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Psychological Profile of Albert Fish

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 1788 words Published: 3rd Jul 2018

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Criminal profiling has always been a crucial way of solving crime in law enforcement. This type of mechanism narrows the field of investigation by indicating what kind of person is most likely to have committed a crime by focusing on certain behavioral and personality traits. It is a collection of leads, and has been described as a skilled attempt to provide specific information about a certain type of suspect. A disorganized asocial offender tends to have an unusual personality. As a child, their childhood had often consisted of physical or emotional abuse. Even in school, disorganized offenders struggled to make friends and also with academics. Usually, these offenders are described as strange, socially awkward, and unintelligent. Many are reasons why these offenders are overlooked. For example, in a homicide; the disorganized offender attacks the victims abruptly and uses un-planned or barely planned violence. Disorganized asocial offenders are only comfortable within their familiar surroundings because of the absence of social norms and values. (Holmes, 1996, p.49)

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The organized nonsocial offender however, is the exact opposite. These offenders have organized characteristics that match to their own personal lifestyle (Holmes, 1996 p.50). Most of organized offenders are not often recognized because of their ability to “blend in.” Their charismatic personalities also play a role in their behavior. Even under suspicion, the offender could have the possibilities of preparing responses to benefit his own situation. When committing a crime, they try to leave and little evidence as possible (Holmes, 1996 p. In the case of a murder, the offender would not leave the murder weapon at the crime scene. Alternatively, they would take the weapon and move the body to a different location. An organized nonsocial offender is most likely inclined to use a weapon that belongs to them.

Not all serial killers are the same. Although they tend to have a similar motivations, their behaviors are different from one another. Each serial killer can be identified in different sub-categories. The most recognized sub-categories are the visionary, mission, hedonistic, and control serial killers. Visionary killers are propelled to kill because of the voices he hears or visions he sees. God or the devil can be an influence to a visionary killer (Holmes, 1996, p.64). These killers would usually be out of touch with reality. With mission killers, they are the exact opposite of visionary killers. Instead of being out of touch with reality, mission killers are very active in the real world (Holmes, 1996, p.64). They are likely to gravitate to a certain group of people and are prone to target a minority. A hedonistic killer or thrill killer sexual gratification through the murder. These killers use time consuming techniques to murder their victims; this includes dismemberment, necrophilia, mutilation, and many more. The hedonistic killer is more fixated on the killing compared to the visionary and mission killer. However, there is an extension to the hedonistic subcategory. One that does not kill for sexual gratification for a prime motive is called a hedonistic comfort-oriented killer. The hedonistic comfort-oriented killer preferably kills for personal gain. At last, the power or control serial killer, gains pleasure from the complete domination of his victim. Much like the hedonistic serial killer, a control serial killer gains sexual gratification from the murder; the only difference is having power over the victim (Holmes, 1996, p. 66).

The subcategory of “hedonistic serial killer” best suits Albert Fish because he had lured children inside his home and would torture them multiple ways. Some of the acts of torture would include a paddle laced with sharp nails; he would later sexually assault them. As he continued to do these acts, he eventually murdered and cannibalized his victims, primarily children.

Albert Fish is an organized nonsocial, hedonistic serial killer who is a psychopath.


Hamilton Howard Fish, also known as Albert Fish, was born in Washington D.C. on May 19, 1870. His father, Randall Fish, was 75 at the time of his birth making him 43 years older than his mother. The youngest of three living siblings, Fish adopted the name Albert after a deceased sibling. Many members of his family had mental illness, and one suffered from religious mania. One of Fish’s brothers was issued into a state mental institution. His sister was identified with a “mental affliction” Also, his mother experienced aural and visual hallucinations. Three other relatives were diagnosed with mental illnesses (Murderpedia). As a child, Fish suffered several traumatic events such as dealing with the death of his father and also being sent to an orphanage by his mother. At the time, Albert was five years old, the youngest in the entire boy in the entire institution. (Doidge) While at the orphanage, he was exposed to numerous acts of perversion and physical abuse which benefited his obsession with sadomasochism. Over the years, he was introduced to practices such as urolagnia and coprophagia from a telegraph boy. This led Fish to visit public bathhouses to watch boys undress. As he grew older, Fish moved to New York to become a male prostitute. In that time, he began sexually assaulting young boys (Doidge). Fish claimed to have “had children in every state” although it is not known whether his statement was true (Murderpedia). He mainly targeted African American or mentally challenged children because he believed that they would not be missed. Fish later married a 19 year old woman and had 6 children with her; she eventually abandoned him and their children for another man (Castleden). Although Fish had never abused his children, he encouraged them to participate in his sado-masochism games. This included his children using a nailed studded paddle on Fish’s buttocks. He was also known for writing a letter to Mrs. Budd explaining in great detail the torture he put their children through, and also how he cannibalized her. He only confessed to the murders of Francis McDonnell, Grace Budd, and Billy Gaffney.


Fish is indeed an organized nonsocial, hedonistic serial killer. Albert Fish falls into the category of an organized nonsocial offender. Although he is categorized as an organized nonsocial offender, he illustrates traits of a disorganized asocial as well. For this reason, Fish suffered from having an absent father-figure in his life since his father had died when he was only five years old. This caused his mother to send him to an orphanage in which he had became socially awkward. Another characteristic was that Fish claimed that God was persuading him to murder and torture children. His main traits are mostly found within an organized nonsocial offender. For example, Fish had used his charm on Mr. and Mrs. Budd that had gained their trust in order to lure Grace out of their home; this shows that he is able to manipulate others because he gives a good impression of himself. Fish also plans out his attacks before committing them. Albert Fish has a very high likelihood of being a psychopath because of the characteristics found in his behavior. His family history may have played a factor in his actions however, he had been examined several times by psychiatrists at Bellevue but was Fish was always released and declared “disturbed but sane.” This signifies that Fish is capable of manipulating and harming others around him. He has been known to be a master in disguise because of his weak and fragile old man appearance. He Fish uses this as an advantage to try and prey on his victims.


Albert Fish | Murderpedia, the encyclopedia of murderers. (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2015, from http://murderpedia.org/male.F/f/fish-albert.htm

Albert Fish’s Childhood | Twisted Minds – a website about serial killers. (2007, January 1). Retrieved January 28, 2015, from http://twistedminds.creativescapism.com/mostnotorious/albert-fish/

Cannibal ‘Albert Fish’ Documentary. (2012, February 24). Retrieved January 29, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orJiXNQeScs

Castleden, C. (2011). Albert Fish the Lying Cannibal. New York: Constable & Robinson.

Doidge, C. (2002). The Life of Albert Fish. In Profile of Serial Killers. Create Space Independent Publishing Platform.

Forensic Document Examination. (n.d.). Retrieved February 4, 2015, from http://www.forensicsciencesimplified.org/docs/how.html

Handwriting Expert, Forensic Document Examiner, Forgery Exam. (2006, January 1). Retrieved February 3, 2015, from http://www.documentlab.com/

Hare, R. (1999). Without conscience: The disturbing world of the psychopaths among us. New York: Guilford Press.

Holmes, R., & Holmes, S. (2002). Profiling violent crimes: An investigative tool (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.

Montaldo, C. (2014, December 16). Profile of Serial Killer Albert Fish. Retrieved February 3, 2015, from http://crime.about.com/od/serial/p/albertfish.htm

Rawlins, H. (2003, January 1). Serial Killers. Retrieved January 30, 2015, from http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/spring03/rawlins/fishtrial.htm

Taylor, T. (n.d.). ALBERT FISH. Retrieved January 30, 2015, from http://www.prairieghosts.com/fish.html


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