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By Amy Sterling Casil Anne S. Walters, PhD, ABPP, Consultant Criminal Psychology


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Introduction: What Is Psychology? .............................. 6 Chapter 1: Becoming a Criminal Psychologist ........ 10 Chapter 2: History and Development of the Field .. 26 Chapter 3: Common and Unusual Issues ................. 42 Chapter 4: How Psychology Helps . .......................... 60 Chapter 5: Takeaways for Everyday Life ................. 74 Series Glossary of Key Terms ...................................... 90 Further Reading & Internet Resources ...................... 93 Index . ............................................................................. 94 Author’s Biography and Credits ................................. 96 KEY I CONS TO LOOK FOR : Words to Understand: These words with their easy-to-understand definitions will increase the reader’s understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Examples include news coverage, moments in history, speeches, iconic sports moments, and much more! Text-Dependent Questions: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Research Projects: Readers are pointed toward areas of further inquiry connected to each chapter. Suggestions are provided for projects that encourage deeper research and analysis. Series Glossary of Key Terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this series. Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field.

What Is Psychology? When we look up the meaning of the word psychology , we learn that it comes from two Greek words—“psyche,” which means “mind,” and “logia,” which means “the study of.” Hence, psychology is “the study of the mind.” (Merriam-Webster.com) Essentially, psychology aims to study and better understand emotions, thoughts, and behaviors, with the goal of benefiting society. Those who choose to study psychology generally have a strong urge to help others, though the definition of “others” can vary across concentric circles of influence, from the individual to the family and then on to broader systems such as a school, neighborhood, or society. That urge to help and understand people and their behavior is perhaps the most basic motivator that leads an individual to want to pursue the study of psychology. Some describe psychology as a “hub science” to depict the way that it links to the social sciences, the natural sciences, medicine, and the humanities. In university settings, however, psychology is considered a social science. Social sciences deal with the study of human behavior in its social and cultural aspects. They include fields such as anthropology, sociology, political science, history, education, and economics. These fields are certainly diverse, and yet one can see the commonality: these disciplines all teach us more about how the individual and society interact and influence each other. Another important distinction is the one between psychology and psychiatry. Simply put, psychologists pursue


Criminal Psychology

graduate level degrees (master’s or doctorate) in psychology, whereas psychiatrists complete medical school prior to specializing in psychiatry. After medical school (and receiving an MD degree), there are three years of psychiatry training to become an adult psychiatrist. If they want to specialize further (such as in child and adolescent psychiatry or forensics), there is additional training in this specialty field for several years and then they must take a board examination to become certified in their specialty area. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication, and psychologists cannot (although in some rural or underserved areas this is an option for psychologists). Psychiatrists are also uniquely suited to understand biological or medical contributions to mental illness. On the other hand, some day-to-day practices of psychiatrists do not look that different from those of psychologists. What does studying psychology entail? There are so many options! Within psychology, there are multiple fields of study. Some of them you will learn about in these volumes, but it would take far too many volumes to cover all of them. If you’re interested in exploring more about psychology beyond this series, you might consider developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, and comparative psychology. Developmental psychology is the study of development throughout a person’s life, from infancy through old age. Some of the more famous developmental psychologists have been Jean Piaget, who identified stages for the development of cognition in children, and B. F. Skinner, who studied the process of learning and taught us about the concepts of operant and classical conditioning. Another field, cognitive psychology, studies human thought: one famous psychologist in this field is Noam Chomsky, who studied the development of language. Comparative psychologists study animal behavior, and in this area Konrad



Lorenz studied the process by which baby geese “imprint” on the first object they see after birth. If you Google Professor Lorenz, you may see pictures of goslings following him around the yard. Although there are many ways to cluster the various subfields of psychology, one common distinction is between clinical and nonclinical applications, sometimes also referred to as applied psychology vs. basic research . Clinical or applied psychology focuses on understanding and treating psychiatric disorders that challenge day-to-day functioning. Treatment is derived from an evidence base that assesses outcomes or the ways that a treatment is effective. Establishing an evidence base is an important aspect of the work of a psychologist. Some devote their careers to this work, which can overlap with nonclinical or research applications. Researchers use scientific methods to advance knowledge in the field in a variety of topics. These psychologists work in academic settings as well as industry and organizations. Why would you want to become a psychologist or even to study psychology? The field of psychology has countless applications to everyday life, and as such, it can be a jumping off point for many careers. The reader will learn about different psychology careers in these volumes. What’s more, as a major in college, psychology can be applied to a variety of careers outside of psychology, such as human resources, teaching, criminal justice, and many others. For those who have the option to take an elective psychology course in high school, it can be a wonderful opportunity to get a jump start on the weighty decision of what to major in and to see whether the subject matter interests you. In writing this introduction, I can give you a window into a personal choice. I am a child clinical psychologist and have devoted my career to helping children and their families. I work


