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Kate Wilson Wilson 1

Mr. Foote


March, 2017

Capstone Essay

The idea of psychopaths and their tendencies have fascinated humans for centuries.

Though most of the members of society do not want to cause harm anyone, there are a small

minority that do, in fact, have a strong desire to commit inhumane acts on others. From Jeffrey

Dahmer who violently murdered and mutilated seventeen men and boys, took pictures of the

corpses and performed sexual acts on the victims' corpses, and kept their body parts as

mementos. To the infamous Ted Bundy who was a rapist serial killer; in the 1970s he was

accused of at least 36 murders and rapes of young women, though it is thought he could have

committed one hundred or more. Criminal psychologists need to have an advanced

understanding of both general and forensic psychology as well as being a skilled professional

counselor to be successful at their career.

Having a well developed understanding of general psychology is an important aspect to

being a criminal psychologist as it is the base of their work, to be any kind of psychologist:

criminal, developmental, social, etc. one must first have a basic grasp of general psychology.

Professor Gabriel Griffin who teaches and practices psychology also added that some important

characteristics of being any kind of psychologist is important characteristics would be excellent

communication skills (both verbal and written), strong science background, good self-initiative

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and self-direction, and a general interest in people. Experience in teaching and group

communication are valued by colleges and universities for professor positions, but most

universities are also looking for strong research and publication histories. Therefore, for anyone

wanting to get into academics in the field of psychology, I would strongly recommend getting

involved with research and potentially even being involved with publishing research while still

in graduate school (or even in undergraduate). They use their knowledge of general psychology

to study the specific human behavior of criminals, and criminal psychologists will also work

closely with attorneys, the courts and law enforcement agencies, and various other stakeholders

involved in civil and criminal cases (Criminal Psychologist Career). They also use their general

psychology by conducting evaluations of the accused and alleged victims to pick their brain and

see if they are guilty or not, why they might have done the crime and other information.

Psychologists have used their training and skills to probe the minds of these extreme criminals,

retrieve important information about motives, study pre-and post-crime behavior, fatal fantasies,

mental rehearsal, compartmentalized personalities, and the role of mental disorders (Ramsland).

For example, a criminal psychologist might evaluate a defendant to determine his or her

competency to stand trial, to see if they are mentally ill since a psychologist is able to determine

this. They might also interview the victim of a crime in order to establish a timeline of events and

the cause and effect of said events (Criminal Psychologist Career). In order to have the

knowledge of general psychology in relation to criminal psychology the individual must study a

variety of topics.

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These two forms of psychology come together in many examples, one being that a psychologist

in either field might have to study the relations between age and crime. It is well known that

there is a correlation between criminal tendencies and sge; one theory states that crime results

from the interaction of low self-control and opportunity. Given the opportunity, those with low

self-control commit crime without considering long range consequences because it gratifies their

immediate needs. (Tittle) It is important for these criminal psychologists to have a high

intelligence level of general psychology in order to execute their job since they work directly

with the psyche of people and need to be able to understand their behavior.

Criminal psychologist also play an important part when dealing with the forensic part of a

crime. Though there are forensic psychologists which differ from criminal psychologists there

are similarities. Both criminal and forensic psychologists assist law enforcement in

investigating crimes. However, they play different but complementary roles. Criminal

psychologists focus on determining a motive and creating a profile of the perpetrator, forensic

psychologists study the aftermath of a crime. (Williams) An example of when both criminal

psychology and forensic psychology were used was in the case study of Timothy Masters.

Masters, who claimed his innocence, was convicted largely on the testimony of forensic

psychologist, Dr. Reid Meloy. His violent sketches and stories he made as a teen were used to

convict him in 1999 of killing Peggy Hettrick in 1987. (Perri) This is a prime example of when

both criminal and forensic worked together to benefit law enforcement and help solve a case

provide evidence for a conviction.

Along with forensic and criminal psychology criminal psychologists also need to have

sufficient comprehension on general counseling. Counselors and psychologist share a few

similarities regarding being able to understand the human mind and behavior. The
psychoanalytic tradition provides a complex analysis of human behavior because it describes a

situation in which human beings are motivated by unconscious desires, are largely unaware of

these unconscious motivations, and are resistant to being made aware of them. (Redekop) Since

criminal psychologists work directly with victims and victims families they must be able to

acquire information while still being respectful. They also use their counseling techniques when

working with criminals who are mentally ill or psychopaths in order to act sympathetic towards

them to extract information.

In conclusion criminal psychologists use a variety of fields to solve cases, make

convictions, and pick the brains of psychopaths. So using all these areas can help the criminal

psychologist become successful.

Works Cited

Ramsland, Katherine. "Close encounters with criminal minds." The Forensic Examiner, Winter

2013, p. 16+. Academic OneFile,

%7CA355775773&it=r&asid=625f638663e9eeb331fcb3c9ecfaaff4. Accessed 13 Apr.


Tittle, Charles R., and Harold G. Grasmick. "Criminal behavior and age: a test of three


hypothesis." Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Fall 1997, pp. 309-342.

Academic Onefile,

%7CA20840469&it=r&asid=5dcae0d71f11624a7d04185fa704b848. Accessed 13 Apr.


Perri, Frank S., and Terrence G. Lichtenwald. "When worlds collide: criminal investigative

analysis, forensic psychology, and the Timothy Masters case." The Forensic Examiner,

Summer 2009, p. 52+. Academic OneFile,


%7CA201548833&it=r&asid=d0a85a5189944b2f2d1a7ae84e877120. Accessed 13 Apr.


Redekop, Frederick, et al. "From the couch to the chair: applying psychoanalytic theory and

practice in counseling." Journal of Counseling and Development, vol. 95, no. 1, 2017, p.

100+. Academic OneFile,

%7CA478405789&it=r&asid=c5a5ed83de8b51c5d4a004c916cf9765. Accessed 13 Apr.


Griffin, Gabriel. 2017. Accessed 13 Apr. 2017.