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I was telling a friend that an updated version of Inside the Criminal Mind is about to be published in paperback by Broadway Books. Familiar with my two earlier editions, he seemed puzzled and inquired, “Has the criminal mind changed?” It’s a reasonable question.
The criminal mind that has preoccupied my practice of forensic psychology for forty-four years has notchanged. However, it has many new arenas in which it operates. For example, theft is theft. But through the Internet, cybercrooks are now able to steal on a massive scale.
As we’ve seen in recent cybercrimes against Target and Home Depot, for example, a criminal need not limit himself to pilfering one credit card at a time from purses or wallets. Now, he and his accomplices can invade the lives of millions by stealing their personal information Similarly, bullying is bullying – hardly a new phenomenon. But now, with the touch of a button on a keyboard, a criminal can strike fear into others’ hearts and ruin their reputations without ever personally confronting them.
A criminal does not have to go on the prowl to search for sexual conquests. With a computer, he can locate and solicit those who will become his prey. And a drug dealer need not hang out on the street to attract purchasers. Using a phone or iPad, he can locate “customers” to vend his “merchandise.”
Criminals have long terrorized individuals, groups, and nations. Again, through the Internet, the scope of their operations expands exponentially, and they can contact millions of potential recruits to join their terror organizations.
However, even if the type of crime and modus operandi (“MO”) are new, the criminal’s basic thinking patterns and outlook in life do not change. In the revised 2014 edition of Inside the Criminal Mind, I take the reader on tour of the criminal mind and describe in detail the thought patterns at work. Criminals like the man who told me, “Crime is like ice cream; it’s delicious” find excitement in whatever is illicit and whatever facilitates conquests and a buildup of themselves. Shutting off fears of consequences and denying conscience, the criminal is heedless of the price that others pay for his adventures, whether the victim is an individual or a large corporation. “Take my crime away and you take my world away,” one offender declared, reflecting the timeless mentality that I have come to know so well over the decades of my research and clinical practice dealing with criminals.
The new edition of Inside the Criminal Mind focuses on how the criminal thinks – his or her errors in thinking that result in enormous suffering. Once we understand how criminals think, we are in a position to make informed decisions about how to deal with them and help them change their mental processes.
Author: Stanton Samenow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist practicing in Alexandria, Virginia and author of Inside the Criminal Mind