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Symonds, M. (1975). Victims of Violence: Psychological Effects and Aftereffects. Am. J. Psychoanal., 35(1):19-26.

(1975). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 35(1):19-26

Victims of Violence: Psychological Effects and Aftereffects

Martin Symonds, M.D.

Literature on violent crime generally focuses on the criminal or the criminal act. It has been only in recent years that professional attention has been given to the third element of violent crime — the victim. Studies of victims have, however, emphasized the participant aspects of the victim's behavior.1-3 A newly developed field of study of victims and their behavior called victomology seems to place undue emphasis on victim-stimulated or victim-precipitated crimes. Sociologists and lawyers seem to predominate in this field, and they continue to assert the concept of victim-precipitated criminality through propinquity, temptation, opportunity,4 and self-destructiveness. Some psychiatrists5 have proposed the concept of victim-stimulated crimes particularly in those acts of murder where the victim and criminal usually have a prior association.

B. Mendelson, an outstanding leader in the study of victimology and one who is considered the grandfather of this field, in a recent article still focused on the contribution of the victim to his own suffering.6 In a development of factors leading to causality, Mendelson regards as the first factor the “bio-psychological endogenous environment of the victim himself. This can be the only determinant or one of the determinates of victim behavior, manifested by negligence, thoughtlessness, forgetfulness, inattention, bewilderment, lack of coordination between preception discernment, decision and muscular reaction (faulty or slow), etc.

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