Analyzing Cops

Ever wonder where law enforcement officers and their families go for help for mental health issues?

Meet Ellen Kirschman, MSW, PhD., who I am thrilled to have on my blog today! Ellen has worked as a police psychologist for over thirty years.

Ellen Kirschman, MSW, PhD.

Ellen Kirschman, MSW, PhD.

Can you tell us something about your background?

I’ve been a police psychologist for over 30 years. I started out as a clinical social worker and eventually got my PhD. My dissertation was titled “Wounded Heroes.”

It was what we call an intensive case analysis of three officers all of whom began their careers in good mental health and wound up retiring on stress related disability retirements – kind of a cross between Sigmund Freud and Mickey Spillane.

Dareen Mcgavin as Mickey Spillane

Dareen Mcgavin as Mickey Spillane

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud

People ask me all the time if I’m married to a cop or a fire fighter. I’m not. I like to keep clear boundaries between my work and my personal life.

My husband is a retired contractor and a talented photographer. He took that great author photo of me. We love to travel, cook and hang out with friends. In addition to writing and holding workshops, I train peer supporters and volunteer at a wonderful organization, the First Responder’s Support Network.

We hold retreats for psychologically injured officers and their families. If your readers are interested, they can go to www.frsn.org to learn more. My husband also volunteers at FRSN, cooking for the Spouses and Significant Others (SOS) retreats.

Are there any differences you’ve found in counseling police officers vs. Joe Citizen?

You have to earn a cop’s trust. That’s hard work. Cops are protectors and may try hide some of their most pressing issues because they don’t want to injure their therapists. They are skeptical about the value of psychotherapy and the worry more than the average client about confidentiality. In particular, they are concerned their departments will find out they are in treatment and this will jeopardize their jobs as well as their standing with co-workers.

Tell me about your new book, Counseling Cops, What Clinicians Need to Know.

Counseling Cops, What Clinicians Need to Know

I co-wrote this book with two colleagues, Mark Kamena and Joel Fay, both of whom are psychologists and retired police officers. Our collaboration made the book so much richer than it would have been had I written it alone. As lead author, I was responsible for blending our voices into one readable narrative using  plain English, not psycho-babble, to describe various dimensions of the police culture, de-mythologize cops as super-human or super-aggressive, and challenge clinicians to examine their own biases. We talk about the prevalent mental health issues cops and their families experience and offer evidence based strategies we know will work for these problems and this culture.

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Our aim is to help clinicians become culturally competent to treat this unique population. Police officers are very reluctant to seek counseling, fearing it means they are weak or crazy. When their suffering is so great that they finally reach out for help, they deserve to be treated by clinicians who understand them and the culture in which they work.

For example, one of our clients needed treatment after two terrible shooting events. The first question his new therapist asked him was, “Are you ready to stop being a trained killer?”

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investigations.nbcnews.com

This was a very inappropriate statement and upsetting to the officer who felt himself to be the victim of these two events. Needless to say, he didn’t return to that therapist and would have given up on therapy completely had a peer supporter friend not helped him connect to a therapist who understood cops.

As a therapist, I can see the value in reading this book. The book is grounded in clinical research, extensive experience, and you have a deep familiarity with police culture, this book offers highly practical guidance for psychotherapists and counselors.

You vividly depict the pressures and challenges of police work and explain the impact that line-of-duty issues can have on officers and their loved ones.

ct.counseling.org

ct.counseling.org

You offer numerous concrete examples and tips showing how to build rapport with cops, use a range of effective intervention strategies, and avoid common missteps and misconceptions. And you have practical approaches to working with frequently encountered clinical problems such as substance abuse, depression, trauma, and marital conflict, which the book discusses in detail.

When making an assessment, clinicians are trained to consider the whole of their client’s assessments. This would include the police culture. Can you explain what a  police culture is?

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Hard to do in just a paragraph or two. Let me approach the question by listing the attributes of people who want to be cops. They are action oriented, rule abiding folks who value emotional control and structure. Like social workers, they want to make a difference in their communities. They have great senses of humor, a bit coarse for some, but it’s what gets them past the ugly stuff, and they see plenty of ugly stuff.

coppschicago.com

coppschicago.com

They are comfortable working in a para-military setting, taking and giving orders. They are decisive, sometimes a bit too black and white.  They love variety, take great pride in their work, and are fiercely dedicated to each other. They are protection oriented and may have assumed the role of protector or rescuer in their families as they were growing up. They are extroverted, perfectionistic and have high standards for themselves and others.

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phyang.org

They are great in a crisis and rate high on mental toughness, at least when they are first hired. although for some, this can change over time. They are willing to use physical means to achieve a desired end and they are courageous enough to do what the rest of us couldn’t or wouldn’t.

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Policing is also a story culture. Stories are how cops transmit norms, values, tactical wisdom, and model behavior. I have hundreds of stories circulating in my head. They are wonderful teaching devices and fodder for my new career as a mystery writer.

Can you explain what an FFD is, when they are used and why they are needed?

The acronym stands for Fitness For Duty.

Police employers have a legal duty to ensure that cops under their command are mentally and emotionally fit to perform their duties. Failure to do so can result in serious breaches of public confidence, danger to the officer in question and his or her co-workers, citizens in the community and the department’s reputation.

Circumstances that trigger a request for a FFD vary greatly. Some relate to on-duty actions (excessive force, emotional outbursts, repeated problems with judgment, reckless behavior and so on).

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Others may pertain to egregious off-duty conduct such as intoxication, driving under the influence, drug abuse, domestic abuse, stealing, and other behaviors that raise questions about the officer’s fitness to serve. Suicide attempts, psychiatric hospitalization or a disability claim for mental health injuries will also trigger an FFD.

An FFD is a complex and lengthy procedure often entailing numerous legal complications. It is painful for the officer and should never be used as punishment or in lieu of discipline. The requesting agency should be able to articulate the problematic behaviors in question. The FFD examiner can be a psychiatrist or a psychologist.

Unlike therapy, the client is the requesting agency, not the officer.  Under these circumstances, the officer has no confidentiality.

What types of mental conditions do you see often of with police officers? 

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Post traumatic stress injuries. We call them injuries because disorder sounds so permanent and we know that, with the proper care, cops can and do recover from trauma. Cops experience a whole range of common psychological problems, just like the rest of us:  substance abuse and addiction, relationship problems, panic attacks, sleep disturbance, depression, and anxiety.

What are the suicide, domestic violence, and PTSD statistics within this group of clients?  

Some of these statistics are hard to find. For example, statistics around suicide are controversial and there is disagreement among professionals.

