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Thread: Macdonald Triad: Bedwetting linked to Serial Killers Myth?

  1. #1

    Default Macdonald Triad: Bedwetting linked to Serial Killers Myth?

    I seen something about this in Criminal Minds, and was curious about others perceptions... The wiki is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macdonald_triad

    For those that aren't familiar they have lumped Animal Cruelty, Promania, and Bedwetting as the 3 things that are common in a Serial Killer... Thought it could be an interesting topic to discuss.

  2. #2

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    I'm always skeptical of studies and psychological theories. These days, most "studies" you hear about on the news are minings of old data taken for other reasons looking for correlations on completely different subjects. The correlations usually aren't that strong, so the conclusions are equally suspect.

    Cruelty to animals is a clear sign of lack of empathy, so its not a surprise that a lot of serial killers would have that in their history. Arson is more of a compulsion that may or may not be associated with lack of empathy. Fascination with fire can be associated with a lot of things. I suspect you'd find a lot of great scientists also showed an early fascination with fire.

    Bedwetting is just along for the ride. Yes, an unstable early childhood can create problems with toilet training and sleep. Both my grandsons wet the bed until they were 8 or 10. Early childhood involved a lot of moving around. Military. Long deployments for dad. Neither is going to be a serial killer. Grandson #1 is on track to be an MD in a few years. Can't tell yet where grandson #2 is headed.

    Granted, a lot of serial killers came from unstable homes as well, and probably a lot more toxic ones than Maxxette has provided for her boys.

  3. #3

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    I am incontinent and a bedwetter and hell yes i liked fire as in putting them out ,i was a Paramedic/Firefighter am i going to be a serial killer NO,i study medicine as a hobby, i am a healer ,i am also a Mediator and instructor trainer in Alternatives to violence, what does that make me! The oddball off the wall who cares for his community and has great empathy for for everyone, oh well if that makes me broken so be it.

  4. #4

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    As I recall from reading John Douglas' book 'Journey Into Darkness', he didn't necessarily consider it a predictor, it was just that all the serial killers (and there were a few) that he had identified had that in their past. I'm not aware of any easy way to check how many people have those three characteristics to any notable degree that don't kill people (or perhaps we should say haven't yet). In any event, even if it was somehow ironclad, 1 of 3 or 2 of 3 are not sufficient. The alchemical magic only comes into play when you have all three, so anyone who is just a bedwetter should rest easy... particularly if they don't feel a driving need to kill.

  5. #5

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    The biggest weakness with popular understanding of science is the failure to comprehend that the subjective "plausibility" or "reasonableness" of a hypothesis is quite irrelevant. Science cares nothing for reason or what is plausible, only for that for which a) there is strong empirical evidence in support, and b) an absence of strong empirical evidence in contradiction. As usual with statistics and correlation/causation, you have to look at it from both directions if you want a proper analysis. Yes, all three may be common to serial killers... but how many people display that same combination and aren't murderous sociopaths? Excluding data points that disprove your thesis is about as far from the scientific method as it is possible to get.

    Serial Killers are extremely rare. Children displaying the full triad, I strongly suspect, are substantially more common, so clearly there are other variables involved. All three together might be a warning sign, but they do not have statistically significant predictive power.

    The suggestion that post-infancy enuresis could cause make a child a target for abuse, which might lead them to become abusers in turn is plausible, though I wouldn't give it much credence without evidence. It does make you wonder though - will sympathetic toilet training and more widespread social acceptability of incontinence and nappy-wearing reduce the incidence of sociopathy? Are we moral crusaders as well as AB/DL/ICs?

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akastus View Post
    Serial Killers are extremely rare. Children displaying the full triad, I strongly suspect, are substantially more common, so clearly there are other variables involved. All three together might be a warning sign, but they do not have statistically significant predictive power.
    From a 'Criminal Minds' perspective, I suppose it does make a certain amount of sense to triage your potential suspect list with things like that, although in the real world, that kind of profiling gets you labeled a racist/bigot/homophobe.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxx View Post
    From a 'Criminal Minds' perspective, I suppose it does make a certain amount of sense to triage your potential suspect list with things like that, although in the real world, that kind of profiling gets you labeled a racist/bigot/homophobe.
    To the best of my knowledge, it's almost unheard of for serial killers to be close to their victims, so your pool of suspects becomes so enormous that something as vague as childhood behavioural traits isn't remotely sufficient for profiling - you generally have to rely on the MO of the crime - a recent activity - to construct a behavioural profile. Not to mention that absent a childhood criminal record, you're going to have to dig pretty deep to get access to that kind of information, and you're not going to do that unless you already have a strong suspect.

    We don't (yet) live in a world where your every psychological issue and childhood behavioural trait is thoroughly documented and available for police AIs to go trawling. Though give it time.... although, having said that, advanced forensics and ubiquitous surveillance will probably be more of use in the near-term.

  8. #8

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    This is odd because I'm a serial killer and I wasn't a bed wetter. "Take that you ants!" (stamp, stamp, stamp) Yeah, I've killed thousands of them! Of course, now I'm a bed wetter, if I get lucky. I wonder if that counts?

    More seriously, criminologists and scientists just follow the data. I've read articles siting that and the evidence is there, but typically, sometimes the why is missing.

  9. #9

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    The first one seems likely to a predictor of being a serial killer, (or so I've heard).

  10. #10

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    In regards to Bedwetting one, I am trying to the think of the word.... uh I give up.

    Assuming any truth to the myth or theory, are they serial killers because they wet the bed, or are they serial killers that happened to wet the bed. I'd say at least the link is coincidental more than anything. I think with many things we try to connect dots that just aren't there.

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