Friday, October 21, 2016

Attacks on "Publicly Intimate Figures," 1995 to 2015

Another addition to my Forensic Psych required reading list, thanks again to Dr. Reid Meloy.


An archival descriptive study of public figure attackers in the United States between

1995 and 2015 was undertaken. Fifty-six incidents were identified, primarily through

exhaustive internet searches, composed of 58 attackers and 58 victims. A code book
was developed which focused upon victims, offenders, pre-attack behaviors including

direct threats, attack characteristics, post-offense and other outcomes, motivations

and psychological abstracts. The average interrater agreement for coding of bivariate
variables was 0.835 (intraclass correlation coefficient). The three most likely victim

categories were politicians, judges, and athletes. Attackers were males, many with a

psychiatric disorder, most were grandiose, and most had both a violent and nonviolent

criminal history. The known motivations for the attacks were often angry and personal,

the most common being dissatisfaction with a judicial or other governmental process

(23%). In only one case was the primary motivation to achieve notoriety. Lethality risk

during an attack was 55%. Collateral injury or death occurred in 29% of the incidents.
Only 5% communicated a direct threat to the target beforehand. The term publicly

intimate figureis introduced to describe the sociocultural blurring of public and

private lives among the targets, and its possible role in some attackers' perceptions

and motivations.

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