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The most important statistic, in my opinion, is that cops are two to three times more likely to kill themselves than to be killed in the line of duty.

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abcnews.go.com

That’s alarming. The prevalence of PTSD is also debatable, but certainly less than we see in returning combat veterans.

On the other hand, combat is time limited, cops work for 30 years, so they have plenty of exposure to trauma. Soldiers don’t get sued for going to war, but cops get sued a lot.

techcrunch.com

techcrunch.com

Trying to find out about domestic abuse is also difficult. What I do know is that psychologists are doing a better job of screening out applicants with the potential to commit abuse.

What would you like to see changed or improved? 

Good question. I would like to see every agency, big and small, have a confidential peer support program, family orientations at first hire and again every five years, a chaplaincy program,

supervisors who are knowledgeable about spotting mental health issues and compassionate when talking to their officers, and easy access for officers and their families to culturally competent, confidential, low cost counseling.

As a writer, I can also see where this book would help me in understanding my fictional LEO character’s flaws, inner thoughts and would help me construct the conflict.  Can you tell us how your book can help writers create more believable LEO characters?

I can’t tell you how many writers tell me they have dog-eared copies of my first book, I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know, on their desks.

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Written for families, this book describes what police families experience and what they can and can’t do to help themselves. It’s true to the popular bumper sticker that says, “If you think it’s tough being a cop, try being married to one.” Their are literally hundreds of stories in I Love A Cop, all of which provide grist for the writers mill.

Counseling Cops, What Clinicians Need to KnowCounseling Cops: What Clinicians Need to Know will give writers a deeper understanding of the emotional and psychological challenges facing officers and their families. The book is also filled with with stories as well as  a suggested dialogue. Readers can  learn what good and bad therapists say during a counseling session. I’ve tried hard in  both these books to  describe officers as three dimensional human beings who are both the same and different from the rest of us, not like the one dimensional characters you see on TV.

scOw9In Burying Ben readers will see police psychologist Dot Meyerhoff struggling to find her footing in the Kenilworth police department as a civilian, a woman, and a politically liberal character whose allegiance to the cops is shaken by memories of her father, a student activist, who was beaten and injured for life by police. Her world and her sense of self is shattered when Ben, a rookie cop she is counseling, unexpectedly commits suicide and leaves a note blaming her. Readers tell me they rarely read a book told from the clinician’s perspective.

Thank you so much Ellen for joining me here today! I’ve had so much fun and learned so much from you. I’ve read Burying Ben and I’ve almost finished Counseling Cops: What Clinicians Need to Know.  Although I’ve never counseled a cop, I will keep this book on my professional bookcase alongside my DSM-5 and treatment planners, as a resource.

Any Questions? Ellen will be checking in all day, so ask away!

Until Next time,

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz

You can order Ellen’s books from Guilford Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and more of your favorite vendors, in print or as an e-book.

You can connect with Ellen at:

Counseling Cops, What Clinicians Need to KnowscOw9ilac_cover_smilaff_cover_sm

Website: http://www.ellenkirschman.com

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/EllenKirschmanBooks?ref=br_tf

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/333996.Ellen_Kirschman .

Blog Edited by: Sally Berneathy

Former FBI agent answers the question, “Are Serial Killers Crazy?”

 

Pete M. Klismet, Jr.

Pete M. Klismet, Jr.

Pete Klismet, Jr., a former FBI profiler, says, no, they are not.  “In talking about serial killers, I’ve heard comments from my college students and police officers in the schools where I continue to teach. “What do you mean they’re not crazy?”  Usually followed closely by, “Don’t they have to be crazy to kill all those people?”  And then, “But if they’re not crazy, why do they do it?”

If there is anything we can agree on, it would be that the acts of a serial murderer are, to say the least, a great departure from what we think of as normal.  To put it mildly.  Clearly, most normal people don’t wake up one morning, have some coffee, read the paper, check e-mails, and then decide, “Hmmm…..what am I going to do today?  Awww, what the heck, I think I’m going to start killing people.”  And off they go to their new adventures.

Picture from : www.documentingreality.com

We are all driven to seek answers and explanations for odd behavior.  We want to understand why a seemingly mild-mannered, quiet man like Gary Ridgway (“The Green River Killer”) could kill at least forty-eight women in Seattle.  What creates a monster like law student Ted Bundy who roamed from Washington State to Utah, Idaho, Colorado and finally Florida, brutally killing and maiming women along the way, eventually killing thirty-three women that we know of.  And how do you explain Jeffrey Dahmer?  What could have caused him to strangle seventeen young men and boys in Milwaukee, eat body parts so they’d be “a part of me,” keep their corpses in his apartment for days, and then dissolve their bodies in acid inside his apartment?  And they all performed sex acts on some of their victims after killing them.  If for no other reason, that would seem to be a huge clue that they simply have to be crazy…but are they?

There are a lot of questions posed at this juncture, so let’s pause briefly and take a look at some facts, beginning with the commonly-accepted (except in Canada and England) definition of the term “Serial Killer.”

FBI Pins

A serial killer was defined by the Behavioral Science Unit (now the Investigative Support Unit) in Quantico, Virginia, and combines three basic factors:

          1.    A person who kills three or more victims (most often one victim at a time).

          2.    The killings occurred over a period of time, usually days, weeks, months or years.

          3.    There is a cooling off period between the killings.

The latter point (cooling off) is what separates a serial killer from a mass killer (Columbine, for example, where all killings occurred in a single event), and a spree killer (where there might be a continuing and sometimes connecting series of killings in different locations over a day or several days, but no cooling off period).  With these killings, there is often a long period of seething anger which eventually boils to a point the killer decides to take some form of violent action.

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Many people, particularly the media, want to say they simply “snapped.’”’  It makes it so much easier to understand then.  But nothing could be further from the truth.  The anger has typically welled up in them for months or even years, much like a pressure cooker on low heat.  Eventually the pressure builds up to the point where they are seemingly unable to control themselves, to refrain from doing what they do.  It’s nothing like suddenly and impulsively deciding to go to their workplace or school and kill people who they believe have treated them unfairly.

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Next we can pose the question, “Are mass killers crazy?”  And the answer to that is also no.  A more likely explanation is that they finally reached the boiling-over point with anger and frustration and could see no other way out of their dire situation.  What they eventually did was something akin to an irresistible impulse they couldn’t control.  But they certainly aren’t crazy.

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If that’s the case, then we should review what the term insanity means.  In medical and psychiatric terms, the word insanity is avoided in favor of specific diagnoses of particular mental disorders.  The presence of delusions or hallucinations is more broadly defined as psychosis.  Most courts in the United States accept a potential insanity defense when experts can identify
a major mental illness (psychosis), but will not accept the numerous and less-than-psychotic personality disorders.

