Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 59-66

First online:

The Nature of Mass Murder and Autogenic Massacre

  • Thomas G. BowersAffiliated withThe Pennsylvania State University Harrisburg Email author 
  • , Eric S. HolmesAffiliated withThe Pennsylvania State University Harrisburg
  • , Ashley RhomAffiliated withThe Pennsylvania State University Harrisburg

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Incidents of mass murder have gained considerable media attention, but are not well understood in behavioral sciences. Current definitions are weak, and may include politically or ideological motivated phenomenon. Our current understanding of the phenomenon indicates these incidents are not peculiar to only western cultures, and appear to be increasing. Methods most prominently used include firearms by males who have experienced challenging setbacks in important social, familial and vocational domains. There often appears to be important autogenic components (Mullen Behavioral Sciences and the Law (22)3, 2004), including dysthymic reactions and similar antecedents. There have been observations of possible seasonal variations in mass murders, but research to date is inadequate to establish this relationship. It is recommended behavioral sciences and mental health researchers increase research efforts on understanding mass killings, as the current socioeconomic climate may increase vulnerability to this phenomenon, and the incidents are not well understood despite their notoriety.


Mass murder Spree killings Multiple homocides