Forensic Psychology is all about mind matters. That is, this branch of Forensics aims to prevail over the criminal mind in order to corner him. Forensic Psychiatry is an emerging field and it has already notched up quite a few feathers on its cap by clinching a few cases. And there seems to be no dearth of interest surrounding it, courtesy the media coverage of the Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy and Andrea Yates cases and a spate of films of the issue like Hannibal and Silence of the Lambs.
The area of operation of Forensic Psychiatry covers a broad spectrum. And criminal profiling is one area, and quite a new one at that, that is drawing all the attention. This involves chalking out the mental make-up of an offender from the crime scene particulars (like the positioning of the victim’s body and the nature of the wounds inflicted) when physical evidence is scarce. This profile can in turn be used by the police to either hunt for or pinpoint a suspect.
The Forensic Psychiatry expert is also called into action when it comes to issues like deciding on child custody. A sensitive area no doubt, given the fact that in most divorce cases the bone of contention between the parents just happens to be the child who doesn’t understand why his parents are fighting in the first place.
Forensic Psychiatry has a presence in the civil law field too. It is all about evaluating the emotional impact of a situation on a person. The psychiatrist has to determine whether the messy wife taking the trial is actually distressed at her husband’s murder or the “crocodile tears” are just a ploy to dispel the arrows of suspicion away from her.
In the civil law scenario, the Forensic Psychologist also has to assess the bearing of a particularly traumatic event on someone or suggest the course of treatment for a sexual assault victim.
Criminal Law is one area where Forensic Psychiatry finds widespread usage, with the expert being called upon to judge whether a person is capable of standing up to a trial. An expert in this field also advises the court in matters regarding sentence terms, probation issues and conditions of parole, of course after ascertaining the chances of the offender repeating his crime.
Forensic Psychiatry finds widespread use in determining the authenticity of insanity plea claims. And with defendants frequently using the insanity excuse to get away from everything from arson to assassination, robbery to rape, the Forensic Psychiatry specialist has his hands full.
Forensic Psychology is not just about the darker side of the human mind; it is actually about shedding light on the mental intricacies to help a case progress.