Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder
Extreme Killing
Covers of the first, second, and third edition.
Author(s) James Alan Fox
Jack Levin
Published 2005
Publisher Sage Publications
Country United States
Pages 290
ISBN 9780761988564

Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder is a book by James Alan Fox and Jack Levin, first published by Sage Publications in 2005. An updated second and third edition followed in 2011 and 2014 respectively.


In Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder, renowned experts James Alan Fox and Jack Levin examine the theories of criminal behavior and apply them to a multitude of well-known and lesser-known cases from around the world. The authors draw upon research from two large data sets - one comprised of serial killers and the other of those who have committed massacres. Extreme Killing is a fascinating introduction to an extreme set of homicidal behaviors for any interested reader.

Table of contentsEdit

Chapter Page*
Preface xi
Chapter 1: America's Fascination with Multiple Murder 3
The Gein Legacy 4
Multiple Murder in Popular Culture 5
The Selling of Multiple Murder 8
Craving Attention 10
Killer Communication** 11
Killer Groupies 17
The Impact of Celebrating Murderers 19
Sensitize, Not Sanitize 19
Chapter 2: Defining Multiple Murder 21
Mass, Serial, and Spree 23
A Typology of Multiple Murder 26
Power 27
Revenge 28
Loyalty 29
Profit 30
Terror 30
Theories of Multiple Homicide*** 31
Strain Theory*** 31
Social Learning Theory*** 33
Routine Activity Theory*** 35
Control Theory*** 36
Applying the Framework*** 38
Chapter 3: An Anatomy of Serial Murder 41
Prevalence of Serial Murder 43
Extraordinarily Ordinary 47
A Profile of the Typical Serial Killer 48
Chapter 4: With Deliberation and Purpose 57
When Killing is Thrilling 58
On a Deadly Mission of Terror or Revenge 62
Killing for Expediency 64
For Love and Loyalty 67
Chapter 5: Murder Without Guilt 69
Self-Control and Social Control** 70
The Sociopathic Personality 71
The Culture of Sociopathy 74
Empathy and Serial Killers 75
Borderline Personality Disorder 77
Normalcy in Serial Murder** 78
Rehumanizing the Victims** 82
Chapter 6: Partners in Murder 85
Insanity in the Relationship 86
Partners for Profit 87
Partnerships of Men and Women 89
Chapter 7: Killing for Company 95
Placing the Blame 96
Killing for Companionship 98
The Functions of Cannibalism 99
Desire for Total Control and Ownership 99
Chapter 8: Fantasyland 101
Keeping Souvenirs 102
Normal and Abnormal Fantasies 103
The Impact of Pornography 104
Chapter 9: The Making of a Serial Killer 109
Childhood Suffering 110
Testimony Under Hypnosis 112
Child Abuse and Murder 113
Inordinate Need for Power 115
Animal Cruelty and Violence Against Humans** 116
Challenges of Predicting Serial Murder** 118
Biological Predisposition** 119
Blaming the Family 123
Chapter 10: Nonsexual Control 125
Power Over Patients 126
Female Serial Killers 128
Munchhausen Syndrome by Proxy 129
Chapter 11: Killing Cults 133
Killing for a Cause 134
The Appeal of Dangerous Cults 136
Suicide or Homicide? 137
Satanism and Serial Murder 139
Chapter 12: So Many Victims 143
Vulnerable Victims Preferred 144
Catching the Serial Killer 148
Behavioral Profiling 150
VICAP*** 152
DNA*** 153
Lucky Breaks 155
Chapter 13: For Love, Money, or Revenge 159
Relative Obscurity 159
A Profile of Mass Killers 161
Selective and Methodical 169
When Love Kills 170
Sweet Revenge 173
Profiting from Mass Murder 175
Explaining Mass Murder** 177
Contributing Factors** 181
Chapter 14: Family Annihilation 183
A Profile of the Family Annihilator 187
Impact of Unemployment** 189
Murdering Moms 190
The Defiant Son 195
Chapter 15: Firing Back 197
Profile of the Workplace Avenger 198
The Impact of Frustration 201
Mixed Motives 204
Workplace Murder by Proxy 205
Romantic Obsession 206
Externalizing Responsibility 208
Social Isolation 209
Screening Our Problem Workers 210
Going Postal 211
Chapter 16: Schooled in Mass Murder** 215
Disgruntled Students*** 221
A Global Perspective*** 226
On to College 228
The Role of Violent Video Games*** 232
Shooting for Infamy 233
A Close Copy*** 236
Adult Copycats*** 237
Overstating the Copycat Effect? 237
Chapter 17: Fighting City Hall 239
Attacking the System 240
Legal Battles 241
Filing a Grievance 242
Increasing Alienation 245
Chapter 18: Hate Motivated Mass Murder 247
Choice of Victims 248
A Life of Frustration 249
Blaming Women 250
The Killer as Victim 253
Settling a Grudge With a Gun 256
Minority Against Majority 259
Chapter 19: Going Berserk 263
Paranoid Thinking 264
Confused State of Mind 267
Long-Standing Mental Illness 268
Civilian Battlefields 272
Brain Abnormalities 276
Deadly Weapons 278
Chapter 20: Weapons of Mass (Murder) Destruction*** 281
Mass Shootings and Gun Legislation 283
School Shootings and Political Will/Won't 285
The Assault Weapon Debate 287
Expanded Background Checks 288
Concealed Carry 289
Armed Faculty and School Security 292
A Final Word 293
PART IV: Epilogue 295
Chapter 21: Remembering the Victims 297
References 307
Index 321
About the Authors 345

*Chapters and page numbers taken from the 2014 edition.
**Chapter was added in the second edition.
***Chapter was added in the third edition.
– Compared to the first edition the following chapters and sub-chapters are missing in the second edition: in Chapter 5 "Compartmentalization and Dehumanization", in Chapter 9 "Prediciting Serial Murder" and "Neurological Impairment," and "Chapter 16: Copycat Killings"
– Compared to the second edition the following chapters and sub-chapters are missing in the third edition: Acknowledgments, in Chapter 12 "Reducing Linkage Blindness," in Chapter 13 "The Great Equalizer," in Chapter 16 "Student Massacres," Credits and Sources


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