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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel

There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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    Juliet's Nurse

    Lois Leveen 9781476757445

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Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit


Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit Cover

ISBN13: 9780671528904
ISBN10: 0671528904
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From Chapter 1: Inside the Mind of a Killer

Behavior reflects personality. One of the reasons our work is even necessary has to do with the changing nature of violent crime itself. We all know about the drug-related murders that plague most of our cities and the gun crimes that have become an everyday occurrence as well as a national disgrace. Yet it used to be that most crime, particularly most violent crime, happened between people who in some way knew each other. We're not seeing that as much any longer. As recently as the 1960s, the solution rate to homicide in this country was well over 90 percent. We're not seeing that any longer, either. Now, despite impressive advances in science and technology, despite the advent of the computer age, despite many more police officers with far better and more sophisticated training and resources, the murder rate has been going up and the solution rate has been going down. More and more crimes are being committed by and against "strangers," and in many cases we have no motive to work with, at least no obvious or "logical" motive. Traditionally, most murders and violent crimes were relatively easy for law enforcement officials to comprehend. They resulted from critically exaggerated manifestations of feelings we all experience: anger, greed, jealousy, profit, revenge. Once this emotional problem was taken care of, the crime or crime spree would end. Someone would be dead, but that was that and the police generally knew who and what they were looking for. But a new type of violent criminal has surfaced in recent years-- the serial offender, who often doesn't stop until he is caught or killed, who learns by experience and who tends to get better and better at what he does, constantly perfecting his scenario from one crime to the next. I say "surfaced" because, to some degree, he was probably with us all along, going back long before 1880s London and Jack the Ripper, generally considered the first modem serial killer. And I say "he" because, for reasons we'll get into a little later, virtually all real serial killers are male. Serial murder may, in fact, be a much older phenomenon than we realize. The stories and legends that have filtered down about witches and werewolves and vampires may have been a way of explaining outrages so hideous that no one in the small and close-knit towns of Europe and early America could comprehend the perversities we now take for granted. Monsters had to be supernatural creatures. They couldn't be just like us. Serial killers and rapists also tend to be the most bewildering, personally disturbing, and most difficult to catch of all violent criminals. This is, in part, because they tend to be motivated by far more complex factors than the basic ones I've just enumerated. This, in turn, makes their patterns more confusing and distances them from such other normal feelings as compassion, guilt, or remorse. Sometimes, the only way to catch them is to learn how to think like they do. Lest anyone think I will be giving away any closely guarded investigative secrets that could provide a "how-to', to would-be offenders, let me reassure you on that point right now. What I will be relating is how we developed the behavioral approach to criminal-personality profiling, crime analysis, and prosecutorial strategy, but I couldn't make this a how-to course even if I wanted to. For one thing, it takes as much as two years for us to train the already experienced, highly accomplished agents selected to come into my unit. For another, no matter how much the criminal thinks he knows, the more he does to try to evade detection or throw us off the track, the more behavioral clues he's going to give us to work with. As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes say many decades ago, "Singularity is almost invariably a clue. The more featureless and commonplace a crime is, the more difficult it is to bring it home." In other words, the more behavior we have, the more complete the profile and analysis we can give to the local police. The better the profile the local police have to work with, the more they can slice down the potential suspect population and concentrate on finding the real guy. Which brings me to the other disclaimer about our work. In the Investigative Support Unit, which is part of the FBI's National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime at Quantico, we don't catch criminals. Let me repeat that: we do not catch criminals. Local police catch criminals, and considering the incredible pressures they're under, most of them do a pretty damn good job of it. What we try to do is assist local police in focusing their investigations, then suggest some proactive techniques that might help draw a criminal out. Once they catch him-- and again, I emphasize they, not we-- we will try to formulate a strategy to help the prosecutor bring out the defendant's true personality during the trial. We're able to do this because of our research and our specialized experience. While a local midwestern police department faced with a serial-murder investigation might be seeing these horrors for the first time, my unit has probably handled hundreds, if not thousands, of similar crimes. I always tell my agents, "If you want to understand the artist, you have to look at the painting." We've looked at many "paintings" over the years and talked extensively to the most "accomplished" "artists." We began methodically developing the work of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit, and what later came to be the Investigative Support Unit, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And though most of the books that dramatize and glorify what we do, such as Tom Harris's memorable The Silence of the Lambs are somewhat fanciful and prone to dramatic license, our antecedents actually do go back to crime fiction more than crime fact. C. August Dupin, the amateur detective hero of Edgar Allan Poe's 1841 classic "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," may have been history's first behavioral profiler. This story may also represent the first use of a proactive technique by the profiler to flush out an unknown subject and vindicate an innocent man imprisoned for the killings. Like the men and women in my unit a hundred and fifty years later, Poe understood the value of profiling when forensic evidence alone isn't enough to solve a particularly brutal and seemingly motiveless crime. "Deprived of ordinary resources," he wrote, "the analyst throws himself into the spirit of his opponent, identifies himself therewith, and not infrequently sees thus, at a glance, the sole methods by which he may seduce into error or hurry into miscalculation."

