Criminal Psychology: Understanding the mental disorders that power the psychopathic behaviour through criminal profiling

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2016/07/02 by rmstrong1980

Criminal Psychology: Understanding the Mental Disorders that Power the Psychopathic Behavior Through Criminal Profiling by Eric Cruise
$2.99 at the time of publishing

I had high hopes for this book, I really did. I wanted it to be everything it said it was. I found it during one of its free days on Kindle Unlimited and, as I am currently working on a new mystery/suspense crime series, I downloaded the book with the hopes that it would be useful for character development. The book description inferred that it was a more academic-leaning text.

Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed, and I am chalking this one up to caveat emptor.

The author starts out by congratulating readers on downloading the book, which should have been my first clue that I was not dealing with a scientifically-leaning book. (Note: Nowhere in the book or on Cruise’s Amazon Author Page does he claim to have any kind of a background in criminology or psychology. I do not want anyone to think that the author is passing himself off as anything he is not.)

After a lengthy legal disclaimer, the book begins well. The first chapter goes over the history of criminal psychology, touching on theories ranging from, in modern vernacular, “the Devil made me do it,” to Freud’s theories and others’. The book then settles on brain abnormalities as the cause for the vast majority criminal behavior in the world–everything from serial traffic infractions to serial murder.

The author then goes on to give “helpful” hints on how to spot criminals in normal, every-day settings. Unfortunately, these fall into just about every cultural and cartoon stereotype out there–everything from “Jekyll & Hyde characters” to wearing baggy clothing and “thirsty eyes.”

When making all of these claims, the author never cites any studies to back up his hypotheses. There are no crime statistics to back up the theory that if you spot someone wearing baggy clothing, he is most likely concealing a weapon. No scientific study about how psychopaths are unable to read facial cues. Sometimes, this can be almost infuriating. An example: One study mentioned in the book involved recording young children’s responses to sounds, specifically unpleasant ones. The study found that 8% of the children (age 3 or younger) did not respond to unpleasant sounds in the typical fashion. The researchers, we are told, came back to the same group when the children were adults and found that about 8% of the now-grown children had some kind of criminal record (anything from traffic tickets to murder), but there is no link offered in the text or in an appendix allowing a reader to see if the 8% of adults with a criminal record were the same 8% of children that didn’t respond to unpleasant stimuli or if the figures were simply coincidence.

The book does end with an almost-helpful analysis of the mental health situation in the US and suggests that the lack of proper mental health treatment could have a great impact on the criminality of the mentally ill. Except, by this point, the author’s language has devolved from using the term psychopaths to simply the derogatory term “psychos.”

The book is so-so as a generalized overview of criminal psychology and (in the loosest sense) profiling. If you are looking for something more in-depth or scientific, however, this would not be anything more than half an hour of fluffy reading.


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