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August 1969

Homicidal Threats.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1969;21(2):254-256. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1969.01740200126025

I have for some time been impressed by the writing of Dr. Macdonald. In particular an earlier book, The Murderer And His Victim,1 and one of his papers, "The Threat to Kill,"2 have been quite valuable to me in my own work. So it was with interest that I took on the job of reviewing his latest book. The anticipation was increased by its dust jacket, which carries the comment:

Homicidal threats, like those of suicide, are more often made than fulfilled. How does one distinguish between serious threats and empty statements? In contrast to the vast literature on the evaluation of suicidal risk, the problem of homicidal threats has been curiously neglected.

True enough. In our culture, at least, suicidal behavior has been considered to be de facto evidence of mental illness and, therefore, to be in the province of psychiatry. In contrast to

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