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Theories of Personality Term Paper

Through the eyes of a person who has watched the movie “Interview with the Iceman”, Richard Kuklinski, who could not stop at anything that could prevent him from murdering his victims, is a hardened serial killer, whose personality is attributed to the brutal up bringing he received from his equally brutal parents: a father who bet up and killed Richard’s elder brother Florian and a mother who shielded the crime to protect her husband and also a brother who raped and murdered a twelve year old girl.

These parents used to beat up their children at the slightest provocation, not just beating them but mercilessly doing so. And this so greatly hardened their children and determined their personalities in the later years of their lives.

Considering the various theories of personality, and specifically the psychoanalytic theory (Matthews, Deary, & Whiteman, 2003), which postulates that any kind of behavior in human beings is usually determined by an individual’s past experiences, more specifically childhood experiences which dot the person’s perceptions of ongoing experiences in his or her life in which case, Richard Kuklinski’s childhood experiences can be said to have greatly contributed to his adulthood character ending up as a mafia torturer and serial killer (Matthews, Deary, & Whiteman, 2003).

His heinous acts, having been brought up in predominantly abusive environment therefore points back to his childhood life and interactions. His parents treated him with a lot of cruelty thus prompting him to be so cruel a human being.

Thus ending up with such a personality is no surprise considering what he had gone through as a child. In as much as he had passed out to be a normal family man covering up in “business” which he had made his family and neighbors believe he was doing he ended up committing his murders and was able to “camouflage” for quite a long period of time.

The other theory that is evidently seen in regard to Richard Kuklinski’s character, is the humanistic theory (Matthews, Deary, & Whiteman, 2003) which states that any form of behavior is always understood by first understanding a persons way of looking at issues and how he or she perceives himself or herself in regard to others and this will always give a person self gratification and fulfillment.

Despite the fact that his actions are considered the worst of all humanness, Kuklinski seems to derive some joy and satisfaction in all that he does. He murders some of his victims slowly and painfully and does not even have mercy on them or their families, this then makes one see that he is getting self fulfillment even though in the wrong way.

His internal perception of the killings he commits is basically getting even with his master’s enemies or those people who offended him, in killing a victim after another he does not feel guilty nor does he get to be affected, he even feels like its good to kill those people he feels have known much of his supposed “business” for instance the undercover detective whom he had disclosed to his past ventures. He seems to enjoy murder after murder and therefore getting the excitement of going on with his activities.

Extensively analyzing and evaluating the Iceman, he needs some sort of treatment and therapy more especially with his emotions and feelings towards other people by first understanding his background. In his case he needs serious psychological therapy as well as lifestyle modification therapy (Cooper, 1988).

Now that he had become very violent with his wife and children, to them he was a monster even though their family unit was the perfect family set up in their neighborhood. Courtesy of his unfeeling kind of character, he does not seem to really feel sorry for what he has done to other people, Kuklinski therefore needs room to evaluate himself and come to really understand the impact of his actions on other people’s lives.

That if he was put in the shoes of his victims just for a couple of minutes, for instance those that he fed to huge rats to their death, through this then, he could feel a sense of guilt which could then in return make him remorseful and even end up apologizing to those families that he murdered their loved ones. In order to solve his problems of living, he also needs to be counseled because his situation given time can be reversed.

At his age, and especially in police custody, having been sentenced to many years in prison, and therefore having no hope of ever getting out of prison, lifestyle modification therapy can also be employed on him, this could then help him improve his relationship with other people especially his fellow prisoners.

This to a large extent could help him in preventing confrontations with all those people who he came across throughout his prison life and outside prison if he was ever making it out there (Cooper, 1988). In modifying his life then he could end up a reformed person as it is the case with some hardened criminals who even end up as acceptable members of society in their new personalities as reformed people such that good citizenship could bring a new meaning to his life once more (Matthews, Deary, & Whiteman, 2003).

Richard Kuklinsiki’s encounter with Doctor Park Dietz, to some extent can be seen to be a bit personal and confrontational with psyche. Having been of the worst character imaginable, a killer who did not in the slightest instance have mercy for his victims and family members, he can be expected to be extremely rude and not even adequately respond to the psychiatrist (Cooper, 1988).

This then prompted the Doctor to some extent get up close to him so as to make him speak. If he was to be treated with politeness and fear then most definitely he could have played it hard. The Doctor could at times get personal with Kuklinski because it was inevitable and only this made him speak out.

The Iceman turns out to be a monster that possesses different personalities, on one hand, an extreme character that is so inhuman, unfeeling and very cold at heart. He goes on to kill his victims in so many brutal ways and never leaves a track, meaning that he carried out his missions with a lot of intelligence, which means that with the so many murders he had gained expertise such that if he had ended up a free man all his life, then many more people would have died.

On the other hand he is so hard on his wife Barbara Pedrici; he beat her up and spelt terror on his children, yet on the outside passed as a perfect family man and businessman as well. He claimed that he could not harm women and so his major target was men, he even says that he regretted he never killed his father now that he was too brutal to him as a child. This shows that he is a very vengeful man who cannot spare even his own blood.

An individual’s life is therefore shaped so early in life such that what we do in our childhood days or whatever that is done to us is somewhat the determining factor of who a person becomes when he or she grows older (Cooper, 1988).

Human beings are therefore conditioned to be who they become by outside forces which one may choose or not choose to adopt, though inherited capabilities also play a role, the outside forces can take a lion’s share if not carefully balanced. For instance in the Iceman’s case, he could have chosen to be a different personality if he liked, but he let the prevailing circumstances shape his personality which is not acceptable to any human society (Cooper, 1988).


Cooper, C. (1988). Personality: Critical Concepts in Psychology. New York. Routledge

Matthews, G., Deary, I. & Whiteman, M. (2003). Personality Traits. UK. Cambridge University Press

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