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Forensic Psychology Essay, Research Paper

Although forensic psychology is not a well know field of study, it plays a valuable role in today’s society. It is an ever growing field and psychologists are in great demand. This position requires a person to sometimes think like a criminal. Sometimes it requires you to get into the mind of a serial killer or other type of psychotic individual.

Forensic psychologists, also known as profilers, play important roles in a variety of institutions and agencies. In penal stitutions they are used for treatment on inmates that suffer from psychological

disorders in which they may cause harm to themselves, other inmates or even prison officials. Forensic psychologists are also used for treating severe depression cases on inmates.

Forensic psychologists often work in state mental institutions. There they play role as an evaluator as they monitor the mental state of a person on trial that claims to have a mental disorder. They are then often times called upon to act as an expert witness for the state. Forensic psychologists therefore play a very important role in the “insanity” plea. If an individual in found incompetent to stand trial by reason of insanity, they are sent back to the mental institution for further evaluation by psychologists. They stay at the institution until they are seen as “fit” for trial.

In private practice, the forensic psychologist can be hired to testify in court by either the prosecuting attorney or the defense attorney. In either case they are required to testify on the defendant’s competence to plead insanity or to stand trial. They are also required to testify on the defendant’s mental state upon evaluation. The field of private practice however raises question on ethics. Since they are being paid by either the prosecution or defense, are they going to state to the court what the person who paid them to testify wants to hear or are they going to be truthful. There really is no guarantee on the forensic psychologists honesty of their testimony, therefore I would not suggest this area of practice.

One of the most important areas, in my opinion, is working with law enforcement agencies. Forensic psychologists are often called upon to conduct a psychological profile on an individual to help solve crimes. They give law enforcement agencies something to go on. For instance they certain details on patterns in serial crimes. They also might give information on the approximate age, sex, religious status, working status or any other behavioral patterns that might aid in catching a criminal. Forensic psychologists are also used to debrief witnesses or victims that as a result of another psychological condition might not be able to submit to questioning. They also help a witness or victim that might be suffering from some type of post-traumatic stress.

Although the forensic psychologist is an unsung hero in the field of law enforcement, they play one of the biggest roles. A case done by Dr. James Brussel in the 1950’s was one that inspired the FBI to start talking to convicts and evaluating them to “see how they work”. Dr. Brussel was called upon when investigators in New York were trying to track down a serial bomber but kept coming up empty. Dr. Brussel gathered all of the evidence and created a profile of an individual that could possibly be the bomber. His profile helped police to capture the suspected bomber.

Not much is know yet about the field but it is moving forward and making greater advances everyday.


www-personal.umich.edu/ degues/psycH2.html


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