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The Process of Psychological Assessment: Determining Why Criminals Do Things The Way They Do?

When someone is dealing with psychological issues, they’re not only a threat to themselves and their close ones but also to society at large. They’re like ticking bombs, one mistake, and boom — they explode. In their rage and anger, they end up hurting so many people. Victims, families, and friends are left with many unanswered questions, guilt, sorrow, and so much more.

But a majority of times, they’ve no sense of what they’ve done or the extent of their crimes. They’ve absolutely no empathy towards those whom they’ve hurt. But that is who they are — they’re difficult to comprehend.

To me, they’re not human beings. John Wayne Gacy

“…Women are possessions. Beings that are subservient, more often than not, to males. Women are the merchandise.” Ted Bundy

Criminal minds are like cages — they don’t let anyone else in and don’t let themselves out.

This is why it is so important to understand or at the least attempt to understand why they do some things. And this is where forensic psychologists come into the picture. They’re individuals who are capable of deciphering the insane maze of a mind of criminals and providing a report to the court of law. So, the courts can determine whether they fit to stand the trial or not.

The subject of this article is an addition to the previous article where we discussed the type of mental illnesses that were common in some of the most infamous serial criminals in US history.

Forensic Psychology

Have you ever seen a villain in a movie and wondered why is he acting this way? Why are his actions so erratic? Or have you ever tried to justify a villain’s action by taking his past into consideration?

Answers to questions like these are answered with the help of forensic psychology.

Villains have always been fascinating, their behaviors and actions pique the interest of many. And why wouldn’t it? They do things that no person with reasonable prudence would do.

There is no comprehensive definition of the concept of forensic psychology. But the common consensus is that it is a tool that combines psychology and law and provides a psychological assessment of alleged criminals.

Forensic Psychological Assessment [FPA]

Well, in the most general sense, this is Forensic Psychological Assessment:

Psychological assessment is a process of gathering and integrating psychology-related data to make a psychological evaluation by using tools such as tests, interviews, case studies, behavioral observation, and specially designed apparatus and measurement procedures. In general,…solve a problem or arrive at a decision through the use of tools of evaluation.

But there isn’t any strict structure or pattern that is followed. It varies from nation to nation and in some places the FPA structure may be completely different.

And because of no uniformity, there have been numerous instances recorded where the misuse of psychological tests has been reported.

For example, a study conducted reported the following:

Tests such as the House-Tree-Person (HTP) and Kinetic Family Drawings are often overinterpreted and misinterpreted.  There is a lack of validity and reliability in the use of drawings as projective assessment devices.  In a review of the Draw-A-Person test in the Seventh Mental Measurements Yearbook, Harris (1) notes that there is very little evidence for the use of “signs” as valid indicators of personality characteristics…(as are often done in forensic evaluations) are unsupported by empirical evidence.  Both reviewers note that there are no normative data establishing the reliability and validity of the Kinetic Drawing System.

Conclusion

Forensic psychology has developed quite a lot in the last few decades and helped not only helped courts but also criminals in getting adequate justice. The purpose of courts has always been social welfare, they’re required to ensure that no person is treated unequally.

The field of forensic psychology is still new and has a long way ahead. Hopefully, we will be able to look at several new changes in the field and, maybe, finally get answers to why criminals act the way they do. And also find a way to stop people from committing such acts all together.

Some good reads on this topic would be:

  1. https://www.heraldopenaccess.us/openaccess/traditional-psychological-tests-usage-in-forensic-assessment
  2. https://egyankosh.ac.in/bitstream/123456789/24200/1/Unit-3.pdf
  3. https://forensicpsychologyuk.com/when-is-a-forensic-psychology-assessment-helpful-in-criminal-court-proceedings

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