Forensic psychology is the forensic study of the mind and the ways in which the mind works, especially in the instances of violent crime.
Determining The ReasonsDuring the course of an investigation into a violent crime - or indeed murder - a forensic psychologist is charged with the task of uncovering the reasons behind why an individual might carry out such an act.
There are many different reasons as to why an individual might lash out and commit a violent act. In some instances there are levels of extreme stress or emotional misgivings that can cause a person to lash out and it is in these instances that a forensic psychologist will be called upon.
Forensic psychology sets out to prove the link between emotional distress, psychological strain and violence.
What a Forensic Psychologist DoesA forensic psychologist will spend time trying to piece together the reasons behind why an individual would commit a violent act especially if the person responsible has not yet been remanded into custody.
They will do this in a manner of ways; the first of which is to observe the crime scene and the manner in which the victim was attacked or murderer. This can allude as to the mental state of the perpetrator at the time and can determine whether or not they were in a frenzied condition or were acting out of some predetermined calm action.
It is not uncommon for individuals to carry out a attack or murder whilst being in a calm and rational state of mind and forensic psychology is used as a method of understanding why this is the case.
A psychologist has the job of deciphering what is true and what is a lie when a suspect is interviewed and is also responsible for determining whether or not the suspect is of sound mind. The condition of the suspect's mentality is of the utmost importance if the police wish to pursue a criminal conviction; establishing that the individual has a grasp on reality and has claims over their own responsibility is necessary if criminal proceedings are to take place.
A psychological profile is also a necessary part of the a forensic psychologist's role if the assailant is still at large; a profile is a means by which to provide information about the suspect's current state of mind, reasons for why he or she is pursuing the course of action they are, and what steps can be taken to alleviate the situation without any further physical harm or loss of life.
Another aspect of this forensic psychology is a 'psychological autopsy'; this is an examination resulting in a profile especially in those instances when an individual takes his or her own life. The profile is designed as a way of determining whether the individual intended to take their own life or if it was accidental. Extraneous influences such as alcohol, drugs, high financial and personal stress can lead to this sort of event taking place; and with this in mind a forensic psychologist must determine the facts - or least try to piece their last hours or days together - to the best of their abilities.