Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Criminology

The Role of Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Rage-Type Murder (Part 2)

Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Criminology

The Role of Narcissistic Personality Disorder in Rage-Type Murder (Part 2)

Article excerpt


In Part one of the study rage-type murders as a phenomenon was delineated and NPD was defined. The literature pertaining to the association between rage-type murder and NPD was highlighted. A current case that signaled the probable processes during a catathymic crisis and the gratuitous violence that follows was interpreted against the background of the existing literature. However Part one of the study left one with a sense of discontent as to whether NPD do play a role in cases involving rage-type murder and gratuitous violence.

Aim of this Contribution

In this contribution the researchers focused on establishing whether narcissistic individuals will go to extreme levels of violence, specifically murder, if their self-image is threatened in intimate relationships. The aspiration was to determine the extent of pre-existing NPD in these individuals and how this contributed to the murder they committed. Emphasis is placed on the psychological motivation of the murderer, as well as the relationship that existed between the murderer and the victim prior to the event. Individuals who commit rage-type murders do not have psychopathy, and they cannot be diagnosed with Axis I disorders, as stipulated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Text Revision) (DSM-IV-TR), and are thus seen as 'normal' (i.e. individuals who do not have a history of violence or psychopathology).


The association between NPD and rage-type murder would assist in determining the risk associated with a narcissistic individual and the likelihood they would re-offend in similar circumstances. Individuals who commit rage-type murders should not be held criminally liable for their actions, since an underlying personality disorder as well as a specific build-up to the event, is required. They should be allowed to contextualize a defense of non-pathological criminal incapacity, and be committed to a psychiatric facility. The effects of the unconscious, a dysfunctional ego, or a weakness in the superego resulting in a personality disorder should not be valid justification for legal punishment (Bromberg, 1951; Levesque, 2006). The punishment for the crime must be based on the personality of the perpetrator, as well as the motivation underlying the act in order for a suitable treatment to aid in the perpetrator's adjustment in the future (Bromberg, 1951).

The above hypothesis is based on the body of literature (Part 1) which highlighted that an external event generally provokes the act; the perpetrator and victim are usually involved in an intimate relationship; there is an escalation of the situation, which over time becomes overwhelming, as both the perpetrator and the victim are unable to escape. A catathymic crisis is usually fatal as gratuitous violence follow whenever the narcissistic individual cannot control his extreme anger and rage toward a partner who taunt, ridicule or scorn them. An overkill episode signifies the need to remove the internalized object relationship; and the perpetrator is normally the one who notifies the authorities, suggesting they are aware of the wrongfulness of the act, but this is not a sign of remorse for their actions. To test these assumptions we endeavored to seek an association between narcissism and rage type murder by means of a qualitative investigation.

Research Methodology

As the subject of the research was a relatively unknown phenomenon, a qualitative research approach was used. The research focused on analyzing specific cases of murder, more particularly cases where rage-type murders were committed. It endeavored to identify the underlying personality dynamics to determine whether an association between rage-type murder and NPD exists.

Case studies illustrating rage-type murderers who had been admitted to the Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital for a 30-day observation period were identified and analyzed. These cases were selected through reviewing the case history of each individual to determine whether the murder fitted the outlined definition of a ragetype murder. …

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