This seminal book offers an insightful portrait of chronic predatory offenders, problem police officers, and others with a demonstrated propensity for violent conduct.

Hans Toch explores the personal motives, attitudes, assumptions, and perceptions of men who are recurrently violent.

  • How patterned and consistent is the violence of such men?
  • What are the dynamics of their escalating encounters?
  • What personal dispositions and orientations are most apt to lead to violence?
  • What can these observations tell us about the nature of human interaction, and about violence itself?

Violent Men offers not only scholarly research on violence, but also a sense of the humanity of its subjects.

This special, 25th Anniversary Edition of Violent Men confronts recent debates over police violence, describes new clinical applications, and offers reflections from preeminent scholars on the widespread impact and enduring power of Toch's classic work.

Table of Contents

Foreword to the 25th Anniversary Edition

Foreword to the 1992 Edition



I. Violent Men

  1. Study Description
  2. The Violent Incident as a Unit of Study: Motives for Police Assaults
  3. The Violent Incident in Its Personal Context
  4. The Intersection of Perspectives of Violence
  5. The Violence-Prone Person: A Typology
  6. The Anatomy of Violence
  7. Collective Violence
  8. Some Implications

Part I Appendix: Code for Interpersonal Situations Resulting in Violence Against Police Officers

II. Contemporary Applications

  1. Risk Assessment and Violence: Implications of the Interactionist Perspective
    Abhishek Jain, Edward P. Mulvey, and Shadd Maruna
  2. Analysis of Violent Incidents in the Community and in the Hospital: Use in Prevention, Treatment, and Training
    Gary R. VandenBos

Part II Appendix: Excerpts From the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing



About the Author

Author Bio

Hans Toch, PhD, is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University at Albany of the State University of New York, where he is affiliated with the School of Criminal Justice. He obtained his PhD in social psychology at Princeton University, has taught at Michigan State University and Harvard University, and in 1996, served as the Walker-Ames Professor at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Dr. Toch is a fellow of both APA and the American Society of Criminology. In 1996, he acted as president of the American Association of Correctional Psychology.

He is a recipient of the Hadley Cantril Memorial Award (for Men in Crisis), the August Vollmer Award of the American Society of Criminology for outstanding contributions to applied criminology, the Prix DeGreff from the International Society of Criminology for Distinction in Clinical Criminology, and the Research Award of the International Corrections and Prison Association.

Dr. Toch's research interests range from mental health problems and the psychology of violence to issues of organizational reform and planned change.

His books include The Social Psychology of Social Movements (1965, 2013); Reforming Human Services: Change Through Participation (with J. Douglas Grant, 1982); Violent Men: An Inquiry Into the Psychology of Violence (1992); Living in Prison: The Ecology of Survival (1992); Mosaic of Despair: Human Breakdowns in Prison (1992); The Disturbed Violent Offender (Rev. ed., with Kenneth Adams, 1994); Police Violence (with William Geller, 1996); Corrections: A Humanistic Approach (1997); Crime and Punishment (with Robert Johnson, 2000); Acting Out: Maladaptive Behavior in Confinement (with Kenneth Adams, 2002); Stress in Policing (2002); Police as Problem Solvers: How Frontline Workers Can Promote Organizational and Community Change (2005); Cop Watch: Spectators, Social Media, and Police Reform (2012); and Organizational Change Through Individual Empowerment: Applying Social Psychology in Prisons and Policing (2014).

Reviews & Awards

Offers not only scholarly research on violence, but also a sense of the humanity of its subject…should be considered a key and core addition to personal, professional, community, and academic library Psychology and Criminology collections and supplemental studies reading lists.
Midwest Book Review

Toch is both a master of interactive, empathetic dialogue and a shrewd realist. He makes violence understandable, and easier to master. This new edition is "fatefully topical."
—Alison Liebling, PhD
Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Cambridge University, Cambridge, England

Toch is a giant in the fields of criminology and criminal justice, and this book reveals him at the top of his game. His insights remain fresh and compelling. This edition should be required reading for scholars of crime and justice who wish to better understand the complexity of violent men, violent incidents, and how to respond to each.
—William Alex Pridemore, PhD
Dean and Professor, School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany–State University of New York

With this classic book, Toch transformed forever the way criminologists, social scientists, and clinicians look at violence as well as how they intervene to prevent and control it. His brilliant and entirely innovative approach treats both perpetrators and victims as human beings coping with the very human proclivity to act violently, and draws out the agency of all participants in understanding the problem and creating solutions.
—Terry A. Kupers, MD, MSP
Professor Emeritus, The Wright Institute, Berkeley, CA

When Violent Men first came out, it was immediately the most important book written about people who commit violent crimes. It remains the most insightful study available and, with new data and commentary, the 25th Anniversary Edition is an invaluable resource.
—Todd R. Clear, PhD
University Professor, School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ

In this book, Toch describes the emotional bases of violence, with concrete examples from real case studies. Although the emotions discussed are mostly either anger or fear, Toch highlights what is now viewed as a more crucial emotion — shame — or its sibling, humiliation. This would make an excellent textbook and I highly recommend it.
—Thomas Scheff, PhD
University of California, Santa Barbara