The Macdonald Triad and the Madness of Evil: Background information when reading Death in the City of Light

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Death in the City of Light

The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris

By David King

Death in the City of Light
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  • Hardcover: Sep 2011,
    432 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2012,
    432 pages.

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Beyond the Book:
The Macdonald Triad and the Madness of Evil

In 1963, New Zealand forensic psychiatrist John Marshall Macdonald published a paper in the American Journal of Psychiatry called "The Threat to Kill." This paper described three behaviors - bedwetting past age 5, cruelty to animals, and the setting of fires - as "red flag" indicators of sociopathy and future episodic, aggressive behaviors. In combination, these childhood activities have become known as the "Macdonald Triad" and have often been associated with serial killers and other violent criminals. (Petiot, like Jeffrey Dahmer, was viciously cruel to animals). While not all convicted serial killers demonstrate these behaviors, the Triad seems to predict anti-social tendencies. But what causes the Triad? Do we choose to be evil, do outside forces make us evil, or is being evil an illness?

Dr. Marcel Petiot

There is no question that Petiot would make any top ten list of evil people. But, as Dr. Elliott Cohen asks in his article "Are Evil People Crazy,": "Is being evil really a mark ...

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