I teach in a forensic psychology program for undergraduate and graduate students, and on the first day of class each semester I ask students what they want to do with their degree. Inevitably, they answer that they want to be like Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs. More recently, I have also been getting answers like “I want to be like the profilers from the TV show, Criminal Minds.” I do get a few students who hope to be like the characters on CSI,1 however, given that CSIis actually not psychology at all, I promptly send them to the forensic science department. The media, movies, and television have dramatized and popularized “forensics” in all fields. However, forensic psychologists are not psychics that can look at a crime scene and predict the criminal’s every move. Whenever there is a big media-publicized killing, I immediately get phone calls from all the news channels asking me to tell them what made that person commit that crime – but we cannot really answer that...
KeywordsCrime Scene Mental Health Court Wrongful Conviction False Confession Forensic Psychology
- 1.Munsterberg, H. On the Witness Stand: Essays on Psychology and Crime. New York: Doubleday; 1908.Google Scholar
- 4.Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).Google Scholar
- 5.Jenkins v. United States, 307 F.2d 637Google Scholar
- 6.Kalven, H. Some comments on the Law and Behavioral Science Project at the University of Pennsylvania. Journal of Legal Education. 1958 11: 94–99.Google Scholar
- 10.John Jay College of Criminal Justice Psychology Webpage [www.jjay.cuny.edu/psychology/aboutforensicpsychology.asp]. New York, New York.
- 11.Howard L, Hilgendorf L. Psychologist as Expert Witness. In: Joanna Shapland, editor. Lawyers & Psychologists – The Forward, p 7–19, 1981.Google Scholar
- 12.Huff C, Rattner A. Convicted But Innocent: False Positives & the Criminal Justice Process. Controversial Issues in Crime & Justice. 1988 130–144.Google Scholar