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Inside the Criminal Mind: Revised and Updated Edition Hardcover – March 30, 2004

75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This revised edition of a 1984 study is long on assertion and short on evidence. Dr. Samenow, a clinical psychologist, is legitimately disdainful of explanations of criminal behavior that blame everyone (society, family, violent television, etc.) but the criminal for his actions, but his counter-arguments will persuade few. He makes frequent sweeping generalizations ("Even the most hardened criminals who spout anti-police rhetoric to one another recognize society’s need for police"), and provides nothing other than anecdotes in support of his position that all criminals break the law consciously and deliberately. A short new chapter on terrorism illustrates perfectly the limits of the author’s "methodology"—he defines the issue down to link Al Qaeda with any criminal whose actions frighten someone, and then simply discounts any outside influence as meaningfully contributing to the making of a criminal.
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From the Inside Flap

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; Rev Upd Su edition (March 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140004619X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400046195
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #209,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By K. Lewis on March 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
My major problem with Samenow's book is the same problem that my tenth-grade English teacher had with my paper criticizing the line-item veto. "What, exactly," my teacher asked me, "is your thesis?" I ask the same question of Samenow. The book is somewhat disjointed as it jumps from debunking theory after theory, to presenting anecdotes about various criminals, to finally demonstrating how a criminal changed his ways through years of "therapy", although the author might very well deny that the tactics used by his mentor, Dr. Yochelson, are psychological in nature--in fact, Samenow maintains that anyone can be trained to help a criminal change his thinking.

Samenow's theory of criminal behavior is that the criminal simply makes a pattern of choices over his lifetime. He identifies at an early age with dangerous situations and fast crowds, takes joy in manipulating and fooling others, and rejects the "straight" life as boring and rigid. But how does one distinguish between a rambunctious four-year-old, a four-year-old with ADHD, and a four-year-old criminal in the making? Samenow often repeats a warning to the reader that most children and young adults display a disregard for authority, a tendency to lie, and a disrepect for personal property at some point in their lives, but he offers little help for the rest of us to sort it all out, save crawling into the subject's head to determine what he is really thinking.

A previous reviewer likened Samenow's rejection of nurture theories to the tobacco companies' old argument that smoking doesn't cause cancer because not all smokers cause cancer.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Joseph McWhorter on October 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have worked in correctional education and counseling for almost 20 years. I first read the works of Yochelson and Samenow in 1990, and have seen its validity illustrated thousands of times. "Inside the Criminal Mind" is not a work of research, but a general work for a broad audience; in other words, it was written for the lay person. If you want to read the research, find "The Criminal Personality, vol. I, II, & III" (1986). "Inside the Criminal Mind" seems to be a work that is accepted or absolutely hated, and that deals with the reviewers' personal biases more than Samenow's work. Some key facts to remember are: (1) not everyone in prison has a criminal personality, even if a convicted felon, (2) while most criminals are drug users, not all drug users have a criminal personality, and (3)personality disorders, such as the anti-social personality disorder, are all learned, and as such, can be unlearned. The borderline personality disorder, in many ways, is much more 'dangerous' than the anti-social personality disorder, and other mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, are not even addressed. People commit crimes for many reasons, but the key factors to consider when dealing with them is to look at the pattern of behavior over time and if there are increases in that behaviors frequency and intensity/severity. This book is only one tool in understanding a very broad and complex field. And for at least two reviewers, I would like to say, buy a new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-IV came out in 1990, and the DSM-IV-TR in 2000; with the DSM-V scheduled for release within in the next five years. To reference the DSM-III is sad, and to claim to be a mental health professional and use the DSM-II is just plain scary.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Tholzel on August 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Readers interested in criminology will find this a very difficult read because it strips away ALL the comforting palliatives society has thrown at the penal system, and reveals, for the first time, the harsh realities of why criminals do it.

They do it, Samenow says, because criminals have grown up thinking differently than you and me. Criminals live in the instant now; they have almost no sense of saving for a rainy day; they lie and steal as much to prove they are smarter than everyone else as to enrich themselves. Everyone is judged by how they may be used to further the criminal's selfish wants. The human wreckage thqat they leave behind is of no concern to them, but they are skilled at feigning sorrow if they see that as shortening their incarceration.

Rehabilitation as currently practiced--say by teaching criminals new skills--only produces criminals with new skills. It does absolutely nothing to change the underlying pathology. What is necessary is a strict form of psychotherapy in which the felons feet are held to the fire. They must be forced to recognize the crippling psychological shortcomings of everything they do. Daily meetings are held in which every act is recorded and analyzed, and no excuse whatever is tolerated. Criminals are masters at blaming everything and everybody for their predicament--except themselves. When all their excused are stripped away, and held up to them as obvious misdirection, then, slowly, can many prisoners begin to see how they must act if they wish to become clean.

This approach is refreshing, yet depressing for its complexity. But Samenow has made it work in over 30 years of practice with any enviable record of genuine, permanent rehabilitation.
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