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The Criminal Mind [Paperback]

Katherine Ramsland
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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An extremely informative, very useful guide to understanding and writing about forensic psychology. Many writers, the author suggests, write about forensic psychologists without really appreciating what they do or how they do it. The author cites numerous examples from fiction to illustrate her points, showing how Thomas Harris made things seem a little too slick in The Silence of the Lambs or how James Patterson misunderstood some fundamentals in Along Came a Spider. She also uses several well-known cases histories--Charles Starkweather, Lizzie Borden, Dan White--to illustrate various psychological disorders and their diagnoses. Aspiring thriller writers should pay particular attention to the discussion of the relationship between psychology and the law, including the nature of insanity defenses and the treatment of offenders. Ramsland's mixture of fact and fiction is extremely helpful: she begins a discussion with something we recognize, like an episode from Law & Order, and then segues gently into more unfamiliar territory. The book gives budding writers, and anyone else with an interest in this subject, a solid grounding in the history, terminology, and techniques of forensic psychology. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Book Description

This book corrects common media misconceptions about the nature of the criminal psyche in order to help writers create more credible and convincing characters. The Criminal Mind examines the fundamentals of psychology and law, theories of criminality, and character disorders that can lead to criminal behaviour. Writers will learn how criminals think and how forensic psychology is used to catch them. Katherine Ramsland also explores the legal process, including psychological evaluations, lie detection, insanity pleas and the treatment of criminals and victims.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of The Criminal Mind Oct. 6 2002
Format:Paperback
Writer's Digest Books' The Criminal Mind by Katherine Ramsland is an insightful tool for the serious crime writer. It is more intellectual than most self-help writing books and can provide interesting ideas for fleshing out characters. It is deeply rooted in psychological theory and that makes it an exceptionally interesting read. Complex topics are explained in layman's terms. It is nice to have a writing guide by such a talented writer.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference tool for crime/fiction writer Aug. 14 2002
Format:Paperback
The Criminal Mind: A Writer's Guide to Forensic Psychology is an excellent reference tool for any crime or fiction writer who wants to write a believable story involving elements of criminal behavior and those who investigate and treat individuals who display this behavior. Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D., is herself a forensic psychologist and the author of fourteen previous nonfiction books. She uses a mixture of fiction and fact to describe the fundamentals of forensic psychology. She stresses the importance of keeping characters and their behavior realistic to an extent. By knowing how your character would really behave, Ramsland suggests that the writer can add credibility to both characters and plot of the crime, mystery or suspense novel.
Ramsland includes the liberal use of notorious examples from pop culture and media to illustrate various aspects of forensic psychology. From brief descriptions of individual assessment tools, to court testimony and strategy, she gives the writer/researcher answers to her many questions. Ramsland uses numerous colorful examples to illustrate her points, from real-life serial killers Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Daumer, to popular TV shows like "Law and Order" and the novels of Patricia Cornwell (The Body Farm) and Thomas Harris (Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal).
The Criminal Mind is written in clear, informal language, even given the necessary legal, forensic and psychological jargon defined throughout the book. This book is a must-have guide to help writers create truly human "bad guys" as well as believable mental health professionals.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference tool for crime/fiction writer Aug. 14 2002
By Ellen Zuckerman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Criminal Mind: A Writer's Guide to Forensic Psychology is an excellent reference tool for any crime or fiction writer who wants to write a believable story involving elements of criminal behavior and those who investigate and treat individuals who display this behavior. Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D., is herself a forensic psychologist and the author of fourteen previous nonfiction books. She uses a mixture of fiction and fact to describe the fundamentals of forensic psychology. She stresses the importance of keeping characters and their behavior realistic to an extent. By knowing how your character would really behave, Ramsland suggests that the writer can add credibility to both characters and plot of the crime, mystery or suspense novel.
Ramsland includes the liberal use of notorious examples from pop culture and media to illustrate various aspects of forensic psychology. From brief descriptions of individual assessment tools, to court testimony and strategy, she gives the writer/researcher answers to her many questions. Ramsland uses numerous colorful examples to illustrate her points, from real-life serial killers Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Daumer, to popular TV shows like "Law and Order" and the novels of Patricia Cornwell (The Body Farm) and Thomas Harris (Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal).
The Criminal Mind is written in clear, informal language, even given the necessary legal, forensic and psychological jargon defined throughout the book. This book is a must-have guide to help writers create truly human "bad guys" as well as believable mental health professionals.
32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not the best Jan. 22 2006
By M. Findley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Yes, it is adequate, but my advice to any write who is seriously considering writing about anything psychologically related is to simply buy a psychology book related to what you want. They, for the most part, are not that hard to understand and are very often much more interesting than any how-to book or any mass market fiction. This book gives a good overview, but not much else.

My advice is:

If you are writing about forensic psychology in general read: "Dark Dreams" by Roy Hazelwood and or "Mindhunter" by John Douglas as well as "On-Scene Guide for Crisis Negotiators" by Lanceley. These books will teach you more than any how to book ever could. They have been invaluable to me.

If you are writing about a specific disorder: Browse through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders(DSM IV) if you don't know which disorder to use. After that, simply get a book about that specific disorder. Here are my reccomendations-

Dissociative identity Disorder (multiple personality)- "The Dissociative Identity Sourcebook", "Got Parts? An Insider's guide to Dissociative Identity disorder"

Post-Traumatic Stress- "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder- A Victim's Guide To Healing and Recovery"

Scizophrenia- "Schizophrenia Symptoms Causes and Treatments"; "Mad in America" (this is more a history of schizophrenia in American medicine, but it is AMAZING and eye-opening.)

Addiction- "The Addictive Personality" by Nakkan. (One of my personal favorites) or anything by Terance Gorski.

And of course, get a book specific to the addiction. Just look, you'll be surprised at what's available! And, also watch A&E's show "Intervention". Seeing actual addicts will really add to your characters.

Basically, just get a specific book on what you to do. It will be much more helpful than this, which is okay, but basically just an overview. Just do a little research. Nothing can substitute for the real thing. Don't be afraid to buckle down and do a little digging and hard work. It will pay off immensly and give your work an air of truth that an over view like this can't provide. Trust me, I'm speaking from experience. Come to think of it, after this I think I'll creat a list on Listmania. I'll call it... A writer's guide to the mind. It'll have much more on it!

*And of course, all of these items are avaliable on Amazon.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of The Criminal Mind Oct. 6 2002
By Anne B. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Writer's Digest Books' The Criminal Mind by Katherine Ramsland is an insightful tool for the serious crime writer. It is more intellectual than most self-help writing books and can provide interesting ideas for fleshing out characters. It is deeply rooted in psychological theory and that makes it an exceptionally interesting read. Complex topics are explained in layman's terms. It is nice to have a writing guide by such a talented writer.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Reference book for the Criminal Profiler! (LEO, or Criminalogist/Crime Scene Technician. etc) Feb. 10 2013
By Daniel C. Larsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This one covers all the basics, and gives one an inside look at the variations and anomolies of Criminal Behavior of many kinds! .If you're planning a career in law enforcement, private investigation, or criminalistics, this reference material is invaluable. Your library simply MUST contain this volume. Fantastic Deal ---- You should buy one of these -- it's neat !! XLNT Tranzaxion! Would buy again! Rating AAAAA+++++
4.0 out of 5 stars I like it Dec 28 2012
By L. Lorn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is very interesting. It is easy to read and understand. It's like watching a movie and since it is so detailed, it got me on the edge of my seat. Suspenseful.
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