When a man in convicted of a recent murder spree with limited evidence, how can the police prove that it was the man in question? Thanks to criminal psychologists who study the will, thoughts, intentions, reactions, and behaviour of criminals, investigators can solve the case even when it goes cold. There are four main realms of psychology: clinical, experimental, actuarial, and advisory. These four sections allow for a multitude of jobs which all have one common goal – to prove criminals of their actions and make it so they can’t commit another.
Clinical psychology is mainly used in investigations to determine the mental state of the person in question, and is used to determine how to process them. For example, Dr. Phil – who is famously known for his daytime talk show DR. PHIL – uses his doctorate in clinical philosophy to make evidence-based mental health advice and is making psychology accessible and understandable to the public using the medium of television. During his show, he invited people that are typically famous from posting videos online of them being mentally ill, and Dr.
Phil analizes why they think that they are in the right, and at the end of the show “Sends Them to The Ranch” which is a “Turn-About Ranch” treatment resource to help them see how what they’re doing is wrong, and how they can correct such behaviour. Clinical psychology is important because it helps people live healthier lives, and can help to make a difference in people’s lives.
Experimental psychology digs into the relationship between the memory and motivation. This realm of psychology mainly focuses on human biology and psychology. One popular experimental psychologist was Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov made the notorious experiment that is taught in most ninth grade American high schools where he trained his dogs that when he rang a bell, they would get food. Over time the dogs began to salivate when the bell rang. His experiment proved that objects and events could condition certain behaviors.
Actuarial profiling is the use of criminal profiling to determine whether or not someone will repeat a crime, or if there are similar patterns which could connect them to another unsolved case. This realm is commonly debated with clinical psychology due to their abundant similarities. They both determine whether or not someone will commit another crime, and if the person in question even commited the crime – but actuarial psychology uses more statistics and data from past events. For example, when setting insurance rates, insurance companies will look to see if the person has been in a car crash before and make a prediction if they are likely to be in another crash. Insurance companies also set insurance rates higher for men since they’re statistically more reckless than their female counterparts.
Advisory psychology, also called consulting psychology, is the advice of organizations or individuals when determining how to proceed with investigations. They may advise police how, when, where, and who will talk and how a criminal will react when being interrogated. For example, an advisor might suggest not to integrate the victim if they won’t talk, or maybe they will tell the organization that if the person in question behaves a certain way, they most likely are lying or trying to cover something up.
One case which clearly uses all four realms of psychology and is widely known by many is the Ted Bundy court case. Criminal psychology played a huge role in convicting Ted Bundy due to the carelessness and frequency of his murders. Thanks to forensic scientists, and his ex-girlfriend’s given information, they were able to convict Bundy and even link him to several unsolved murders. His similar pattern in girls he picked, style of murder and method of kidnapping all helped to narrow down Bundy when one girl he tried to kidnap escaped. Looking at things such as how he grew up, his home life, and how he treated people when they interact with people around them also helped to solve the murder mystery. For example, Ted Bundy was an illegitimate child and was a ‘secret shame’ to his family. His mother was a teen mom and was fed the lie that his grandparents adopted him, making his mom his ‘sister’. Although he lived a peaceful working-class life, he showed interest in macabre – which is art that depicts ghastly and grim images – at an early age, and showed an interest in knives at the age of three. One of the most disturbing things that he is famously quoted for is, “I don’t feel guilty for anything. I feel sorry for people who feel guilt.” This quote demonstrates the mental state of Bundy, and likely suggests that he would commit more crimes if he was given the chance – which he continued to do throughout the end of his life.
Criminal psychology has helped bring multiple cases closure and bring justice to the victims, while also helping those who need it to prevent them from committing crimes. Although it wasn’t popular in the 19th Century, as we learn more and more about mental health and remove the stigma behind it, we begin to allow ourselves to learn the signs of the mentally ill and how to help them and protect others from their actions. I hope that through the education of psychology and the human brain, there will be less of a stigma and negative connotation of mental health.