Why do some people talk when they vomit
"There are killers who vomit and vomit after the crime"
Some people kill for ideological or racial reasons.
Among the convicts in Berlin there are several men who represent or have represented right-wing extremist positions. But sits in Tegel at the moment probably not one who has murdered because of his or her racist or ideological motivation - apart from the terrorist Johannes Weinrich, the right hand of the terrorist Carlos. Weinrich was convicted in 2000 for the 1983 attack on the Maison de France cultural center.
What does it do to a person when he kills?
Roughly speaking, there are three types: There are perpetrators who have imagined their act to be very arousing, but then experience it as catastrophic. Blackjacks who puke themselves during the act, who vomit after the act. Unfortunately, they are in the minority. Then there are those who found it comparatively easy and might do it more often if the risk of getting caught wasn't so high. And there are those who find it fascinating. Because they felt strong, great, and really manly.
Is that the majority?
I guess that's around 20 percent. But to this day it is one of the carefully guarded secrets of the courtroom that many defendants regret their act, but actually remember it as a grandiose, positive experience. Nobody admits this in the process in order not to be considered a beast.
Can you think of an example from Berlin?
A criminal told me that it was a good introduction to the organized scene if you lured another criminal, here a Russian, into a trap and executed them; you have a completely different standing. There are men who kill just for fun.
Are there murderers in Tegel JVA who are too dangerous to ever be released?
I only know a few really well. In Bavaria I got to know some people who, despite old age, have remained physically and mentally fit, narcissistic and egocentric personalities who show no sense of guilt and just seem to be waiting to show everyone again. But when they're outside, they likely have other things to worry about.
You retired in 2017. But you still travel across the country to talk to murderers, to write reports and books ...
I've always been interested in killing, murderers and manslaughters, in the context of forensic psychiatry they are the ultimate for me. These are the people who really do commit the ultimate crime. Pedophiles are boring.
What do you find fascinating?
Life and death, deadly violence that breaks into the lives of others and changes everything from one moment to the next. That worried me as a child. I was born five and a half years after the end of the war, when people were still very much influenced by the war experience, including my mother.
So did you make that your job?
I can usually approach murderers with great safety and look at them, which has a frightening effect. The contact helps to understand that these are people who have committed a homicide in a certain situation in a certain phase of their life. But you don't come into the world as a murderer and go into the pit as a murderer. There is no biological category of being a killer.
Are you sometimes scared when you're sitting with a murderer?
Usually this is completely safe because the offenders have absolutely no reason to harm me. So far there have only been a handful of situations that not only seemed dangerous to me, but probably were. These were criminal prognostic assessments, for example, whether an outcome can be justified.
There was a high school student who killed his teacher with many knife wounds in front of the class in Meißen. He had done a lot of strength training in juvenile prison and looked like a single muscle pack. He really wanted an exit to an external therapist. When it became clear that I did not support this, the situation overturned and he threatened me. We sat at the end of a deserted hallway on Friday afternoon, he between me and the steel door. Talking, I finally got to the visitor button and pressed, and after a tense wait a servant came and let me out. I learned from it.
Is murder subject to a zeitgeist?
In Berlin in particular, significant changes in dealing with delinquents can be clearly observed over the course of 40 years. The post-war generation of judges is portrayed as quite strict and not very sensitive to the psychological life of the perpetrators. Back then there were many severe punishments in Berlin. In the 1970s and 1980s, the West Berlin judiciary developed a pronounced liberalism in its island life. There was a great willingness to take psychosocial stress factors into account in the judgment and to punish them mildly.
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