Words Matter and Labels Make a Difference

Words matter and labels make a difference!  Members of the media and law enforcement are using the terms “monster” and “evil” when describing  Ariel Castro in the Cleveland case involving the three kidnapped women recently released.

Using the term “monster” throws us back to the 18th century when werewolves and vampires were blamed for violent crimes. We’ve come a long way since then  and we know so much more about criminal behavior.  Similarly, “Evil” has no legal or behavioral meaning. It implies demonic possession. Ariel Castro, whatever your religious  beliefs has serious personality and sexual issues. Understanding what they are will help you to understand his   behavior. Thinking of Castro as an evil monster may make us feel better, but it does nothing to further our understanding of what happened and maybe how to prevent it in the future.

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Injustice Collectors and Leakage

Blog posted on PsychologyToday.com

“The views and opinions expressed by Dr. Mary Ellen O’Toole are hers and not necessarily the views of the FBI.”

Why Jerry Sandusky Went Public…And Why It Will Probably Backfire

Former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky has taken his case to the media—first to Bob Costas and then to the New York Times. Then even his wife, Dottie, issued a press release claiming that her husband was innocent.

Does trial by media ever work? And why do some defendants like Sandusky go to the media whereas others stay out of the spotlight?

Let’s start with the first question. As a former FBI profiler, I’ve seen defendants grant media interviews and, more times than not, it hurts them. Let’s take a look at a few infamous examples.

The Myth of the Car Jacked Baby

In the Midwest, police are searching for a two-year-old whose father says went missing when a thief carjacked him and drove away with the toddler still strapped into a seat. The car was found nearby, with an empty car seat inside.

Such cases create fear in the minds of parents. They want to know how to keep their kids safe from would-be car thieves.

Top 10 Reasons Not to Go With Your Gut

Many people swear by gut feelings and suggest you rely on them to make important decisions. Here are 10 ways gut feelings can lead you straight into harm’s way.

  1. Dangerous people know how to manipulate your gut feelings. For instance, Bernie Madoff disarmed potential investors with his charm. He impressed them with his career accomplishments and lulled them with glowing recommendations from other investors who were also unknowingly being conned.