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Personality Disorders are a separate classification of mental health disorders which include such issues as Borderline Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Dependent Personality Disorder, and Histrionic Personality Disorder (this is only a part of a much more exhaustive list).

Commonly-diagnosed mental health disorders such as Bipolar Disorder, Generalized (not chronic) Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, Schizophrenia, and Depression are among the classification of mental health disorders termed “Axis I” disorders.  None of them meet the criteria for psychosis.

While the diagnostic criteria and the multiplicity of possible disorders and psychoses can become a bit confusing to non-trained professionals, the key issue from a legal standpoint becomes relatively simple – did the person charged with the crime have the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, and did he know the behavior he engaged in was against the law?

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This is the difference between someone being legally sane vs. insane.  However, evidence and testimony from mental health professionals as to those issues must be clearly presented to the court or jury who must then make that decision.  And therein lies the crux of the matter when we’re considering serial murderers.  Conjecture, speculation and comments such as “Well, he just acted crazy all the time,” or “He was odd,” won’t work.  The word “crazy” doesn’t exist in the legal or psychiatric arenas, but the word “sanity” does.

A few specific cases can serve as a reference point. Several years ago a woman in San Antonio, Texas, killed and ate the body parts of her baby, including the brain. Most of us would call that crazy.

Story can be found here:  http://www.nbcnews.com/id/32171926/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/investigators-stunned-child-dismemberment/

After lengthy psychological evaluation, this woman was diagnosed with a psychotic disorder. The woman believed the devil made her mutilate and dismember her newborn son.  She was subsequently found not guilty of the crime by reason of insanity and was committed to a mental institution until deemed to no longer be a danger to herself or others.

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In a similar case in 2001 Andrea Yates of Houston, Texas, was shown to have been suffering from postpartum psychosis and, in this psychotic state, drowned each of her five children.  She later explained that Satan was inside her, and she was trying to save her children from going to hell. A jury found her not guilty by reason of insanity, and she was committed to a mental institution.

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In 1982 John Hinkley, Jr., was found to be not guilty by reason of insanity after attempting to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. Hinkley had a long history of psychiatric care when he was younger, and his statements made it clear he did not have his psychological act completely together. Hinkley has been confined to a mental institution in the Washington, D.C., area for nearly 30 years.  While he’s gained some privileges, it is doubtful he’ll ever be completely free and on his own.  Hinkley will probably never become a person who can function in society on his own.

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So, you might ask, how are the two women noted above different from Jeffrey Dahmer?  It certainly seems they did similar things.  Dahmer killed seventeen people, strangling most, drilled holes in their heads to inject acid in the process of making sex zombies (by his own admission).  He dismembered and disemboweled his victims, ate body parts, saved others, collected skulls and dissolved their bodies in a huge vat of acid.  And he’s the one who is NOT psychotic!  Not crazy?  How on earth can that be true?

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Here’s the difference, why Dahmer was found to be sane despite the manifestly “crazy” things he did.  Dahmer showed planning and premeditation in every one of his killings, and the prosecutors skillfully pointed this out.  A psychotic person does not have the cognitive (or mental) organization to create the detailed plots and plans that Dahmer created.

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He hunted for his victims in gay bars only and sought victims who were light-skinned black males, young and slender. Very specific criteria and not random victims. Thus he wasn’t a killer who would simply murder anyone who got in his way, although some serial killers do.  Ted Bundy was similar to Dahmer in his selectivity, as most of his female victims had long dark hair, parted in the middle, and, we later learned, looked a lot like a girlfriend who had dumped him several years before.  Bundy also brought with him items he’d need to gain control of the victims and would commonly use an arm sling or crutches to make his victims feel immediately safe.  All of these things require some thinking and planning which a psychotic person could not typically accomplish in his delusional state.

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Dahmer constantly fantasized about and was obsessed with killing over and over. His obsession developed into a compulsion and then a need, and he eventually became addicted to killing.  Yet he could compartmentalize that secret part of his life and create the image that he was perfectly normal.  He fit well into society. He was attractive, dressed well (some suggested “dressed to kill”) and used this to his advantage in luring potential victims.  He hunted only on Friday nights because if he was successful, he would have the victim for a couple of days and then would have time to do what he wanted to do with the body.  He never used a car because he knew he could be identified by the type of car he drove.  He installed extra locks and a security camera on his apartment to thwart anyone from entering.  But he also presented a normal side when talking to his parents, the police on a couple of occasions, and people he worked with.  He was able to hide in plain sight, appear perfectly normal, and no one would have imagined it was him committing the horrible crimes he did.  An insane person couldn’t begin to accomplish all of those things.

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On the other side of the coin are several serial killers who were probably insane yet were adjudged to be sane in court.  Richard Trenton Chase, for example, killed several people in Sacramento, California, eviscerated at least one victim, and sat beside the victim, drinking her blood from a cup.  Chase had a long psychiatric history and told investigators he was drinking blood because space ships from other planets were sending radiation down to earth which was turning his blood into powder.

Like Dahmer, he had body parts in his refrigerator and had used a blender to chop up other human organs, mixing them with blood.  While all of that doesn’t sound like the acts of a sane person, one never knows what will happen when a case goes to court.  Chase was adjudged to be sane despite considerable evidence to the contrary.  I’ve researched this case and still am clueless how he was found sane.

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The idyllic beach town of Santa Cruz, California, in the early 1970s seemed to be one of the most unlikely places to become the murder capital of the U.S.A.  Edmund Kemper was a prime contributor to the high murder rate, picking up hitchhikers in the area, killing them and dismembering their bodies.  But Kemper’s issue was not insanity. It was anger, due in large part to his dominant and verbally abusive mother.  Since he couldn’t violently strike back at his mother, he could against other women, which is exactly what he did.  But investigators and prosecutors were able to show the planning and premeditation Kemper went through to both gain control of his victims and dispose of their bodies.

While Kemper was terrorizing Santa Cruz and keeping investigators busy, another killer, Herbert Mullin, was on an even worse killing spree.

Herbert Mullin

Mullin had a lengthy psychiatric history as far back as his early teen years.  His father sought counseling and had him committed, but after each period of evaluation he was then released on the belief that he was no longer a danger to himself or others.  Let’s say that diagnosis wasn’t entirely accurate.  As Mullin’s psychosis deepened, he developed an obsession with earthquakes, and of course California is prone to have them occasionally.

