Malignant sex and aggression: an overview of serial sexual homicide

Bull Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 1993;21(4):435-51.


Serial murderers have attracted considerable attention in the popular press and criminal justice field, but scientific literature about these individuals is limited. This article provides an overview, from a psychiatric perspective, of serial sexual homicide, one type of serial killing. Characteristics of this type of murder and of these offenders are discussed. Defining qualities and diagnoses applicable to serial sexual killers are reviewed. Various etiologic theories are discussed, with emphasis on the role of fantasy and psychodynamic explanations. Governmental agencies involved in combating this type of crime, along with the role of mental health professionals in criminal profiling, are presented. Finally, the authors explore the reaction of society to this phenomenon.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aggression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Homicide / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Homicide / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Offenses / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Sex Offenses / psychology
  • Violence