Macdonald Triad

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Macdonald Triad

Heather Scourfield

Grantham University

Macdonald Triad

The Macdonald Triad is a theory that a set of three characteristics, when presented together, are associated with violent, specifically homicidal behavior. J. M. Macdonald suggested that cruelty towards animals, fire-setting and excessive bed-wetting during in childhood linked violent behavior in adulthood. This theory has strengths and weaknesses. It provides an explanation, not necessarily a valid one, for a tragic situation. Sometimes that is all anybody is ever looking for in those situation; an explanation.

Personally, I do not agree with the Macdonald Triad. Although I would not doubt that all three separately are indicators of troubled behavior that even the combination of the three would be a “red flag”, but not sufficient enough to say that it is a direct link or cause of violent behvior. To me there isn’t enough data to back the theories validity. The studies described in the text consist of research counts of 84, 102, 1200; that is not enough research or statistical data collection to convince me that these behaviors are direct links to the behaviors shown in serial killers. The simple downfall of this theory is the lack of research and study groups.

On the flip side the strength of this theory is its potential. With more money, research, studies, and attention I believe this theory’s reputation could improve. The Macdonald Triad does a good job of describing the emotional behind the act of the act. The connection between nature/nurture and a child’s emotional development process is extremely important and often times are direct indicators of how they will act or react as an adult. Now I agree that animal cruelty shows inner aggression and hatred towards themselves or another person, that bed-wetting shows lack of control, stress and signs of fear and that fire-starting is a sign of needing attention, lack of respect...
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