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Mullin then added a delusion to the obsession, namely that he could prevent earthquakes from occurring if he killed people.  He randomly selected victims who, in his delusional state, he believed were telepathically telling him to kill them and the problem of earthquakes would stop.  His victims were simply unfortunate people who appeared on his radar screen on any given day, male and female and even some children. There was no pattern or logic to what he did or the victims he chose.

This is the antithesis of Dahmer’s and Bundy’s process of victim selection by certain well-established and defined criteria.  Mullin was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was committed to the state mental hospital after his trial.  Kemper, on the other hand, offered an insanity defense but was adjudged sane and received a life sentence which he is currently serving.

Son of Sam David

Virtually all serial killers are found to have been sane at the time they committed their crimes.  David Berkowitz, the infamous “Son of Sam” killer who paralyzed New York City for over a year, tried an insanity defense, as many have.

Despite claiming a satanic demon inhabited the body of a dog next door and that the dog spoke to him with instructions on what to do and how to kill people, Berkowitz was found to be sane.

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Kenneth Bianchi, one of the “Hillside Stranglers” in Los Angeles, claimed to be a multiple personality and that the “Bad Ken” was the one who did the killings.  Confronted by a psychiatrist who told Bianchi that people with Multiple Personality Disorder usually had at least three distinct personalities, Bianchi promptly came up with a third one.  That didn’t work, and Bianchi is currently on a full-ride scholarship in a Washington state prison, having also been convicted of killing two women in Bellingham, Washington, after his nefarious murders in Los Angeles.

In conclusion, very few serial killers even come close to meeting the exceedingly strict criteria for insanity. The challenge to investigators is in discovering those things in their lives they did which displayed their true sanity.  They are not crazy as we’d like to think.  A very small percentage of those we’ve identified over the years qualified as being legally insane.  Every year we identify more of them, and the certainty they face is the death penalty or a life in prison.”

Wow! Thank you, Pete, for stopping by my blog this month. Pete has agreed to talk about what a FBI agent really does next month, and he’s going to give us the breakdown of the acronyms they use.

And don’t forget to pick up a copy of Pete’s new award winning book, FBI Diary: Profiles Of Evil.

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Remember, when writing a villain who is a serial killer, keep in mind what Pete has taught us. Most are nice looking, very personable and blend in to be the guy next door, someone you would never think could be killing people. These villains, to me, are far more scary because you don’t see them coming. Until next time.

Happy writing,

Diane Kratz

You can connect with Pete at:

Website:  www.criminalprofilingassociates.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pete.klismet

Book trailer for: FBI Diary: Profiles of Evil:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcmgAPGHFbo

Blog edited by Sally Berneathy

Social Workers’ Safety Tips To Live By

This blog post is slightly different than my usual posts. I recently completed a required continuing education course called “Everyday Self DefenseSM For Social Workers”, taught by Janet Nelson, MSW. I learned some extremely valuable safety precautions, but I was also reminded of why we’re required to take a self-defense course to begin with, and it brings up the opportunity for me to revisit the disturbing case of Teri Zenner, a social worker who was killed by one of her clients while I was in grad school.

I’ll share the safety tips with you in a moment, but first let me tell you the backstory: what happened to Teri, and how this course became a requirement of the Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board, for all new social workers. 

Teri’s Story

Social Worker Teri Zenner
Photo from http://www.socialworkersspeak.org

Like me, Teri Lea Zenner was a mental health social worker. She was 26 years old, a Kansas University graduate student who worked for the Johnson County Mental Health Center.

In August 2004, Teri went on a routine visit to the home of a 17-year-old, mentally unstable client named Andrew Ramey Ellmaker. Andrew was diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder; Teri was there to make sure that he was taking his medication.

Andrew Ramey Ellmaker
Picture from http://www.darkvomit.com

Zenner’s visit with Ellmaker began normally enough, but at some point things took a deadly turn. We will never know exactly how, or why she agreed, but Ellmaker was able to lure Zenner to his bedroom. Once inside, he refused let her leave. She begged to be released, but Ellmaker had a weapon – a knife.  His mother, Sue Ellmaker, returned from the store, heard Teri’s cries and threatened to call police if her son didn’t let Teri go by the count of three.

At the end of the count, Teri came rushing down the stairs. Blood was spurting from a wound in her neck. Ellmaker came right behind her, stabbing her all the way.

Sue Ellmaker threw herself between her son and Teri, yelling for him to stop. All three tumbled to the floor, and Sue rolled over Teri to protect her. Andrew stabbed Sue four times in the back, once in the chest, and once in the right arm; he also slashed her ear. If the knife hadn’t bent in her back, giving her the chance to flee to a neighbor’s house and call 911, Sue Ellmaker undoubtedly would have been killed.

It is not clear if Teri was alive at this point. All we know is, with his mother gone, Andrew went into his bedroom, turned on some loud music and grabbed his chainsaw from the closet. He began cutting into Teri Zenner, almost severing her left forearm and her neck. He also slashed her head, back, and right hip. At this point, the chain broke – which caused Andrew to feel “pissed off” because he had only recently bought the chainsaw.

Andrew Ramey Ellmaker in restraints
Picture from www2.ljworld.com

After mutilating Teri, Andrew tried to commit suicide by ingesting a variety of pills. He then left the house with two pellet guns and attempted to drive away in Teri’s vehicle. When he had trouble getting the car to start, he took a can of gasoline from the garage, poured it on the vehicle, and set it on fire. As the police arrived, Andrew ran into the street. The police ordered him to drop his weapons, which he did. As Ellmaker was being handcuffed, he spontaneously stated, “I just killed my therapist with a chainsaw.”

I met Teri Zenner’s widower, Matt, while in grad school. He came and spoke to us about Teri’s story and pleaded with us to contact our state representatives to pass help a Kansas law in her honor, requiring specific safety training for all new social workers. Among social workers who are killed on the job, most are killed within the first five years of employment.

As part of the Social Workers Code of Ethics, standards set forth by NASW- National Association of Social Workers, we are required to take Social and Political Action for our clients.

Article 6.04 (a) reads:

“(a) Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice.”

Everyone who heard him speak at Washburn University marched over to Topeka Capital building and spoke to their representatives, myself included. Only this time it wasn’t for our clients; it was for social workers everywhere. The bill was signed into Kansas law on April 8, 2010.

Matt and Teri Zenner
Photo from http://www2.ljworld.com

However, Matt’s activism didn’t end there. Matt was also lobbying for a national act called the Teri Zenner Social Worker Safety Act H.R. 1490 (111th Congress), which would have established a grant program to assist in the provision of safety measures to protect social workers and other professionals who work with at-risk populations. He wanted social workers to have the same publicly viewed protections as police officers do. Unfortunately, as of right now H.R. 1490 is dead and has been submitted to the House Education and Workforce Community for review.

