Criminal Profile of Ted Kaczynski

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Vanderbilt University
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Ted Kaczynski was born in 1942 to Polish-American parents and was the first born in Illinois. From a young age, he exhibited great excellence especially in mathematics, and as such he was allowed to skip a 6th grade to go to the 7th grade because of his excellent performance. However, because of being classmates with older children, he most times became a victim of bullying and such harassment. Alarmingly, he had a phobia for people and building, and the school environment escalated this fear. While in high school he had a greater preference for studying compared to socializing (Kaczynski, 2016). He developed a strong liking for mathematics and would spend most of his time solving equations and at age sixteen, he was accepted to Harvard University for an undergraduate course. With his IQ of 167, he was able to graduate in 1962 and later enrol at the University of Michigan for a doctorate. In fact, he ever taught at the University of California in Berkeley calculus and geometry, but people noticed he was uncomfortable in the tutoring environment in which he only stayed for a short because he was frequently mumbling and stuttering in class. Sadly, in 1971, he resigned for no good reason and went back to Illinois in his parents place where he wanted to adopt a primitive lifestyle. He constructed for himself a small cabin outside Montana where he would stay the rest of his life choosing to undertake odd jobs to get some income as well as depending on his family for financial support. Unfortunately, his kind of life was unattainable as he would realize later because of modern technology. While in the cabin, he studied survival tactics like primitive construction, edible plant identification and tracking. In staying in a cabin without electricity and water, he was trying to adopt a self-sufficiency in life.

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Teds development as a child played a role in shaping the person he became a criminal and his love for violence and his aggressive tendencies. As a young boy, he had an allergic infection that necessitated his isolation when he was getting treatment. In hospital and hospitalized alone made him learn isolation at an early age as he felt left out to his own world to survive. Additionally, he might have felt locked out from the outside world and from receiving the love he needed as a young child. In fact, it was noted that his character and personality changed significantly after recovering from the ailment. When his parent got the second born, it affected Ted greatly as he felt all the attention he was getting from his parents had shifted to his young sibling. Thus he wanted to have ways of getting noticed and recognized which would have pushed him to crime to get that attention. While his IQ and the idea to skip the sixth grade might be regarded as an incredible step, it affected him big time. It denied Ted an opportunity to develop social skills which would be vital throughout his life to help relate with other people. Social skills allow one to behave in a nearly usual manner as talking with people gives one a realistic worldview. But when one is a loner, they can form philosophies that are not well sieved and would not fit within the norms of the society. The isolation and his feeling of too different from other kids led him to seek deeper and greater ways of being unique such as bombings and violence.

Additionally, during his early years of growing up, it was his parents who pushed him hard to attain academic success in mathematics, and it was not something that he had intrinsic motivation to pursue. As such he felt controlled by his parents as they never considered his take on the matter. Thus when he grew up and is an adult, he makes wrong decisions in rebellion as a way to assert control and authority his life. Additionally, the pressure to achieve excellence from his parents would get him to feel incompetent apart from the education and in which in the long run made him devalue and despise school. In a sense, he felt his value was attached to the education and the high grades he had, and apart from it, he would be regarded as a failure. He never experienced parental love which led him to adopt violence to deal with the frustrations he felt as a child. In one of his mails, he tells of how he experienced psychological abuse from the people whom he needed love. In the message, his mother scolded him sternly for not putting his dirty socks in the laundry hamper. He felt not cherished and not understood breeding the possibility of terrorism (Kobrin, 2016). These high standards set by his parents seemed unattainable, and the more he tried, the less he pleased them and the more frustrated he became. This poor and unloving treatment by his mother would later affect him so much that he was unable to develop deep relationships and friendships especially with women leading to his mental illness. Thus, he chose a different path to affirm his value and identity and show that real value is not in books. Finally, the psychological experiment that a professor did, and he was one of the specimen while in school might have played a part in his crime related tendencies. The three-year experiment in Harvard that would include humiliation and stress affected him psychologically. The educational environment, as he suggests, in Harvard as the best as it placed a high emphasis on science rather than ethics and as such enslaving people who do not realise. This realization would have him have great hatred for the book environment and organized studying that he found himself for the most of his life. Furthermore, he might have lost value for life when his father committed suicide following his terminal illness in cancer. It affirmed the fact that technology was wrong such that it had brought human misery which had no cure for cancer. Thus, his rage was vexed and he needed to think more on how to avert technology. Sadly, he had no friend to share this feeling of frustrations but pilled them in his already sick mind.

