Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Review: The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds

The Forensic Psychology of Criminal Minds by Katherine Ramsland
http://www.desales.edu/default.aspx?pageid=7861

Available at Amazon for 10.20 new and from 7.35 used
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Forensic+Psychology+of+Criminal+Minds

Rating: Recommended with reservations

Katherine Ramsland is an engaging and interesting speaker, and I very much enjoyed meeting her at the Writers' Police Academy, where I bought her book on Forensic Psychology. In my thriller series, A Wrench in My Toolbox, I have a severely
mentally ill criminal, and I wanted to do my due-diligence in making sure the crime scene was reflective of the inner workings of this man’s brain. This was not the correct book for me to accomplish this. It was quite different from what I had anticipated from the title and my quick leaf-through at the book table.

I am not a TV watching fan; I don’t have enough time in my day. I have never seen the show Criminal Minds and this was a problem for me. The points made in this book are made in reference to various specific episodes of Criminal Minds. Ramsland does paint a quick picture as a reminder - or for those of us who are not CM fans. I’m sure that if I were reading along and then watched the noted episode on the net, this would all be very rich in further understanding. I would recommend this book as a companion to the CM show. If you are a CM fan and would like to leave a comment about this below, I invite you to do so.

I have a degree in psychology and an MS in counseling and so much of Ramsland’s clinical information I knew; or, it was a different application for what I already knew. I would suggest that someone would get the most from this book if she already had an interest in, and therefore a grounding in, this subject matter. It is not a book for someone to pick off the shelf as a starting place.

Ramsland starts the book with a brief history of
criminal profiling. She continues on to give some information in brainstorming and the development of a profile. Though this section alludes to the process, the process is never revealed. She talks about varieties of deviance, victimology, and risk assessment.

The part that I found most interesting was geographical profiling.
Geographical profiling uses a complex computer analysis system to include the crime scene and the victimology to try to predict the comfort zone of the perpetrator, where he or she might strike next or where s/he might be found. That would be a cool component to add into a writers’ arsenal.

There is a glossary of terms at the end of the book. There is also an extensive bibliography, which might prove helpful. From a writer's perspective of gaining useful, applicable insight, to bring scenes into alignment with science, I would probably go a different route.

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