Social work is a helping profession. Teri died because she was trying to make sure that her attacker had been taking care of himself. We see clients at their most vulnerable, often at the worst times of their lives – clients who are mentally unstable, accused of abusing their children, spouse or intimate partners, or clients just released from prison. Our cases are emotionally charged by nature, and can become dangerous in the blink of the eye.

When it comes to the violence on the job, social workers are the second highest at-risk profession. The first are police officers. The glaring difference between these two occupations is that police officers carry weapons and receive intensive training to protect themselves.

Something needs to change.

Now on to Janet’s safety tips…

Above all, STAY CALM!

BREATHE and CENTER yourself to stay in CONTROL and to regain balance in emotionally charged situations.

Client known factors contributing to assault behavior:

  • Violence in client’s history or a criminal record
  • A diagnosis of dementia or low mental functioning
  • Intoxication from alcohol, drugs or medications
  • Low impulse control and high frustration level
  • Mania, paranoia and antisocial personality disorder
  • Law enforcement or military training/combat experience
  • Knowledge of weapons
  • Authoritative or confrontational counseling approaches
  • Client’s feeling powerless
  • The treatment environment itself

   In Your Client’s Home and Neighborhood

old houses photo: Old houses P3100008.jpg

Picture from Photobucket.com

  • Make sure you understand that you are on their turf. This is a natural safety dilemma.
  • When you schedule a visit, let them know when to expect you. Let them advise you about any safety concerns in their area.
  • Drive by first to check out the dwelling, the atmosphere and the surrounding area. Notice what’s happening on the streets and who is present.
  • Ask your client to watch for you as you leave your car upon arrival. Have them watch you go to your car as you leave.
  • Observe the home—both inside and outside. Notice its hiding places, vulnerable points, blocked exits, and escape routes.
  • If anything looks out of the ordinary in or around the dwelling, or you feel uneasy about the situation you are in, leave and call for back up.
  • Listen while outside the door for any disturbances. After knocking, stand off to the side.
  • As you enter the home, notice the general interior layout, exits, and phones.
  • Position yourself for an easy exit, if necessary.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothing that doesn’t restrict your movement. Do NOT wear anything that can be used as a weapon against you. This includes jewelry, scarfs, belts, etc.…
  • Carry a cell phone with you. Keep it on and preprogrammed to Call 911 for assistance in any emergency.
  • Keep purses locked in the trunk. Keep keys, a little money, and a cell phone in pockets or a waist pack (on your person).
  • Look around and think of what objects could be used as weapons, if needed.
  • Most importantly, know your client. Be aware of what they may be capable of based on size, gender, mental health status, medications, legal status, and history.
  • Whenever possible, travel with a co-worker or law enforcement if uncertain about safety.
  • Stay out of the kitchen! The kitchen is the most dangerous place in the home.

In the Car

Cars 005

  • Make certain your car has gas, water, and a spare with jack, a working horn, spare change, a flashlight, jumper cables, and a first aid kit.
  • Travel with a cell phone. Keep it on and preprogrammed to Call 911 for assistance in any emergency or threatening situation.
  • Have understandable directions and maps available.
  • If you have a flat tire at night, try to keep going along the shoulder to a gas station.
  • Use extra caution in parking garages. Scan the garage as you enter it.
  • Have your car keys in your hand as you approach your car assuredly.
  • Scan the area as you approach the car and check the floor/back seat and under the car.
  • If stranded and you accept assistance, pretend that someone else will soon be arriving. Stay on guard so that you do not become a victim of a “Good Samaritan” ploy, in which your helper becomes an attacker.
  • Ask to see the identification of anyone stopping to assist you (police too!).
  • If someone approaches your car to force entry, lay on the horn and drive off.
  • If someone is in your car forcing you to drive, turn on the flashers, press the horn, stop suddenly, get out and run or cause an accident with other cars (with your seat belt on).
  • If you have your windows open be aware of what’s going on around you.
  • Keep car doors locked while in or away from your vehicle.
  • If you are being forced into your car, throw away the keys (distracting the attacker) and run.
  • During home visits park your car in position for a quick and easy departure.
  • Be careful about what you leave on your seats or dashboard — valuables and items with your name, address, phone number, or e-mail address on them (e.g., mail, cell phone).

Thank you, Janet Nelson, for your input on this post – and for giving social workers everywhere the tools they need to protect themselves. To find out more on Janet’s self-defense courses, visit her website at: http://www.everydayselfdefense.com .

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz

Resources:

“Everyday Self Defense­ SM For Social Workers” by Janet Nelson, MSW, website: www.everydayselfdefense.com.

Govtrack.us:  http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/111/hr1490/text

NASW- National Association of Social Workers

http://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/code.asp

WIB.COM http://www.wibw.com/home/headlines/78536207.html, Sentence Holds For Man Convicted Of Murdering Social Worker, Posted: Fri 1:07 PM, Dec 04, 2009.

Edited by Sally Berneathy and Nicolase Mallat (Crime Consultant)

When Children Kill By: Diane Kratz

There have been far too many headlines in the news lately on teen murderers and school shootings.

We are shocked when we hear a child has committed the abominable act of murder. It defies our minds when we learn sweet little Janie down the street whacked her parents to death as they slept.

We grieve for families who have lost a parent, child, friend, spouse, sibling, or neighbor.

And in the middle of the shocking awfulness of these seemingly senseless tragedies we ask, “How can this happen?” “What went wrong?” and “What in the world is the matter with a child or teenager who would ruthlessly murder?”

From all the research I’ve done on the subject of why kids kill, their motives are not that much different from those of adult killers.

They carry out murder for money, love, revenge, and for the thrill of committing it.

There is no profile for teen murderers. One of the things we do know about teen murders is that most are NOT well planned. Some have been caught because they left evidence like a driver’s license or prescription with their name on it.

They are divided into six types:

Jasmine Richardson

1. The Family Killer—A juvenile who kills a family member. These types usually kill for money or revenge. They feel pressured by demands, abuse, and hatred.

Jasmine Richardson was twelve when she brutally murdered her parents and younger brother in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Motive, to be with her boyfriend whom her parents didn’t approve of.

2. The School Killer—A juvenile who kills a student, teacher or administrator at school. I’ll write more on this type later because there is more information coming out from different studies. The motives of these killers differ from the usual.

