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Presumptive Role of Fantasy in Serial Sexual Homicide

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1989
5 pages
A sample of 25 serial sexual murderers with three or more known victims each was compared with a group of 17 single sexual murderers to examine the role of fantasy as an internal drive mechanism for repetitive acts of sexual violence.
The results of the study supported the general conclusion that fantasy is important as a presumptive drive mechanism for sexual sadism. Eighty-three percent of the serial sexual murderers experienced violent sexual fantasy, as opposed to 23 percent of the single murderers. Some research has suggested that the shaping of fantasy and the motivation for consummating the fantasy may be understood in terms of classical conditioning. Consistent with this notion is the finding that at least three social learning variables may be important in correlating sexual arousal to deviant fantasy. These include parental modeling of deviant behavior in blatant or attenuated fashion, repeated associations between the modeled deviant behavior and a strong positive affective response from the child, and reinforcement of the child's deviant response. Consistent with the greater prevalence of violent fantasy, serial sexual murderers evidenced a higher frequency of paraphilias than single murderers. One unexpected finding was the lack of an intergroup difference in terms of planning their crimes. 2 tables and 27 references

Date Published: January 1, 1989