson trial, and the Monica Lewinski scandal and I enjoy his interpretation of contemporary history.
In Dahmer, Murphy shows us that the victims’ families were people like we are, with dreams and aspirations like we have. When these young men and boys were killed, their families reacted with the grief we can all explicitly understand.
In fact the series does a good job of having us feel the grief and the terror that Dahmer created.
What we cannot understand is why a person would eat people — and there is a focus on that — and this is what I believe the critics are attacking: It is the psychology of Jeffery Dahmer that people will refuse to understand.
I think deep down though people really do stop and wonder how this guy got away with so many murders and whether or not the sandwiches he gave his neighbors were made from his victims.
What was it that triggered Dahmer? Was it watching his mother lie on her bed, corpse-like, after a pill overdose? Was it dissecting roadkill with his dad in the name of scientific experimentation?
In one scene, Dahmer goes fishing and, while learning to gut his catch, squeezes the entrails between his fingers and watches them ooze. It’s meant to be disgusting — it is disgusting — but we’re also meant to understand that Dahmer finds it titillating. The camera lingers on the fish, and the image returns throughout the series.
Then of course we have all of the gory details of the femurs, the torsos, the vats of acid and the skulls in the filing cabinet and the constant reminder from his neighbors that a horrible smell came from his apartment.
Most people are very interested in serial killers. Too many think pieces have already been written about America’s collective fascination with serial killers. But at least a part of it is our endless appetite for understanding the inner workings of evil men. How did society fail them? How did their parents fail them? Was it the mother’s fault?
One thing is for sure. And that is, for every person that strives to make these evil men unspecial — there are a majority of people that want to make them special — because monsters are among us . Like vampires, werewolves and cannibals are unique, they are the anomaly — and this is why we cannot look away.
Many of us ask ourselves if we would ever crack to the point of being crazy enough to kill someone. We always hear about the guy that smiled at his neighbors, was always kind, and was a contributor to the community — who eventually is unmasked as a serial killer or pedophile.
The line between revulsion and attraction is fine sometimes.
This is what attracts us to these stories of inhumanity.
The popularity of the Dahmer series is no surprise given the growth of true crime as an entertainment genre — everything from podcasts to narrative journalism to television series and films entrance audiences with storytelling, suspense, and a collective longing for justice.
But the popularity of these programs, especially those that reiterate the horrifying acts of serial killers, reveals a rotten reality about our society.
There is a body of thought that suggests that focusing on the larger-than-life media images of socially constructed ‘celebrity monsters,’ the public becomes captivated by the stylized presentation of the criminals rather than the reality of their crimes,
It can also be said that these series seem to sex up the characters by offering attractive stars to play their roles.
It is not too far out of the conversation to see that actors who have played Ted Bundy and now Dahmer have been considered some of the most attractive actors of our time — and so young girls can’t help but be attracted to the mysterious misunderstood killers that these actors portray.
He was a real person. And his victims were real people who endured the terrifying torture that sends shivers up our spines. Their surviving families face that trauma all over again when their real-life worst nightmare is usurped for our entertainment.
While we can cast blame on producers, writers, and directors, audiences demand this content. People want to watch movies and shows and documentaries and dramatizations of serial killers. In the case of Dahmer, consumption was over 700 million hours in a week.
The voyeuristic pleasure that comes with another serial killer story, or another version of a familiar killer’s story, is evidence of a gross fixation. If anything, the industry that produces such depictions of violence and profits from it enables the expression of what is already true: We’re fascinated with evil.
It is the old idea of bread and circuses.
The Roman Colosseum drew crowds to cheer on gladiators fighting to the death. Hangings, beheadings, and other executions historically were a public affair that entire communities gathered to watch. Less than 100 years ago, white Americans assembled in town squares for lynchings of innocent Black men.
We look back and cringe at how others cheered death, their cruelty and heartlessness so stark in hindsight. Now in the safety of your home, you can watch the Hollywood magic of equivalency.
