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Forensic Psychology

BOOKS ABOUT FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY

DNA and the brain

Contemporary books about the relationships between crime and mental illness have been written by psychologists, psychiatrists, attorneys and journalists.  Books have been written for a variety of audiences including a general audience as well as students, scholars and practitioners in psychology, psychiatry, law and criminal justice.  Crime is an important topic in our society and interrelates with social problems like homelessness, prison overcrowding and victims’ rights.   Crime is a popular topic with the public, as evidenced by the prevalence of TV shows and movies about crime and by the sales of some of these books.

Books that are written for a general audience tend to focus on sensational crimes, celebrity criminals or single themes like the use of neuroscience in the courtroom.  Examples include Canter (2010), Davis (2017), Ewing & McCann (2006), Samenow (2014) and Vinocur (2020).

Textbooks written for graduate or undergraduate courses in psychology and criminal justice cover a wide range of topics at an introductory level.  Examples include Bartol & Bartol (2019), Green & Heilbrun (2019), Howott (2018), Huss (2013) and Shipley & Arrigo (2012).

Books written for scholars and practitioners in the field presume that the reader already has an advanced level of sophistication in the law and forensic psychology.  These books to fall into two categories:

(1)  Large tomes with a wide scope.  Examples include Melton, Petrila, Poythress & Slobogin (2017); Cutler & Zapf (2014); and Weiner & Otto (2013a, 2013b).  The latter three books are edited and contain contributions by well-known authors, most of whom have university affiliations.

(2)  Smaller books of narrower scope that are directed toward single topics like the assessment of risk, deception and specific types of crimes like filicide.  Examples include Heilbrun (2009); McKee (2006); Meloy & Hoffmann (2021); Otto & Douglas (2010); Quinsey, Harris, Rice, & Cormier (2015); and Rogers & Bender (2018).

I have selected ten of these books for closer review.
Please click here to download the full text

4th of July Celebrations

Fourth of July food

While for some, Fourth of July celebrations can be a time of excitement, excess, and fun, for others, it’s a trigger for an underlying mental health issue. With eating and drinking being the focus at the majority of these parties, those who are susceptible to addictive behaviors may find it difficult to take part without consequence. If you find that the pressure to eat or drink excessively has left you feeling out of control, consider the following five tips:

  1. Open up to Family or Friends: If you feel comfortable doing so, let your friends and family know ahead of time what you’re going through. Opening up about substance use or disordered eating problems can help prevent a lot of awkward and unnecessary interactions, and it can make it easier for you to stay true to your path of recovery.
  2. Make a Plan, and a Back-up Plan: Structure is important when you’re recovering from an addiction. The unknown can present unforeseen obstacles so make sure you have enough information about the celebration to know what you’re walking into, or who. If you know that the hotdogs and hamburgers offered will quite possibly be a trigger, stick to your own routine. Eat a meal you’re comfortable with beforehand and bring a cooler with some snacks that will keep you energized throughout the night. If you’re worried about people offering you a drink, have a cup with you filled with water, soda, or another beverage so you can easily deflect and let them know you’re already all set.
  3. Focus on Celebrating What Really Matters: Too often we follow a pattern of behavior without much thought. Why do we celebrate the independence of our country by guzzling beer and grilling food? Focus on your sobriety or your recovery. Those things are truly worth celebrating and if you’re not in the mood for a party, have your family take a hike or spend the day swimming at the beach. There’s no one way to celebrate, and creating your own healthy traditions may make this your best 4th of July yet.
  4. Have a Set Time that You’ll Leave: Most celebrations get more out of hand the longer they run, so enjoy your time but set a reasonable time for departure. It’ll also help you to avoid traffic and the traffic accidents which are a common occurrence on this holiday weekend.
  5. Be Selfish: Sometimes, being selfish is critical. And if it involves your health and your continued recovery, make the choices that you need to support them. If it means not going at all, or just dropping by to say hello, know that you are the most important thing. Your friends and family will still enjoy their night, no matter how bad the guilt trip is that they gave you.
During this holiday, remember that your decisions have an impact on your quality of life. Opt to continue making decisions that benefit your health and those that love you most.
© 2021 MindWise Innovations, a service of Riverside Community Care.

10 Breaths Exercise

10 Breaths Exercise

This is a very simple exercise to help you relax and also to keep you calmer throughout the rest of the day. Practice this as often as you can remember. Even just pausing during your day and taking only 1 deep breath will add up and you’ll get the benefit.
1. Close your eyes.
2. Take a deep breath in.
3. Let the breath out.
4. After the exhale say in your head “one.”
5. Take a deep breath in.
6. Let the breath out.
7. After the exhale say in your head “one.”
8. Continue until you reach approximately 10 breaths.
Don’t worry about how deep the breath is or how long you hold the breath. Just breathe easily and comfortably. At some point your attention will wander to other things. When this happens do not be critical or judgmental. Just notice that your attention wandered and then calmly shift focus back to your breathing and saying “one” after each exhale.

The Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness Practice

Authentic Counseling Blog The Attitudinal Foundations of Mindfulness Practice

1. Non Judging
Mindfulness is developed by assuming the stance of an open minded witness to your own experience. To do this requires that you become aware of the constant stream of judging and reacting to inner and outer experiences that we are all normally caught up in, and learn to step back from it. When we begin the practice of paying attention to the activity of our own mind, it is common to discover and to be surprised by the fact that we are constantly making judgments about our experience. Almost everything we see is labeled and categorized by the mind. We react to everything we experience in terms of what we think its value is to us. Some things, people, and events are judged as “good” because they make us feel good for some reason. Others are judged as “bad” because they make us feel bad. The rest is categorized as “neutral” because we don’t think it has much relevance. Neutral things, people, and events are almost completely tuned out of our conscious thought. We usually find them the most boring to give attention to.

2. Patience
Patience is a form of wisdom. It demonstrates that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time. A child may try to help a butterfly to emerge by breaking open its cocoon. Usually the butterfly doesn’t benefit from this. Any adult knows that the butterfly can only emerge in its own time and that the process cannot be hurried.
In the same way we must develop patience toward our own minds and bodies when practicing mindfulness. There is no need to be impatient with ourselves when we find the mind judging, or when we feel tense, agitated or frightened, or because nothing positive seems to be happening. The art of being mindful allows us the room to have these experiences. Why? Because we are having these experiences anyway! When they come up, they are our reality, they are part of our life unfolding in this moment. So we treat ourselves as well as we would treat the butterfly. Why rush through some moments to get to other, “better” ones? After all, each one is your life in that moment.

3. Beginner’s Mind
The richness of present moment experience is the richness of life itself. To be present in the moment means that we focus our attention on what is happening in the here and now rather than on what has happened in the past or on what may happen in the future. Too often we let our beliefs about what we “know” prevent us from seeing things as they really are. We tend to take the ordinary for granted and fail to grasp the extraordinariness of the ordinary. To see the richness of the present moment, we need to develop what has been called “beginner’s mind,” a mind that is willing to see everything as if for the first time.

4. Trust
Developing a basic trust in yourself and your feelings is a basic part of meditation training. It is far better to trust in your intuition and your own authority, even if you make some “mistakes” along the way, than always to look outside of yourself for guidance. If at any time something doesn’t feel right to you, why not honor your feelings? Why should you discount them or write them off as invalid because some authority or some group of people think or say differently? This attitude of trusting yourself and your own basic wisdom and goodness is very important in all aspects of the meditation practice. It will be particularly useful when practicing yoga, because you will have to honor your own feelings when your body tells you to stop or to back off in a particular stretch. If you don’t listen, you might injure yourself.

5. Non striving
Almost everything we do we do for a purpose, to get something or somewhere. But in meditation this attitude can be a real obstacle. That is because meditation is different from all other human activities. Although it takes a lot of work and energy of a certain kind, ultimately meditation is a non doing. It has no goal other than for you to be yourself. The irony is that you already are. This sounds complicated and a little crazy. Yet this may be pointing you towards a new way of seeing yourself, one in which you are trying less and being more. This comes from intentionally developing the attitude of non striving.

6. Acceptance
Acceptance means seeing things as they actually are in the present. If you have a headache, accept that you have a headache. If you are overweight, why not accept it as a description of your body at this time? Sooner or later we have to come to terms with things as they are and accept them, whether it is a diagnosis of cancer or learning of someone’s death. Often acceptance is only reached after we have gone through very emotion filled periods of denial and then anger. These stages are a natural part of coming to terms with what is. They are all part of the healing process.
However, in the course of our daily lives we often waste a lot of energy denying and resisting what is already fact. When we do that, we are basically trying to force situations to be the way we would like them to be, which only makes for more tension. This actually prevents positive change from occurring. We may be so busy denying, forcing and struggling that we have little energy left for healing and growing.

7. Letting Go
They say that in India there is a particularly clever way of catching monkeys. As the story goes, hunters will cut a hole in a coconut that is just big enough for a monkey to put its hand through. Then they will drill two smaller holes in the other end, pass a wire through, and secure the coconut to the base of a tree. Then they put a banana inside the coconut and hide. The monkey comes down, puts his hand in and takes hold of the banana. The hole is crafted so that the open hand can go in but the fist cannot get out. All the monkey has to do to be free is to let go of the banana. But it seems most monkeys don’t let go.

In the meditation practice we intentionally put aside the tendency to hold on to certain aspects of our experiences and practice observing them from moment to moment. Letting go is a way of letting things be and accepting things as they are. When we observe our own mind grasping and pushing away, we remind ourselves to let go of those impulses on purpose, just to see what will happen if we do. When we find ourselves judging our experience, we let go of those judging thoughts. We recognize them and we just don’t pursue them any further. We let them be, and in doing so we let them go. Similarly when thoughts of the past or of the future come up, we let go of them. We just watch.

