The Perversion of Virtue: Understanding Murder-Suicide

ISBN : 9780199334551

Thomas Joiner, Jr.
264 Pages
163 x 241 mm
Pub date
Mar 2014
Send mail

Of the approximately 38,500 deaths by suicide in the U.S. annually, about two percent - between 750 and 800 - are murder-suicides. The horror of the murder-suicide looms large in the public consciousness-they are reported in the media with more frequently and far more sensationalism than most suicides, and yet very little research has been conducted on this grave form of violence. In The Perversion of Virtue, suicide researcher Thomas Joiner explores the nature of murder-suicide and offers a unique new theory to explain this nearly unexplainable act: that 'true' murder-suicides always involve the wrongheaded invocation of one of four interpersonal virtues: mercy, justice, duty, and glory. The parent who murders his child and then himself seeks to 'save' his child from a fatherless life of hardship; the wife who murders her husband and then herself seeks to right the wrongs he committed against her, and so on. Rather than distorting these four virtues beyond recognition, murder-suicide involves the gross misperception of when and how these virtues should be applied. Drawing on case studies from the media as well as from scholarly literature, Joiner meticulously examines, deconstructs, and finally rebuilds our understanding of murder-suicide in such a way as to bring tragic reason to what may seem an unfathomable act of violence. Along the way he also dispels some of the most enduring myths of suicide - for instance, that suicide is usually an impulsive act (it is almost always premeditated), or that alcohol or drugs are involved in most suicides (usually they are not). Sure to be controversial, this book seeks to make sense of one of the most difficult-to-comprehend types of violence in modern society, shedding new light that will ultimately lead to better understanding and even prevention.


Section 1: Introductory Material
Chapter 1 Murder-Suicide: Prevalence, Characteristics, and Initial Conceptualization
Chapter 2 Understanding Murder
Chapter 3 Understanding Suicide
Chapter 4 Understanding Virtue
Section 2: Understanding Murder-Suicide as a Perversion of Virtue
Chapter 5 A Perversion of Mercy
Chapter 6 A Perversion of Justice
Chapter 7 A Perversion of Duty
Chapter 8 A Perversion of Heroic Glory
Chapter 9 The Neighboring But Distinct Categories of Perverting Self-Control and Fate
Section 3: Implications and Conclusions
Chapter 10 Prevention, Clinical, and Other Real-World Applications
Chapter 11 Conclusion: Human Nature and the Perversion of Virtue

About the author: 

Thomas Joiner, PhD, is The Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at Florida State University (FSU), Tallahassee, Florida. Dr. Joiner's work is on the psychology, neurobiology, and treatment of suicidal behavior and related conditions. Author of over 475 peer-reviewed publications, Dr. Joiner was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Residency Fellowship. He received the Young Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, the Shakow Award for Early Career Achievement from the Division of Clinical Psychology of the American Psychological Association, the Shneidman Award for excellence in suicide research from the American Association of Suicidology, and the Award for Distinguished Scientific Early Career Contributions from the American Psychological Association, as well as research grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, Department of Defense (DoD).

The price listed on this page is the recommended retail price for Japan. When a discount is applied, the discounted price is indicated as “Discount price”. Prices are subject to change without notice.