Causes of Mass Murder

Topics: Mass murder, Murder, Homicide Pages: 5 (1744 words) Published: February 11, 2013
Causes of Mass Murder Crime
Alvenia Gregory
Argosy University

This paper examines the act of mass murder. If society can find a valid answer as to what causes a person to commit mass murders, then the possibility of preventing the act would be great because it would be probable to recognize the psychotic behavior that is associated with mass murder. Occurrences of mass murder for instance the shootings at Sandy Hook, Aurora Colorado theatre; Columbine and Virginia Tech over and over again dominate much of society's attention not only for weeks but often for months following the incident. The research question I have selected is: ‘What are the sociological and psychological causes for unforeseen criminal actions of Mass Murderers?’ The recent rises in mass murders have become a concern for much of society. These events, which we identify as mass murder or mass homicide, have increased in the last half century. Although neither criminologists nor psychologists have found a specific psychological profile unique to mass murderers despite the fact, several theorist have made presumptions on their motivations. What factors would motivate a person to conceive in their mind, plan and then execute the murders of a group of strangers is something I cannot comprehend. Defining the term Mass Murder

The term mass murder is defined as the brutal and unwarranted killing of a group of people, a massacre, and slaughter or butchery murder. The perpetrator who commits mass murder is usually described as a person who kills several or numerous victims in a single incident. Mass murder, is often misjudged as a spree killing. For example, spree killing involves two or more murders that occur within a brief period in multiple locations. According to Dr. Park Dietz (1986) mass murder is defined as an "offenses in which multiple victims are intentionally killed by a single offender in a single incident" (p. 479). Recently, Levin and Madfis (2009) described mass murder as "the antisocial and non-state-sponsored killing of multiple victims during a single episode at one or more closely related locations" (p. 1227). Holmes and Holmes (2000) specify that the classification of mass murder consist of four components 1) the number of victims, 2) the location of the murders, 3) the time period in which the killings are carried out, and 4) the distance from one murder to another.

Characteristics of a Mass Murderer
In order to gain a clear understanding of the who, what, and why of mass murder, I believe that we have to rely on proposed criminological theories. For many years sociologists and criminologists have equally made claims that strains may possibly cause this method of criminal behavior. Robert K. Merton 1938 revised Durkheim’s anomie theory maintaining “those who are fundamentally blocked from reaching and attaining material success will experience strain and may ultimately become accustomed to their unfortunate circumstances resulting in diverse deviant and criminal behavior. This coincides with social psychologists who propose that on- going feelings of disappointment connected to continuous failures in achieving individual goals, add to the probability of resentment and violent behavior (Dollard, Doob, Miller, Mowrer, & Sears, 1939).

The overall statistics and physiognomies of mass murderers concluded mass murderers are usually white males in their 20's or 30's, a loner with no friends and few acquaintances, has adoration for guns, and most likely has no criminal record or any lengthy history of mental treatment (Flaherty 1992:5). Some hand-picked victims have specific attributes; such as, significant physical, social, or psychological characteristics that appeal to the criminal (Bartol 1991).According to Lunde and Morgan (1980), most mass murderers are psychotic and rarely know their victims, but believes their choice of victims is usually coincidental. In their mind, the victims represent people they are...
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