Perhaps serial killer shows are a release — they are the alternatives to public hangings and lynchings. They are the equivalent of the car crash that everyone rubber necks when they are on the highway.
Many of the religious leaders say that when you decide to push play and watch these shows — you are inviting the devil in. You are releasing that evil power back into the world.
It is a creepy thought when tulpas play a role.
Kenneth Anger, who is a follower of Aleister Crowley’s, Thelema, has stated that the film does exactly what everyone suspects — it plants the seeds for a future event.
The purpose for some films is to stir the primal forces and is used as magical weapons to stir the soul out of conformity. The flickering image, according to Anger, creates a thought form and even if the image flickers for no one, it is still a causal engine that sends the image into the ether. If someone picks up on the meme and it is successfully implanted in the zeitgeist, it is theorized that the very nightmare could easily transpire in the real world.
A Tulpa is the product of a story or parable that generates enough energy to manifest visually outside of the existential world.
It is conceptually similar to that of a spiritual architect that designs a thought form. There eventually is a template and a blueprint that is followed and repeated. When the process becomes ingrained in the collective unconscious, the thought form can manifest visually as if it is being constructed piece by piece until it shows itself.
A Tulpa is quite literally the idea that objects and events can happen by sheer willpower alone. It is causal engineering that can either benefit or destroy the group or person that has created it.
We live in times of viral populous acceptance of ideas both negative and positive.
Messages no longer travel from mouth to ear. They travel digitally and conveniently from house to house via uplink. These viral ideas are visualized through carefully placed predictive programming and hyper-reality.
In 1984, there were worries that perhaps the movie “Nightmare on Elm Street” inspired the real life “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez. Ten years later, Wes Craven explored the possibility of the fictional serial killer Freddy Krueger leaping out of the screen into reality in “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” in 1994. The film was laughable, but two years later Craven had to face the possibility that his films that featured complex killers were creating some sort of force that possessed people into murdering others.
He worried that perhaps Freddy Krueger was becoming a very real Tulpa and that through Richard Ramirez manifested in reality.
So would Ryan Murphy have the same worries about Dahmer?
Well, Dahmer was a real killer and not a fictional one dreamt of by Hollywood but his dread and aftermath are felt by those who observe the series in their homes.
Dark figures are written as the saviors now. They are written so that you can sympathize with them or cheer them on if they eventually see the light.
Dahmer found Jesus in the end — he was baptized and then was murdered soon after — does this mean he was forgiven?
That is the mystery of what God plans for everyone.
So redemption of the monster has been a trope that has been used so that we can accept leaders and heroes with questionable origins, questionable affiliations, questionable political philosophies and loyalty conflicts that stem from spiritual poverty. The embracing of the dark characters in true crime and science fiction could be interpreted as a sign of a wounded or betrayed society.
Good and evil are safely acted out in the darkness of a theater or your living room and absorbed in the unconscious mind. Hyper-reality is the new Holy Spirit and predictive programming is the new oracle to be used to define and measure the credibility of revelation.
Perhaps this TV series will be the new breeding ground or the influence needed for a crop of serial killers that will terrorize us in the future — or we may be reacting to something innocuous.
SHOW GUESTS: JAIME PAUL LAMB AND DR. KIRK HONDA
Jaime Paul Lamb is a consulting astrologer and tarotist, practicing in the context of the Western Esoteric Traditions. He is the author of Myth, Magick & Masonry (2018), Approaching the Middle Chamber (2020) and The Archetypal Temple (2021). Lamb is a founder and co-host of Tria Prima Podcast (triaprima.co) and operates the blog and website jaimepaullamb.com. He resides in Phoenix, Arizona.
Dr. Kirk Honda has a doctorate in psychology with a concentration in adult psychotherapy and a master’s in psychology with a concentration in couple and family therapy. He started his private practice in Seattle in 1998 and has been a licensed marriage and family therapy in Washington State since 1999. Kirk is host of Psychology In Seattle Podcast/YouTube channel.