Criminal Psychology

in an academic medical center, which means that although I do clinical work, I also teach and supervise psychology students at many phases of their career. In addition, I write for various venues and conduct applied research into the outcomes of the treatment we provide. I am also an administrator, and as such I attend to aspects of psychology as a “business”: hiring and training those who do the work in our setting and tracking our budget, to name a few examples. One of the best things about this career is that every day is different, and yet the common experience is of helping others. In producing this series, we hope that we can provide a window into the varied choices you can make with a degree in psychology. From professor to therapist, working with toddlers or the elderly, teaching business psychology or conducting family therapy, there is likely at least one application of the subject of psychology that will appeal to you. I hope the exploration is rewarding!

Anne S. Walters, PhD, ABPP Clinical Director Children’s Partial Hospital Program Clinical Professor Alpert Medical School of Brown University



Criminal psychologists are part of the larger field of forensic psychologists. WORDS TO UNDERSTAND

Autopsy: a medical-legal process examining the causes of a person’s death. Clinical psychology: the branch of psychology that assesses and treats mental illness and abnormal behavior. Forensic: pertaining to the law, crime, and legal matters.

Penal: referring to punishment or penalty. Misogyny: prejudice or bias against women.


Becoming a Criminal Psychologist

Criminal psychologists are part of the larger field of forensic psychologists, who work in areas of psychology that pertain to the law. They use psychological methods that can help in criminal investigations. They can also use their skills to assess and guide individuals who are involved in the criminal justice system. In the course of their work, criminal psychologists can perform investigations with witnesses, provide expert testimony, and conduct research studies into individuals or groups. They can also specialize in issues related to child abuse or neglect, or they can determine a person’s competency to stand trial in criminal cases. On a broader scale, criminal psychologists can also work to improve processes in prisons or jails or help government to establish public policy about crime and law enforcement. They can also determine the level of threat that a person might pose, either to family and friends, or in a workplace or public event. If you’ve seen television shows about jury trials, you may have witnessed jury selection. Criminal psychologists can play


Criminal psychologists need to be able to communicate with crime victims.


Criminal Psychology

a role in how juries are selected for criminal trials and how they are instructed. They can also testify about a defendant’s mental state during the commission of a crime or serve as expert witnesses in both criminal and civil legal proceedings. Finally, they can provide clinical services to people who are involved in the criminal justice system, from victims of violent crime to people who have been incarcerated. What Attributes Do Criminal Psychologists Need? Criminal psychologists share traits with other psychologists, but some traits are more important in criminal psychology than they may be for other fields of psychology, including psychologists engaged in pure research or those who work in business and marketing. Strong communication skills are essential in criminal psychology. Criminal psychologists need to be able to communicate with many types of people, from inmates in penal facilities to crime victims. They can also work closely with attorneys, correctional officers, and law enforcement officers. If their jobs involve expert testimony, they need to be able to speak clearly and concisely in court. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology identifies four additional important traits for criminal psychologists: • Objectivity or the ability to separate their own feelings from the work at hand • Critical thinking skills, including analyzing research, making informed decisions, and determining reliability of testimony • Attention to detail and careful observations • Compassion and empathy

Chapter 1: Becoming a Criminal Psychologist


Maintaining compassion for human suffering is crucial for criminal psychologists.

Although it may seem contradictory, criminal psychologists need tomaintain objectivity at the same time as they use their ability to empathize with victims of crime or those accused of crimes. Criminal psychology introduces humanity into the legal system. Maintaining compassion for human suffering along with an understanding of human nature is crucial for criminal psychologists to performwell in their complex and demanding jobs.


Criminal Psychology

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