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Childhood Affecting Adulthood: John Wayne Gacy


Child development and childhood is a very important factor in the determination of the kind of a person one becomes in adult life. This is because the subconscious mind records most of the activities and experiences we go through during our childhood. Thus the subconscious mind is greatly influenced by the treatment one gets in his/her childhood. To confirm this, let us analyze the case of John Wayne Gacy- a rapist who raped and killed more than thirty young boys.

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John Wayne Gacy’s life

John Wayne Gacy was born in Chicago in the year 1942 at the Edgewater hospital. He was the second in a family with three children. Joanne was two years older than him while Karen was two years younger than him. He was raised, together with his two sisters, as a believer in the catholic faith. His community was comprised of the middle class and thus teenagers used to be employed in casual and part-time jobs to make some money to fix the problems their parents could not solve for them. To this effect, Gacy worked after school as a bag boy and stock clerk in a grocery and also sold newspapers. Gacy’s childhood did not have many events and was only remarked by an accident at the age of 11 that caused a blood clot in his brain. This was discovered when he was 16 years old; after suffering blackouts due to a blood clot. Gacy loved his father and worshipped him as his hero even with his father’s violent and irresponsible behavior. His father was abusing his mother physically by beating her and verbally abusing his children. He specifically used to accuse Gacy of having feminine characteristics. This behavior of his father affected his studies and after failing to graduate from four high schools, he left school and went to Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, he got a job as a cleaner in a funeral home. After that, his life was marked by considerable success in business studies and sales jobs. He got married in the year 1968 to Marlynn Myers. While working in Illinois his health condition worsened and he developed problems with his back (Bell & Bardsley 1).

Gacy was first accused of sodomy in the year 1968. The victim, Mark Miller had told the courts that Gacy had lured him into being tied and then sodomized him violently. Gacy denied these claims and told the courts that Mark had willingly accepted to sex him in exchange for money. After four months he was accused of paying Dwight Anderson to assault Mark Miller. This led to a guilty plea by Gacy to the sodomy charge that saw him receiving ten years at the age of 26 years. He was locked in the Iowa state reformatory and was divorced by his wife for breaking their wedding vows. He was highly behaved in prison and got parole after 18 months. After parole, he moved on with his life first moving in with his mother and then finding his own house. He was however charged, after some time, for sexually assaulting a boy but the accuser did not appear in court, and thud his charges were dropped. He got married again to Carole Hoff, a divorcee, and mother of two. When Carole and her daughters came to his house, they were astonished by the smell in his house but he explained that the smell had been caused by moisture. In 1974, Gacy started PDM (Painting Decorating and Maintenance) contractors. He employed a couple of young boys blaming the decision on the need to cut down payroll. His desires showed to his wife and by the end of the year 1974, the couple had started living separate lives. Carole divorced him on 2nd March 1976 after he confessed that he had a thing for young boys. The incidences that followed the divorce were characterized by Gacy making sexual advances on boys and some young boys disappearing until it was discovered that he was raping young boys, killing them, and disposing of their bodies in his compound or the surrounding rivers. 32 bodies were recovered. He was given the death penalty and was killed in 1994 by lethal injection (Bell & Bardsley 1).

Effect of childhood on adulthood

Although Gacy’s childhood did not have many remarkable events. It had a lot of influence on the person he grew up to become. The best explanation for his lack of humanity and his characteristic violence can be explained by the character of his father. The fact that his father used to beat up his mother must have made him subconsciously appreciate violence. He used to admire his father and he used to view him as his hero and therefore the violent nature of his father evident in his beating of his wife must have entered his subconscious. Thus the violence had to exhibit itself later in life through his actions. This explains why he raped his victims violently and killed most of them after raping them. The fact that his father had a low opinion of him could also have contributed to his behavior. As a little child, he used to stay alone. This is due to a lack of self-esteem that was brought to his life by his father. Even the fact that his father told him that he was effeminate must have had a lot of impact on his esteem and it must have had a lot of contribution to his choice of homosexuality. Since his father was his hero, he must have admired manhood, and therefore, by telling him that he was effeminate, his father must have made him feel that he was lacking something he very much treasured. It is therefore logical for somebody like that to try to satisfy his desire for manhood by doing unusual things like raping men. This is the reason why he only had a taste for raping men and never raped women.

Another explanation for his inhuman behavior could be the fact that he experienced early failures in life. His school life was affected by the behavior of his father and thus failed in his high school studies four times. This must have had a tremendous effect on his self-confidence. The problem with self-confidence can be used to explain why he always broke his marriages and developed a taste for boys. The failure in school could also have affected his self-esteem which would lead to uncouth behavior.

The fact that he worked as a child must have had an enormous contribution to the person he became as an adult. While working in the grocery shop, he must have been used in one way or another. If he was used during his working as a kid, it can be argued that he developed a vengeful attitude and waited for his time to come for him to use boys like he was used. If one grows with that kind of attitude, he will use others worse than he was used to. Thus a simple thing like being overworked may be avenged with death. The fact that after dropping out of school, he worked in a morgue is also a good explanation of the kind of person he became as an adult. Even if he did not see bodies of people while working there, which is very unlikely, he must have added dead people to his comfort zones and thus this explains why he was able to kill so many people. The early jobs may also have had an impact on his self-esteem. This in turn may have made him go for the unusual sexual identity- homosexual.


The kind of childhood that a person is subjected to determines the kind of person they become as adults. This is normally true with parenting methods and their effects on the lives of children after they grow up to become adults. The things parents do to their children and how they do them have a very large impact on the later self-esteem and the self-confidence of the kids. These in turn affect the character and the personality of these kids when they grow up. In the case of Gacy, the many things discussed worked to his disadvantage and thus consequently he became a serial rapist and killer.

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Works Cited

Bell, Rachael. and Bardsley, M. “John Wayne Gacy, Jr”, 2010. Web.

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