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33. Other Don't agree with any of the preceding 32? Got your own ideas? Tell us about them in here.

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Old April 18th, 2009, 08:20 AM   #1
Mr. Poster
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Default The Catathymic Killer

HI ho

I want to start a thread on the notion of JtR as a catathymic killer, a construct within which we may find the "motiveless" non-hunter we have been discussing on other threads.

Catathymic killing was first described by Swiss psychiatrist Hans W. Maier in 1912 and can be defined as "in accordance with emotions". The term was then used by Wertham in 1937 in his elaboration of reasons for acts of severe and out-of-character violence.

Without elaborating upon the development of the theory in general, with regards to using it as a possible framework within the context of the Ripper killings, Revitch and Schlesinger (1981) progressed from Werthams notion (which involved long - term personal relationships) to a development of Satten, Menninger, and Mayman's (1960) theories pertaining to sudden interpersonal violence triggered by an individual whom the perpetrator has just met. Within this notion, two types of catathymia are described - acute and chronic.

The attached table is from Schlesinger (2004).

In this we can see that many of the characteristics of the Ripper murders feature in the criteria for an acute catathymic action - the killer meets a stranger, an interaction is precipitated and some event within that interaction occurs that leads to, within seconds, an unplanned vioelnt act with overkill.

There is often dismemberment, its completely chaotic, there is absolutely no planning and after the event the perpertrator has poor memory of it and probably is not even emotionally concerned by it.

In such a state, if our man was prone to acute catathymic type events, he would meet his victim (non-hunting), something would happen "Triggered by a sudden overwhelming emotion of attached
to underlying sexual conflicts of symbolic significance" and our man would, within seconds, be letting loose on the victim in an over the top way, possibly gutting her or attempting dismemberment and after it all he would be hard pushed to remember it or attach any emotion to it facilitating his immediate return to the bright lights of Whitechapel in an apparently nomrla state.

The work of Meloy (1992) concluded that out-of-the-blue catathymic homicides are affective—and not predatory-types of aggression, again indicative of a motiveless, non-hunting Ripper.

Schlesinger (2007) provides an interesting case study detailing an acute catathymic killing which could easily describe the situation pertaining to the actions of our man.

An 18-year-old student throttled a 22-year-old female nightclub entertainer
after she entered a petrol station where he worked. She initiated contact by asking to borrow a coin for a phone call then propositioned our student for sex. He tried, could not gain an erection and she mocked him with one comment. He then strangled her on the spot, put her corpse in his car and dumped it. Next day he thought it had been a dream but checked his car and figured out it wasnt. During interrogation, he recalled the crime as having occurred in a dream like state and related the tale in an emotionless, clinical manner typical for such murders.

It is important to realise that catathymic murders are not sexually motivated in the same way as a compulsive killer (the TV "serial killer") and there are ways of distinguishing between the two.

Schlesinger (2007) lists a number of these and two in particular stands out as far as we are concerned: in relation to the victim - in acute catathymic killings the victim is unknown to the killer, in unplanned compulsive killing the victim is often known to the killer; in relation to the crime - dismemberment or associated activities are common post moretm, in unplanned compulsive murders - the insertion of objects into orifices or sexual assault is more common.

Schlesinger (2001) also differentiates between the warning signs for compulsive killers (childhood abuse, inappropriate maternal (sexual) conduct, pathological lying and manipulation, sadistic fantasies with a compulsion to act, animal cruelty, voyeurism, fetishism, and sexual burglary, unprovoked attacks on females, associated with generalized misogynous emotions and evidence of ritualistic (signature) behavior) and those vulnerable to acute catathymic explosions (pretty much the only sign is that the potential perpetrator will confide feelings of sexual inadequacy to a confidant or may describe his potential to "explode" but otherwise no signs).

I am also now quoting from Schlesinger (ibid.):

Quote:
"However, the individual who commits a planned compulsive murder commonly rapes, sodomizes, or tortures the victim before killing her."
Quote:
"Many offenders who commit an acute catathymic homicide have been evaluated by mental health professionals prior to the explosion. Unfortunately, the depth of the future offender's disturbance is either well masked or is not fully understood by the examining clinician or, more likely, the offender is not properly questioned."
Quote:
Individuals found to be at risk for a catathymic explosion need immediate intervention and treatment including the option of hospitalization—involuntary if necessary.....Individuals who make homicidal threats often wind up committing suicide (MacDonald, 1968)......Catathymic ideation indicative of an acute or chronic process is a foreboding sign that needs to be recognized and properly treated in an attempt to prevent tragedy.
I therefore contend, as I have long contended, and for which the above serves to support my contention, that:

1. Our man was an a normal chap who suddenly explodes due to a triggering event (acute catathymic killing),

2. After the event he is apparently normal,

3. the killings were unplanned,

4. the killings, in lack of sexual activity and post mortem abuse, are characteristic of an acute catathymic event rather than unplanned compulsive killing,

5. the environment in which the killings occurred was conducive to the type of scenarios where acute catathymic killings occur (contact with a stranger, situation whereby sexuality is called into question),

6. the killer did not necessarily display the type of behaviours we expect of killers from watching too much TV and the only indication may have been a vernalilsed comment to a confidant of feels of potential "explosion",

7. the killer was not hunting,


Interesting other characetristics of acute catathymic killers include the fact that they often commit suicide due to the killings and that they make little or no effort to conciously evade the coppers.

I maintain that an unlucky combination of the Whitechapel area and its many opportunities for sexual activity with insensitive hardened whores, the presence of our man (for whatever reason as he wasnt hunting) and teh primitive state of Victorian policing and the geography of the area precipitated the series of killings.

It is also highly possible, given that all the indications are of an acute catathymic event (no sex, no torture, dismemberment, strangers, sexual situations etc ) our man just topped himself sometime after.


Given all that ... who could be our man?

A sensitive soul, with possible sexual problems, outwardly normal, in Whitechapel at various times, not necessarily from there, who may have found interaction with a hard faced whore a bit too much, who may have confided his feelings of possibly "exploding" to family or friends and who topped himself some time after the events.

At any rate, the TV inspired, cunning, planning, hunter type he was not.

p


references:

MacDonald, J. M. (1968). Homicidal threats. Springfield, IL: Thomas.

Meloy, J. R. (1992). Violent attachments. Northvale, NJ: Aronso

Revitch, E., & Schlesinger, L. B. (1981). Psychopathology of homicide. Springfield, IL: Thomas.

Satten, J., Menninger, K., & Mayman, M. (1960). Murder without apparent motive: A study in personality disintegration. American Journal of
Psychiatry
, 117, 48−53.

Schlesinger, L.B. (2004). Sexual Murder: Catathymic and Compulsive Homicides. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 162.

Schlesinger, L.B. (2007). Sexual homicide: Differentiating catathymic and compulsive murders, Aggression and Violent Behavior 12 242–256

Wertham, F. (1937). The catathymic crisis: A clinical entity. Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, 37, 974−977.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 08:43 AM   #2
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That's Druitt isn't it - lol

Good post Mr P and I see your point

I will digest that info and get back to you later
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Old April 18th, 2009, 09:57 AM   #3
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Hi ho Nemo

Indeed. I have never been a Druitt man at all and have never even posted on a Druitt thread....but when one looks at the characteristics of the killings and the one indicative characteristic of such killers being that they may have confided in family or friends that they felt like they could explode and that they tend to top oneself ....its horribly Druitt-istic.

Not that that makes me a Druitt-ist, although in general I have nothing against him as he fits most of why consider to be reasonable about our Ripper.

But Im going to have to start perhaps lowering one foot tentatively off the fence and start considering Druitt a bit more.

p
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Old April 18th, 2009, 10:10 AM   #4
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Hi Mr P

A few things spring to mind

The carrying away of flesh must surely have told him later that something untoward had occurred

And with all the publicity, surely he would have had some idea that he had killed - by the location alone

And after that fact, he still put himself in the position where this event occurred again - and was tooled up to complete the act

The killer described seems to me to refer, in the main, to a one off killer

Killing multiple victims in a short period must have impinged on his psyche at some point

It also implies to me that he would act in rage - but I think the killings were quite clinical - cut the throat, open the body, root around, take an organ - he had a purpose, not an immediate rage toward the victim personally

The tabulated stuff could easily fit the Ripper though

Food for thought...
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Old April 18th, 2009, 10:11 AM   #5
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Dear Lars:

Just as an aside, if someone committed a murder based on the Catathymic concept...where they didn't remember what they had done immediately after committing murder ( lets take the Chapman murder)...would that diminish the likelihood of them panicking and actually facilitate their ability to walk away from the scene of a crime without the assumed & possibly concomitant mindset that makes one look,feel or react "guilty" ? Or would it make the person under this catathymic concept react with panic as its difficult to imagine someone,anyone,discovering what they've done in a case like this and then not reacting in a way that wouldn't make them appear guilty or respond to the need of escape in a satisfactory manner.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 10:14 AM   #6
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Hi Nemo

Quote:
The carrying away of flesh must surely have told him later that something untoward had occurred
Perhaps. But he may have opened his hand, gone "what the hell is taht?" and chucked it way in horror. At any rate, I am not denying he may have realised something was going wrong. hence the suicide?