School shooters are mostly male. They have typically planned the shootings for months and usually told someone else of their plans. According to the FBI publication on school shooters this is called “leakage.”

Leakage occurs when a student intentionally or unintentionally reveals clues to feelings, thoughts, fantasies, attitudes, or intentions that may signal an impending violent act. These clues can take the form of subtle threats, boasts, innuendos, predictions, or ultimatums. They may be spoken or conveyed in stories, diary entries, essays, poems, letters, songs, drawings, doodles, tattoos, or videos.

Another form of leakage involves efforts to get unwitting friends or classmates to help with preparations for a violent act. Sometimes this is accomplished through deception. For example, the student asks a friend to get ammunition for him because he is going hunting.

Leakage can be a cry for help, a sign of inner conflict, or it can be boasts that may look empty but actually express a serious threat. Leakage is considered one of the most important clues that may precede an adolescent’s violent act.

Enoch Brown Monument - East Side Inscription
Ken Shockey, Antrim-Allison Museum

Though school shootings have been highly publicized in recent years, they are not new. They have been around since 1764. The earliest known United States shooting to happen on school property was the Pontiac’s Rebellion school massacre on July 26, 1764. Four Lenape American Indians entered the schoolhouse near present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania, shot and killed schoolmaster Enoch Brown, and killed nine or ten children (reports vary). Only three children survived.

3. The Gang/Cult Killer—A juvenile killer motived by a street gang, hate group or cult. These crimes often begin with Satanists because it gives them the feeling of power over others.

Ricky Kasso

At age 17, while wearing an AC/DC T-shirt, he murdered fellow teen Gary Lauwers in the Aztakea Woods of Northport, Long Island. Along with two other friends—who, like Kasso and Lauwers, were high on mescaline—Kasso was in the woods to dabble in occult practices, as part of their self-dubbed “Knights of the Black Circle” cult.

Tensions had long before mounted between Kasso and Lauwers, after the latter allegedly stole 10 bags of PCP from Kasso. On June 16, 1984, in the Aztakea Woods, unsuccessful attempts to build a fire prompted Lauwers to make up for the damp driftwood by using his socks and denim jacket’s sleeves. Kasso said that they should use Lauwers’ hair instead, which led to Kasso biting him on the neck. Then, over a reported three-to-four-hour period, Kasso and his two other friends stabbed Lauwers upwards of 36 times, burned his body, gouged his eyeballs out, and stuffed rocks down his throat.

As he was killing Lauwers, Kasso ordered him to “say you love Satan,” but Lauwers said, “I love my mother.” Kasso covered the thought-to-be-dead body with branches and leaves, but, as reports tell, Lauwers rose back up, said “I love my mother” again, and prompted the assailants to continue their assault until he was confirmed dead.

On July 5, Kasso was arrested. Two days later, he hung himself in his jail cell.

Source: http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2012/11/25-craziest-real-life-american-horror-stories/ricky-kasso

Update: I originally had “The West Memphis Three” as my feature here, but I was told by a reader they were exonerated and released from prison in August 2011. After spending almost 20 years in prison, they gave a Alford plea and were released. My apologizes to Damien, Jason, Jesse and my readers for not following up on this case before posting it. Thank you Nico for bringing this to my attention!

4. The Crime Killer—A juvenile who kills while committing another crime, like burglary.


Bryton Gibbs

Bryton Gibbs was 16 when he stabbed Christopher Taylor to death with an 8-inch kitchen knife.  Gibbs called Pizza Hut and placed an order to be delivered to a vacant apartment. When Taylor, 33, arrived, Gibbs and three other male teens robbed him of $50 and killed him.

5. The Baby Killer—A juvenile who kills his or her infant or young child.

Cassidy Goodson, a teen who admitted killing her newborn baby and hiding him in a shoebox this past fall, used a Santa Claus doll to show investigators exactly how she strangled him in her bathroom shortly after giving birth.

6. The Thrill Killer—A juvenile who kills to feel what it feels like. These types are usually psychopathic. They have no empathy for their victims. The only time you will see them cry is when they are caught, and the tears are for themselves.

Child Killer Speaks Out

Eric Smith at age 13

Eric Smith murdered a four-year-old boy named Derrick Robie in 1980. He dropped large rocks on the boy’s head, strangled him, and then sodomized him with a small stick. Smith has never explained why he murdered the four-year-old. He has been denied parole five times. “I don’t doubt for a second, never have doubted, that had he not been caught, Eric Smith would have killed again,” the prosecutor in the case has said.

Eric Smith denied parole

Eric Smith at age 29

According to Phil Chalmers, who has interviewed 200 adolescent killers and is a teen violence and youth culture expert, there are 10 reasons why teens kill. They are listed from most likely to least.

1. Unstable Home and Bullying at School

2. Obsession with Violent Entertainment and Porn

3. Suicidal Ideation and Depression

4. Alcohol and Drug Use

5. Cults, Gangs, and Hate Groups

6. Obsession with Guns, Bombs, and Knives

7. Peer Pressure

8. Fascination with the Criminal Lifestyle, and Poverty

9. Lack of Spiritual Guidance and Proper Discipline

10. Mental Illness

He also suggests most teen killers have at least 3 of the list of causes, and many have 6 to 8 of the 10 causes.

In conclusion, children can be capable of committing hideous acts on their fellow human beings. There have been many books and movies about bad kids. The one that comes to mind is the 1956 movie, The Bad Seed, which depicts a housewife who suspects that her seemingly perfect 8-year-old daughter is a heartless killer. It was actually a book first written by William March in 1954 and was awarded The National Book Award for Fiction in 1955.

The Bad Seed

Sound familiar?

The child, Rhoda, is portrayed as a sociopath although the term was not widely used at the time. She has no conscience and will kill if necessary to get whatever she wants. By the time Christine, her mother, puts the truth together, Rhoda has already killed two people (a neighbor in Baltimore and her classmate Claude Daigle). In time, she also kills Leroy, the apartment building’s gardener and the only adult who sees through her. An adept manipulator, she can easily charm adults while eliciting fear and revulsion from other children who can sense something wrong with her.

Happy Writing,

Diane Kratz

Edit by Sally Berneathy

Web Resources

International Business Times: http://www.ibtimes.com/alyssa-bustamante-gets-life-prison-8-more-teen-thrill-killers-photos-554064

ABC NEWS: http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/11/new-evidence-against-fl-teen-who-admitted-killing-baby-hiding-him-in-shoebox/

Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG)
National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) FBI Academy
Quantico, Virginia 22135 http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/school-shooter

When Children Kill

Women who fall in love with a psychopath…should they have known?

English: FBI Mugshot of serial killer Cary Sta...

