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In The Perversion of Virtue, suicide researcher Thomas Joiner explores the nature of murder-suicide and offers a unique new theory to explain this nearly unexplainable act: that 'true' murder-suicides always involve the wrongheaded invocation of one of four interpersonal virtues.
Of the approximately 38,500 deaths by suicide in the U.S. annually, about two percent--between 750 and 800--are murder-suicides. The horror of murder-suicides looms large in the public consciousness--they are reported in the media with more frequency and far more sensationalism than most suicides, and yet we have little understanding of this grave form of violence. In The Perversion of Virtue, leading suicide researcher Thomas Joiner explores the nature of murder-suicide and offers a unique new theory to explain this nearly unexplainable act: that murder-suicides always involve the wrongheaded invocation of one of four interpersonal virtues: mercy, justice, duty, and glory. The parent who murders his child and then himself seeks to save his child from a fatherless life of hardship; the wife who murders her husband and then herself seeks to right the wrongs he committed against her, and so on. Murder-suicides involve the gross misperception of when and how these four virtues should be applied. Drawing from extensive research as well as real examples from the media, Joiner meticulously examines, deconstructs, and finally rebuilds our understanding of murder-suicide in such a way that brings tragic reason to what may seem an unfathomable act of violence. Along the way, he dispels some of the most enduring myths of suicide--for instance, that suicide is usually an impulsive act (it is almost always pre-meditated), or that alcohol or drugs are involved in most suicides (usually they are not). Sure to be controversial, this book seeks to make sense of one of the most difficult-to-comprehend types of violence in modern society, shedding new light that will ultimately lead to better understanding and even prevention.
Of the approximately 38,500 deaths by suicide in the U.S. annually, about two percent--between 750 and 800--are murder-suicides. The horror of murder-suicides looms large in the public consciousness--they are reported in the media with more frequency and far more sensationalism than most suicides, and yet we have little understanding of this grave form of violence. In The Perversion of Virtue, leading suicide researcher Thomas Joiner explores the nature of murder-suicide and offers a unique new theory to explain this nearly unexplainable act: that murder-suicides always involve the wrongheaded invocation of one of four interpersonal virtues: mercy, justice, duty, and glory. The parent who murders his child and then himself seeks to save his child from a fatherless life of hardship; the wife who murders her husband and then herself seeks to right the wrongs he committed against her, and so on. Murder-suicides involve the gross misperception of when and how these four virtues should be applied. Drawing from extensive research as well as real examples from the media, Joiner meticulously examines, deconstructs, and finally rebuilds our understanding of murder-suicide in such a way that brings tragic reason to what may seem an unfathomable act of violence. Along the way, he dispels some of the most enduring myths of suicide--for instance, that suicide is usually an impulsive act (it is almost always pre-meditated), or that alcohol or drugs are involved in most suicides (usually they are not). Sure to be controversial, this book seeks to make sense of one of the most difficult-to-comprehend types of violence in modern society, shedding new light that will ultimately lead to better understanding and even prevention.
Drawing on extensive clinical and epidemiological evidence, as well as personal experience, Thomas Joiner provides the most coherent and persuasive explanation ever given of why and how people overcome life's strongest instinct, self-preservation. He tests his theory against diverse facts about suicide rates among men and women; white and African-American men; anorexics, athletes, prostitutes, and physicians; members of cults, sports fans, and citizens of nations in crisis.
Men appear to enjoy many advantages in society-on average they make more money, have more power, and enjoy a greater degree of social freedom than women. But many men pay a high price for the pursuit of success and power. Taking family and friends for granted, men will often let relationships take a back seat to their professional ambitions, only to ultimately find themselves with few real friends they can rely on in hard times. As a result, they turn to affairs, alcohol, and other self-destructive behaviors. Sadly, millions of men suffer untreated depression. In this groundbreaking and provocative book, award-winning clinical psychologist Thomas Joiner makes an impassioned call for society to recognize the harmful effects that solitude can have on men. Drawing on original research done for the National Institute of Mental Health, he focuses on the particular situations that leave men rudderless. He offers advice on support systems that are most useful to men, and he offers prescriptive advice on how men can improve their lives.
This is the book that Tawna Righter never wanted to write. But as she recovered after two profound tragedies, she realized that there were men, women, and children who had suffered this same heartbreak-that of a murder-suicide of friends, loved ones, fellow students and co-workers-yet had no printed guide from which they could derive support, information, and resources. Living With the Unimaginable; Life in the Aftermath of Murder-Suicide is Tawna Righter's answer to this need. In 1990, her best friend's husband killed his wife and then himself, leaving behind small children and friends who were confused and distraught. How could this happen? The author could not imagine such an act. And yet, eight years later, her own son killed his girlfriend and then himself. Struggling with profound grief, Righter followed a path toward recovery, a path culminating with this supportive, compassionate, and valuable guide. Each section in this book acts as a support mechanism, addressing the myriad emotions-from anger to loss-that survivors inevitably experience. From the nightmare of the tragic event to the quest to understand why; from learning to live with the grief to providing comfort to the survivors, everything is explained through Righter's own experiences and those of the people she interviews. There is nothing lightweight about her approach-she tackles the hard issues head-on-and yet readers find hope and compassion, and they soon understand that life goes on, albeit in a different and newly defined way.
We need to get it in our heads that suicide is not easy, painless, cowardly, selfish, vengeful, selfmasterful, or rash; that it is not caused by breast augmentation, medicines, "slow" methods like smoking or anorexia, or, as some psychoanalysts thought, things like masturbation; that it is partly genetic and influenced by mental disorders, themselves often agonizing; and that it is preventable and treatable.

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