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The Measure of Madness: Inside the Disturbed and Disturbing Criminal Mind Paperback – July 1, 2010
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
Dedicated true-crime fans have enjoyed a torrent of police procedurals, forensic how-to’s, and psychological studies of the inner workings of heinous miscreants in recent years. Now forensic psychologist Paradis unleashes something of an amalgam of those approaches in this insightful work, which mixes in lots of bloody details with the author’s professional assessments. The three parts of the book (Mental State at Time of Offense Evaluations, Competency Evaluations, and Evaluations of Juveniles and Assessments of Dangerousness and Malingering) open with brief summaries of germane legal questions and distillations of psychological issues involved. Chapters within the sections detail specific cases and Paradis’ interactions with the individual criminals. Bits of scientific methodology share page space with visceral detail, as in the case of wife-killer Mr. Paulson, who, in the course of an evaluation exercise, drew a nude woman in high-heeled boots, contributing to Paradis’ conclusion that the subject showed poor judgment and self-awareness despite his superior intellectual skills. Between the author’s personal tales of interaction with fiends and her descriptions of subsequent court testimony, this is an excellent and entertaining bit of grim if occasionally clinical reading. --Mike Tribby
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Paradis describes the true job of a forensic psychologist through her amazing tales of competency to stand trial evaluations, competency to waive Miranda rights evaluations, and assessments of dangerousness and malingering. Readers are taken through every aspect of these fascinating processes and are also given in depth explanations of the many different psychological tests administered to defendants, such as the Rorschach inkblot tests and IQ tests. However, Paradis's interesting stories do not simply end in the psychological examination rooms, leaving readers questioning about the whereabouts of defendants. Instead readers are also taken through hearing processes, and are given excellent explanations of not only her duty on the witness stand but also the responsibilities of the defendant's attorneys. From Huntley Hearings to neurolaw, Paradis leaves no aspect of the criminal justice system unexplored.
Besides its fascinating subject matter, The Measure of Madness' highly organized sections make for an easy and enjoyable read. The book is broken into three different sections (Evaluations of Mental State at the Time of the Offense, Evaluations of Competency to Stand Trial and Waive Miranda Rights, and Evaluations of Juveniles and Assessments of Dangerousness and Malingering), and each section is broken into chapters that describe individual case studies. Even the index offers readers a highly useful reference tool, allowing them to speedily look up forgotten terms. The book's organized make up only adds to its usefulness and educational value. Whether The Measure of Madness is used as an educational tool for forensic psychology students or simply a book to throw in your beach bag, it is sure to please any audience hoping to get their forensic psychological thrill.
If you pick up Dr. Cheryl Paradis' The Measure of Madness what you can expect to find is a straight-forward look at the field of forensic psychology and how its practitioners put it to work in the field of criminal justice. It may not be glamorous, but it definitely is gritty.
Pradis has put her considerable skills to work for both the defense and the prosecution in New York City. Armed with inkblots, IQ tests, peg boards and more, she helps the legal system sort out if defendants have the mental capacity to stand trial, waive their rights or know right from wrong at the moment the crime was committed. She can also form an opinion on if the defendant is "faking" mental illness in the hope of getting off on an insanity defense.
Each case study Paradis cites helps illustrate important legal concepts. She also clears up misconceptions. For instance, only about 1 percent of cases attempt to use the insanity defense (and of those, it's successful in only one case out of five). For the casual reader, this book is not only an introduction to the field of forensic psychology, but an education into an often misunderstood area of the legal system.