English: FBI Mugshot of serial killer Cary Stayner taken by the FBI following his arrest by Agent Jeff Rinek at a nudist resort in Wilton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)  Good looking on the outside but lurking inside is a monster. 

I write about serial killers but the truth is that many psychopaths living in our world have never murdered any one physically. They get off on murdering people emotionally, a sucker of souls. They are users of people. And they are excellent profilers. They look for easy prey they can pounce on and take advantage of.

In fact, my daughter just severed a three-year relationship with a psychopath.

He abused her physically and emotionally. Her physical bruises have healed, but emotionally, she is scarred. I doubt she will ever see another man without worrying about who he really is inside. This man met all the criteria on Dr. Hare’s list. Grandiose (exaggeration of self), he once told me after they broke up that he was “the best thing that ever happened to your daughter.” Mind you, this man weighed close to 300 pounds and was a high school dropout whom my daughter supported (parasitic lifestyle). He is a pathological liar who accused her of cheating, when in fact he fathered another child with another woman, a child five days younger than their son.

These people have a way of twisting the truth to suit their needs or to hide their bad behaviors.

Serial killers are what most people think of when they hear the word psychopath. The only difference between the two is that serial killers need more simulation than the other and want the ultimate high by killing another human being. They can’t stop killing because it makes them feel as good as drugs do to an addict.  They must feed the constant need for stimulation.

I’ve often heard the comment about women who married or lived with a serial killer, “How could she not have known?” Well, you have to recall, serial killers are psychopaths and are skilled at concealing their “dark side.”

English: Ted Bundy in custody, Florida, 1978 o...

English: Ted Bundy in custody, Florida, 1978 or 1979. Florida Memory Project, Florida Photographic Collection, #DND0671 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remember Dr. Hare’s checklist? The first symptom is glib and superficial charm. Even Ann Rule, who writes true crime stories, couldn’t see the psychopathic behavior in her friend, Ted Bundy. These people enter every relationship hidden in a mask of normalcy. They are experts at concealing their true nature. All psychopaths have this in common.

Judith Mawson/Ridgway was married for 16 years to Gary Ridgeway (The Green River Serial Killer) who was responsible for murdering 48 women. Judith said in an interview on Investigative Discovery channel, “Gary was the perfect husband.”  When Judith met Gary Ridgway at a bar in Seattle in 1985, she recalled he seemed like the perfect suitor. He was handsome, polite, had a good job, and treated her like a lady.

She thought she’d found a man she adored and wanted to spend the rest of her life with. Two years later they moved in together. A year after that they were married.

Judith said of him, “He made me smile every day. I had the perfect husband, perfect life. I absolutely adored him.” But Ridgway was also a prolific serial killer.  He was convicted for killing 48 women in the Seattle area over a period of 20 years, but officials believe he is responsible for over 70 murders.

She trusted him when he said he was late because of a union meeting. She had no reason to disbelieve him when he told her his ex-girlfriend came and took her bed back or that he replaced the carpet because the kids had ruined it.

Linda Yates slept for two years in her bedroom of her new home and had no idea that her husband had a body buried outside the window. Linda had a 26-year union with her husband, Robert Yates (aka The Spokane Serial Killer), who killed 13 women. This man appeared to be as normal as anyone. He obtained a job as a guard at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, enlisted in the Army where he served his country for 19 years as a helicopter pilot, served in Germany, participated in Desert Storm, served in relief efforts for Hurricane Andrew, and flew on a UN peacekeeping mission to Somalia. Mr. Normal to everyone who knew him. Everyone except the 13 prostitutes he murdered.

When he came home early one morning with blood in their van and told Linda he’d hit a dog and loaded the poor thing in his van to take to the vet, why wouldn’t she believe him?

Psychopaths look like everyone else. Only they are not like everyone else. Their brains are not wired the same as yours and mine. Serial killers are normal looking and act like Joe Blow, but underneath that mask lies a monster, and that’s why I think people (including myself) are fascinated with them.

You don’t have to be a serial killer to be a psychopath. There are many, many functional (I’m using the term “functional” loosely) psychopaths living among us. They leave behind internal scars that wreak havoc on the people they meet. They can devastate person financially, emotionally, sexually, and physically. Many people in therapy are there because they crossed paths with a functioning psychopath.

We are all vulnerable to becoming one of their victims. There are a few resources out there to help victims.

1. A NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION PROVIDING INFORMATION AND SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS OF PSYCHOPATHY Aftermath: Surviving Psychopathy Foundation or

http://www.aftermath-surviving-psychopathy.org/

2. Victims of Psychopaths Sociopaths—An on-line support group

http://www.dailystrength.org/groups/victims-of-psychopaths-sociopaths

3. Your local mental health office

The intent of this blog was to tell my readers you don’t have to be a serial killer to be a psychopath. They live among us in all societies and nationalities. They can be your boss, friend, neighbor, minister, teacher, or your love interest. They don’t look like monsters, they look like you and I.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Diane Kratz

Writers Note

Writers find characters in all sorts of places. The most vivid comes from a personal experience. Having a character that seems normal throughout the book and suddenly takes off his mask and is revealed as a villain makes for a thrilling ride.  I hope this blog article inspires you to be both watchful and creative.

Resources used in this blog article were:

Hare’s Psychopathy Check List

http://www.minddisorders.com/Flu-Inv/Hare-Psychopathy-Checklist.html#b#ixzz2CWQwh6KT

Mail Online News by Rachel Quigley

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2056798/Judith-Mawson-finding-husband-Green-River-Serial-Killer-Gary-Ridgway.html

TRUTV Crime Library Criminal Minds and Methods by Gary C. King

http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/serial_killers/predators/yates/guy_8.html

Books

The Stranger Beside Me – Ted Bundy: The Classic Story of Seduction & Murder by Ann Rule http://www.mysterycrimescene.com

Blog edited by Sally Berneathy

 

 

Did you know there are eleven personality disorders?

Did you know there are 11 personality disorders?

We often hear about the antisocial personality but there are actually eleven personality disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). They are divided into clusters A, B and C.

Published by the American Psychiatric Associat...

Published by the American Psychiatric Association, the DSM-IV-TR. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Personality Disorders

Cluster A

Individuals with these disorders often appear odd and eccentric. These can usually (but not always) be seen in people who have some type of chronic psychotic disorder (e.g. Schizophrenia).

1. Paranoid Personality Disorder will display a pattern of distrust and suspiciousness that others motive are interpreted as malevolent (malicious).

2. Schizoid Personality Disorder will display a pattern of detachment from social relationships, and a restricted range of emotional expression.

