Violence in itself is not a crime nor is it pathological. Aggression arises from an instinct oriented to self-preservation.

This can go wrong and lead to pathological versions of violence, and this requires us to ascertain the level of risk and to manage this.

We propose six general types of violence, including reactive, self-preservative, instrumental/predatory, sadomasochistic, male dominance and group or gang violence.

Violence may be motivated by poor impulse control and it may be reactive to external danger. Self-preservative violence implies the threat may be either external or internal. A sense of shame is one of the principle motives for violence.

Proactive violence tends to be instrumental, organised and ‘cold-blooded’.

Violence can become associated with pleasure and in such cases, we may consider violence to be sadistic. Sadistic violence has as its aim the infliction of physical or emotional pain on the victim.

Violence may also have the function of establishing male dominance.

Group violence may draw people in to violence who might not otherwise act violently.