Category Archives: Forensic Psychiatry

Why Did Two girls Want to Kill For Slender Man?

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I previously posted about the Slender Man hoax and how it went viral on the internet and led to the attempted murder of a young girl by two of her friends. The post centered around a Psychology Today article titled “Murder By Meme: Slender Man and the Wakefield Anti-Vax Hoax” by Travis Langley, PhD. An interesting article.

Thankfully, Bella, the victim of the murder attempt, survived the attack but now the Slender Man case is moving along. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier, the two young girls charged with the crime, have apparently plead not guilty so a trial will likely be forthcoming. It will be an interesting ride as there are so many aspects to this story that just make you shake your head.

More details of the bizarre, yet sad, case are revealed in an article in New York Magazine by Lisa Miller. Chilling and then some.


Are the Brains of Psychopaths Different?


There has been a long running debate on whether those labeled as psychopaths, or sociopaths, have an anatomical, or perhaps a chemical, basis for their aberrant behavior. It’s actually a debate that has raged for many years. Back to the days of phrenology, and before. Phrenology was the study of the shape of the skull and its use in predicting behavior and personality. It didn’t, it couldn’t, but it was a belief that had its loyal followers.

Dr. Kent Kiehl has spent years studying the possible connection between brain anatomy and physiology and behavior. As part of his research he performed MRI brain exams on thousands of prisoners. His findings have shown that the amygdala—an area of the brain involved with emotions and decision making—-tends to be smaller in psychopaths.


Also he uncovered evidence to suggest that assessing the activity of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), an area of the brain involved in error processing, might be useful in predicting which inmates might be prone to re-offend after prison release. Those with reduced ACC activity were twice as likely to re-offend when compared with those with high ACC activity.


This, of course, will require further study but it’s an interesting concept and could be useful. It could also lead to the creation of a real “Minority Report.” Remember that movie? A futuristic sci-fi story that dealt with the ability to predict future crime—called predictive policing. The future just might have arrived.



Could You “Remember” a Crime You Didn’t Commit?


Could You “Remember” a Crime You Didn’t Commit?

Yes, you could. It’s a strange phenomenon in humans that they will erroneously “remember” events, or create memories from whole cloth, and, at times, even confess to things they did not do.

Here is an excellent article in The New Yorker written by investigative journalist Douglas Starr.

Doug was our guest on Crime and Science Radio and his interview was fascinating and insightful.

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Crime and Science Radio: Investigating the Criminal Mind with Author Alan Jacobson

Join Jan Burke and me as we welcome author Alan Jacobson to Crime and Science Radio Saturday 5-23-15 at 10 a.m. PDT

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BIO: Alan Jacobson is the national bestselling author of ten thrillers, including the FBI profiler Karen Vail series and the OPSIG Team Black novels. His books have been translated internationally, they’ve been named to numerous best books of the year lists, and several have been optioned by Hollywood.

Jacobson has spent twenty years working with the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, the DEA, the US Marshals Service, SWAT, the NYPD, Scotland Yard, local law enforcement, and the US military. This research and the breadth of his contacts help bring depth and realism to his characters and stories.

For video interviews and a free personal safety eBook co-authored by Alan Jacobson and FBI Profiler Mark Safarik, please visit

Connect with Jacobson on Twitter (@JacobsonAlan) and on Facebook (



Alan’s Website:

FBI Website:

FBI Investigation & Operations Support:

FBI Behavioral Analysis Jobs:

A Look Inside the BAU:

NSA Website:

CIA Website:

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Do Astronauts Hallucinate?

It has long been known that isolation can lead to all sorts of psychological problems, including delusions and hallucinations. Prisoners in isolation, who have limited interaction with others, can suffer just such effects.

In medicine, we see it frequently. Someone has surgery, and then for whatever reason (complex surgical problems, complications, co-morbidities, etc.) must linger in the ICU for a few days. This is a form of isolation as they are limited in their activity and in who they see and talk with on a regular basis. Sort of like prison isolation. Not to mention they might be receiving medications for pain, sleep, or agitation, each of which can alter mental function. After as little as a couple of days, the person can become confused and disoriented and suffer delusions, such as everyone is trying to kill them, or they are being held prisoner and undergoing some alien experimentation, as well as hallucinations where they see, feel, and hear things that don’t exist. Seen it hundreds of times. It’s that common.


