Catathymia and compulsive homicide: A psychological perspective

Grant Sinnamon*, Wayne Petherick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Of all the criminal acts, homicide ranks among those considered most heinous, deviant, and repugnant to society. This is because the act of killing another human being strikes at the very heart of the sense of opportunity, security, and fraternity that proximal social arrangements otherwise provide. Although all homicide, that is the unlawful killing of another person or persons, is generally frowned upon, even at the apex of criminal deviance there exists a differentiated set of characteristics between homicidal acts. For example, the accidental killing of another is generally considered less of an antisocial act than a revenge killing. Similarly, the motivations and other psychological characteristics that often predetermine a homicidal behavior differ vastly. For example, the motivation and psychological emotional and thought processes that accompany a homicide committed in self-defense or the defense of others is grossly different to those that accompany homicide committed in the act of a robbery or sexual assault. With this in mind, this chapter delves into the realm of catathymic, compulsive, and sadistic aggression and ultimately homicide. Within these spheres of criminality there are both impulsive and planned offending behaviors, and these will be explored, compared, and differentiated.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe psychology of criminal and antisocial behavior
Subtitle of host publicationVictim and offender perspectives
EditorsW Petherick, G Sinnamon
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9780128095775
ISBN (Print)9780128092873
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2017


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