4 Influential Figures in the History of Forensic Psychology

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Photo courtesy of jjay.cuny.edu.

Forensic psychology is a fascinating specialty that focuses on researching human behavior, as it relates to the law.  To that end, forensic psychologists utilize their research, experience and skills to consult within the legal system – in both civil and criminal law matters.

This branch of psychology has evolved significantly over the past 150 years. Here are four individuals who were instrumental in such evolution, and who have helped shape forensic psychology into its modern-day form.

Wilhelm Wundt (1832 – 1920)

Wilhelm Wundt was a German physiologist and psychologist, who is widely recognized as the founder of experimental psychology. In short, experimental psychology is the process by which scientific methods are used to collect relevant data that allows psychologists to perform research on both human and animal test subjects.

Prior to Wundt, psychology was generally considered a branch of philosophy. This meant, that most theories and determinations were made by rational analysis as opposed to any sort of scientific method. Wundt’s advancements in this field had a profound impact on the future of psychology, and its eventual acceptance into the world of science.

Wundt’s further significant contributions include establishing the world’s first psychological laboratory, and psychology journal. His impact on forensic psychology is monumental. Wundt’s methodology provided the framework for the modern-day study of trial testimony, criminal behavior and motives, and jury selection techniques.

Hugo Munsterberg (1863-1916)

Hugo Munsterberg was a German-American psychologist, who had a medical degree and a doctorate, which he earned under the tutelage of Wilhelm Wundt at the University of Leipzig. Considered to be a pioneer in the field of applied psychology, Munsterberg was recruited by Harvard University to run the learning institution’s experimental psychology lab.

Utilizing the experimental techniques developed by his mentor, Munsterberg pushed forward the field of applied psychology – which uses psychological theories and principles to resolve practical, real world issues.

Munsterberg was also an avid supporter of psychological parallelism, which holds that a body’s physical processes and brain processes always act in tandem. His greatest work focused on applying his research to questions that addressed industry, education and law. With respect to legal issues, Munsterberg delved into psychological factors affecting trial outcomes and the viewpoints of jury members.

Munsterberg’s most impactful book in the field of forensic psychology is “On the Witness Stand,” which contains a collection of essays on psychology and crime.

Harry Hollingworth (1880 – 1956)

Also a pioneer in applied psychology, Harry Hollingworth was used as an expert witness in a famous legal action brought by the U.S. government against Coca-Cola.

In 1909, federal agents set up a stakeout in Tennessee, right near the state’s border with Georgia. The agents wound up intercepting a delivery from Coca-Cola’s Atlanta plant on route to the bottling plant in Chattanooga. The government’s seizure (40 barrels of Coke and 20 kegs of syrup) was made under the authority of the Pure Food and Drug Act.

The theory? The government alleged that Coca-Cola was selling a product that was injurious to health because it contained a harmful ingredient – namely, caffeine.

Desperate to defend its product and in effort to disprove the government’s position, Coca-Cola hired Hollingworth to conduct experiments on caffeine and its impact on humans. Up until that point, Coca-Cola had only experimented the effects of caffeine on animals.

Hollingworth completed the experiments in 40 days. His masterful execution of the studies is used today as a teaching tool to illustrate how one should conduct forensic experiments.

The conclusions reached by Hollingworth’s experiments were quite favorable to Coca-Cola. He testified that the soft drink was merely a mild stimulant for both motor and cognitive performance. Most importantly, Hollingworth’s testimony revealed that there was no evidence of any injurious effect on people’s physical and mental capacity,  as alleged by the government.

Prior to reaching the jury, the judge dismissed the government’s case against Coca-Cola.

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Photo courtesy of discinsights.com.

William Marston (1893 – 1947)

An American psychologist and attorney, William Marston made an impact in both forensic psychology and pop culture. Although he is often wrongly credited with inventing the polygraph machine (which was invented by John Larson), Marston did have a significant impact on the machine’s genesis.

Specifically, Marston was the creator of the systolic blood pressure test. His research into this area led him to the conclusion that one’s blood pressure rises when that person is telling a lie. Utilizing Marston’s research, Larson developed the polygraph machine that would eventually become the modern day lie detector test. Marston’s research was so influential, that the U.S. government requested his assistance with lie detection during their investigation into the infamous 1930s Lindbergh kidnapping.

Marston’s other notable impact on forensic psychology was his findings on how a person’s will and sense of power has an effect on that person’s personality and behavior. His theories and principles on these topics led to the future study of personality traits and behaviors of criminals.

On a different note, Marston led a somewhat unorthodox life (especially for his time period). Marston fathered 4 children, two with his wife and two with his live-in mistress. His wife worked to support the family financially, while his mistress stayed at home to raise all four children.