Quote:
And with all the publicity, surely he would have had some idea that he had killed - by the location alone
Again...no suggestion that he wasnt aware he was killing. But the "remoteness" of it psychologically could easily mean he wouldnt be as impacted by it as you or me.

Quote:
And after that fact, he still put himself in the position where this event occurred again - and was tooled up to complete the act
According to the psychiatyr of it.....he doesnt know why it happened. He wouldnt know what triggered it nor how to avoid it. At any rate....maybe he did try to avoid it but all it may take is a filthy cat call from a whore when he refused her advances to set him off.
Quote:
Killing multiple victims in a short period must have impinged on his psyche at some point
Suicide sounds like an impact-

Quote:
It also implies to me that he would act in rage - but I think the killings were quite clinical - cut the throat, open the body, root around, take an organ - he had a purpose, not an immediate rage toward the victim personally
I see no evidence of clinicality. Guts everywhere, random hackings.
p
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Old April 18th, 2009, 10:19 AM   #7
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Hi HOw

Quote:
if someone committed a murder based on the Catathymic concept...where they didn't remember what they had done immediately after committing murder ( lets take the Chapman murder)...would that diminish the likelihood of them panicking and actually facilitate their ability to walk away from the scene of a crime without the assumed & possibly concomitant mindset that makes one look,feel or react "guilty" ?
I reckon so. Apparently after the event, which they barely remember, they resume their normal activities. What better way to appear innocent of questioned than having no recollection of having done anything or at best thinking that you had dreamt it or seen it ina haze or something.

Quote:
Or would it make the person under this catathymic concept react with panic as its difficult to imagine someone,anyone,discovering what they've done in a case like this and then not reacting in a way that wouldn't make them appear guilty or respond to the need of escape in a satisfactory manner.
The case studies reported in the literature indicate that even when acknowledging crimes committed in this way.....the culprit appears totally detached from them, describing them as if in 3rd person and, oddly enough, displaying acute embarrassment about minor details (such as having seen the victims breasts) while not displaying any particular emotion about having killed them at all.

p
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Old April 18th, 2009, 10:21 AM   #8
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Dear Lars:

Out of further curiosity, could you provide,if its not too much trouble, an example of a serial killer who had this condition or at least point me in the direction of one who did.

Very interesting material,by the way.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 11:00 AM   #9
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Hi How

I don't know if there are any. Unlike most profiling gunk, the designation "catathymic" is a clinical psychiatric designation and is not one of your typical profiling buzzwords.

The extent to which anyone falls into the "cataegory" (or diagnosis) is a matter for a psychiatrist I presume.

This snippet from Knoll (2006) sums it up best perhaps:
Quote:
"Meloy (2002) has advanced a similar typology, but with a clinical emphasis.
Sexual homicide perpetrators may be described as either “compulsive” or
“catathymic.” The compulsive perpetrators are similar to the FBI’s organized
killers. They leave organized crime scenes and can be diagnosed with sexual
sadism and antisocial/narcissistic personality disorders. The catathymic
perpetrators leave disorganized crime scenes and may be diagnosed with a
mood disorder and varying personality traits. While the compulsive type
display emotional detachment and autonomic hyporeactivity, the catathymic
type are less psychopathic. In contrast, the catathymic type are autonomically hyperreactive and may have histories of abuse. Again, these types were intended to be generalities, and any individual case is likely to fall on a continuum between the two."
So I suppose any "disorganised" serial killer is a potential catathymic killer depending on his psychiatric evaluation afterwards?

p

James Knoll MD, 2006, Serial Murder: A Forensic Psychiatric Perspective, Psychiatric TIme, March 2006, 64-68.
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Old April 18th, 2009, 11:11 AM   #10
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Lars:

Wasn't it a lot better in the "old days" when we didn't have to wade through all the psychiatric stuff and we just called these people "jerkoffs" ?

Seriously, thank you for trying to locate one ( There might be a couple here on the site...like Covell Bundy and Jon 'Speck" Rees...for reference)....and please keep the conversation and information coming,its very interesting( Thats for you...A catathymic kiss... don't worry,old man,I won't remember it in 15 seconds)

I'll go do some looking myself.
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