Why They Kill, the Discoveries of a Maverick Criminologist, written by Richard Rhodes, goes deep into the causative factors of violent behavior, and in a much different way than you might think. It discusses the four-stage process of “violentization”: brutalization, belligerency, violent performances, then virulency.
“Why do they kill? Why do some men and women and even children assault, batter, rape, mutilate, and murder? No question has so stubbornly resisted explanation. Religions, ideologies and every discipline or science that touches on human behavior have offered answers – theories invoking moral, supernatural, behavioral, social, neurological or genetic causes. None of these well-known theories credibly and authoritatively explains the violent crimes you and I follow in the news every day. It strains common sense to imagine that people are born to violence when rates of violence differ from group to group, culture to culture and age to age. It strains common sense to invoke brain damage to explain violent behavior when most people with damaged brains are not violent. Poverty, race, subculture, mental illness, child abuse, gender, are all disqualified, singly and collectively, as explanations for criminal violence by the sheer number of exceptions within every category that even a casual investigation reveals…” Why They Kill, the Discoveries of a Maverick Criminologist
This book first came up on my radar thanks Dr. William Aprill’s Instagram page, @aprillriskconsulting. I have been a student of his for years, attending many of his seminars, and am wont to take his advice to heart. Dr. Aprill is a licensed mental health care professional, but before he went to school and became all bookish, he was a Louisiana sheriffs deputy and a US Marshalls Service Special Deputy also in Louisiana.
Have you seen HBO’s True Detective? Yeah, well that series was fun to watch and might get your gray matter stirred up, but William’s UNTHINKABLE: Concepts and Techniques for the Gravest Extreme’ seminar will make think about violent criminal actors in a way the evening news never will. I highly recommend it, it’ll change you, Since he suggested this book…
In Why They Kill, Richard Rhodes writes about Lonnie Athens, a man who came from an unimaginably violent home and community, but somehow rose above all of it to become a ground-breaking criminologist.
“I have personal experience of violence, which is why it interests me. For two years, between the ages of ten and twelve, I was subjected to beatings, psychological and physical torture and near starvation at the hands of a stepmother whose amused malevolence substantiated the wicked stepmothers of folklore. When my older brother and I were removed from our abuser’s dark precincts by an enlightened juvenile court and sent to a private boys’ home to recover, I gained thirty pounds in three months. As a result of my extended personal encounter with evil, most of my books have examined human violence in one form or another, always for the purpose of discovering what causes such violence and how it might be prevented, mitigated or at least survived.”
The world is filled with inspiring stories of those who overcome oppressive poverty and violence and leave terrible places to prosper elsewhere. Motivational as they are, they are overwhelmingly rare. Parts of cities like Detroit, Richmond, Oakland, and others have been, and remain, gladiator schools for generations of people who are not “like us,” in the way they value life, the willingness to use violence, and their societal viewpoint. So too do certain rural areas and small towns, like College Park, GA or Coahoma County, MS.
“If the violent were genetically defective or mentally ill, we might spare them a measure of pity for their affliction. Athens’s work reveals to the contrary that violent criminals pass judgments and make decisions much as the rest of us do. They differ from the rest of us in following through with private violence.”
No amount of urban renewal, no influx of investment money, will ever make it completely better and there is no way to predict when we may encounter someone with this background. Understand that this book is not a book of fiction, it’s the real deal. As we go out into our communities for work, play, whatever, we must know that these violent criminal actors are out there, and they may be looking at you as their prey.
I’m not trying to scare anyone out of their Pollyanna view of the world. I’m stating a fact and trying to help, perhaps saving you and yours from violence.
This book, one of many Dr. Aprill has mentioned, a grounded and prepared individual needs to know about.
Ag man, someone ate my boerewors!
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