Segments in this Video

Introduction: Why They Kill (05:26)


Watch news clips about violence and examine crime scene photos. Chief Medical Examiner Roger A. Mitchell autopsies about 120 homicide victims annually. This program will examine why people rape, murder, and mutilate.

"To Fully Appreciate the Outcome, One Must Experience the Process" (11:03)

Lonnie Athens realized his difficult childhood could enable him to understand criminal behavior. He interviewed scores of rapists and killers and challenged the credibility of what they said. Murder is never senseless from an offender's point of view.

Did You Hear That? (04:24)

Athens used the metaphor of a phantom community to describe the ghosts whom individuals consult when forming self-conceptions and decisions. It disappears as we form our own identity, but re-emerges during times of crisis. An offender decides whether or not a victim's attitude warrants violence.

Stage 1: Brutalization (05:34)

Athens' theorized that each stage must be completed before advancing to the next stage of violence development. Hear from a woman who is forced into doing violent acts by a member of the primary group. During brutalization, violent subjugation, personal horrification, and coaching occur.

Stage 2: Belligerency (03:55)

Athens' theorized that the subject reinforces one's warlike attitude to the situation by a method of different steps, taking personal responsibility for past injustices. Most disrespect governmental systems and believe one must resort to violence.

Stage 3: Violent Performances (03:46)

The subject continues to act out violently and gain inner confidence with each instance. He or she can regress back to belligerency. To graduate into stage four, he or she must win several victories.

Stage 4: Virulency (03:53)

Subjects feel violence is a good thing, are aware of what they are doing, and feel a strong sense of self-esteem. It is also known as "the need to show off stage."

Violentization Interrupted (16:37)

The brutalized become aggressors attacking others. Richard Rhodes theorizes that proposing alternative strategies during the belligerent phase would deter violent offenders from progressing into the next stage. Communities can foster good schools with prevention programs.

Credits: Why They Kill (02:20)

Credits: Why They Kill

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Why They Kill

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Why do some men, women, and even children assault, batter, rape, mutilate, and murder? The breakthrough research and singular theory proposed by renowned criminologist, Professor Lonnie Athens, comprehensively explains how violent criminals develop; how violent communities are created and transformed; and how violent acts are committed and can be prevented. Based on the critically acclaimed book by the Pulitzer Prize winning author, Richard Rhodes, this documentary is a startling exploration of the four-step "violentization" process that leads some to attack and murder.

Length: 58 minutes

Item#: FMK155956

ISBN: 978-1-64347-886-9

Copyright date: ©2017

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

(Quotes/reviews made regarding Richard Rhodes' book from which the film is based) 1) "Rhodes’ summary…offers a commanding perspective on human violence....It makes a lot of useful if scary sense" - Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times; 2) "For the first time someone tried to go to the killers themselves. Athens’s theories...come closer and explain far more...than almost anything else yet encountered" - Serdar Yegulalp, Genji Press; 3) Rhodes provides one of the most comprehensive and logical explanations available. A must learning to intervene in and predict violence" - Tiffany Plumley, The Conflict Center

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