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The Lust for Blood: Why We Are Fascinated by Death, Murder, Horror, and Violence

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If you’re like most Americans, you’ll find yourself slowing down on the highway near the scene of an accident, hoping to catch a glimpse of the mayhem. You probably also secretly enjoy the fistfights that break out at hockey games or hearing about the lurid details revealed during sensational murder trials. And it’s no secret that horror fiction, macabre slasher movies, an If you’re like most Americans, you’ll find yourself slowing down on the highway near the scene of an accident, hoping to catch a glimpse of the mayhem. You probably also secretly enjoy the fistfights that break out at hockey games or hearing about the lurid details revealed during sensational murder trials. And it’s no secret that horror fiction, macabre slasher movies, and brutal video games are solid moneymakers. How do we explain the lurid fascination that most people experience when confronted by real or simulated acts of violence, murder, horror, and crime? This is the subject examined in this candid assessment of our dark vicarious thrills. Based on a series of interviews with perpetrators, victims, and "consumers" of violence, including several celebrities, the author of a best-selling book on serial killers explores what there is about this subject that draws such a wide audience. Unlike many other books that attempt to probe the murky psyches of deviant individuals, this book focuses on normal, average people who, despite themselves, enjoy getting close to the most forbidden, perverse side of destruction and evil. The persons interviewed range from homicide detectives and emergency room personnel to a heavyweight boxer and groupies of serial killers on death row. The author considers ideas from a variety of theories and research to explain our responses to violence, raises questions about the shifting line between normal and abnormal, evaluates the confusion and ambivalence that many people feel when witnessing others’ suffering, and suggests future trends in society’s attitudes toward violence.


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If you’re like most Americans, you’ll find yourself slowing down on the highway near the scene of an accident, hoping to catch a glimpse of the mayhem. You probably also secretly enjoy the fistfights that break out at hockey games or hearing about the lurid details revealed during sensational murder trials. And it’s no secret that horror fiction, macabre slasher movies, an If you’re like most Americans, you’ll find yourself slowing down on the highway near the scene of an accident, hoping to catch a glimpse of the mayhem. You probably also secretly enjoy the fistfights that break out at hockey games or hearing about the lurid details revealed during sensational murder trials. And it’s no secret that horror fiction, macabre slasher movies, and brutal video games are solid moneymakers. How do we explain the lurid fascination that most people experience when confronted by real or simulated acts of violence, murder, horror, and crime? This is the subject examined in this candid assessment of our dark vicarious thrills. Based on a series of interviews with perpetrators, victims, and "consumers" of violence, including several celebrities, the author of a best-selling book on serial killers explores what there is about this subject that draws such a wide audience. Unlike many other books that attempt to probe the murky psyches of deviant individuals, this book focuses on normal, average people who, despite themselves, enjoy getting close to the most forbidden, perverse side of destruction and evil. The persons interviewed range from homicide detectives and emergency room personnel to a heavyweight boxer and groupies of serial killers on death row. The author considers ideas from a variety of theories and research to explain our responses to violence, raises questions about the shifting line between normal and abnormal, evaluates the confusion and ambivalence that many people feel when witnessing others’ suffering, and suggests future trends in society’s attitudes toward violence.

30 review for The Lust for Blood: Why We Are Fascinated by Death, Murder, Horror, and Violence

  1. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    While there is some interesting information in this book, it's also littered with factual errors and honestly I'm left feeling a bit concerned that the author is supposedly a psychologist given some of the things he thinks it's perfectly normal for people to fantasize about. It was also repetitive and poorly written in general and the author gets a bit off topic at some points. Overall, not worth the time wasted to read it. While there is some interesting information in this book, it's also littered with factual errors and honestly I'm left feeling a bit concerned that the author is supposedly a psychologist given some of the things he thinks it's perfectly normal for people to fantasize about. It was also repetitive and poorly written in general and the author gets a bit off topic at some points. Overall, not worth the time wasted to read it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Fishface

