Sexual Murder: Catathymic and Compulsive Homicides

Sexual Murder: Catathymic and Compulsive Homicides

Sexual Murder: Catathymic and Compulsive Homicides

Sexual Murder: Catathymic and Compulsive Homicides


Forensic psychologist and author Louis B. Schlesinger delves deep into the minds of sexual murderers. It is a place where few dare to tread, but a necessary journey if we are to understand the motivations behind their inconceivable actions. Culminating nearly 30 years of experience analyzing sexually motivated homicides, Sexual Murder: Catathymic and Compulsive Homicides makes this complex phenomenon fully comprehensible.

The author provides a strong foundation by first exploring the psychopathology of sexual homicide within the context of nonsexual homicide. He also discusses forensic assessment of the sexual murderer, theories of crime, and systems of homicide classification. The remaining chapters explore the two types of sexual murders: catathymic, caused by a breakthrough of underlying sexual conflicts, and compulsive, in which a fusion of sex and aggression results in a powerful internal drive that pushes the offender to seek out victims to kill - and the killing itself is sexually gratifying. Presenting both forms of sexual murder from a clinical-descriptive perspective, the book provides historical background and examines both planned and unplanned homicides for each. Finally, it considers prediction, disposition, and possibilities for preventing sexual murder.

Providing a fresh approach to an old crime, Sexual Murder: Catathymic and Compulsive Homicides brings intriguing theories and detailed analyses to life. Through a variety of illustrative case examples from the author's vast experience, this amazing book will broaden your view of sexual murder and alter many preconceived ideas.


When I received my doctorate in clinical psychology in 1981, I was already enamored with the world of criminal forensics. The popular television fare of “Investigative Reports” the “New Detectives, ” “Forensic Files, ” and “CSI” were still years away, but I picked up a book that profoundly shaped my intellectual journey: Psychopathology of Homicide by Eugene Revitch and Louis B. Schlesinger. It was a classic.

Drs. Revitch and Schlesinger had set aside descriptive diagnoses and instead developed a motivational model to help understand why people intentionally kill each other. The reasons for murder are always overdetermined, but here were two gentlemen who proposed an elegant schematic that ranged from purely situational causes for killing to the unconscious psychodynamics of certain murders which appear, at first glance, to be inexplicable. I soon came to learn that Dr. Revitch was a distinguished forensic psychiatrist and had pioneered some of the earliest investigations of the sexual killing of women. One of his first papers, “Sex murder and sex aggression, ” was printed in 1957 in the Journal of the Medical Society of New Jersey.

I was equally impressed with the work of Dr. Schlesinger, a student of Dr. Revitch's, and my propensity to idealize authorities in the field as a young psychologist was bolstered by his subsequent work, particularly in the area of “catathymia, ” a word quite foreign to me at the time. Dr. Schlesinger does not know this, but I was deeply honored when I finally met him several years ago when he attended a workshop I was giving. We are great sources of intellectual stimulation for each other, and our mutual respect continues.

Sexual Murder: Catathymic and Compulsive Homicides will take its place alongside Cleckley's Mask of Sanity, Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis, and Ressler et al.'s Sexual Homicide: Patterns and Motives as a classic in our specialized field of criminal forensic psychology. This is not marketing hyperbole, and as an expert witness, I hope the foundation for my opinion is persuasive.

Unlike most contemporary forensic psychiatry and psychology research, which is largely descriptive and behavioral, Dr. Schlesinger is interested in the inner life of the sexual murderer. Although his internal world may be populated by sexually violent and bizarre fantasies that are anathema to the conscious

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