Cover image for The gates of Janus : serial killing and its analysis
The gates of Janus : serial killing and its analysis
Brady, Ian, 1938-2017.
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Publication Information:
Los Angeles, CA : Feral House, [2001]

Physical Description:
305 pages : portrait ; 22 cm
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HV8079.H6 B73 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Introduction by Colin Wilson Certain to be one of the most controversial books of the year, this is a full-length work by Ian Brady who, along with Myra Hindley, was responsible for 'The Moors Murders' in the early 1960s. Written after Colin Wilson suggested that he analyse serial murder and come to terms with the crimes he committed, Brady's work is both psychological and philosophical and is based upon his readings, observations and life story. An extraordinary work that provides an insight into the mind of a criminal as never before.

Author Notes

Ian Brady was born in Glasgow, Scotland on January 2, 1938. As a teenager, he spent time in prison and in young offenders' facilities because of house breaking and burglary. He met Myra Hindley while they were both working at a small chemicals company in Manchester. Together they murdered five children between 1963 and 1965. In 1965, they sought to implicate Hindley's brother-in-law, David Smith, by making him watch as they murdered 17-year-old Edward Evans with an ax. However, Smith reported them to the police and brought their killing spree to an end. Brady was sentenced to life in prison in 1966 and had been held at the psychiatric hospital since 1985. He wrote a book in 2001 entitled The Gates of Janus: Serial Killing and Its Analysis by the Moors Murderer Ian Brady. He died on May 15, 2017 at a high-security psychiatric hospital at the age of 79.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Admit it: you don't know nearly enough about Britain's lurid child-sex killings, the moors murders, or about the minds of serial killers like their perpetrator, Brady. The slayer himself probes the mindset of the serial killer--"a person who kills spasmodically over a comparatively lengthy period of time" rather than in the rampage characteristic of the mass murderer--for some 100 pages, then considers individually such exemplars of the type as Henry Lee Lucas, Ted Bundy, and John Wayne Gacy with the insight of a peer. A quiet, bookish lad, Brady waxed antisocial in his teens, as Colin Wilson explains in a lengthy biographical introduction. Brady's conception of moral relativism owes much to the theory of the superman Raskolnikov espoused in Crime and Punishment (Dostoyevsky is one of Brady's enthusiasms). Unbound by petty and arbitrary moral strictures, Brady sees personal choices as equivalent in worth, whether of regular or extra crispy, or of murder or rape. A significant addition to true crime literature, Brady's deposition has creepy entertainment value in spades. --Mike Tribby

Publisher's Weekly Review

The infamous "Moors Murderer," writing from his U.K. jail cell, Brady provides a rambling account of the socio-philosophical and psychological genesis of the modern day serial killer, but it's emphatically "not an apologia." The child pornographer and convicted killer (of 10-year-old Lesley Ann Downey, 12-year-old John Kilbride and others) spends the first half of the book contending that killers such as himself, who are free from societal, religious and moral chains, are able to provide greater insight into the criminal mind than psychiatrists, crime reporters or police. But this argument, in and of itself, is unsurprising, and any logical authority Brady might have been able to build up is undermined by page after page of his nihilistic ranting. Pointing to myriad problems present in overpopulated, self-satisfied, privileged societies, Brady imagines contemporary culture as a breeding ground for serial killers. To prove his point, he attempts psychological profiles of Henry Lee Lucas, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy and other notorious killers. But these chapters are not profiles so much as they are detailed accounts of the gruesome crimes committed. While revisiting such felonies might be enjoyable for the hardcore true crime fan, for most readers the depictions will feel as gratuitous as the heinous crimes they describe. The relentlessly abrasive and controversial social critic Sotos (Pure), an aficionado of murders recorded on audio tape, adds a provocative afterword. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One The Gates of Janus by Ian Brady Part One JANUS: the Roman god of doorways, passages and bridges. In art he is depicted with two heads facing opposite ways. Collins English Dictionary 'Let us to it pell-mell; if not to Heaven, then hand in hand to Hell!' Richard the Third , Shakespeare     If we are to have a serious discourse on murder and some of its practitioners, we should first broadly define our terms.     