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Author(s) Palermo, George B.
Year 1997
Title Berserk Syndrome: A Review of Mass Murder
Published in Aggression and Violent Behavior, Vol. 2, No. 1
Pages 1–8
DOI 10.1016/S1359-1789(96)00018-3
Abstract In discussing the problem of mass murder, an ever increasing expression of violence in society, the typology of the perpetrators of such crimes is presented. Illustrations of some of the most notorious killers are provided and the unique case of a mass murderer who left, as a suicide “note,” a videotaped soliloquy is presented. The dynamics of mass murder and of mass murder-suicide are discussed; the killings are viewed as the outcome of deep frustration and perceived rejection in a highly narcissistic person, wounded in his ego, hostile towards society, and in search of identity and notoriety through a cathartic self assertion. Similarities are shown between the mass murderer and the mythological Norse “berserk” and it is speculated that the superman complex may be at the core of the killer's behavior. It is contended that the personal psychopathology of the killer is determinant of the destructive behavior, although social factors are highly contributory.
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