 

Source: Full Catastrophe Living, Jon Kabat Zinn (1990)

Poem – Necessary Murder

Poem image of baby and adult handGrowth necessarily means change and choice; even passive choice.

Necessary Murder

The day I was born

Everything was possible.

Each decision thereafter

Murdered countless scores of maybes.

 

How can I take my next step

When I know how many of my selves

I send to the gallows?

 

But I am damned anyway

For even with inaction

There are untold numbers

Of lives unlived.

 

But choose I must

If I want to direct

The executioner’s axe,

If I want to make sacred

The sacrifice of all my lost lives.

 

My truth is I must choose

With purpose and joy and grief

To make manifest the promises

On which all my ghosts depend for meaning.

 

Poem – Men’s Weekend

Men's Weekend Poem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several of my poems refer to my inner demons or parts of myself I ignore or hide
as really little children that need my love. This poem is no exception and it
also examines being a man and what growth means to me.

 

Men’s Weekend

I sit and listen to the masters among alphas and betas.

I am so tired of the anger of the alpha and of beta’s shame.

I’ve caught a glimpse of a different, more powerful life,

Off away from the pack’s need.

 

I crave to stand in the glory of my blessings,

And to love my life – ALL of my life –

Not needing my wound to find meanings.

My heart bigger, stronger from the wound’s scar.

 

Loving myself so much,

Having so much room in my heart

For my hurt and frightened children

And the magnificence of my divinity.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from Authentic Counseling

Poem

Another fresh New Year is here……

Another year to live!

To banish worry, doubt, and fear

To love and laugh and give!

 

This bright new year is given me

To live each day with zest…

To daily grow and try to be

My highest and my best!

 

I have the opportunity

Once more to right some wrongs,

To pray for peace, to plant a tree,

And sing more joyful songs!

 

by William Arthur Ward

Poems for my Father part 3

Authentic Counseling Blog image of tableHere is the third and final poem dealing with the death of my father.
As you will see, I had moved into a much different place about my father.

 

My Father At My Table (Father #3)

I’ve fought so long

So hard to deny

With angry, righteous cries

Your place at my table.

 

Your pain walled away

But alive and leaking

Through so many cracks

To form the dark parts of me.

 

All you were, I cannot be.

I’m so much more aware, alive

I do so much more than survive

Easy it would be

To reject all you are.

 

I could not imagine you

Hurting and alone;

A child holding off the terror.

Carrying your father’s wound.

As I carry yours

 

When I look closely

At the parts unseen

Your child peeks back.

 

While your wound is not mine

I can accept your humanness

And your presence that helped

Shape the man I’ve become.

 

Come, break your fast

At my table.

I have more to learn

More tears to cry.

 

You are welcome,

My father.

I pray I will be welcome

At my son’s table some day.

Poems for my Father part 2

Authentic Counseling blog image poems for my fatherHere is the second poem dealing with the death
of my father where I examine the first time I touched his face.

 

Touching the Face of My Father (Father #2)

Many years have passed since the touch

First and last, hello goodbye.

My father lay finally resting

Still unable to feel.

 

How could this being so scary and large

Really be so small and withered

As if much more left

Than just spirit.

 

Touch is so strange and confusing

The first time I dared

The intimacy I so craved

So many feelings fill the moment.

 

Afraid of death’s finality

Afraid he will wake…

Sad in the first peaceful silence

For the dream

That’s passed too.

 

Confused, anxious about what I should

Be doing… and feeling…

His teaching still alive

Even when his flesh be still

 

No meaning here to be found

Just the stunned pit

Into which this bedroom

Seems to have fallen.

 

Withdrawing my hand from him

My first touch of my father’s face

And of death

I am adrift.

 

Where do I steer

Now that the shore to which I’ve clung

However desolate and sere

Has sunk into oblivion?

Poems for my Father

Authentic Counseling blog image of stairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It took me several years to fully realize and grieve the death of my father. During those years,
I wrote three poems about the process. This is the first one. Climbing the Stairs (Father #1)

Climbing the Stairs (Father #1)

“He’s up there, go see him”

Mom says from the couch

With a face that surprises me

With its strength and resolve.

I expected histrionics

An easy climb

Back onto her cross

A public display of her loss.

But quiet calm greets me instead.

This adds to my confusion

And fear

My father’s dead?

My father’s dead.

Go up and see him?

I don’t know what to do

Or feel, or say…

So I climb the stairs

Getting younger with each step

I’ve always been afraid to enter

The master bedroom

The lair where gods

And bears slept

Where punishment is meted

And secrets are kept.

Facing my father has always carried fear.

You can do better

You must be the best

Never lose, never quit

You’re nothing if you don’t pass the rest

Life is a war to be won

You’re a soldier, not a son

“Fill each minute with sixty seconds of distance run”

I am a good soldier

Wanna-be-son

At the top of the stairs

Facing the room

I cannot go forward

I cannot run.