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Why are we fascinated by death, horror and violence?

Veteran psychologist explains our 'lust for blood'

Prometheus Books

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IMAGE:  "The lust for blood: Why we are fascinated by death, murder, horror and violence " (ISBN 978-1-61614-228-5) is published by Prometheus Books. view more

Credit: Prometheus Books

We are fascinated with the lurid details of sensational murder trials. Horror fiction and slasher movies thrill us--the gorier the better. When we drive by the scene of an accident, we're compelled to slow down. And it's no secret that brutal video games are solid moneymakers. Why do we thirst for the frighteningly grotesque? In The "LUST FOR BLOOD: WHY WE ARE FASCINATED BY DEATH, MURDER, HORROR, AND VIOLENCE" (Prometheus Books, $25) veteran psychologist Jeffrey A. Kottler explains our dark desire for guts, gore, and the gruesome.

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. Author and professor of forensic psychology Dr. Katherine Ramsland calls "The Lust for Blood," "A personable and comprehensive tour of the violent entertainment we love to hate and hate to love."

"[Kottler] ably explores our paradoxical lust and revulsion as a cathartic means of restraint, with specific attention to its psychological impact: seeing violence within a media frame makes us feel alive, recharging us to face our private anxieties about life-and-death issues. This book offers something for everyone, from media psychologists to fans of splatter-films," said Ramsland.

Kottler 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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About the Author: Jeffrey A. Kottler, PhD, is a practicing psychologist, professor of counseling at California State University, Fullerton, and the author of more than seventy-five books, including the New York Times best seller "The Last Victim: A True-Life Journey into the Mind of the Serial Killer." He is also head of Empower Nepali Girls, which provides educational scholarships for at-risk, lower-caste girls.

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