Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

British Maniac Patrick Mackay

"Violentization"

Patrick at age 10
Patrick at age 10

Over the next few years, Patrick alienated those who might have given him solace. Often filthy from poverty and neglect and socially isolated, he developed into a bully against younger children, as is often the case when a victim decides to transform into someone with power. In addition, Mackay suffered from extreme tantrums and fits of anger.

Dr. Lonnie Athens, author of The Creation of Dangerous Violent Criminals, believes that antisocial behavior like this develops through specific steps. He theorizes that children are initially benign, and from his research among violent criminals in prison, he determined that people become violent through four stages of what he terms "violentization." They are:

  • brutalization and subjugation
  • belligerency
  • violent coaching
  • criminal activity

First, the person (usually a child) becomes a victim of violence and feels powerless to avoid it, as did Mackay. He or she experiences fear and humiliation, especially as the violence is repeated, along with his helplessness. Yet as he watches his tormenter, he learns how and when to become violent, as well as how to profit from it. It's not long before he's had sufficient exposure to act on the impulse himself as a way of taking charge and inflicting on others what was inflicted on him. His array of choices narrows to the one that appears to him to be most powerful, and he'll often adopt it.

This model certainly fits Mackay's development.

 

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