The Psychology Of Genocide, Massacres, And Extreme Violence

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Chronicling horrific events that brought the 20th century to witness the largest number of systematic slaughters of human beings in any century across history, this work goes beyond historic details and examines contemporary psychological means that leaders use to convince individuals to commit horrific acts in the name of a politial or military cause. Massacres in Nanking, Rwanda, El Salvador, Vietnam, and other countries are reviewed in chilling detail. But the core issue is what psychological forces are behind large- scale killing; what psychology can be used to indoctrinate normal people with a Groupthink that moves individuals to mass murder brutally and without regret, even when the victims are innocent children. Dutton shows us how individuals are convinced to commit such sadistic acts, often preceded by torture, after being indoctrinated with beliefs that the target victims are unjust, inhuman or viral, like a virus that must be destroyed or it will destroy society.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[A]n exceptionally well written text which highlights an area of study which aggression and forensic researchers should take more interest in to understand both what promotes mass violence and what protects against it. I think Dutton has produced a book on this topic worthy pf accolade, if not simply for highlighting the importance of these issues and for presenting a detailed outline of how such atrocities have presented across the medieval and modern world. I hope that the text serves to stimulate empirical research into this important area of emerging study, and would encourage the disciplines of forensic psychology, sociology, and anthropology in particular to take interest."


International Society for Research on Aggression

"Describing his work as a marriage of social and forensic psychology with history, Dutton aims to explain the psychological mechanisms that generate extreme violence, including genocide, military massacres, lynchings, and prison riots. Sadly, he finds that most people are capable of visiting horrific violence against others, especially in social situations wherein a subjectively defined out-group becomes perceived as a threat to an in- group's view of their place in the world. He also identifies B process dominance as the mechanism by which individuals become inured to brutality. However, he notes remaining limitations in psychological explanations of extreme violence."


Reference & Research Book News

"Dutton's volume….[i]s neither fictional prose nor cinematic image; nor is it a study of a particular historical act. Rather, is is a carefully documented work that leads the reader on a journey into humanity's heart of darkness through a chapter-by-chapter account of the brutal litanies of genocide, holocausts, military massacres, lynchings, prison riots, rapes, serial killers, and wars of the 20th century….[W]hat makes Dutton's volume unique and….[e]ssential reading for everyone is its straightforward, clear, and unadulterated presentation of the panorama of brutality that marks the 20th century….Dutton has written a book for our era that should be read by everyone. It compels us to explore the human heart of darkness."



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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275990008
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/2007
  • Series: Praeger Security International Series
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.56 (d)

Meet the Author

DONALD G. DUTTON is Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia. A Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Dutton has researched violence in forensic and domestic situations across 30 years. He has led court-mandated treatment groups for violent offenders, interviewed spousal killers, and authored four books plus more than 100 articles on the psychological mechanisms of violence perpetrators. Dutton has appeared on Dateline NBC, Larry King Live, National Public Radio, and Good Morning America.

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