As a young Jewish girl in New York, Dorothy Lewis read an article about the Nuremberg trials shortly after the Second World War. It was then that she realized for the first time that humans are capable of killing. She could be angry and aggressive herself at times, but she could never have killed anyone. So why did others?
Now a forensic psychiatrist, Lewis has been studying the brains and behavior of serial killers for at least half a century. Trauma-induced multiple personality disorder, she says, underlies their homicidal behavior. As evidence to support this conclusion, albeit disputed, in several court cases she has shown video footage in which the accused “dissociate,” slipping into the role of one of their “alters.”
Lewis provides vivid commentary on a procession of serial killers. Animations, home videos, and archive footage show how Lewis arrived at her life’s work, and how urgent it still is today. That’s because in the U.S. determining whether a murderer is a bad person or insane is a matter of life—accompanied by long-term or even lifelong treatment—or death.