Marston’s unconventional lifestyle led him to another interesting creation, namely – Wonder Woman. In a world dominated by male superheroes, Marston believed that women needed their own superhero, who exuded independence and power. Wonder Woman was created by Marston under the pen name Charles Moulton.

Are there any other historical figures that you believe should be included on this list?

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You Ask: So What’s the Real Story Behind DEAD COLD?

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I receive this question quite a bit about what my inspiration was for creating vigilante detective Emily Stone and the rest of the crime thriller series. Well let me tell you…

What you are about to read is true, at least how I remember it. Please note, it’s not for the squeamish. It was a day that I’ll never forget because it changed everything in my life. It started out as any other mild California day in April. A new neighbor moved into the house next door and it appeared that a man and a woman with a small baby would be added to the neighborhood.

One aspect you must realize, it was a quiet and conservative area—not a particularly close-knit neighborhood but nice nonetheless. Nothing ever happened that would rate a news story or a visit from the police. Ever. My first meeting with the new neighbor, and we’ll just call him “John” for this story, was unforgettable. I apologize to all the wonderful and nice “Johns” out there—but I had to pick a modest name for the sake of story.

There was no conversation with John that would resemble anything cordial or even normal. There was a response to my friendly greeting. Nothing representing a civil tone, but he demanded, “What’s wrong with your face? Why are you looking at me like that? You know how easy it would be to slit your throat?” He made the cutting of throat gesture with his hand to back up his statement.

I knew that from that day forward there would be a problem—make that a huge problem in my life. And, I was right. The next two and half years were a nightmare, I was constantly stalked, threatened to be decapitated and raped, and I never had a day that wasn’t disturbing in dealing with John. There were so many awful situations that I don’t think I could write them all in one book—maybe two or three volumes might cover it. Some episodes were quite unbelievable, while other were almost comical.

I finally moved. And you know what? He followed me and the horrifying stalking and harassment started over. Yes of course, I went to the police and I’m still friends with some of them today. Law enforcement couldn’t do anything until he touched me, hurt me, and yes, even killed me. It’s true. So I prepared myself, working with a martial arts and self-defense trainer–it helped to build my strength, agility, and confidence. I knew it was a matter of time before John broke into my house and killed me. Luckily for me, he was arrested for beating someone almost to death, but I was on his list of people to kill. How nice. I thought things like this were only in the movies. I guessed wrong.

What in world does this have to do with inspiration for my Emily Stone crime thriller series? I would say quite a bit. Well from this experience, I created a fictional vigilante detective, Emily Stone, who tracks down serial killers and child abductors. She accomplishes this covertly and under the police department’s radar. When she gathers all the information, forensics, and behavioral evidence; she then forwards everything to the detective in charge of the investigation–keeping her identity secret.

My own personal experiences with a textbook, violent, sociopath inspired me to create a thriller series and to earn degrees in criminology and criminal justice, as well as police forensics. I think my own story ended well. You will find some scenes in my books that were based on real occurrences I experienced, but you won’t know which ones. You’ll just have to guess.

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Merry Christmas! Thank you ALL for Making this a Memorable Year

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This has been an extremely diverse and interesting year. We’ve all had ups and downs, but objectively I think that we’ve learned something from our experiences. Remember, there is always something to be learned from something unpleasant, and oftentimes, something really wonderful comes from it.

Someone reminded me earlier this year, as corny as it sounds, is that the glass is always half full, not empty. Keep that in mind when you become embroiled in debates and disagreements. If you listen carefully, we all have good points to bring to the table even if we disagree.

I cherish all of you and the opportunity that has come from writing my books. I could not do what I do without you. Thank you all for being a part of my year. I have some surprises and new books scheduled for next year.

Thank you to my family, friends, and fans for making this year outstanding.

Merry Christmas!

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Creepy Christmas: 4 Infamous Holiday Murders

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Photo courtesy of ghostradio.wordpress.com.

Cold nights. Warm fires. Cozy celebrations. That’s what Christmas is all about for most of us. But, sadly, the high emotions that surround the holidays can sometimes turn horrifically dark.

While many savor the joy of the season, some people’s lives are destroyed by deranged psychopaths.

The Murder of Michelle O’Dowd

Described as a sweet and gentle woman, 67 year old Michelle O’Dowd liked to help people. So, during the holidays in 2011, Michelle invited a down and out family friend to stay at her home in a quiet Florida gated community. The friend –  40 year old Patty White – was even given access to Michelle’s debit card to purchase groceries for the both of them.

But, despite Michelle’s generosity of free housing and food, White apparently wanted more. And when she didn’t get it, things went horribly wrong for Michelle. Several weeks before Christmas, Michelle’s twin brother discovered Michelle’s beaten and strangled body hidden beneath presents under her own Christmas tree.