Murder is the premeditated killing of one human being by another, outside the law and without official sanction. It therefore follows that the premeditated killing of one person by another, inside the law and with official permission, is not considered murder. Whether or not this nice distinction has actual moral validity the reader must judge in the chapters to follow, where I shall, perhaps characteristically, don the mantle of Devil's Advocate, a role so frequently attributed to me by the established order and mass media.     The question as to legal validity is of little consequence -- Auschwitz, the fire-bombing of Dresden, the atomic holocausts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the deluge of napalm rained upon Vietnam and all other examples of wholesale global slaughter throughout the ages were, and still are, performed under the tattered umbrella of legality.     Self-evidently, too little law and order leads to freedom only for the few, the fittest; too much law and order has largely the same result. The powerful, wealthy and influential stay on top like oil-slicks, by hereditament and oligarchy, rather than merit. Greed and lust are bi-partisan.     According to official statistics in most Western countries, the corporate activities of this elite minority, aided by the best attorneys and tax evasion/avoidance experts, annually deprive the economy of more wealth than the total aggregate of all blue-collar crime. Yet few of that elite group will ever see the inside of a prison, and politicians of either party have yet to be heard demanding harsher penalties for these white-collar criminals. One contemptuously greedy exception, whose main error was public arrogance, nicely summed up the philosophy of the whole class: 'Only little people pay taxes.'     One obvious reason why we so enjoy the fall of such public paragons and private criminals is that it happens so seldom. We may envy them their great wealth and power, but we never quite admire them as we do the relatively more honest, disadvantaged, blue-collar criminal who runs the risk of severe penalty.     However, as a brief preamble to discourse proper, let me first state what I believe to be universally acceptable, orthodox parameters.     Morality and legality are decided chiefly by the prevailing ruling class in whatever geographical variant, not least because a collective morality is too unwieldy and difficult to maintain. I prefer individual systems of principles rather than a collective set of precepts largely impossible to quantify or enforce.     Compulsory state education is, in effect, a form of mind control. Particularly enforced religious instruction.     The majority of people, rightly or wrongly, regardless of geographical location, believe that we all know instinctively what is the right thing to do in all matters simply by standing back and applying our own decisions to ourselves -- 'Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.' But Bernard Shaw spotted the flaw in that idealistic argument:     'Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You might not share the same tastes.'     And, unfortunately, most people are not positioned to do what they would like to see done to the high and mighty who invariably escape the rigours of the law as though by divine right.     Notwithstanding, we continue to believe we know what is cruel or kind, selfish or selfless, fair or unfair, etc. Yet we endlessly struggle to explain -- to ourselves and to others -- why we are in conflict with such behavioural norms.     There are differing accents within the moral boundaries of one's own unavoidably subjective system, whose familiarity makes what we do personally acceptable, particularly if our actions are consciously part of a larger, though expediently veiled, socially-dictated pragmatism.     Self-interest and self-absorption has people blindly adhere to legality and morality, and not because of some innate saintly or metaphysical quality. By and large, the most common aspect of morality is compulsion, fear of crossing boundaries and doing the generally unacceptable.     I believe it is axiomatic that the majority are too lazy, intellectually and constitutionally, to oppose the accepted order of things. Conformity is passive. Dissension demands energy and dangerous commitment.     The central reason why many prefer to have the good opinion of others is: (a) the natural wish to be liked and popular, (b) the social and material advantages which follow from that, (c) the personal pleasure derived from being needed.     By seeking the comfort and advantage that follows from being accepted as a normal member of society, the individual is merely striving, at primal level, to have his self-opinion reinforced by others.     Ironically, the attempt to attain a consensus of good opinion simultaneously generates the envy, and therefore, the resentful vindictiveness, of others competing for the same good graces. Man socially advances himself invariably at the expense of others, for the pleasure of feeling superior to others.     