By Arthur Hyatt-Williams
The road that separates those that kill from those that in simple terms give it some thought, and from those that injure themselves, is frequently thinner than we think. Convicted murderers serving life-sentences in England are one of the topics of this in-depth mental research of what makes humans kill. 350 pages.
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Extra resources for Cruelty, violence and murder : understanding the criminal mind
What 22 CRUELTY, VIOLENCE, AND MURDER he wanted to do was to act out a disturbing constellation in his personal inner world in the mistaken and delusional belief that he would feel better permanently. When in a nonmurderous frame of mind, this man was perfectly fair and generous in his dealings with males and females. A split-off encapsulated intrapsychic constellation in which there was unmitigated murderousness had been triggered in him. It was a delusional system that had not responded to life's favorable experiences but had remained for years unmodified.
During the course of serious and persistent at- 16 CRUELTY, VIOLENCE, AND MURDER tempts to give psychotherapy to convicted murderers in one of Great Britain's prisons, I observed that when the responsibility for the crime begins to be recognized and owned, the murderer usually develops hypochondriacal complaints accompanied by an increased incidence of psychosomatic illness ranging from colds to rectal bleeding or even, in one case, a radiologically confirmed peptic ulcer. Another man developed leukemia and died, though cause and effect cannot be proved.
A largely unanswered question concerns the prevalence of murderous fantasies or k i i n g s appearing in remembered dream sequences in comparison to the infrequency of the deed of murder. Some detoxication of the intrapsychic situation must occur in most people. Two issues arise: 1. Can the death constellation be rendered completely innocuous? 2. Is there always the possibility of relapse into murderousness? There is probably n o absolute answer to these questions. In su~veyingmy own psychiatric experience I would conclude, perhaps somewhat obviously, that there are many people who could never be brought to the point of committing a murder.