Criminology and Forensic Psychology/Steps of Murder


QUESTION: Hello, I read somewhere that before a person commits murder something goes over that person to make them think irrationally e.g.
A person's mother is spending money frivolously and gambling it away, leaving her son in debt. In her sleep he irrationally decides if she dies then all of the debt would go away, and so the son kills his mother. (What would this decision be called?) Next he realizes what he did was wrong, and to bring himself closer to reality he dismembers the body in 2 hours as if preparing a large meal, completely sane. (What would this act of bringing himself closer to reality be called?).

Thank you!

ANSWER: Hello Andrew

can you please tell me the reason for your question?

David A. Porter, MA, LADC

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: well im really just curious; what i was reading called the 1st thing some kind of demon, but i know that can't be what its actually called. and in general im just very interested in criminology and want to look further into both of these things.

Hello Andrew

Let's start by addressing  some of the underlying assumptions in your question.

There are many motives for homicide, some of which involve elaborate pre-offense deliberation, and others are committed spontaneously, by a person in an extreme emotional state, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Homicide as you describe it in this example is premeditated and a rational choice, in that the son has reached the conclusion that the way to eliminate his debt is to commit a homicide. This decision is based on a fallacy- an incorrect assumption- mom dies, no debt- but it is not irrational. He has just arrived at his conclusion based on bad info. I am not aware of any specific term to describe an offenders decision to act- you could call it the cognitive point of no return.

I would have to disagree that post-mortem behavior with a body is rational, or will bring one closer to reality. Sane vs Insane is also a specific medico-legal definition- it refers to the mental status of the offender at the time of the crime. The son may fit the legal definition of insanity during the act of dismemberment.The psychological barriers one would have to cross and stay over- in order to spend two hours dismembering the body of one's mother are considerable. It would be very questionable to call this behavior sane. Post offense, may offenders feel guilt, shame, remorse, disgust, shock, and anxiety about getting caught. Efforts to come back to reality as you describe it include what is called Undoing. The offender will place the vic in a position of repose, or comfort, cover them with sheets, something to try to restore some of the vics dignity. This might be called an effort to come back to reality. However, most homicide perps can't accept the reality of what they have done, and their post offense behavior changes radically. They draw attn to themselves. They don't go to work, can't sleep, drink, and feel a compulsion to tell someone what they have done.  This is how many of them get caught. Again, I am not aware of a specific term for this process- I have just heard  it referred to as post offense behavior.  

Ever watched Bully (2001) by Larry Clark? it is based on a true story and portrays a very good picture of the thought processes that go into homicide, as well as post offense behavior.

David A. Porter

Criminology and Forensic Psychology

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David A. Porter


I can answer questions related to criminal and victim psychology, serial homicide, offender rehabilitation, sociopathy, sex crimes, , drug addiction and crime, and careers in criminal justice or Substance Abuse/Mental health care. I cannot and will not answer personal legal questions, or questions related to immediate personal safety.


I have 18 years teaching undergraduate criminal justice and psychology courses, concurrent with 13 years of practice in psychotherapy, mostly seeing patients referred by the state Dept. of Corrections, or County (Youth) Court Diversion program

BA, Psychology MA, Counseling Psychology LADC ( Licensed Alcohol/Drug Counselor)

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