And those who exalt themselves through the good opinion of their superiors, do so chiefly by deferring to the judgment of same rather than relying upon their own. Good reputation -- or public virtue -- can reasonably be perceived as being rooted in applied flattery, personal vanity and self-interest.     Man's primal instinct is to obtain as much pleasure from life as possible, whether by self-sacrifice or the sacrifice of others. Whether termed good or bad by external moral and legal criteria, every action a person commits is determined by the amount of personal pleasure it gives.     Random acts of kindness or cruelty, which seem to surface from the individual of their own volition, often result from a clash between our personal system of beliefs and the artificiality of subconscious social conditioning.     Unfortunately, many people sleepwalk through life without conscious awareness of their own system, if they have one at all, and are therefore susceptible to external notions of right and wrong imposed by others, particularly members of the often eminently unqualified upper class and their support system, mass media.     Laws and morals based on honour are superior to those rooted in social expediency.     Thankfully there are some individuals who consciously resent and resist anything that conflicts with their own system of morals and ethics. Especially if the conflicting notions emanate from people who do not believe the pious platitudes they are trying to force or persuade others to accept.     The more dictatorial the state, the less capacity for individual discernment, and the greater the prevalence of erroneous self-sacrifice to a purely political imperative.     In my opinion, professional criminals are more prone than most to think for themselves in a morally eclectic mariner. Society prefers to foster the contra-idea that, by definition, criminals are oblivious to moral and ethical values.     The fact is, many criminals know more about morality and ethics, via the process of opposition, than the conforming masses do from acceptance. I would even predicate that it is the criminal's astute understanding that the morality and ethics of the powerful is purely cosmetic, that persuades him to emulate their amoral plasticity.     In effect, the criminal seriously studies the largely unscrupulous moral standards practised by ostensible 'pillars of society,' and modifies his values accordingly. He thereby becomes a player. Albeit, by force of circumstance and lack of privileged upbringing, having to adopt less sophisticated but no less ruthless methods than his social superiors.     Conformists who observe, deduce and vaguely bemoan the immorality of their superiors are largely too afraid of penalty, or are too lazy to run the risk of acting upon their conclusions.     People are not so remorseful or ashamed of their criminal thoughts; they are more afraid of criminal thoughts being ascribed to them by others. To compensate, they rationalise their timidity or indolence as an indication of moral character, and their vociferous clamour for harsher punishment of criminals is mob retribution against a will to power they covertly envy. This envy is exacerbated by the media's colourful, exciting stories about criminals riotously enjoying every forbidden pleasure the 'decent citizens' can only dream about.     Good and evil might therefore be presented simply as a matter of what we think we can get away with without sacrificing reputation. To all intents and purposes, the majority regard themselves as law-abiding, decent, god-fearing people -- right up to the moment they are caught.     Capture makes the criminal. A person may blithely break the law whenever it suits them, but still do not reject a personal sense of morality. The strictly law-abiding may still be subject to covert criminal tendencies. We all desire what we cannot have or are forbidden to have.     Naturally the polarised values of good and evil constitute a paradoxical, interdependent unity, an indivisible entity of internally-opposing tensions which constitute the vital essence of life: contrast and variety.     Every act, good or evil, is a reflection of our most natural characteristics and genuine psyche.     A relativist viewpoint -- rather than surrendering to statute -- enhances a more profound understanding of this schismatic variegation, in which legality and illegality are unceasingly examined, and not only morally, but metaphysically (preferably devoid of obfuscating religious connotations).     It is independently documented that I instinctively began this relativistic thought process at the age of five. The law-and-order brigade would probably regard such teachings as heresy. Bovine conformism is indirectly responsible for unjust and alien legislation, laws made to be broken, laws denying or unsuccessfully trying to suppress the intrinsic dynamic nature of the individual.     Every dictator knows to strongly emphasise the advantages, over the disadvantages, of obeying law. But the only laws that matter are those based on universal usefulness rather than immediate expediency. The only law-givers worthy of respect are those who own the necessary degree of honour to exclude their personal desires from principles and act as a collective conscience.     