After killing Michelle, White fled to South Carolina. Prior to fleeing the state, White was caught on surveillance footage withdrawing $1,000 from Michelle’s bank account. The cowardly killer stole the money using the debit card generously offered by Michelle for groceries.

White was caught within days of the murder, and was extradited to Florida to face murder charges. She was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

Covina Massacre

It was Christmas Eve, 2008. The Pardo family was celebrating the holidays with a gathering of 25 people. As the celebration was drawing to a close, someone knocked on the door around 11:30 pm. When an 8-year old girl answered the door, she was greeted by a man wearing a Santa Claus suit. In one hand, Santa held a semi-automatic handgun, and in the other hand – a gift wrapped homemade flamethrower. That’s right. A flamethrower.

The man in the Santa outfit was Jeffrey Pardo. And he had just finalized his divorce a week prior. The home being invaded by Pardo was the residence of his former in-laws.

When the young girl opened the door, Pardo immediately began shooting. The young girl sustained a facial injury. Pardo then opened fire on the rest of the 25 partygoers. He had 4 guns in total, and when Pardo was done shooting, he unleashed the flamethrower – burning the house to the ground.

By the time Pardo was done with his rampage, nine people had died and three more were injured. The ensuing fire was so bad, that it took 80 firefighters to extinguish the flames. Dental records were required to identify the victims.

Shortly after the macabre event, Pardo was found dead 30 miles away with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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Photo courtesy of aftermath.com.

Pennsylvania Murder

In 2014, Dustin Klopp, his wife – Stephanie Kilhefner – and their children were getting ready to leave their home for a Christmas Eve shindig at Klopp’s parents’ house. Then, Klopp and Kilhefner got into a heated argument, which ended in Klopp cutting his wife’s throat with a knife, and striking her head repeatedly with an axe.

Their children did not witness the event. So, after killing his wife, Klopp dragged her body into the shed. He then gathered the children and went to his parents’ house to celebrate Christmas Eve.

After telling his father about the killing, Klopp was urged to turn himself in to the police. Which he did.

Klopp was charged with murder and abuse of a corpse, which stems from the allegation that he sexually assaulted his wife after the killing.

In 2015, Klopp died in prison as a result of hanging himself.

Murder Mansion of Los Feliz

Weeks before Christmas in 1959, a dark event took place in the swanky Los Angeles neighborhood of Los Feliz. At 4:30 in the morning, cardiologist Harold Perelson pummeled his sleeping wife with a ball-peen hammer. She choked to death on her own blood.

After killing his wife, Perelson headed over to the room of Judye, his teenage daughter. He struck Judye with the same hammer. But, his aim was off. And she escaped to a neighbor’s house. Judye then called the police.

Judye’s screams of terror woke Perelson’s youngest two children. When the kids approached their father, Perelson advised them to go back to sleep, as they were merely experiencing a nightmare. They were not killed.

Before the police arrived, Perelson had already killed himself with pills. During the investigation into the motive, it was revealed that Perelson was having financial problems. It was also discovered that Perelson had attempted suicide on several occasions, and that he was due to be committed to a mental hospital. The mansion where the murder took place remained untouched for nearly 50 years.

These terrifying true stories are a reminder of the dangers that exist in this world. The poor victims were primed to enjoy Christmas and all that comes with the holiday season. Yet, their fates were sealed by the hands of psychopaths who had no respect for human life.

Let’s all be grateful for the love in our lives, and continue to show respect for the people around us.

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Dysfunctional Minds: 6 Common Personality Disorders of Criminals

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It’s the unique personalities of people who help make this world an interesting place. Generally, our one-of-a-kind character traits are just harmless little quirks. But sometimes, there is a dark side to our eccentric personalities.

This is because, some of us have developed unique traits in a very dysfunctional, extreme manner. And,  these deviant behaviors generally equate to some form of a personality disorder.

Not everyone who has a personality disorder is a criminal, but many outlaws display the traits of at least one of the following six brain disorders.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

The term ‘schizoid’ means a person who has a natural tendency to direct attention to their inner life, and away from the world outside. People who suffer from schizoid personality disorder are generally aloof and detached. And they have no desire to form close personal relationships. Their indifferent to social norms, and to the people they encounter.

Of course, many of us are aloof. But these people take aloofness to the extreme. The strong feelings of detachment, and their rejection of societal conventions can lead people with schizoid personality disorder into trouble with the law.

Why? Because they have no interest in society – or its rules.

Borderline Personality Disorder

As one of the most volatile of the disorders, people who suffer from borderline personality often experience severe feelings of emptiness, and fear of abandonment. These traits lead to extreme emotional instability, which then results in unstable relationships filled with outbursts of anger and violence.

