Medicine: Portrait of a Killer

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Gein's explanation of the Worden murder and mutilation: "I was sort of in a daze-like." Under questioning, with the aid of the state crime laboratory's lie detector, he admitted one other murder: the shooting of Mary Hogan, 54, a divorcee tavern keeper who had disappeared from nearby Bancroft three years before. Her face mask could not at first be identified among the remains. All the rest, Gein insisted, he had got by opening fresh graves in nearby cemeteries (he watched the obituaries for prospects). Usually he took only the head and some other parts of the body; only once, he said, an entire female corpse. By no coincidence, one of the graves adjoined his mother's. Apparently Gein practiced neither cannibalism nor necrophilia, but preserved the remains just to look at.

Two Urges. On the evidence to date, psychiatrists saw Gein as the victim of a common conflict: while consciously he loved his mother and hated other women, unconsciously he had hated her and loved others. She had subjected him to deep frustration. Also, his development had somehow been arrested so that he continued, childlike, to perceive people as mere objects. As a young man, Eddie Gein had tittered over the family's medical guide with its revealing anatomical drawings and its front-cover injunction: "You can do nothing to bring the dead to life, but you can do much to save the living from death." For Gein, say the psychiatrists, cutting up women (who reminded him of mother) and preserving parts of them satisfied two contradictory urges: to bring her back to life and have her with him always, and to destroy her as the cause of his frustration. In further studies, psychiatrists hope to learn why Eddie Gein's childhood experiences, unfortunate but far from unique, exploded in his case into such horrendous crime.

Dr. Edward Kelleher, head of Chicago's Municipal Court Psychiatric Institute, flatly called Gein a schizophrenic, considered his case "unparalleled in modern history." At week's end Eddie Gein was committed to Wisconsin's Central State Hospital (for the criminal insane) for observation.

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