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McGuffy Ann, March 3, 2011 (view all comments by McGuffy Ann)
Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit

by John E. Douglas, Mark Olshaker

Upon retiring, Special Agent John Douglas was finally able to share his story. He is the elite pioneer of what we now know as criminal profiling. He is also the model for the chief male agent in the book and movie, “Silence of the Lambs”. In this book, Douglas takes us into the early days of the FBI’s special unit for this highly specialized field.

Special Agent Douglas was involved in several notorious crimes, including John Wayne Gacy, the Tylenol poisoning case, the Atlanta Child Murders, and the Green River Killer. His profiling of the criminal mind was integral in solving these among other major crimes.

To hone his skills, Douglas studied and interviewed the likes of infamous serial killers Richard Speck, Charles Manson John Wayne Gacy and other serious offenders. This enabled him to understand the working of their mind, as well as what drove them to commit such heinous crimes.

A fascinating psychological read, this is also an excellent account of true criminal justice. Fans of the TV show “Criminal Minds” will certainly appreciate this compelling book.

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Product Details

Douglas, John
Olshaker, Mark
Singular, Stephen
Douglas, John E.
Pocket Books
New York :
United states
Law Enforcement
Sociology, anthropology and archaeology
Pathological Psychology
Criminal psychology
Serial murderers
Federal bureau of investigation
Serial murderers -- United States -- Psychology.
Serial murder investigation.
Political Freedom & Security - Law Enforcement
General Biography
General Literary Criticism & Collections
Murder - General
United States Officials and employees.
Crime - True Crime
Edition Number:
mass market
Edition Description:
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
August 1996
Grade Level:
+8pg b/w insert
6.75 x 4.19 in 7.385 oz

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
History and Social Science » Crime » Cops and Police Stories
History and Social Science » Crime » Criminology
History and Social Science » Crime » Enforcement and Investigation
History and Social Science » Crime » General
History and Social Science » Crime » True Crime

Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit New Mass Market
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.99 In Stock
Product details 416 pages Pocket Books - English 9780671528904 Reviews:
"Review" by , "{One} feels that Mr. Douglas's keen eye for crime-scene detail and his powerful inductive reasoning cannot be explained any more than one can explain his murderous quarries' capacity for merciless savagery. Reading about the many bizarre cases cited in 'Mindhunter' is stunned by the cruelty and evil of some who walk among us. No less disturbing is the eagerness of society to believe that even the worst monsters can be understood and rehabilitated....Mr. Douglas sets out to produce a good true-crime book, but because of his insights and the power of his material, he gives us more — he leaves us shaken, gripped by a quiet grief for the innocent victims and anguished by the human condition."
"Review" by , "Douglas?is one heck of a storyteller. Mindhunter is the book that will make you lock up the house, take the phone off the hook and just keep reading. You won't be able to put it down."
"Review" by , "John Douglas knows more about serial killers than anybody in the world."
"Synopsis" by , The New York Times bestseller from the FBI agent who inspired the Jack Crawford character in The Silence of the Lambs, Mindhunter is a riveting look at the major serial killers of our time. It takes readers behind the scenes of America's most gruesome serial killer cases. Includes an eight-page photo insert.
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