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Obsession: The FBI's Legendary Profiler Probes the Psyches of Killers, Rapists and Stalkers and Their Victims and Tells How to Fight Back Hardcover – February 9, 1998

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 379 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st edition (February 9, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684845601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684845609
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With the warmth and frank bias of a firsthand observer, Douglas, the founder and head of the FBI's Investigative Support Unit and the inspiration for the character of Jack Crawford in Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon, here describes violent crimes and their consequences. With co-author Olshaker, with whom he wrote Mindhunter and Journey into Darkness, Douglas details the crimes and case histories of serial killers, serial rapists, child molesters, stalkers and others. Included are infamous killers such as Edward Gein, Ted Bundy and Robert Chambers, along with less publicized, though just as disturbing, purveyors of acts of fatal obsession. Asserting "that behavior reflects personality," Douglas shows how he and his colleagues can assess the different temperaments and motivations at work behind grisly acts. Rapists tend to fall into four basic categories, for example, the "power-reassurance rapist" (driven by feelings of inadequacy), the "exploitive" rapist (impulsive and overtly macho), the "anger" rapist (who uses sex to displace his rage) and, cruelest of all, the "sadistic" rapist, who "simply gets off on hurting people." What stands out in this eye-opening book is how Douglas's compassion for the survivors of violent crimes seems to equal his understanding of the criminals themselves. His description of the work of the countless people who counsel, comfort and fight for the rights of victims serves as a welcome reminder that horrific and isolated acts of darkness and coldness are counterbalanced by a warmhearted and, one hopes, more natural human determination to help.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Following on the heels of Douglas's Mindhunter (LJ 11/15/95) and both authors' Journey into Darkness (Scribner, 1997), which were best sellers, this book focuses on crimes against women. The title refers both to criminal motivation?the authors have little faith in the possibility of rehabilitation?and to Douglas's commitment as a victims' rights advocate. Founder and until recently head of the FBI's Investigative Support Unit, he "plead[s] guilty" to being "overly emotional" on the need for stringent prison sentences and terms of parole. In his discussion of self-protection, Douglas cites Gavin de Becker, whose The Gift of Fear (LJ 6/15/97) is a more complete guide to that subject. Although there is less emphasis on criminal profiling and some overlap with prior material, this work is generally insightful and certainly heartfelt about the devastating effects of violence on its victims and those who love them. Of interest to readers of the previous books.
-?Gregor A. Preston, formerly with Univ. of California Lib., Davis
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

I have read all books by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker.
What could have been a real page turner was repetitive, dry, and boring.
Wanda M. Bobbitt
This book is very good for students of criminal behavior.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Kristina Kemp on March 2, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been a fan of several of Douglas's books, finding them facinating. But I never thought I would relate to one of the stories directly....until i got to "Katie's Story". Destiny Souza was a classmate of mine, and a neighbor. It was emotional to read what happened to her, and the reactions of members of our community I looked up to as a child, because they were involved in my life also. When it happened, being a child, details were given to me pretty vaguely, but reading the story as an adult was a really good expirience for me. As with all his books, i've learned a great deal about how to observe and interact with people and keep myself safe in the process.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kat on January 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have read all books by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker. I recommend them not only because they are an interesting read, but because they are on subjects that people need to be more aware of. In "Obsession," a main focus is on the different types of rapists. The authors inform us about how to keep yourself safe and how to defend yourself against them. I think this book needs to be read by any woman who wishes to learn ways to protect herself. The more informed you are, the more of a chance you have. I would recommend this book to anyone as a must read.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Becky on August 16, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Yet another classic expose of the sadistic sociopath written by the man who knows them best - John Douglas. In this book, John meticulously describes 2 types of obsessions - the obsessions of the sociopathic sex criminals who prey on society, and the obsessions which drive law enforcement officials who, very often risk their own safety and sanity in order to capture these monsters and bring about justice.
Throughout his quarter century in the FBI, John gained valuable knowledge. He learned how serial offenders "profile" their potential victims to test their vulnerability. He learned what ruses they employ to lure unsuspecting victims away from areas of safety. And as he graphically illustrates in the tragic stories of Jennifer Levin, Katie Souza Hanley, and Stephanie Schmidt, he learned how sometimes we can unfortunately place our trust in the wrong person, a person who is quite literally "a wolf in sheep's clothing."
So instead of speaking disparagingly about John, we should realise that we have cause to be grateful to him. He has such great insight into the minds of these human demons, and because of his lecturing and writing, he has undoubtedly saved many lives. We should thank him in any way possible - one day his experience and insight might help save our own life or the life of a loved one. He has given us valuable advice about how to keep ourselves and our children safe. He has showed us how we can turn profiling to our own advantage, how we can use it and our own survival instincts to keep ourselves safe. Undoubtedly this type of knowledge is certainly just as important as the knowledge of how to perform adequate, life saving first aid treatment.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By K. Johnson VINE VOICE on January 30, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
John Douglas, a renown Behavioral Scientist, details and examines the characteristics and progressionary depravity of individuals that put it mildly.
Problems be they physiological and/or psychological. You think you're having a bad day? Try tapping into the minds, lives, and motivations of serial rapists.
The subject is not the most joyous nor enlightening but it is reality and many of the aspects of behavioral science is interesting. And, this field is relevant because it covers this realistic aspect of our society. There are many things to learn about in the general strategies behavioral scientists' use in "Obsession." Such commonly used terms in the media such as Modus Operandi (MO) and "signature" are defined, and explained, and real life examples are provided. What do signatures tell us? Why do these perpetrators leave them behind? Find out in this well-written and easy-to-read book, that does describe but doesn't not over-whelm you with the the gory details.
Behavioral Science is an interesting and solidly scientific field that compiles case histories, research and data, validity, psychological testing, and evidence collection. With the current knowledge John Douglas can often predict with tremendous accuracy several things with a mere profile.
He often accurately predicts what year, model, and make of car a particular Unknown Suspect (UnSub) would own and drive. The type of work he would do. The kind of work schedule he keeps. What industry he likely worked in, and what hours he probably kept. He often accurately predicts the UnSub's sexual and criminal history, and the types of relationships the UnSub has with friends and lovers.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Without a doubt, John Douglas is extraordinary and a very dear man. He has dealt with, on a DAILY basis, for years, into the horrific and graphic details of the aftermath of serial killers, serial rapists, stalkers, mutilators. He has gotten into the minds of those criminals and looked at the crime through their point of view. Being able to do this process, called profiling, he has identified these killers and sexual predators. Still with all that he has seen, he has given so much compassion and empathy to the victims of these acts of violence. John Douglas has tried to also get the knowledge to the people so that we can all become more aware. He has traveled to hospital emergency rooms to inform doctors and staff about evidence needed for rape cases. He has also conducted seminars in colleges. This is an excellent book that John Douglas has written. Mr. Douglas is very respected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in which he worked for over twenty-five years. He became head of the Investigative Support Unit in 1979. May John's story go on. He's one of the real American heros. As a victim of attempted rape and child molestation myself and from all of the other victims in the U.S. that he has helped, I would like to extend a very heartfelt and deep appreciation to John Douglas.
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