It even has a name: ICU Psychosis.

Astronauts are in a similar situation. They spend months in an enclosed, monotonous environment, interacting with the same people, day after day. It’s like prison, or an ICU. Do they also develop delusions and hallucinations? It seems that the do. In fact, I would be surprised if they didn’t.


So, during a trip to Mars, where isolation is very real, could such psychiatric problems jeopardize the mission? You bet. NASA takes this seriously and has begun studies into such long-term deprivations.


MedNet: ICU Psychosis:

NIH: Intensive Care Unit Psychosis:

Astronauts and Hallucinations:

NASA Trains Astronauts to Bins, Tranquilize Unstable Crewmates:

NASA Has Guidelines for Dealing With Psychosis in Space:

Mars One Astronaut Training Program:

NASA’s HI-SEAS Training Program:


Crime and Science Radio: Chasing Monsters; Running From Monsters: An Interview with Douglas Preston, Best-selling Author of The Monster Of Florence

Join Jan Burke and I on Crime and Science Radio Saturday morning 2-14-15 at 10 a.m. Pacific as we welcome Douglas Preston to the show for a lively discussion of the serial killer known as The Monster of Florence and Doug’s “adventures” while researching this story.

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BIO: Douglas Preston has published twenty-eight books, nonfiction and fiction, several of which have been #1 New York Times bestsellers. He writes for the New Yorker magazine and taught nonfiction writing at Princeton University. His most recent nonfiction book, The Monster of Florence, is being made into a movie starring George Clooney. He is the co-creator, with Lincoln Child, of the Agent Pendergast series of novels


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Douglas Preston’s Website:

Crime Library: The Monster of Florence:

Florence Webguide: The Monster of Florence:

The Atlantic: The Monster of Florence:

Biography: The Monster of Florence:

Biography: Amanda Knox:

Huffington Post: Knox and Sollecito:

The Coronado Expedition:

Coronado and the Seven Cities of Cibola:


Crime and Science Radio: What You Did Here Told Me Who You Are: An Interview with former FBI Criminal Profiler Mark Safarik

On Crime and Science Radio  Saturday, January 17th and 10 a.m. Pacific Time, DP Lyle and Jan Burke will welcome special guest criminal profiler Mark Safarik and discuss what makes the bad guys tick. Killer Instinct BIO: Mark Safarik was a senior member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, during which time he established himself as an internationally recognized expert in the analysis and interpretation of violent criminal behavior. Mr. Safarik’s law enforcement career spans over 30 years, during which time he worked in all levels of police work, from working patrol as a beat cop to investigating murders as a detective.  But the defining moments in Mr. Safarik’s professional life came during his 23 years with the FBI, where he spent over half that time as a criminal profiler. Mr. Safarik led the consultation efforts on many high profile national and international violent crime cases and lectured at numerous foreign police forces around the world, sharing his expertise in the analysis of homicide and complex crime scene behavior. Mr. Safarik has a graduate degree from Boston University and is an adjunct faculty member at Boston College. He is a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, a faculty member of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and an advisory board member at the Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law.  He has conducted internationally renowned research on the sexual assault and homicide of elder females and received the prestigious Jefferson Medal from the University of Virginia for this groundbreaking work. He was presented with the Silver Medal from The Spanish Society of Criminology and Forensic Science, the first non-European to receive this honor. He is a member of the highly respected Vidocq Society, a criminological group that donates its investigative resources to solving cold case homicides. He is well-published in international journals, including the Journal of Forensic Sciences, International Journal of Homicide Studies. He has appeared on Dateline, Court TV, Forensic Files, New Detectives, MSNBC and The Discovery Channel to discuss his cases and analyses. His television series, Killer Instinct, is currently airing on the Biography Channel. Since 2008 he has been a  consultant for the popular television series CSI: Las Vegas and Bones. He has a new Cold Case Homicide show airing in 2015 in Sweden and begins filming a new Unsolved Homicide in Denmark in 2015.



Forensic Behavioral Services International

Robert K Ressler Memorial Page

The FBI Investigator Who Coined The Term “Serial Killer”

Killer Instinct Trailer

FBI Behavioral Research and Instruction Unit

National Center for Analysis of Violent Crime

Criminal Profiling: The Reality Behind the Myth

Frequently asked questions about becoming an employee at the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime


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