In this startling and complex investigation, Dr. Meloy begins with a simple, but profound question: why does most human violence occur between those who are emotionally involved, or more technically, within an attachment paradigm?
He finds answers by applying attachment theory in the tradition of Bowlby and Ainsworth, and object relations theory in the tradition of Klein, Jacobson, Mahler, and Kernberg, to case studies of bizarre and unusual homicides. These idiographic portraits illustrate erotomanic delusional disorder, chronic catathymia, the psychopath as love object, and assassination as a form of pathological attachment. He elucidates the ways in which certain psychodynamics that inexorably move toward murder can only exist within a fixated or regressed preoedipal personality structure. Such individuals are organized at a borderline or psychotic level, and most often utilize defenses of projection, projective identification, and omnipotent control.
This book is written for psychotherapists, psychologists, psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, and social workers in clinical or forensic practice. Biological foci include concepts about the deep limbic structures of the brain and the biochemistry that inhibits or disinhibits such violence. Psychological patterns include both psychoanalytic constructs and the specific psychological test data from the case studies that support such constructs. Social factors include the behavior of the victim and, in the case of assassination, the political acts that contribute to predatory violence. Dr. Meloy emphasizes the crucial need for mental health professionals to go beyond descriptive diagnoses and find the motivation and meaning of such acts. The professional's causal and purposive formulations about such violent attachments lead to more effective evaluation, treatment, and intervention, and perhaps testimony in subsequent criminal and civil litigation.
With this superb volume Reid Meloy transports the reader to remote locations that lie at the extremes of human experience. At these outposts we are privy to bizarre tales that reveal the violent underpinnings of love relationships. The mental health professions are indebted to Dr. Meloy for mapping this uncharted territory and for recognizing that in studying the 'outliers, ' we learn more about ourselves.--Glen O. Gabbard, M.D.