Homicidal Rage (& how to prevent it)

This blog covers the topic of homicidal rage. It starts with talking about homicidal ideation, the causes of homicidal rage, and how to prevent it. 

Homicidal rage

Homicidal rage refers to being capable of or having the tendency toward killing another human being. It is a feeling of rage, or uncontrollable anger and aggression, that is directed towards ending the life of another human through unlawful killing, or extreme harm. 

Homicidal ideation and rage

Homicidal ideation is the common term given to thoughts about homicide, i.e., the act of killing another person. It is fairly common, and has a vast range. The range of homicidal thoughts ranges from vague ideas of revenge, to detailed and fully planned thoughts without the act itself. 

It is when this ideation, gets converted into the act, that it is termed as a homicide. Rage in layman terms refers to uncontrollable and unreasonable anger. It is usually described as the person ‘seeing red’ with rage. 

This goes to show that when such rage gets over an individual, they get blinded by it and see nothing beyond the rage and its reason. They become unreasonable about their thoughts. It is in such uncontrollable rage, that people impulsively indulge in acts of homicide. Such acts are referred to as homicidal rage. 

Simply put homicidal rage is unreasonable anger that makes an individual capable of committing homicide, i.e., unlawful killing of another human being. 

Causes of homicidal rage

It may often result from other mental illnesses like:


It is an organic disease with a very sudden onset that causes disturbances in attention, memory, perception of reality, and psychomotor disturbances. Other symptoms include decline in cognition, impaired sleep etc. it is also called acute confusional state and marks a rapid and marked decline in the individual’s baseline mental functioning. Due to this altered perception, and increased confusion, individuals can experience homicidal rage when they sense a threat to their survival (whether real or perceived).

Psychosis/ psychotic episode

Psychosis or a psychotic episode is a psychiatric condition that alters the perception of reality, and the individual cannot fathom what is real and what isn’t real. Symyptoms of psychotic episode include:

  • Delusions, i.e., irrational and unshakeable beliefs that aren’t grounded in reality.
  • Hallucinations, i.e., perceiving stimulus that doesn’t actually exist. 
  • Disorganised speech
  • Sleep problems
  • Social withdrawal
  • Psychomotor agitation

Psychosis can have different causes like mental illnesses, certain medication, or drugs. False beliefs about others wanting to harm them can cause homicidal rage in those who suffer from psychotic episodes. Further, visual or verbal hallucinations can push the person towards homicidal rage if they see or hear inciting things or images. 

Personality disorders

  • Antisocial personality disorder:

Antisocial Personality Disorder is characterized by hostility and harm towards others. They are generally seen as cruel, apathetic, unfeeling, unremorseful. They are usually unable to feel guilt. This makes them prone to experiencing both homicidal rage as well as ideation. 

  • Paranoid personality disorder:

Paranoid personality disorder is characterised by high levels of paranoia and suspiciousness about the acts and intentions of others. This paranoia can sometimes push individuals towards homicidal rage, when they believe that others are trying to harm them. In their act, their anger is based on self defense. 

  • Borderline personality disorder:

Borderline personality disorder is characterised by high emotional dysregulation, interpersonal problems and difficulty with controlling impulses. This makes them likely to act on their impulsive thoughts and commit homicide. 

Although the aforementioned disorders may make a person more likely, it is not necessary for all individuals suffering from such individuals to experience homicidal rage or commit homicide. They should, thus, not be stigmatised or prejudiced against based on such things.  

Prevention of homicidal rage

Homicidal rage is often associated with psychiatric illnesses, thus a major part of prevention would be to:

  • Identify high risk groups: like males suffering from antisocial personality disorder which is very severe, and can be characterised as psychopathy
  • Provide adequate treatment: this can include pharmacological as well as psychosocial intervention through the means of rehabilitation facilities. 
  • To facilitate compliance with treatment: often with psychiatric illnesses associated with homicidal rage, relapse is common. Thus, focus should be on compliance with treatment. Community based supportive therapies can help with the same [3].
  • Taking inappropriate and absurd threats seriously: in an article by the New York Times titled, “The Well-Marked Roads to Homicidal Rage”, they talk about how a lot of homicides could be prevented if the threats by those who were homicidal were taken seriously [2]. 
  • Inculcating empathy: Empathy towards the suffering of others and the process of death, can turn a person away from homicidal rage. It could make the individual experiencing such rage feel guilt and remorse for the same, deterring the experience of the same [1].


This blog covers the subject of homicidal rage, starting from talking about homicidal ideation, the causes of homicidal rage, and finally its prevention. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): Homicidal rage

What makes someone homicidal?

In majority of cases, homicidal thoughts and actions are prompted by revenge, jealousy, lust/ greed or even fear and self defense.

What mental illness causes homicidal thoughts?

Homicidal thoughts are usually caused by disorders like delirium or psychosis, or certain personality disorders like antisocial personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder or borderline personality disorder. 

Can depression make you homicidal?

If the depression turns to psychosis, it has some potential to make you homicidal. However, there is more chances that a depressed person would harm themselves, rather than harming others. 

What are the early warning signs of psychosis?

Early signs of psychosis (which is essentially losing touch with reality) involve inability to concentrate, decline in self- care, suspiciousness or paranoia, isolation, strong inappropriate feelings or feeling numb etc. 

What mental illness makes you violent?

Impulse control disorders like intermittent explosive disorder involved sudden and repeated episodes of aggressive and violent behaviour, manifested usually by verbal outbursts that are disproportionate to the situational provocation. 

Is rage a mental disorder?

A disorder that can be used to define rage in clinical terms is the intermittent explosive disorder, which can be seen as flying into rage for no apparent reason, characterised by behavioural outbursts which are later regretted. 


[1]. O’Neill T., (2020) My experience with homicidal ideation. Invisible Illness. 

[2]. Goodstein L., Glaberson W., (2000). The Well-Marked Roads to Homicidal Rage. The New York Times. 

[3]. Sher L., Rice T., (2015). Prevention of homicidal behaviour in men with psychiatric disorders. The World journal of Biological Psychiatry. 16. 212-229. 

[4]. Homicidal Ideation (n.d.) Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. 

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