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Casoni, D., Brunet, L. (2007). The Psychodynamics that Lead to Violence: Part 2: The Case of “Ordinary” People Involved in Mass Violence. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 15:261-280.

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(2007). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 15(2):261-280

The Psychodynamics that Lead to Violence: Part 2: The Case of “Ordinary” People Involved in Mass Violence

Dianne Casoni and Louis Brunet


Mass violence boggles the mind. Yet, sadly, the world is regularly faced with occurrences of mass violence wherein specific groups of a population are brutally killed, raped, and tortured by another group that considers its own behaviour morally justified. Indeed, genocidal violence has occurred all over the world throughout history. For example, just over 10 years ago, Rwanda was faced with genocide as the Hutu population, following its leaders' cues, lashed out against the Tutsi population, as well as against moderate Hutus, killing close to 1,000,000 people in little over 100 days.

This paper is the second of a two-part series about the psychodynamics that lead to violent conduct. Although many elements distinguish chronically violent delinquents from those who, under particular social contexts, resort to mass violence, a number of similarities can nonetheless be isolated. These, as well as what distinguishes chronically violent delinquents from “ordinary” persons who resort to socially sanctioned violence, as termed by Kernberg (2003a, 2003b), will be presented in the form of a theoretical model with a view of understanding the specificities of their psychodynamics.


Many factors contribute to the occurrence of mass violence, as authors interested on the question have suggested (Brunet & Casoni, 2002, 2005;


1 The first part of this essay was published in Can. J. Psychoanal./Revue canadienne de psychanalyse, 15(1): 41-55.

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