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Title: An exploration of sadistic sex offending: phenomenology and measurement
Author: Palmer, Jane
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2006
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Research has suggested that individuals engaging in sadistic sex offending pose a significant risk of harm to others. However, there is a lack of clarity regarding its definition and uncertainty concerning the underlying structure and nature of sadistic offending. This has resulted in problems measuring the construct reliably and has impeded understanding of how best to address the issues of clinical assessment, treatment and risk management. By exploring sadistic sex offending behaviour and its underlying components a greater understanding regarding its nature can be reached. This thesis addresses current deficiencies by developing a checklist to measure sadistic behaviour. The generation of checklist items was undertaken by identifying features deemed relevant to sadistic offending from research literature and expert practitioners, through a modified Delphi procedure. Items were operationalised in a 25-item Checklist of Sadistic Behaviours (CSB), which was used to rate the files of 100 mentally disordered offenders (MDO), and 100 non-mentally disordered offenders (NMDO). Offender and offence features previously highlighted as relevant to sadistic offending were collected and examined in relation to the CSB. The psychometric properties of the checklist were also investigated. A multi-method analytic procedure was adopted as a form of triangulation. Findings were broadly consistent across methods and research samples, indicating that sadistic behaviour is a higher-order unidimensional construct with underlying qualitatively distinct components of control, humiliation and physical and psychological cruelty or torture. The CSB demonstrated acceptable reliability and validity, and it contributed to previous theoretical and empirical work, including the role of deviant sexual interest, and developmental and interpersonal factors, although differences between MDO and NMDO were observed. For example, a history of aggressive sexual fantasies predicted higher scores in the MDO sample whilst empathy deficits, grievance thinking and risk-taking were predictors in the NMDO sampleThis thesis has laid the foundations on which further work can be carried out, as it enables the identification of individuals engaging in sadistic offending, for research and clinical purposes
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available