Good laws left to the interpretation of evil men are no longer good. Therefore it follows that good laws should be framed as clearly and as unequivocally as a written constitution, to obviate any possibility of deliberate misinterpretation and nullification. Such laws should be applicable to all, including politicians, intelligence services (foreign and domestic) and every agent of law enforcement. Exceptions lead to general contempt.     Those who aspire to have immutable rules of conduct, good or evil, are nevertheless secretly plagued by doubt like everyone else. Only the church believes in saints. Absolutists are invariably absolute fools. And not least because they absolutely expect to be absolutely believed. As stated, all but the insane are well aware whenever personal actions conflict with their true beliefs, as opposed to their socially-conditioned responses.     I believe every intelligent individual, whether predominantly good or evil, possesses a mostly idiosyncratic moral gyroscope which reminds him whether he is in conflict with his own moral and ethical convictions or merely those of others. Individuality is the supreme value, in my opinion, not regimentation or servile social assimilation. * * *     In case my use of the words 'good' and 'evil' be misconstrued in a narrow theological sense, I must explain that they are meant to be interpreted, as previously implied, within the wider framework of moral and metaphysical philosophy. I examine religious teachings through the microscope of psychology, psychiatry, criminology, anthropology, literature, zoology and the principles of forensic science in general. Religion taken neat can be toxic. People drink a lot on Sunday evenings to get rid of the hangover left by attending church.     Am I alone in experiencing that the dirge-like cadence of a preacher's delivery induces drowsiness, an acute sense of absurdity, an uncomfortable suspension of disbelief, an emetic voiding of natural vitality?     In an obviously uncertain and chaotic world, those who smugly believe preachers are delivering the gospel troth represent, in my eyes, an insult to intelligence and a manifest example of criminal delusion. Even the most elementary refutatory evidence of modern medical science and eclectic philosophy appear not to affect the religious fanatic. Not so much faith versus free will, but faith versus common sense.     Had Christ been crucified in the manner commonly depicted, it is a physical fact that his body weight would have immediately ripped the iron nails straight through his hands. The precepts and concepts of the gospels, written decades after Christ's death, were plagiarised from Judaism and Hellenism. Modern moral philosophy has not added significantly to the tenets of the ancient.     Prophets and preachers would do better to practise a more profound degree of humility and scientific introspection, hopefully resulting in humanistic insight and less dogmatic prohibition. However, as Luke states, even 'He that humbleth himself wisheth to be exalted.' * * *     By dwelling lightly upon morality and ethics up to this point, mainly in relation to examining, through relativistic principles, their orthodox/unorthodox interpretation and application by the minority upon the majority, you may be assuming that I regard such synthetic codes of conduct as the prime values and purpose of life. I do not. To me, as previously indicated, they are simply inescapable conditioned aspects of whatever country you had the good fortune or misfortune to be born into. Governments, with their whimsical, Populist morality and ethics, come and go, but bureaucracies eternally survive by more dependable amoral principles.     Had you been born and spent your life up till now in, let us say, the rainforests of the Amazon, you would not be devoting so much of your life and energy to conformity with the convoluted moral abstractions of others. In such primal circumstances, the individualistic urge to experience all one can, before losing the race against death, would naturally evolve as paramount. Individual quality of life is more relevant than quantity, both physically and intellectually.     Zest is the vital ingredient one should seek. Some are born with it. * * *     As previously indicated, most people observe legal, moral and ethical boundaries for immediate personal comfort or from timidity. The criminal is more attracted and stimulated by the excitement of challenging the norm, of stepping into forbidden territory like a solitary explorer, consciously thirsting to experience that which the majority have not and dare not.     Nature abhors not only a vacuum but right angles. Likewise, unconditioned human nature is inclined towards, and more fascinated by, the crooked.     Many are content to confine such forbidden journeys to the mind and, frankly, by so doing, most probably achieve more pleasure and satisfaction than they would from committing the deed itself.     