The Psychology of Lust Murder

Paraphilia, Sexual Killing, and Serial Homicide


  • Catherine Purcell, Loveland, CO, USA
  • Bruce Arrigo, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, U.S.A.

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.
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Psychologist/criminologists teaching criminal and clinical aspects of aberrant sexuality; students interested in the crime of lust murder and those responsible for its serial commission; criminologist/psychologists researching sexual homicide and serial murder; students studying criminal psychology, sociology of deviance, offender profiles; lay public interested in "true crime" accounts of murder


Book information

  • Published: April 2006
  • ISBN: 978-0-12-370510-5


"...serves nicely as an introduction to lust murder. Readers seeking a primer on the topic will find it useful...Overall, the book offers an interesting and readable introduction to the psychology of lust murder. The discussions of the role of sexual fantasy and psychopathy in lust murders are especially interesting...this book offers a number of observations and conclusions that are open to empirical tests. It is hoped that future researchers will accept the challenge." --Richard D. McAnulty for PsycCRITIQUES, May 9, 2007, Vol. 52, Release 19, Article 9

Table of Contents

Preliminary TOCChapter 1: IntroductionOverviewSexual Homicide and Serial Murder: Towards an IntegrationOrganization of the BookComments on PresuppositionsChapter 2: On Paraphilia and Lust MurderOverviewDefinition of ParaphiliaEtiology of ParaphiliaLust Murder/ErotophonophiliaSummary and ConclusionChapter 3: On Sexual Homicide and Serial Murder: What Do We Know?OverviewMacCulloch ModelMotivational ModelTrauma Control ModelThe Limits of the Existing ModelsSummary and ConclusionChapter 4: An Integrative Model: What Do We Need?OverviewFormative DevelopmentEarly Fantasy and Paraphilic DevelopmentParaphilic ProcessStressorsBehavioral ManifestationsIncreasingly Violent FantasiesSummary and ConclusionChapter 5: The Case of Jeffrey DahmerOverviewMethodological ConcernsBirth and Early Childhood DevelopmentAdolescenceEarly Sexual IdentityEarly Fantasy DevelopmentFirst VictimPost- High School EncountersEarly Criminal and Employment HistoryViolent Fantasies and Homicidal ConductParaphilic BehaviorsSummary and ConclusionChapter 6: Dahmer, Sexual Deviance and Lust Murder: Testing the ModelsOverviewThe Motivation ModelThe Trauma Control ModelThe Integrated Paraphilic ModelThe Paraphilic ContinuumSummary and ConclusionChapter 7: In Search of Meaning: On Theory Construction and Model MakingOverviewThe Criminological Theory of Self-Concept and Crime Similarities Among the ModelsDifferences Among the ModelsUnique Features of the ModelsSummary and ConclusionChapter 8: Implications and ConclusionsOverviewRethinking the Case of Jeffrey DahmerLaw Enforcement Administration and ManagementCriminal and Clinical PsychologyLaw and Public PolicySummaryConclusions