Understanding Dunblane and other Massacres: Forensic Studies of Homicide, Paedophilia, and Anorexia

Author(s) : Peter Aylward

Understanding Dunblane and other Massacres: Forensic Studies of Homicide, Paedophilia, and Anorexia

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : September 2012
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 240
  • Category :
    Forensic
  • Category 2 :
    Psychoanalysis
  • Catalogue No : 32931
  • ISBN 13 : 9781780490946
  • ISBN 10 : 1780490941
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The book predominantly explores the psychic histories of patients who display their transgenerational conflicts/trauma through forensic acts. It establishes the need to consider the details of patient history in understanding the patient within both the therapeutic encounter and the treatment team milieu. There are many themes of contemporary interest including gang murders, sibling jealousy, fatal eating disorder, personality disorder, and the effects of exclusion and marginalization within group and community dynamics and the global prevalence of mass murder. Peter Aylward describes the collapse into dyadic thinking and enactment that prevails when the third perspective, classically represented by the father within the Oedipal dynamic, is excluded or absent. Providing detailed case studies he shows how seemingly meaningless explosions of violence or perversion are attempts to master early experiences of trauma and/or exclusion, often passed down unconsciously through the generations. Using the theories of Matte Blanco and notions of the ‘critical date’ the chapters give unique insight into the timing and triggers of crimes, however apparently random.

The final chapter, on the Dunblane Massacre, illuminates the thinking in previous chapters about the crucial importance of triangulating to militate against exclusion/marginalization whose humiliating feelings can be the bedrock of not only the paedophilic and anorexic but more strikingly the murderous impulse. The significant implications for the penal, health and particularly the education system are discussed with recommendations suggested. This is endorsed in the foreword by Lord Alderdice who writes that "it is in the interests of communities to act through informed understanding, and I very much hope that his [Aylward’s] lead is followed”.

Reviews and Endorsements

'Peter Aylward brings a moving mixture of compassion and forensic rigour to the examination of those violent offences that appal and baffle us. His wisdom and expertise are evident as he deftly dissects the complexity of human thoughts and emotions that are inevitably present in any action involving destruction and cruelty. He invites us as readers to be mindful of that which is hard to think about; and he challenges us as citizens to take seriously the evidence that unresolved childhood distress may be manifested in adulthood in dangerous ways. I have learnt so much from Peter as a colleague and supervisor; so I am glad that, by reading this book, others will have the opportunity to experience Peter's rich insights.'
- Dr Gwen Adshead, consultant forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Broadmoor Hospital, West London Mental Health Trust

'Peter Aylward has made an important and unique contribution to understanding of the inner world of offenders from the perspective of his professional backgrounds in law enforcement and psychoanalytical training. His work has enriched the IAFP over the last decade and now others can also benefit. This essential book contains vivid clinical and mass media examples that comprehend the internal worlds of those who trespass, break, or act out against others or themselves in the most sensational events that can shock society to the point of paralysis. I urge everyone to read this book.'
- Dr Estela V. Welldon, MD DSc (Hon) F.R.C.Psych, author of Mother Madonna Whore and Playing with Dynamite, founder and Honorary Life President of the International Association of Forensic Psychotherapy

'Peter Aylward's book is incomparable in its attempt to throw light on areas of deviant human behaviour (i.e., massacre, homicide, and paedophilia), which remain obstinately obscure and inexplicable to most of us. He employs the psychoanalytic concepts of triangulation, symbolic equation, symmetrisation, and projective identification, so as to produce masterful explanations for some of the most incomprehensible violent crimes. His extensive experience in the field of forensic psychotherapy is also evident in his thorough, sensitive, and nuanced accounts of his patients' criminal actions. We should be indebted to him for this marvellous piece of work.'
- Dr Anastasios Gaitanidis, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, University of Roehampton, London

'Peter Aylward's book reflects an interesting diversity of clinical practice, which combines a knowledge of forensics with psychoanalytic theory, enabling him to understand severely damaged patients. He helps them to access the psychic problems in their troubled pasts by unravelling their complicated family histories. Many years of Peter Aylward's work with Gerald Wooster have resulted in this fascinating study that deeply penetrates the criminal mind and traces its origins to tragically flawed and impoverished family constellations. He describes how the absence of fathers and the repression of basic emotional needs leads to the acting out of aggression, jealousy, and murderous impulses, as in the Dunblane massacre and in Breivik's Norwegian atrocities. The book shows a deep understanding of the universal human need for triangulated relationships, gained in the threesome of his supervision relationship. The convincing casework samples from his practice show that it is possible to sympathise with and contain enormously complicated psychological situations. This book is very timely and necessary and I am deeply impressed by it.'
- Gertrud Mander, member of FPC and fellow of BACP

'In these psychoanalytic case studies, Peter Aylward explores the most damaging and serious pathology of personality from murder to terminal anorexia. He develops a complex and unique perspective that allows creative thinking not only to explain horrific behaviours, but also, more importantly, to find ways to avoid repetitions and a way forward in treatment. His work in institutions for these severely disturbed personalities is a model for all those working in this field.'
- Duncan McLean, psychoanalyst and Consultant Psychiatrist, Personality Disorder Service, Maudsley Hospital

About the Author(s)

Peter Aylward FPC, is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist whose previous police career in the detection of major crime, lead to specializing in forensic psychotherapy at Broadmoor Hospital. He also consults with clinical teams in a variety of other NHS settings including eating disorder, personality disorder, self harm and child care assessments.

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