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Psychological Profiling

Psychological Profiling came into limelight in the 1960s. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) can take the credit of developing psychological profiling. In very complex, violent crime situations, when nailing the victim became more than impossible, the FBI took help from professional psychologist minds. The licensed psychologists determined the criminal’s behaviour pattern or the cause of the criminal’s violent outburst. The profile rendered by the psychologists helped the FBI officials to understand the criminal and his ways of performing a crime.

In complex cases of serial killers, serial bombers, serial kidnappers or serial rapists, the forensics reports are not enough to nail the crime. A psychologist is then employed and is allowed to visit the crime scene. Some clues or evidences, left by the criminal are used to perpetrate the behaviour and work pattern of the criminal. Some psychologists are specially trained for this job. Their specialization helps the investigators to gear up for the next crime attempted by the same criminal. Information about the profile of the criminal helps the investigators to anticipate the next move and be prepared to negate his violent attempts. The psychological profiler has the liberty of accessing all the criminal records and data. By studying the past crimes and ways of crime execution helps them to build an exact profile of the criminal.

The psychological profiler has to have some knowledge of victimology. The profiler needs to know the cause which makes a person violent and harm others. A case history revealed that a jobless man was constantly abused by his wife. The wife battered the man with verbal abuse and made his life hell by torturing him mentally and physically. No psychological help was provided to him. After continuous abuse, at a certain point, the man could tolerate no more and in a fit of anger lashed back at his wife with a knife (which was handy to him as he was in the kitchen). He had no intention of killing his wife but the strike of the knife hit the woman in the wrong place and she instantly died. The man fled and spent many days hiding from the police.

During his exile days he came through a woman who was having a bad day with her husband. The man was in such a mental state that he killed the woman, who reminded him of his wife and the tortures dealt by her. Thus, a serial killer was born. When psychological profiling was instigated, the profile tracked down to the root cause of the man’s problem. The clues and evidences lead the investigators to the criminal and a series of killing was thus ended.

Forensic psychology prepares the profile of a victim by studying his method of operation. A criminal can be very organized, planning every small detail and execute in a crisp, confident manner. Such law offenders are very intelligent and probably have solid motives to perform violently. Such criminals are either from a stable background or neurotic one. Their modus operandi speaks volumes about the nature of the operator and profiling can be quite accurate to nail them.

The disorganized criminals are very messy and act at an impulse without any planning. Such criminals leave behind a string of clues or evidences. There is a definite protocol of behaviour patterns of such a crime scene. A psychological profiler can successfully point a familiar picture which makes it easy for the investigator to track down the criminal. The third category of offender is of mixed options. These kinds of criminals either show mixed characteristics to mislead the psychological profiler or really are mixed up individuals. They may plan their crime intelligently but may create a mess while executing it. These behaviour patterns reflect specific personality traits which may be of help to the profiler.

In many cases the criminal leaves behind a sign or a signature or takes a specific invaluable item. These items may be significant and revealing to the psychological profiler. It is often seen in movies that a killer may tie the hands of the victim in a specific knot or leave an object at the crime scene. Such behaviour traits are again of great importance to the profiler. Criminals who leave behind clues of behavioural quirk make the work of the profiler easy.

Greg O. McCrary believes that the behaviour pattern reflects the basic personality of a person. The criminal psychological profilers always instigate their job by gathering information about the behaviour patterns of the criminals that reflect in the clues gathered at the crime scene.

However there are controversies attached to offender profiling. Investigators may arrest a wrong person which fitted the profile and close the investigation. This controversy was proved positive in the case of the Beltway sniper attacks. When the profiler had created a profile of the criminal as a white, middle aged male, this profile mislead the investigators. When the criminals were arrested they were a couple of black males. Many profilers used by the FBI may be professional victimologists but are not licensed psychologists. These profilers, at times, are unable to create a positive profile. Many criminals deliberately leave clues to mislead the profilers. The investigators act on the basis of the created false profile, while the actual criminal is free and planning out more crimes.

In 1978, psychological profiling proved its worth when Richard Trenton Chase (so called Vampire of Sacramento) was captured. A woman was brutally murdered and her blood was consumed by the criminal. The brutality of the crime instigated the FBI to engage psychological profiler to help solve the case. The disorder at the crime scene, behavioural pattern and some other clues was conjured up by the profiler to create a profile of a white, thin, unhealthy, solitary and unemployed individual. The profiler also feared a second criminal attempt by the same killer. As predicted the killer murdered three people at a time but left more evidences for the profiler to refine his hazy image. The profile helped the investigator to nail the criminal and save many more lives as the criminal had planned to kill many more to drink their blood for his own health.


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