Monstrous Crimes, Framing, and the Preventive State: The Moral Failure of Forensic Psychiatry

  • John Douard
  • Pamela D. Schultz
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 53)


Monsters and predators frighten, entertain, and disgust us. The idea of a creature that is a volatile mixture of human and animal parts (the monster) triggers our visual and visceral imagination perhaps more than any other image. The fear of predation – literally, eating another’s flesh – disgusts and repels, but like rubberneckers who slow down to witness accidents, our voyeurism seems unconstrained by shame. The monster and the predator threaten us by threatening to rend the social fabric and bring about a state of nature in which, as Hobbes famously wrote, we are engaged in a war of all against all, and life is nasty, brutish and short. We demand that the government and its legal process protect us from the monsters and predators in our midst, which has resulted in a quest for security at the expense of the protection of the rights of citizens that runs parallel with the quest for protection from “terrorists,” as reflected in the epigram to this book. The referent of the “terrorist,” however, is often simply somebody who looks, acts, or talks in a way that is vaguely Middle-Eastern. Similarly, people who look, act, or talk like our vaguely sketched stereotype of what constitutes a sex offender, an image that has come to constitute a monstrous predator, trigger a panic as well (Lancaster 2011a, b).


Personality Disorder Child Sexual Abuse Criminal Justice System Moral Panic Public Health Approach 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Alizadeh, A. 2006. Eyes in the time of war. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Baudelaire, C. 1857, 1988. The flowers of evil. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Berlant, L. 1997. The queen of America goes to Washington City. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Betterton, R. 2006. Promising monsters: Pregnant bodies, artistic subjectivity, and maternal imagination. Hypatia 21(1): 80–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Braidotti, R. 1996. Signs of wonder and traces of doubt: On teratology and embodied difference. In Between monsters, goddesses, and cyborgs: Feminist confrontations with science, medicine, and cyberspace, ed. Nina Lykke and Rosi Braidotti. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  6. Buchanan, L. 2006. A study of maternal rhetoric: Anne Hutchinson, monsters, and the antinomian controversy. Rhetoric Review 25(3): 239–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Center for Sex Offender Management. 2004. Understanding sex offenders: An introductory curriculum. Booklet can be found online at Section 3, Common characteristics of sex offenders.
  8. Center for Sex Offender Management (CSOM). 2006. The role of the victim and victim advocate in managing sex offenders. Silver Spring, MD. Fact sheet can be found at
  9. Cohen, S. 1991. Visions of social control: Crime, punishment and classification. New York: Polity.Google Scholar
  10. Cohen, S. 2002. Folk devils and moral panics. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Good, P., and J. Burstein. 2010. A modern day witchhunt: The troubling role of psychologists in sexual predator laws. American Journal of Forensic Psychology 28(4): 23–48.Google Scholar
  12. Demos, J. 2008. The enemy within. New York: Viking.Google Scholar
  13. Hawthorne, N. 1850, 2004. The scarlet letter and other writings. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  14. Hiller, S. 1991. The myth of primitivism. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. Janus, E. 2006. Failure to protect: America’s sexual predator laws and the rise of the preventive state. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Kafka, F. 1996. The metamorphosis. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  17. Lancaster, R.N. 2011a. Sex panic and the punitive state. Berkeley: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lancaster, R.N. 2011b. Sex offenders: The last pariahs. New York Times, August 21, op. ed.: 6.Google Scholar
  19. Shelley, M. 2012. Frankenstein, 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  20. Smith, D.L. 2011. Less than human: Why we demean, enslave, and exterminate others. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  21. Steiker, C. 1998. Forward: The limits of the preventive state. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 88(3): 771–808.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Stevenson, R.L. 2008. The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Douard
    • 1
  • Pamela D. Schultz
    • 2
  1. 1.New BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.AlfredUSA

Personalised recommendations