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Sadistic Behavior: A Literature Review

Sadism as clinical term

The purpose of this paper is to review and discuss the application of the term sadistic to descriptions of offender crime scene behavior within the existing psychiatric and criminological literature. In doing this, the authors will discuss established terms, definitions and standards of evidence related to the concept of sadism, the confusion between behavioral prediction and analysis as evidenced in the literature, and attempt to expel myths regarding behaviors that have been erroneously assumed to be sadistic in nature. These issues will be elucidated by examples from that literature of offenders whose behavior has been labeled sadistic, in terms of whether or not they meet a proposed behavioral standard. This proposed standard was inferred by the authors from historical accounts regarding the behavior and writing of the Marquis de Sade, from the descriptions provided by the Psychopathia Sexualis, and from the criteria provided by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Ed. (1994).

[...] [...] in reference to those offenses described as sadistic or "Lustmurder," the authors noted frequent and liberal use of relative moral descriptors. In fact, some authors have devoted sections of their professional work to discussing the moral disposition of particular offender types, and, as evidenced by excerpts in this paper, frequently use such subjective and relative terms as:

These subjective terms and moral positions form the basis for emotional arguments, as opposed to logical ones. Their meaning is furthermore culturally subjective. Therefore, while they do give readers insight into the personal belief system of the authors who use them, they arguably act as a very tangible barrier between researchers and their understanding of individual offender motivations. The use of such terms does not advance the cause of objective research. --Baeza, J. & Turvey, B., "Sadistic Behavior: A Literature Review," Knowledge Solutions Library, Electronic Publication, URL: http://www.corpus-delicti.com/sadistic_behavior.html, May, 1999

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