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The live theater show asking why we are so fascinated by serial killers

The Psychology of Serial Killers and Why They Captivate Us will be in Thousand Oaks on February 29
Dr Rachel Toles
The Psychology of Serial Killers and Why They Captivate Us will be in Thousand Oaks on February 29

If you’ve ever been curious as to why serial killers become that way, a live show coming to Ventura County aims to shed some light on their psyche.

From the Jeffrey Dahmer Story, to Ted Bundy…half of Americans say they enjoy true crime content. But what is it that draws us in?

"It's because serial killers are a rare breed. They could look like a normal person. Like your next door neighbor could be a serial killer. I think that's a part of the draw," said Dr. Rachel Toles, clinical psychologist and criminal expert – and host of new live show, The Psychology of Serial Killers and Why They Captivate Us.

"I'm going to be presenting my theory about nine cumulative factors that make a serial killer, that's never been talked about before," said Dr Toles.

"I've been putting this together for years and really getting a sense of developmental stuff. Okay, what happens between 0 to 3? What happens between 3 to 5? What happens? And so as I started connecting the dots with serial killers, I have been able to put together this formula. So I'll be taking you through the formative years of prominent serial killers and kind of applying this formula," she explained.

Far from being macabre, our obsession with serial killers can actually make us more empathetic towards victims and more safety conscious, says Toles.

"It's not about the glorification. Ideally, it's about early detection, intervention and hopefully prevention in the future. But the idea is if we can get to the bottom of what's happening that's causing the wiring to get wrong, because there is a period when they're adolescents where there can be some intervention that can prevent people from becoming this way," she said.

Toles says there's there a gender imbalance in who is fascinated with the topic.

"Men love to talk about sex, but women love to talk about murder. Men spend their lives scanning the environments for sexual conquests. Women spend their lives scanning to avoid getting murdered. I've always said women are the true detectives because women have to read between the lines. It should be Shirley Holmes, not Sherlock Holmes," said Toles.

"8% of serial killers worldwide are female. So that tells you yes, most are male. Men are way more likely to kill. With serial killers there's a whole process that goes on inside of them that's causing them to take this unresolved rage and this feeling of powerlessness, and to find a target, which is who they've been profiling. And somehow this target, they project everything onto that thing - by that thing that, I mean, person, but really object to them, that represents everything that has ever made them feel powerless. And so the way they take back their power is through the kill. And that's also that feeling they get from being powerful from the kill is what causes the addiction," explained Toles.

"There's not a lot of them. They're actually quite rare," said Toles.

It’s not just serial killers the audience can learn more about, Toles says – they also learn something about themselves.

"I think we all have the potential [to be a serial killer], believe it or not, because we're all human. I think actually that's what we're most drawn to is the question, 'Why do I not do this?' How are we not asking ourselves? 'Could that be me, or could that be my husband or my brother or my whoever?' You are going to have that question of, how much can we trust ourselves?"
The Psychology of Serial Killers and Why They Captivate Us will be at the Fred Kavli Theater in Thousand Oaks on February 29.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 7 Golden Mike Awards, 4 Los Angeles Press Club Awards and 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.