    Disappointing on a number of different levels. The writing was strikingly clumsy and needed a thorough copyediting, with special attention to the misuse of prepositions. The author did not seem to know what he wanted to do with this book; he spent almost all of it describing different kinds of violent entertainment and exclaiming over the fact that EVEN PRETTY GIRLS really like this stuff. I was pretty disturbed about how almost all his male informants made bland statements like "yes, I really e Disappointing on a number of different levels. The writing was strikingly clumsy and needed a thorough copyediting, with special attention to the misuse of prepositions. The author did not seem to know what he wanted to do with this book; he spent almost all of it describing different kinds of violent entertainment and exclaiming over the fact that EVEN PRETTY GIRLS really like this stuff. I was pretty disturbed about how almost all his male informants made bland statements like "yes, I really enjoy scary movies," while the aforesaid pretty young girls seem to want to tell him all about how 'wet' they get when they watch a splatter movie or a cage match, and how they carry that exciting memory into the bedroom with their boyfriends. TMI, dude. Especially bearing in mind that every pretty young girl he interviewed for this book apears to be a newly-minted psychologist he is supervising. Boundaries, people! He made a couple of lengthy detours processing the self-destruction of Jason Moss, his co-author on THE LAST VICTIM. Then at the last minute he announced, apparently based on the fact that crime is dropping as violent entertainment is on the rise, that these forms of entertainment appear to reduce violent behavior, not cause it. He did not back this up in any meaningful way. The book was worth it for the grim interviews he did with happy-time folks like Henry Lee Lucas and Rick Ramirez; and fior the citations of other researchers who I may seek out, to see if they did a more careful job backing up their claims than he did.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Josie

    I'm really surprised this book got bad reviews. I thought it was deeply interesting and not repetitive at all? I had 20 pages left to read when I gave the book to my friend but I don't think 20 pages could've made this go down to a one star rating. I thought the author was brave in admitting his dark thoughts and discussing his old work partner. I'm really surprised this book got bad reviews. I thought it was deeply interesting and not repetitive at all? I had 20 pages left to read when I gave the book to my friend but I don't think 20 pages could've made this go down to a one star rating. I thought the author was brave in admitting his dark thoughts and discussing his old work partner.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    This is an interesting book made even more timely by the tragic shooting a couple of weeks ago at the Batman movie. This books often seemed to wander all over the place but managed to do a nice job bringing it all together in the final chapter. Obstacles in understanding this topic were well explained as well as how people react differently to media violence (other than most of us like it whether it's movies, news, or channeled into professional sports such as football, racing, etc.) I would lik This is an interesting book made even more timely by the tragic shooting a couple of weeks ago at the Batman movie. This books often seemed to wander all over the place but managed to do a nice job bringing it all together in the final chapter. Obstacles in understanding this topic were well explained as well as how people react differently to media violence (other than most of us like it whether it's movies, news, or channeled into professional sports such as football, racing, etc.) I would like to read more books by this author as the topics he writes about seem to be things I've wondered about as well.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alisa Kester

    Some interesting content, but I largely disagree with his conclusions. It might be just me, though, since he says (basically) that we like violence and horror because we are fascinated and horrified by the prospect of our own future death, and we are trying to come to terms with the idea of dying. I've never been frightened by the idea of my 'death'. As a Christian, death is merely a doorway, death has no dominion over me or power to hold me. I'm curious about death only because I'm quite excite Some interesting content, but I largely disagree with his conclusions. It might be just me, though, since he says (basically) that we like violence and horror because we are fascinated and horrified by the prospect of our own future death, and we are trying to come to terms with the idea of dying. I've never been frightened by the idea of my 'death'. As a Christian, death is merely a doorway, death has no dominion over me or power to hold me. I'm curious about death only because I'm quite excited to begin experiencing the eternity on the other side of it!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    It felt like this author had enough information for an article rather than a full length book. I was bored by constant repetition of the same phrases. If you don't have new information to add, it is time to end your argument. It felt like this author had enough information for an article rather than a full length book. I was bored by constant repetition of the same phrases. If you don't have new information to add, it is time to end your argument.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cev

    interesting info, even though it was a bit repetitive. I never finished it, and had to return it to the library. I might check it out again later, but it didn't really hold my attention enough to merit that. interesting info, even though it was a bit repetitive. I never finished it, and had to return it to the library. I might check it out again later, but it didn't really hold my attention enough to merit that.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    Offers a few theories almost in passing as to why these things fascinate us, but is more concerned with repeating stories about serial killers. Disappointing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erin Tuzuner

    Terribly written and sloppily organized.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Spencer Olson

  11. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  12. 4 out of 5

    Esther

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chantal Aucoin

  15. 5 out of 5

    Papa

  16. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jonathon

  18. 4 out of 5

    Haniana

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dj

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  21. 4 out of 5

    JM Cozzoli

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shan

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lacey Paige

  24. 4 out of 5

    Koral

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael Rutkowski

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dara

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Lieske

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  29. 5 out of 5

    Peter Laws

  30. 5 out of 5

    Careyvox

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