3.  Schizotypal Personality Disorder will display a pattern of acute discomfort in close relationships, cognitive or perceptual distortions, and eccentricities of behavior.

Cluster B

Individuals with these disorders often appear dramatic, emotional, or erratic.

4. Antisocial Personality Disorder will display a pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others.

5. Borderline Personality Disorder will display a pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity.

6. Histrionic Personality Disorders will display a pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking.

7. Narcissistic Personality Disorder will display a pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy.

Cluster C

Individuals often appear anxious, fearful, needy, or preoccupied.

8. Avoidant Personality Disorder will display a pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation.

9. Dependent Personality Disorder will display a pattern of submissive and clinging behavior related to an excessive need to be taken care of.

10. Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder will display a pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and control.

11. Personality Disorder Not Otherwise Specified The individual meets the general criteria for a personality disorder and traits of several personality disorders are present, but the criteria for any specific personality disorder are not met. Or, the individual personality patterns meet the criteria for a personality disorder, but the individual is not included in the classification (e.g. passive-aggressive personality disorder).

Everyone connects crimes to the anti-social personality. Let’s take a minute and examine the criteria for this type of personality.

The Anti-Social Personality is the USA version of what other professionals describe as the sociopath and psychopath. This type of personality fits about 54% of American’s. In fact the terms sociopath and psychopaths are not even listed in the USA version as a mental health diagnosis. The anti-social personality does NOT totally fit into Dr. Hare/Checkley’s versions of the psychopath.


Pic of the DSM-IV English: My wife reading in ...

Pic of the DSM-IV English:  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Specifics for Anti-Social Personality Disorder according to the DSM-IV-TR.

 A) There is a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others occurring since age 15 years, as indicated by three or more of the following:

•   Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.

•   Deception, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure.

•   Impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead.

•   Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults.

•   Reckless disregard for safety of self or others.

•   Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations.

•   Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another.

B) The individual is at least 18 years old. Children cannot be diagnosed as ASPD. Childhood diagnosis similar to ASPD are; Conduct Disorder, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Reactive Attachment Disorders.

C) There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years.

D) The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode.

Writers Note:

In America, we have always struggled with giving people labels.  The American Psychiatric Association who wrote the DSM(4) resisted using the terms sociopath and psychopath because they reflect a negative image.

I say if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it a duck.

A new version of the DSM(5) is expected out in May 2013. With the United States holding the highest of any other country in world for serial murders, my hope is they will include a more realistic version of what Checkley and Hare have described.

Any one of these personality disorders types could be used for a character in your book. All you have to do is look at the symptoms to get the picture of characters in your mind . The human experience is fascinating and those with an abnormal psychology can make the best villains.

You could have a disorganized killer from Cluster A, who leaves evidence everywhere. The calculating killer or cult leader from Cluster B, whose charisma radiates others to do his deeds. Or a psycho-stalker girlfriend from hell using Cluster C. Even better…have all three! LOL!

Hope I’ve ignited a image in your mind for your next character in your book!

Happy writing,

Diane Kratz

Resources:

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Orders, fourth addition DSM-IV-TR published by: American Psychiatric Association (2000), pgs-93-102, 127-130, 685-729.

Blog Edited by DeAnn Sicard


“Chances are he will be wearing a double-breasted suit. Buttoned.” James A. Brussel

James A. Brussel

James Brussel holding his book, “Casebook of a Crime Psychiatrist” Picture courtesy of manuelcarballal.blogspot.com

Psychiatry is a branch of medicine that deals with the diagnosis and the treatment of mental disorders. A forensic psychiatrist specializes in the legal aspects of mental illness. Dr. Brussel’s method included the diagnosis of unknown offender’s mental disorders from their crime scenes.  He would infer the characteristics of an unknown offender by comparing their criminal behavior to his own experience with the behavior of patients who shared similar disorders. Up until this time it had been historically uncommon for psychiatrist to apply their expertise to investigative matters.

Dr. James A. Brussel of Greenwich Village, New York is considered by many to have advanced the investigative thinking behind the criminal profiling process.

Between 1940 and 1956, a serial bomber terrorized New York City by planting bombs in public places including movie theaters, phone booths, Radio City Music Hall, Grand Central Terminal, and Pennsylvania Station. In 1956, the frustrated police requested a profile from Dr. Brussel, who was New York State’s assistant commissioner of mental hygiene.

Letters sent to the media from the Mad Bomber.

Letter sent to the media from the Mad Bomber.
Picture courtesy of trutv.com

Dr. Brussel studied photographs of the crime scenes and analyzed the so-called “mad bomber’s” mail to the press. Soon he came up with a detailed description of the offender.

In his profile, Dr. Brussel suggested that the unknown offender would be a heavy middle-aged man who was unmarried, but perhaps living with a sibling. Moreover, the offender would be a skilled mechanic from Connecticut, who was a Roman Catholic immigrant and, while having an obsessional love for his mother, would harbour a hatred for his father. Brussel noted that the offender had a personal vendetta against Consolidated Edison, the city’s power company; the first bomb targeted its 67th Street headquarters. Dr. Brussel also mentioned to the police that, upon the offender’s discovery, the “chances are he will be wearing a double-breasted suit. Buttoned.”

James Brussel's first case profile was of the 'Mad Bomber of new York'

James Brussel’s first case profile was of the ‘Mad Bomber of new York’ Picture courtesy of homepage.ntlworld.com

From his profile, it was obvious to the police that the mysterious bomber would be a disgruntled current or unhappy former employee of Con Ed. The profile helped police to track down George Metesky in Waterbury, Connecticut; he had worked for Con Ed in the 1930s. He was arrested in January 1957 and confessed immediately. The police found Brussel’s profile most accurate when they met the heavy, single, Catholic, and foreign-born Metesky. When the police told him to get dressed ( He was in his pajamas) he went to his bedroom and returned wearing a double-breasted suit, fully buttoned, just as Dr. Brussel had predicted.

George Metesky mug shot. Photo Courtesy of, blog.mailasail.com

Dr. Brussel assisted New York City police from 1957 to 1972 and profiled many crimes, including murder. Dr. Brussel also worked with other investigative agencies. Brussel’s profile led the Boston Police to the apprehension of Albert DeSalvo, the notorious serial sex murderer known as the Boston Strangler. The media dubbed Dr. Brussel as “Sherlock Holmes of the Couch”.

Resources: Criminal Profiling, An Introduction to Behavioral Evidence Analysis by: Brent Turvey (2005) pg. 13 – 14,  and http://en.wikipedia.org.