• paraphilia

The authors' integrated model applied to the gruesome and chilling case of Jeffrey Dahmer provides a complete explanation of lust homicide

The Psychology of Lust Murder: Paraphilia, Sexual Killing, and Serial Homicide

Catherine Purcell, Bruce A. Arrigo



Sexually deviant or aberrant behaviors, otherwise known as paraphilias, are commonly associated with crimes that are sexual in nature (Hickey, 2005). There are literally hundreds of paraphilias. Some are more common (e.g., voyeurism) or well known (e.g., cannibalism) than others. Deviant sexual behavior exists on a continuum and varies in severity. Some of these behaviors can be classified as criminal; others represent mostly nuisance forms of conduct. An example of this continuum's breadth can be illustrated by looking at severe sexual deviance (e.g., pedophilia or rape) versus harmless variants (e.g., fetishism or peeping Toms).

On the most extreme end of the paraphilic continuum is erotophonophilia, commonly referred to as lust murder (Arrigo & Purcell, 2001).

Erotophonophilia is the acting out of injurious behaviors by brutally and sadistically assailing the victim (Hickey, 2003). These actions are undertaken so that the offender can achieve sexual satisfaction. Lust murderers are likely to repeat their crimes, making them serial in nature (Egger, 2002; Hickey, 2001). Mutilation of body parts, especially the genitalia, represents a routine characteristic of this form of paraphilic deviance (Hickey, 2005; Money, 1990).

This book examines the sexual offense of lust murder. This type of killer makes a profound connection between sexual gratification and fatal violence (Holmes, 1991; Simon, 1996). The lust murderer harbors deep-seated, erotically charged fantasies in which his attacks and slayings sate, although incompletely and temporarily, the need for more sexual violence (Arrigo & Purcell, 2001; Hazelwood

& Douglas, 1980; Schlesinger, 2003). For these assailants, sexual enjoyment and erotic fulfillment depend on the amount of torture and mutilation they can inflict upon their victims (Holmes & Holmes, 2002a). Thus, for the lust murderer, ultimate pleasure is derived from sadistically killing others. Clearly, then, they are motivated by a violent and powerful need for sustained sexual satisfaction (Kafka, 2003).

The extant research on the origins, onset, and escalation of paraphilias, as well as their criminogenic structure, is somewhat limited and mostly anecdotal (Hickey, 2005). Notwithstanding these deficiencies, this volume investigates the relationship between sadistic sexual deviance and lust murder, arguing that the association represents a systemic process of increasingly erotic and violent behavior. In addition, this book examines the prevailing conceptual models on sexual homicide and serial murder. The aim is to create an integrated theoretical framework that can comprehensively account for the joint effects of paraphilia and lust killing. If successfully developed, the framework or typology can help classify lust murder as a specific and distinct category of sexual homicide in which paraphilia functions as an underlying motive.

In an effort to foster meaningful conceptual synthesis, two existing models on the subject are investigated: the motivational typology developed by Burgess, Hartman, Ressler, Douglas, and McCormack (1986), and the trauma control model established by Hickey (1997, 2001). The former examines sexual killing in particular; the latter focuses on serial homicide in general (Arrigo, 2006). Both models contain interactive components that help support existing knowledge and research on paraphilic behavior. Additionally, the insights of other social and behavioral scientists that have investigated sadistic deviance and sexual violence are incorporated into the overall analysis. These observations both extend and deepen the proposed integrated model's explanatory and predictive properties.

In an attempt to comprehend the emergence and maintenance of paraphilic behavior, as well as how sexual deviance progresses within an individual, the significance of fantasy and masturbation are explored. Both fuel the offender's desires, aspirations, and actions. In this way, the integrative typology, unlike its sexual homicide and serial murder counterparts, demonstrates the unique role that paraphilias assume in the act of lust murder. In the final analysis, this book intends to provide a more accurate evaluation of this crime and a more complete assessment of this offender.

To ground the more theoretical material, the case of Jeffrey Dahmer, a convicted paraphilic lust murderer, is examined. His life story is provocative on a number of fronts and a variety of researchers have explored facets of his clinical and criminal background (e.g., Egger, 2002; Masters, 1993; Palermo, 2004; Tithecott, 1999). Despite these worthwhile accounts, efforts to explain Dahmer's behavior within the context of a serial murder and sexual homicide framework have not, until now, been systematically undertaken.

Moreover, the utility of the proposed synthetic framework has implications for professionals in the fields of criminal justice, psychology, and public policy. For example, efforts to profile, track, and apprehend offenders are vital to the effective administration of law enforcement. In addition, clinical concerns encompassing prevention, diagnosis, and treatment are crucial if the goals of rehabilitation are to have a reasonable chance of being met. Finally, sensible public policy concerning correctional and mental health hospital management necessitates a more complete understanding of the lust murderer. This is especially the case if the assailant's behaviors are more serial in nature. Thus, the practical implications stemming from the recommended conceptual framework also warrant some systematic review.


The Psychology of Lust Murder systematically examines the phenomenon of paraphilia (i.e., aberrant sexuality) in relationship to the crime of lust murder. By synthesizing the relevant theories on sexual homicide and serial killing, the authors develop an original, timely, sensible model that accounts for the emergence and progression of paraphilias expressed through increasingly violent erotic fantasies. Over time, these disturbing paraphilic images that, among other things, involve rape, body mutilation and dismemberment, torture, post-mortem sexual intercourse, and cannibalism, are all actualized. Thus, it is the sustained presence of deviant sexuality that contributes to and serves as underlying motive for the phenomenon of lust murder (a.k.a. erotophonophilia). Going well beyond theoretical speculation, the authors (Dr. Catherine Purcell, a forensic psychologist and Dr. Bruce Arrigo, a criminologist) apply their integrated model to the gruesome and chilling case of Jeffrey Dahmer. They convincingly demonstrate where and how their conceptual framework provides a more complete explanation of lust homicide than any other model available in the field today. The book concludes with a number of practical suggestions linked to clinical prevention, diagnosis, and treatment strategies; police training, profiling, and apprehension efforts; as well as legal and public policy responses to sexually violent and predatory assailants. Comprehensive in its coverage, accessible in its prose, and thoughtful in its analysis, The Psychology of Lust Murder is a must read for any person interested in the crime of erotophonophilia and those offenders responsible for its serial commission. * Contributes, in a thoughtful and scholarly way, to the audiences' existing library of books on crimes and criminals * Provides new and insightful information on the criminal behavior of Jeffrey Dahmer * ...

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Jurisprudence & Law - Criminology, Forensic Science






Academic Press





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The emergence and progression of paraphilias expressed through increasingly violent erotic fantasies

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Tags paraphilia, predatory assailants, Jeffrey Dahmer, rape, body mutilation, dismemberment, sexual homicide, serial killing, paraphilic behavior, lust murderer, assailants, pedophilia