Ted struggled with his sexual identity from his early twenties as he suggested in one of his interviews. He recalls an incident while at the University of Michigan and he had the urge and desire and fantasies of being a female and as such had an appointed with the psychiatrist in the health centre for that matter. However, when the day of the appointment came, he felt ashamed at the consultation room, lied to the therapist and left the building. From then henceforth, he had had great hatred for the psychiatrist to the extent that he contemplated killing him. He felt the great emptiness and utter darkness that was in his future. It was after that he had planned to vanish to the wilderness. The feeling of confusion and vanity, played a significant role in him making the bomb which would kill three people and injure about twenty-three individuals. The sense of despair and no value clogged his ability to make a sober judgment even when preparing the bombings. Being the loner he was, it was difficult for anybody to monitor his behavior early enough and seek psychological intervention. If the matter were addressed earlier maybe after quitting the lecturing job, the outcome would not have been that bad.

The situations and environment Ted found himself played a significant part in developing crime related tendencies by acting as a breeding ground for his bombings. The cabin was a place of isolation where nobody would notice his weird behavior and question it (Barnett, 2015). He would have uninterrupted time to study and develop abnormal philosophies because he had no one to challenge this thoughts or ideologies. The fact that he kept to himself and bothered nobody would not have raised suspicion from his neighbors in Montana. Additionally, there was a disconnect based on the fact that he was learned and nobody would have expected him to live the kind of life he was living making it harder for any early intervention for his mental state. The cabin provided a conducive environment for him to develop his anti-government and anti-technology ideologies and by the time this was noticed he had believed in this philosophies so much that nobody would shift his mind.

From the psychological investigations, Unabomber suffered from paranoid schizophrenia which would lead him to make irrational decisions and act deceived and tricked by his mind. His defense attorney thus pleaded for insanity defense suggesting that Ted was not in a position to differentiate between right and wrong and acted impulsively from his mental sickness. During his analysis, Ted was seen to have attempted suicide in weird ways to try deal with the frustrations he was experiencing. Additionally, he had baseless anger against the organized society and during one on the interviews, he suggested that he had issues with other people but tried revenge with the organized society. In his essays, Ted exhibited deluded mindset and persuasion about the organized society and the government. His arguments that technology was all bad and that the organized society denies one mental autonomy and physical freedom could not be true. Moreover, his relentless pursuit to kill, violence and untold hatred for the societal are signs of the abnormality. His preference of isolation and emotional disconnections are all symptoms of his paranoid schizophrenia. Judy Clarke and Michael Donahoe, the federal defenders upon concluding that he was mentally ill, tried insanity defense to ensure that Ted wont stand trial because he was incapable of did not bear fruit as Ted suggested he was not mentally ill and was able to stand trial. In fact, he suggested that the diagnosis of his mental illness was both political and ridiculous.

The psychologists played a central role in the prosecution and trial of Unabombers case. They compiled the psychological reports following the assessment of his mental state to determine whether he was fit for the trial or not. Additionally, it was the psychologists who were given the mandate of interviewing Ted to gather the necessary information that would assist in the investigation of the matter. The interviewing also involved key people like the mother, brother, and the Montana librarian to give all the vital information based on their observation and interpretation of Teds personality. The psychologists were able to carry out the diagnosis and draw the conclusion that Ted had paranoid schizophrenia by considering the developmental, situational and childhood how they affected the person he had become. It was the psychologists knowledge that was utilized in ensuring that the prosecutors dealt with Ted with understanding having all the necessary information they needed. Psychologists like Amador helped the criminal investigators interpret statements that Ted made. For instance, when Ted denied being schizophrenic and suggested that the illness was in remission, Amador helped the team understand that the criminal believed and considered himself somebody important in history. In the trials, psychological input was essential to determine the message his body language sent like the slamming of the pencil on the desk when he realized he was considered mentally ill. In conclusion, apart from the input of the psychologist, it is possible for the criminals to be misjudged and not treated with understanding. Through psychology, the investigators can understand the impact of the lifes experiences of an individual in shaping their personality and dictating their behavior.


Barnett, B. A. (2015). 20 Years Later: A Look Back at the Unabomber Manifesto. Perspectives on Terrorism, 9(6).

Kaczynski, D. (2016). Every Last Tie: The Story of the Unabomber and His Family. Duke University Press.

Kobrin, N. H. (2016). Nobody Born a Terrorist, but Early Childhood Matters: Explaining the Jihadis Lack of Empathy. Perspectives on Terrorism, 10(5).

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