As he met his date with the electric chair, serial murderer Ted Bundy left behind a graphic message about the dangers of pornography - that pictures of sex and violence fueled his fantasies and led him to do horrible things.
But even in death, Bundy remains cloaked in controversy - his last public words dividing the psychiatric community. Battle lines have been drawn over whether Bundy was sincere in his final interview, or merely giving his swan song.Bundy was executed Tuesday for the slaying of 12-year-old Kimberly Leach, Lake City, Fla. He also was to receive death sentences for the murders of two Florida State University women.
Heading the list of dueling couch doctors are Dr. Victor B. Cline, psychologist at the University of Utah, and Dr. Emanuel Tanay, a Detroit psychiatrist.
Cline believes Bundy fit an all-too-familiar pattern of men who suffer from a sexual addiction.
"In my judgment what he (Bundy) said was true. I do a lot of clinical work, consulting across the country and dealing with people who are behaving inappropriately and come to me for treatment (of their sexual addictions). Of course, the people I treat aren't murdering people, they carry out their (sexual) fantasies in other ways. But they're still doing things inappropriate, that's why they see me; they want to get away from their addiction."
He said Bundy suffered a sexual homicidal addiction that was fueled by pornography. Without pornography's influence, Cline doubts Bundy's actions would have escalated to the violent degree they did.
Sexual arousal became fused with violence, not unlike Utah child murderer Arthur Gary Bishop, Cline said. To get sexually aroused, Bundy would have to attack women and kill them, he said. The first time there is a lot of regret and remorse, but once that taboo is broken, it becomes increasingly easy.
Tanay, however, said pornography, although abhorrent, wasn't responsible for creating Ted Bundy's sadistic hunger for violence. Rather, Tanay said, "Bundy was a deformed person."
Using graphic pornography as a scapegoat was the last hurrah of a master manipulator, Tanay said.
"I consider that to be one last-ditch manipulation by Mr. Bundy, who is the great manipulator," Tanay said. "I think pornography did not give us Ted Bundy."
Tanay said that in his extensive evaluation of the man 10 years ago the subject of pornography never came up.
Tanay is not alone in his viewpoint.
Dan Linz, an experimental social psychologist at the University of California Santa Barbara, said the problem with Bundy's last message to society is that a psychopathic killer and known liar shouldn't be considered a credible source. In addition, there is no way to prove scientifically that pornography caused any of Bundy's violent episodes.
And Linz said that if Bundy's words have any merit then society needs to consider the impact of material he mentioned specifically as dangerous, which included R-rated slasher films and detective magazines as well as hard-core pornography.
"There are all kinds of images in the mass media, that someone like Ted Bundy - if we were to take him at his word - could use as a source of information."
According to Linz's research, people who watch depictions of violent episodes - specifically violent crimes against women - show more negative effects than those who regularly view sexually explicit material. "The cutting variable here is violence. It's not sexual explicitness."
"You are going to kill me," Bundy said, in a tape-recorded interview on the eve of his death, "and that will protect society from me. But at the same time there are many, many other people who are addicted to hard-core pornography who may do the same kind of things. And you are doing nothing about it."
The interview was conducted by James Dobson, a national expert on the effects of pornography who is host for the syndicated program "Focus on the Family." Dobson, like Cline, steadfastly believes pornography was responsible for Bundy's violent behavior.
Tanay, a professor at Wayne State University and a forensic psychiatric expert, examined Bundy during his 1979 Florida trial, at the request of Bundy's defense lawyers. Neither side liked Tanay's report, and so he was declared by the judge as a witness adverse to both parties. Tanay said he was disappointed to find Bundy's trial began before the accused killer's mental competency had been evaluated.
Tanay said he predicted 10 years ago that Bundy would exploit that fact. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court evaluated, then rejected, the issue of Bundy's competency during the Leach trial in a last-minute appeal by Bundy's defense lawyers.
Tanay said a deviant like Bundy has no capacity to feel guilt. "He presented himself as the pornographer's victim. He always blames somebody else. It's typical (behavior) for a psychopath like Ted Bundy was," Tanay said.
While Bundy's case is interesting to those who make a career of studying the mind, it might prove difficult to draw parallels from his behavior to that of other criminals.
"This type of individual is very difficult to change, because you are not dealing with a sickness, you are dealing with the deformity of a personality," Tanay said.
Cline, however, contends that people are often too quick to defend pornography.
"A lot of people are pooh-poohing pornography's effect on Bundy. You can't argue with them, but they don't know what they're talking about.
"Sure not all . . . pornography users will become addicted, but there's a risk involved."
Cline said Bundy proved it's entirely possible for someone from a good home to get caught up in dangerous compulsive behaviors.