A taxonomic program developed to study rapists is described that recognizes sexual aggression in general and rape in particular are determined by multiple interacting variables and that acknowledges rapists constitute a markedly heterogeneous group.
The Massachusetts Treatment Center (MTC) Taxonomic Program was created specifically to determine whether useful taxonomic solutions to the heterogeneity problem could be generated. Data were gathered from multiple sources, including detailed clinical and criminal files of offenders, standardized tests, clinical interviews, self-report instruments developed to target specific areas of concern, and follow-up criminal record sources. Two taxonomic research strategies were employed, rational-deductive and empirical-inductive, to generate and test taxonomic systems. An analysis of rapist types resulted in four primary motivations: opportunity, pervasive anger, sexual gratification, and vindictiveness. These motivations appeared to be related to enduring behavioral patterns that distinguished particular offender groups. The structure and effectiveness of the MTC Rapist Typology are described, and treatment implications of the typology are discussed. The author compares underlying dimensions of the typology with behavioral domains that have emerged as targets in the treatment of sexually aggressive and persistently violent offenders. This speculative comparison of dimensions and treatment targets provides an opportunity to hypothesize about possible interfaces between the typology and therapeutic intervention. 36 references, 4 tables, and 4 figures