Violence Without Thought


  • Marvin W Acklin Honolulu, Hawaii


Understanding mental states in criminal defendants who have committed extreme homicidal violence invokes perspectives from neurobiology, psychoanalytic theory, and personality assessment. Individuals who commit extreme violence frequently claim to have no awareness or recollection of their violent actions. This paper examines violence without thought or memory--with a special focus on rage type murder--through the lens of the neurobiology and neuroscience of affective violence, clinical and forensic personality assessment, and clinical case history. A forensic case study is presented of an extreme violent homicide perpetrated by a 14-year old youth who killed his foster mother, including a psychological evaluation and a mental state at the time of the offense assessment. The multi-perspectival assessment demonstrates conceptual, scientific, and theoretical resources to describe primitive mental states in the assessment of extreme violence. These perspectives are foundational for presenting compelling scientific evidence in courts of law and to advance understanding of extreme human behavior.