The Autogenic (Self-Generated) Massacre

Behav Sci Law. 2004;22(3):311-23. doi: 10.1002/bsl.564.

Abstract

Mass killings can be of a variety of types including family slayings, cult killings, and the by-product of other criminal activities. This article focuses on massacres where the perpetrators indiscriminately kill people in pursuit of a highly personal agenda arising from their own specific social situation and psychopathology. Five cases are presented of this type of autogenic (self-generated) massacre, all of whom survived and were assessed by the author. Not only do these massacres follow an almost stereotypical course, but the perpetrators tend to share common social and psychological disabilities. They are isolates, often bullied in childhood, who have rarely established themselves in effective work roles as adults. They have personalities marked by suspiciousness, obsessional traits, and grandiosity. They often harbour persecutory beliefs, which may occasionally verge on the delusional. The autogenic massacre is essentially murder suicide, in which the perpetrators intend first to kill as many people as they can and then kill themselves. The script for this particular form of suicide has established itself in western society and is continuing to spread, and to diversify.

MeSH terms

  • Criminal Psychology*
  • Homicide / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Disorders
  • Suicide / psychology*