The Case Study of Mary Bell

Purdue University Global


Mary Bell was considered a psychopath and a sociopath as a child but has apparently led a very normal life as an adult. Do you think it is possible for a psychopath to completely change their behavior?

Mary Bell was an individual who was diagnosed as a child as a psychopath. Was she truly a psychopath? Without a modern diagnosis, I cannot accurately say. On the other hand, psychopaths can go without committing murderous acts throughout their lives, so I think that it is possible that, if she is truly a psychopath, that she could have determined that she did not want to commit another murder and run the risk of going back to prison.

What factors do you think were most important in motivating Mary to commit these crimes?

If the news articles, case studies and books about the life and crimes of Mary Bell are to be believed, Bell had a difficult childhood. It is claimed that there was abuse within the household from the mother. Bell states that her mother was a sado-masochistic prostitute who would allow her beau to abuse her daughter, as well. In my opinion, it was a mixture of the abuse by which Bell suffered and the socialization of a likeminded individual in Norma that led to the commission of the murders.

Do you think Mary should have received a harsher punishment for her crimes? (Is it fair that she is enjoying a relatively normal life considering her crimes?)

No, I do not believe that she should have received a harsher punishment. She has not committed any further crimes; She has led a quiet life and desires to be left alone. I believe that the motivating factors from when she was a child and committed the crimes are gone and she is no further danger to the public.