Being in the position of having tasted both fantasy and deed, I can candidly testify that fantasy is invariably more hedonistically superior, its creator having the advantage of omnipotence. The safer one feels from interruption or capture, the more intense and rounded the act.     I can also state with authority that, contrary to popular belief, much crime is tedious and repetitive hard work, wearing on the nerves and an anti-climax. In the words of the song by Peggy Lee, after the completion of each successive, escalating crime; the criminal is left spiritually asking himself: 'Is That All There Is?' Pervasive emptiness accentuates a nihilistic syndrome. The hunt for the chimerical key to knowledge, life, power or the ultimate sensation becomes a never-to-be-satisfied addiction.     In performance of the deed itself, the perpetrator is either greatly preoccupied and distracted by the constant danger of discovery, the fear of leaving some clue behind, or, in some instances, the psychological impact of confronting the enormity of the crime's reality. It is not uncommon for perpetrators to overestimate their own callousness.     The determined professional's surest way to overcome physical and spiritual weakness is to programme himself in advance by auto-hypnosis techniques -- which I shall expand upon as we advance.     There are of course a minority of criminals who enjoy the danger most of all, like lovers who add piquancy to sex by performing in public locations. To such aficionados, the main purpose of the crime is almost secondary.     I contend that most people, criminal or otherwise, consciously/subconsciously regard aesthetics as the dominant physical and metaphysical value of existence. They may simultaneously pay lip service to legality and morality whilst atavistically regarding them as irritating hindrances to primal biological inclinations. Only the compensatory delusions of theology attribute moral and ethical values to a patently indifferent universe.     The doctrines of Christianity synthesize a death-cult, an hallucinatory invitation to corruption and decay. Its adherents sing songs of praise to empty skies which rain visions of hell upon heretics, diverting attention from the all-precious present. This suicidal concept should be made criminal were it not already dying of its own accord.     Nowadays, belief in the possibility of a higher intelligence on other planets is more acceptable and appealing than the concept of a Creator responsible for our earthly bedlam.     The hope is now for physical rescue rather than metaphysical redemption. Children believe more devoutly in the magical benefits of Santa Claus than the verbiage of Christ and the dirge-like intoning of moralistic parables by his far-from-joyous servants.     To paraphrase Shakespeare, Christianity is increasingly regarded as a tale told by an idiot, full of inhuman ideals and absurd prejudices, signifying nothing. Its main social function of course is to delude and keep order among the justifiably malcontent. But even prison should be seen as preferable to religious lobotomy.     Show me someone who would hesitate to lie or commit a crime in order to protect or help a loved one or friend, and I will show you a truly inhuman criminal or madman. Laws and externally enforced moral and ethical norms are put into their proper secondary perspective in affairs of emotion when it makes one feel good to break the law if need be.     By this route, breach of law is gradually perceived as relatively acceptable, and statutes not at all as sacrosanct as many would have you tamely believe. Everything made by man can be unmade.     Longevity or universal acceptance is of no essential relevance in the context of endlessly fluctuating anthropological and biological values. Ubiquity should not be equated with merit, nor conformity with virtue. We are, at this stage of human knowledge, merely myths created by religion. Viewed scientifically, the death of a human being is of no more significance than that of any other animal on earth.     Superior human intelligence is no mark of divinity. Empirically, it reveals a superior savagery. No other animal on earth is so inclined to slaughter its own kind in regular global conflicts, apparently subject to the Orwellian expedient that some people are made more in the image of God than others. * * *     The plain and perhaps regrettable fact is that it is part of the eternal human psyche and cycle for the normal individual to derive cathartic satisfaction and enjoyment from savouring the crimes of others, and from luxuriously dreaming of personally committing them. Similar cathartic satisfaction is afforded by contemplating the punishment of those who are caught. Nobody likes a loser and therefore we believe they get what they deserve.     What do you believe you deserve for the undetected crimes and secret moral outrages you have committed in thought or action? Absolution? Excerpted from The Gates of Janus by Ian Brady. Copyright © 2001 by Ian Stewart-Brady and Feral House. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.