In the new book THE MEASURE OF MADNESS-Inside the Disturbed and Disturbing Criminal Mind (Citadel Press/July 2010), forensic psychologist Dr. Cheryl Paradis draws back the curtain on that fascinating world and revisits twenty-one of the most intriguing, puzzling, and challenging cases she has handled in her multifaceted, twenty-five year career including that of a battered woman, a psychotic arsonist, an accused cannibal and a wide range of liars. Paradis relays these real-life whodunits with much of the dialogue relayed verbatim from her records and presents a compelling account of the relationships between mental illness and violence, innocence and guilt, criminal and victim, and individual and society.
Dr. Paradis takes readers into the courtroom, up on the witness stand, and behind the closed doors where she interviews suspects accused of frightening, violent crimes and illustrates the crucial and often surprising role forensic psychology plays in the pursuit of justice.
Readers are side by side with Paradis as she conducts interviews, administers psychological tests, and studies hospital records for any information that will help answer key questions about the mental state of the defendant at the time of the crime. She explores the moral dilemmas she faces on a daily basis: If a man obeys the voice of God instructing him to attack his mother, is he really guilty and responsible for committing this crime? Should juveniles be treated differently in the criminal justice system? Paradis also includes examples of how she and other experts have been fooled by crafty defendants.
Dr. Paradis also highlights problems within the American psychiatric system. Many of the mentally ill people she writes about ‘fell through the cracks.’ Their psychoses went unrecognized and untreated, and as a result they hurt or killed strangers or family members, pointing to the fact that the defendants and those they hurt are all victims of a flawed and broken system.
“One of the most difficult questions for me to answer is whether or not a defendant is faking, as most of the defendants I examine are not totally honest with me,” says Paradis. “Many exaggerate or fake symptoms of depression or psychosis. As a forensic psychologist my responsibilities are different than those of other psychologists. I must put away my ‘treatment’ hat to think more like a detective. Questions of responsibility and blame are not easy to answer when a defendant is mentally ill or suffers from brain damage.”
THE MEASURE OF MADNESS brilliantly lays bare many common misconceptions about the criminal mind.
Cheryl Paradis, Psy.D., has more than twenty years experience as a forensic psychologist, and has evaluated thousands of seriously mentally ill and violent individuals. As an expert in psychological and neuropsychological testing, she has testified in both the New York State and federal court systems. She specializes in the assessment of Competency to Proceed to Trial, Competency to waive Miranda rights and Criminal Responsibility – including insanity, extreme emotional disturbance and diminished capacity. Her research and writings have been published in journals such as Psychiatric Services, Transcultural Psychiatry and The Journal of Psychiatry & Law. Currently an associate professor of psychology at Marymount Manhattan College, where she is the coordinator of the Forensic Psychology Minor, she is also a clinical associate professor at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center. Her upcoming book is entitled The Measure of Madness: Inside the Disturbed and Disturbing Criminal Mind. The publication by Citadel Press is scheduled for June, 2010.