A Father's Story: One Man's Anguish at Confronting the Evil in His Son

Dahmer, Lionel

Published by Time Warner Paperbacks, 1995
ISBN 10: 0751513105 / ISBN 13: 9780751513103
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Synopsis: On July 23, 1991, Milwaukee chemist Lionel Dahmer discovered - along with the rest of the world - that his son Jeffrey was a murderer who, over a period of many years, had carried out some of the most ghastly crimes ever committed. As the trial progressed, and the crimes of his son were graphically detailed, Lionel began to place himself in the dock beside his son. In the torturous weeks following Jeff's conviction, he continued his descent towards that harrowing point at which the line of his own life inevitably intersected with his son's. This book is not the story of Jeffrey Dahmer at all, but of a father who, by slow degrees, came to realize the saddest truth any parent may ever know: that following some unknowable process, his child had somewhere crossed the line that divides the human from the monstrous. It is both a touching family memoir and a haunting memoir - the account of a man who never relented in his effort to fathom the deepest quarters of his son's afflictions, even as they pointed to his own. It is a document on the nature of fatherhood, the origins of madness, and the role of kinship in the legacy of evil.

From Kirkus Reviews: Lionel Dahmer, father of mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer, here writes one of the most courageous, unsensational books ever written about serial murder. It does not even summarize Jeffrey's crimes. Dahmer takes upon himself much of the guilt for his son's acts by considering a genetic predisposition to murder he may have passed on to his son; various acts of his own moral blindness that may have contributed to his son's deprived emotional being; and things he did and didn't do when certain symptoms appeared that might have alerted him to Jeffrey's lust for sexual atrocity. What parts of the father, the book asks, are replicated in the son? Largely, Jeffrey is a failure whose failings were earlier those of his father, though the father overcame each failing as its pain grew. Intellectually and physically inferior as a child, Lionel was tutored by his parents from first grade on, and by dint of hard study earned a doctorate in chemistry. A puny child, he took up body-building as a teenager and turned himself into a fine physical specimen. But he also had murderous dreams from which he would awake trembling. Jeffrey's mother was also a depressive, and her excessive pill-taking during pregnancy may well have damaged Jeffrey's genes. As a child, he developed a testicular hernia that, when treated by surgery, gave him a fear of castration and seemed to lead into lasting withdrawal from his family and friendships and, by the time he was 15, into alcoholism and a liking for dead things. Lionel sees Jeffrey's main psychotic trigger lying in a need to control: his own need for intellectual and physical control resulted in a glass wall between himself and Jeffrey; Jeffrey's need for control grew into a need for drugged or dead lovers who submitted to him absolutely. Clear, modest, intelligent--and extremely disturbing. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Title: A Father's Story: One Man's Anguish at ...
Publisher: Time Warner Paperbacks
Publication Date: 1995
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Very Good

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