The prevailing characteristic of borderline personality disorder is a lack of “sense of self.” Sufferers often act in very impulsive manners, and react to external stimuli in very extreme ways. People with borderline personality disorder are prone to self-harm, and suicidal tendencies.

Due to the impulsive aspect of this disorder, coupled with low self-esteem and anger issues, there is no mystery as to why so many prisoners have been characterized as having borderline personality disorder.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

The narcissist. One of the most well-known, and reviled of the personality disorders. And why is that? Because – those who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder exhibit extreme entitlement, self-importance and self-admiration. Their constant impulse to exploit others for their own personal gain reveals another one of their traits – lack of empathy.

These self-absorbed, controlling types can easily fly off the handle into an intense rage if they feel slighted. This ‘narcissistic rage’ can often lead to catastrophic results, including a prison sentence for the narcissist.

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Photo courtesy of kare11.com.

Avoidant Personality Disorder

People who have developed avoidant personality disorder are debilitatingly shy – with the added bonus of possessing an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. Sadly, these people are extremely socially inept, and have a constant fear of being embarrassed or rejected.

The constant cycle of overly monitoring their own internal reactions to situations leads to more socially awkward encounters, which in turn – results in more negative internal feelings. A pervasive pessimistic outlook controls their life. This often results in self-sabotaging behavior, which may encompass criminal actions.

Antisocial Personality Disorder

The dreaded and destructive antisocial personality disorder. Found to be more common in men than in women, this disorder can lead to many societal problems. A person who suffers from this disorder has a complete disregard for social rules and obligations, and has no concern for the feelings of others. Many with antisocial personality disorder are described as callous, irritable and aggressive.

Their absence of any feeling of guilt can lead to obvious problems. People with antisocial personality disorder rarely learn any positive behaviors from past inappropriate actions, so they just continue to act in very asocial patterns throughout their lives.

One notable aspect of people with this disorder, is that they can often appear to have many positive relationships due to their superficial charm. Though they may have relationships, they are generally turbulent and short-lived. Because the other party eventually discovers that the outward charm is just that – completely external with no internal depth.

Antisocial personality disorder is the brain disorder that is the most closely aligned with criminal activity. Hence, people who suffer from this disorder are more likely than not to have a criminal record.

Dependent Personality Disorder

This disorder is marked by an obsessive need to be cared for, and looked after, by another. These people also have a complete lack of self-confidence, and they require a great deal of help in making simple everyday decisions.

People with this disorder feel helpless, and inadequate. They abdicate responsibility for their own life over to someone who they see as more powerful and competent. The disorder is characterized by having a naïve, and almost child-like outlook on life (but not in a positive manner.) Because, this naivety opens them up to abuse and exploitation.

Having a strong desire to please their ‘master,’ dependents may engage in criminal behavior in order to satisfy the needs of a highly dysfunctional relationship.

Although personality disorders are not the same as mental disorders, such as bipolar and schizophrenia, they still cause significant life impairment. It has been estimated that approximately 10% of the population suffers from some form of a personality disorder.

This number is up for debate, depending on where clinicians draw the line between “impairment” and “significant impairment.” But, regardless of the official diagnosis, it is probably prudent for people to seek professional help whenever a personality trait begins to impair your life.

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You can WIN 50 Fast-Paced THRILLERS! #Giveaway #BookSweeps

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Today, I have a fun surprise that I’d like to share with you. I’ve teamed up with 50
fantastic authors to give away a huge collection of fast-paced thrillers to 2 lucky winners, PLUS a brand new eReader to the Grand Prize winner! Oh, and did I mention you’ll receive a collection of FREE ebooks just for entering? You can win my novel
DEAD COLD, plus books from authors like Steve Hadden and Britney King.
Enter the giveaway by clicking here:
You have until December 11, 2017
Good luck, and enjoy!
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DEAD COLD

During my blog tour, this was one of the amazing book reviews that DEAD COLD received. I wanted to share it. Thank you Sevina Hawke’s Books 🙂

Sefina Hawke's Books

DeadCold

Title: DEAD COLD
Author: Jennifer Chase
Publisher: JEC Press
Pages: 326
Genre: Crime Thriller

BOOK BLURB:

What happens when one California community has a disturbing spike in homicides? It catapults cops into a deadly game of murder. Frozen human body parts hideously displayed at the crime scenes offers a horrifying interpretation that only a sadistic serial killer could design—and execute.

On the hunt for a complex serial killer, vigilante detective Emily Stone must face her most daring case yet. Stone’s proven top-notch profiling skills and forensic expertise may not be enough this time.

Young and ambitious, Detective Danny Starr, catches the homicide cases and discovers that it will test everything he knows about police work and the criminal mind. Can he handle these escalating cases or will the police department have to call in reinforcements—the FBI.

Emily Stone’s covert team pushes with extreme urgency to…

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