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NCJ Number: 99153 Find in a Library
Title: Application of Megargee's Algebra of Aggression to the Case of Theodore Bundy
Journal: Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology  Volume:1  Dated:(March 1985)  Pages:14-24
Author(s): J D Sewell
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 11
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: Megargee's approach to explaining aggression is described and applied to the crimes of Theodore Robert Bundy, who allegedly murdered more than 36 women in 5 States.
Abstract: Bundy was convicted of the murders, which were committed in Florida in 1978. The victims were all young women aged 12 to 26, and the crimes usually involved a mysterious disappearance, usually when the victims were in public places. Bundy was 32 years old at the time of the Florida crimes. He was attractive, educated, outwardly sincere, and articulate. Megargee attributes violent behavior to specific internal or external factors. He believes that violent behavior becomes an individual's response when the particular instigation to behavior, the habit strength supporting violence, and the situational factors outweigh an individual's inhibitions against violence and the specific situational factors discouraging violent behavior. Bundy's violence was grounded in his rage against women and was magnified by his need for excitement, attention, and ego gratification. The strength of his habit drew on his repeated successful acts of violence. Situational factors added to his predisposition toward violence, while the morals learned in his middle-class upbringing did little to inhibit his behavior. His superego controls lost their power when Bundy was under the influence of alcohol. He chose violence as an acceptable reaction to many situations. Although Megargee cautions that his model is most useful in explaining past actions or experiments, it may offer hope for efforts to predict violence. Descriptions of specific cases in which Bundy was involved and of his behavior and actions in custody are included. Twelve references are listed. (Author summary modified)
Index Term(s): Aggression; Case studies; Chromosomal abnormalities; Criminality prediction; Homicide causes; Mass murders; Mathematical modeling; Violent offenders
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