CJ416 Assignment 2: The Macdonald Triad, a Predictor?
Robert Bricker - G00013999
The Macdonald Triad theory has been around for several years and has been studied and re-studied several over the years. J. M. Macdonald, in his 1963 paper, “The Threat to Kill”, noted that certain behaviors were more prevalent in the violent offenders he was studying (Ramsland, 2012). He found that among the 100 psychotic and non-psychotic patients he interviewed that there was a pattern in their behaviors. One thing to keep in mind is that while Macdonald noted these behaviors he did not see much value in them as a predictor. Shorty after Macdonald’s findings a group saw that there might be value in creating their own study. They used 84 jailed offenders of varying aggressiveness and found that three quarters had one or two of the behaviors and that 45 percent had them all (Brice, 2012). This study was poorly executed, but in later trials similar numbers were shown in their findings. The theory became more prominent in the 1980’s and 1990’s when the FBI started doing their own studies. Their studies had even fewer participants than Macdonald’s original study; the FBI only used 36 murderers, 25 of which were serial killers, and no non-violent criminals as controls. Even with this small amount of data theories were developed and articles published. They did, however, add some subject background data that may provide further clues to predictors. They found most, three quarts, had single and/or indifferent parents growing up, three quarters had atypical sexual desires, and that three quarters had been abused (Brice, 2012). The Macdonald triad itself consists of the following three parts, enuresis, animal cruelty, and fire-setting. Enuresis, or persistent bed wetting that happens after the age of five, can be triggered by abuse, emotional, physical, or sexual. This...
References: Brice, M. (Oct 2012). The Macdonald Triad: Do Three Common Childhood Behaviors Predict a
Serial Killer? Medical Daily. Retrieved from http://www.medicaldaily.com/macdonald-triad-do-three-common-childhood-behaviors-predict-serial-killer-243106
Hickey, E. W. (2010). Serial Murderers and Their Victims. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth
Ramsland, K. (Mar, 2012). Triad of Evil. Psychology Today. Retrieved from
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