0
Get Alert
Please Wait... Processing your request... Please Wait.
You must sign in to sign-up for alerts.

Please confirm that your email address is correct, so you can successfully receive this alert.

1
Book Review   |    
Profiles in Murder: An FBI Legend Dissects Killers and Their Crimes
Kenneth E. Fletcher, Ph.D.
Psychiatric Services 1999; doi:
View Author and Article Information

by Russell Vorpagel as told to Joseph Harrington; New York City, Plenum Press, 1998, 300 pages, $26.95

text A A A

A blurb on the cover flap of this book promises, "You will learn more about the actual art of profiling than you hoped for." Nothing could be further from the truth. Not even a complete novice in the scientific art of profiling murderers would gain much from reading this muddled piece of writing.

The first author, Russell Vorpagel, is a retired member of the FBI behavioral science profiling unit. Between profiling murderers, Mr. Vorpagel apparently used to run training sessions for law enforcement officials across the country. A typical training session provides the frame for the stories in this book. Unfortunately, the second author, who actually wrote the book, has an excruciatingly unreadable style. Together the authors have cobbled together a fairly unreadable book.

Vorpagel repeatedly insists that only members of the FBI behavioral science profiling unit are qualified to profile murderers. Consequently, he reveals very little about actual profiling procedures. Instead, scattered throughout the book are such pithy observations as, "If a criminal profiler is told that a teenager is a bed wetter, plays with matches, and tortures animals, he can predict the potential for future sociopathic homicides." Elsewhere we are told, "Overkill or excessive assault to the face often is an attempt to depersonalize the victim. Destruction of the face may indicate the victim resembles or represents a person who has caused the offender psychological trauma." Nowhere does he present substantive evidence for such assertions, if, indeed, it exists.

Rather than explaining profiling in any depth, the authors decided to write a book of thrilling, true detective stories. Unfortunately, the book does not succeed even on that level. What little detective work gets described is often relegated to the background. Assuming the reader can get past the ghastly writing, the book becomes a series of grisly murder stories, accompanied by sometimes gruesome and frequently poorly developed photographs.

This book is not the place to learn anything about profiling murderers. And if you want to be thrilled, read a good murder mystery.

Dr. Fletcher is assistant professor of psychiatry and director of the behavioral sciences research core at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.

+

References

+
+

CME Activity

There is currently no quiz available for this resource. Please click here to go to the CME page to find another.
Submit a Comments
Please read the other comments before you post yours. Contributors must reveal any conflict of interest.
Comments are moderated and will appear on the site at the discertion of APA editorial staff.

* = Required Field
(if multiple authors, separate names by comma)
Example: John Doe



Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Related Content
Books
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment, 4th Edition > Chapter 49.  >
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment, 4th Edition > Chapter 49.  >
The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment, 4th Edition > Chapter 49.  >
Textbook of Traumatic Brain Injury, 2nd Edition > Chapter 34.  >
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition > Chapter 0.  >
Topic Collections
Psychiatric News
PubMed Articles