The Psychopathology of Serial Murder: A Theory of Violence

The Psychopathology of Serial Murder: A Theory of Violence

The Psychopathology of Serial Murder: A Theory of Violence

The Psychopathology of Serial Murder: A Theory of Violence


In this book, criminologist Stephen Giannangelo offers an original theory of the origins and development of the serial murderer. The author constructs a two-part model of the serial murderer's development. The first part outlines biological factors and concomitant psychological anomalies that can predispose individuals toward homicidal behavior. Then, in developing the second part of his model, Giannangelo describes how a traumatic environmental stressor may trigger a cyclical pattern of violent behavior in those persons predisposed to kill. Having constructed his archetype of the serial killer, the author concludes by suggesting how diagnostic tools could be constructed and employed by psychologists, criminologists, and law enforcement officials to recognize the serial killer and to arrest the cycle of violence.


The suggestion and presentation of an original theory is, at best, optimistic and ambitious. To attempt to explain a phenomenon such as the psychopathology of the serial killer could easily be described as overwhelming. However, that is the intent of this book.

The reader must be aware that this book will by no means insinuate an explanation that could be carved in stone. This theory must be considered a starting point, a conclusion based on a limited amount of available knowledge; something to be re-examined and rethought with the passage of time and accumulation of information.

The intent is to observe the available information regarding the serial killer, to dissect and apply the consistencies, and to develop a model of pathology. Observed will be clinical viewpoints, existing theory, socioenvironmental influences, and actual case histories. All these factors and more are critical to this analysis and will contribute to the thinking about this subject.

The serial murderer is examined in the context of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the reference published by the American Psychiatric Association. This is not to say that this book speaks only to those in the arena of psychology; quite the contrary. The book encompasses the disciplines of sociology, history, biology, psychology, and law enforcement, to name a few, and attempts to reach anyone . . .

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