Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Inside the Criminal Mind by Stanton E. Samenow

In 1984, this groundbreaking book presented a chilling profile of the criminal mind that shattered long-held myths about the sources of and cures for crime. Now, with the benefit of twenty years' worth of additional knowledge and insight, Stanton Samenow offers a completely updated edition of his classic work, including fresh perceptions into crimes in the spotlight today, from stalking and domestic violence to white-collar crime and political terrorism.

Dr. Samenow's three decades of working with criminals have reaffirmed his argument that factors such as poverty, divorce, and media violence do not cause criminality. Rather, as Samenow documents here, all criminals share a particular mind-set--often evident in childhood--that is disturbingly different from that of a responsible citizen.

While new types of crime have grown more prevalent, or at least more visible to the public eye--from spousal abuse to school shootings--little has changed in terms of our approach to dealing with crime. Rehabilitation programs based on the assumption that society is more to blame for crime than the criminal, an assumption for which a causal link has yet to be established, have proved to be grossly inadequate. Crime continues to invade every aspect of our lives, criminal court dockets and prisons are oppressively overcrowded and expensive, and recidivism rates continue to escalate.

To embark on a truly corrective program, we must begin with the clear understanding that the criminal chooses crime; he chooses to reject society long before society rejects him. The criminal values people only to the extent that he can use them for his own self-serving ends; he does not justify his actions to himself. Only by "habilitating" the criminal, so that he sees himself realistically and develops responsible patterns of thought, can we change his behavior.

It is vital that we know who the criminal is and how and why he acts differently from responsible citizens. From that understanding can come reasonable, compassionate, and effective solutions

My Impressions: 
Originally published in 1984, Dr. Samenow,  a clinical psychologist, has re-released his book taking a look at the criminal mind and updated with several decades of further information. I have not read the original version of this book, so all I will be discussing is the current version. Some sections which have been added since the original version are: the possible role genetics play in criminality, the use of computers for criminal activities, new drug influences,and the effect of violent video games/films.

While I do not agree with all the ideas behind what makes a criminal or not, the book was a fascinating read. I was afraid when I got this book that it would only focus on the negative aspects of criminals, but the author did a good job of balancing the attributes that can lead to criminality and how one can overcome. I appreciated the extensive research that is provided and  how thorough the author covers each chapter.

This is a book that captures the evil in this world and then people who commit such atrocities. It is not an easy read and not for the faint of heart.  I can recommend this book those studying psychology, sociology and criminal justice or for those with a fascination in one of these areas.

Disclaimer: I received this book free from Random House as part of their Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 

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