The Measure of Madness: Inside the Disturbed and Disturbing Criminal Mind

The Measure of Madness: Inside the Disturbed and Disturbing Criminal Mind

4.8 12
by Cheryl Paradis, Katherine Ramsland

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"The defendant told the jury that he did not kill girlfriend. He did, however, admit to dismembering her, boiling her bones, and hiding them in the Port Authority locker."

At the heart of countless crimes lies the mystery of the human mind. In this eye-opening book, Dr. Cheryl Paradis draws back the curtain on the fascinating world of forensicSee more details below


"The defendant told the jury that he did not kill girlfriend. He did, however, admit to dismembering her, boiling her bones, and hiding them in the Port Authority locker."

At the heart of countless crimes lies the mystery of the human mind. In this eye-opening book, Dr. Cheryl Paradis draws back the curtain on the fascinating world of forensic psychology and revisits the most notorious and puzzling cases she has handled in her multifaceted career.

"Out it all came, a slew of bizarre comments about the electronic chips implanted in his brain."

Her riveting, sometimes shocking stories reveal the crucial and often surprising role forensic psychology plays in the pursuit of justice. Sometimes the accused believe their own bizarre lies, creating a world that pushes them into frightening, violent crimes.

"My client is charged with murder and tells me he is a descendent of kings. He says he is of royal blood. Can you evaluate him for an insanity defense?"

Join Dr. Paradis in a stark concrete cell, with the accused handcuffed to a chair opposite her, as she takes on the daunting task of mapping the suspect's madness--or exposing it as fakery. Have a front-row seat in a tense, packed courtroom, where her testimony can determine an individual's fate. The criminal mind has never been so intimately revealed--or so darkly compelling.

"A forensic psychologist reveals the dark and troubling human mind. Fascinating."
--Robert K. Tanenbaum

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Insanity pleas are infrequently used (about one percent of cases) and rarely successful (about 20 percent of these cases), yet the circumstances involving them are often more captivating than fiction. Furthermore, these cases raise compelling issues about human nature, good and evil, and free will. Paradis (psychology, Marymount Manhattan Coll.), a forensic psychologist, describes 18 of her most challenging cases spanning more than 20 years. Perpetrators include "subway pushers," battered wives who kill, mentally deranged murderers, and those who attempt "suicide by cop." Their psychiatric defenses include extreme emotional disturbance, brain disease/damage, and even sleep medication side effects. In the second half, Paradis covers legal competency evaluations and juveniles and the assessment of malingering or faking psychiatric symptoms to avoid guilt. The author's use of established psychological testing tools and interviewing techniques is instructive, and the vignettes are written in a clear narrative style. Several cases include sufficient courtroom detail to serve as script outlines for a forensic psychology series. VERDICT This authoritative and even riveting introduction to "neurolaw" should appeal to aspiring lawyers, mental competency specialists, and devotees of courtroom drama.—Antoinette Brinkman, M.L.S., Evansville, IN
Kirkus Reviews
Courtroom experiences of a forensic psychologist. Paradis has spent more than two decades evaluating mentally ill and violent individuals and giving expert testimony in court. Here she details criminal cases in which the prosecution or defense asked her to establish whether defendants were competent to stand trial, or to vet such psychiatric defenses as insanity and extreme emotional disturbance. The cases, all tried in New York City, are fascinating, unsettling and often horrifying. A mentally ill Manhattan man ("The Butcher of Tompkins Square Park") killed, dismembered and cooked his roommate. A former mental patient shot wildly into a group of sanitation workers, wounding two of them, in the belief that they were alien invaders. A resident in a single-room occupancy building who claimed to be a supreme being working for the CIA stabbed and killed an elderly neighbor. The author also discusses the psycho-legal issues of cases involving juveniles and abused wives. To make her evaluations, Paradis conducts interviews, administers psychological tests, studies hospital records and searches for any other information that will help answer key questions: Is a defendant ill (delusional, paranoid, schizophrenic, etc.) or faking mental illness? What was the mental state at the time of the crime? She notes that many cases pose moral dilemmas: "If a man obeys the voice of God instructing him to attack his mother, for example, is he really guilty and responsible for committing this crime? And should he be imprisoned or sent to a psychiatric hospital?" Paradis offers broad insights into mental illness and the courts. Most defendants who go to trial pleading insanity, she writes, are found guilty and stay in forensic hospitals for years. No matter what the psychiatric testimony, juries are always swayed by personal feelings toward the defendant. A defendant's state of mind is best determined from his videotaped statement made immediately after his arrest; those who are psychotic when committing an offense may be on medications and much improved when interviewed weeks later. A welcome inside account.

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What People are saying about this

Robert Reuland
"Chilling...The Measure of Madness is an insider's view of a world few of us really know. Dr. Paradis makes clear that the reality of criminal forensic psychology is far different -- and far more fascinating -- than that portrayed in TV and movies. Fans of 'CSI' and 'Law and Order' as well as criminal law practitioners will find this book hard to resist."-- (Robert Reuland, criminal defense attorney and author of Hollowpoint and Semiautomatic)
Barbara Kirwin
"Clearly written and comprehensive... Dr. Paradis skillfully leads the reader through the labyrinth of the psychotic criminal mind and the maze of the judicial system."-- (Barbara Kirwin, author of The Mad, the Bad, and the Innocent)
Stephen G. Michaud
"Lucid, intelligent, provocative...Cheryl Paradis is an articulate expert guide to the bizarre and routinely baffling world of irrational and aberrant crime."-- (Stephen G. Michaud, author of The Only Living Witness and Whisper of Fear)
Simon Baatz
"Eloquent...Anyone concerned with the relationship between deviance and mental illness will find this excellent book to be of great value."-- (Simon Baatz, author of For the Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb and the Murder that Shocked Chicago)
John Coston
"Riveting . . .Cheryl Paradis shows us a world rarely seen and one full of mystery."-- (John Coston, author of To Kill and Kill Again and Sleep My Child Forever)
Thomas M. O'Rourke
"Informative, discussion-provoking...a much needed, intriguing collection of personal reflections as well as fascinating cases."-- (Thomas M. O'Rourke, Director of Forensic Psychiatry, Kings County Hospital Center)
Katherine Ramsland
"Compelling...Dr. Cheryl Paradis offers a window into the world of a clinical psychologist who has made many assessments for the courts."-- (Katherine Ramsland, author of The Criminal Mind)
Barbara Oakley
"Insightful, remarkable...not to be missed if you want to understand the real-world dramas that underlie criminal justice."-- (Barbara Oakley, author of Evil Genes)
Sanford L. Drob
"A down-to-earth, tell-all case unvarnished insider's view into the fascinating world of forensic psychology and the minds of mentally ill criminal offenders. This book will be of interest not only to forensic specialists, but to all those who have ever thought of entering this vexing but richly rewarding profession or wondered what it might be like to take an intimate look at the criminally insane."-- (Sanford L. Drob, Ph.D., former Director of Psychological Assessment at Bellevue Hospital, New York)
Patricia E. Erickson
"Engaging, vivid, invaluable...a fascinating look at real-life case materials from the author's own practice as a forensic psychologist. The accounts of criminal defendants whose minds are on trial and the issues that Paradis must determine in making her evaluations make this book a must-read for anyone interested in the intersection of psychology and criminal law."-- (Patricia E. Erickson, J.D., Ph.D., co-author of Crime, Punishment, and Mental Illness: Law and the Behavioral Sciences in Conflict)

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