| | MacDonald Triad Brian Perry – G00059466 CJ416 Victimology 04 OCT 2010 Abstract The Macdonald triad, also known as the triad of sociopathy is a set of three behavioral characteristics which are associated with sociopathic behavior. How are all these tied into each other? What are some of the characteristics that are associated with the Macdonald Triad? The Macdonald triad is a set of three behavioral characteristics which are associated with sociopathic behavior.
These behavioral characteristics are found in the childhood histories of individuals with sociopathic behaviors. We will examine each one of these that is associated with the Macdonald Triad. The Macdonald triad is a set of three behavioral characteristics which are associated with sociopathic behavior. It was first identified by a forensic psychiatrist, John Marshall Macdonald, in his 1963 paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry titled “The Threat to Kill”. These behavioral characteristics are found in the childhood histories of individuals with sociopathic behaviors.
The following are the three classic signs of the Macdonald Triad: Animal Cruelty, Enuresis (more commonly referred to as bed wetting) and fire setting or arson. Although some children display sociopathic behavior such as being more aggressive, being more manipulative, expressing little or no remorse, and feeling no guilt cannot be an indicator for the Macdonald Triad. It has long been held that the presence of the triad in children and adolescents is predictive of later interpersonal violence. This pattern is seen as creating hurt because of hurt and or where the victim becomes the victimizer.
In fact it can be the opposite. As kids develop they tend to be less likely to deal with the stressors of everyday life. Many children and teenagers set fires or harm animals for many reasons such as boredom, imitation of adult punishment of household pets, trying to establish the “tough guy” identity, or even feelings of frustration. It is thus difficult to know whether these variables are in fact relevant to serial murder mindset and, if so, how precisely they matter. Even any youth or teenager who exhibits this type of manifested behavior is not guaranteed to morph into a serial killer or a killer at all.
One of the characteristics of the Macdonald Triad is Cruelty to animals. Felthous and Kellert conducted a study of 102 men currently serving time for committing aggressive crimes occurred more often than those of non violent criminals. They identified 9 motivations of childhood abuse to animals. They are the following: 1) To control the animal, 2) To retaliate against the animal, 3) To satisfy a prejudice of a particular breed, 4) To express aggressions, 5) To enhance aggressiveness, 6) To shock people for amusement, 7) To retaliate against another person, 8) Displacement of hostility towards another person and 9) Non specific Sadism.
It has been documented that Elana Gill (1994) that children who are mentally or sexually abused tend to mimic their mistreatment towards animals. It is believed that without proper intervention, children may have the tendency to commit more aggressive behaviors leading to more serious crimes. The second characteristic of the Macdonald Triad is Enuresis or common bed wetting. Enuresis is an unconscious, involuntary, and nonviolent act and therefore linking it to violent crime is more problematic than doing so with animal cruelty or fire setting.
Children who exhibit bed wetting may be a sign or trigger from physical, sexual or emotional abuse during early childhood. Many children begin bedwetting around the age of 5 but eventually grow out of it by the time they hit puberty or enter into their teenage years. But some studies have indicated that children who are consistently teased about it have more of a tendency to become more violent towards animals and even move towards arson as a means to enact retribution. But most children who are bed wetter’s can be put on a low dose of an antidepressant that will eventually allow them to grow out of it.
This characteristic cannot be considered a strong indicator to later behavioral issues turning into violent crimes. The third and final characteristic of the Macdonald Traid is fire setting or arson. More commonly referred to as pyromania. Fire setting is more referred to in relation to young kids, and the term arson tends to be attributed to adult behavior. Many Juvenile fire starters more commonly exhibit anxieties to social situations, depression, and rejection of affection from parents or close relationships.
It has been found that most children will set fires in an effort to gain attention, much like a firefighter will set a fire to gain notoriety to act out a hero fantasy. Some children just have a fascination with fire. Not in a manner that is intended to cause harm but out of innocent curiosity. In summary, I can see both sides of the Macdonald Triad, but in reading various sites and reading in the text book, I see that the strengths of the argument but really see no correlation between the bedwetting, cruelty to animals or arson.
My son has the bedwetting issue but he has not demonstrated any violent tendencies towards animal cruelty. Yes he has played with matches at an earlier age but hasn’t done so since being disciplined. He doesn’t display any violent habits or behavior towards his younger siblings. References cited: Serial Murderers and Their Victims. (E W Hickey) Fifth Edition, Chapter 4: Social Construction Of Serial Murder, The Macdonald Triad Pages 96-105 http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Macdonald_triad