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 forensic


"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

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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Measure of Madness: Inside the Disturbed and Disturbing Criminal Mind 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Craig_Larsen More than 1 year ago
THE MEASURE OF MADNESS is a compelling read. Paradis not only enlightens, she entertains. Her fresh, matter-of-fact approach to mental illness associated with criminal behavior - and, more broadly, to motives in general - will be of interest to professionals and students. But her first person narrative makes the forensic process as accessible as a drama. It is not sensational. Paradis, however, manages both to convey the thrill of reconstructing the crimes and to recreate the human elements of each of the case studies' victims and perpetrators. I read the book in a single sitting.
john__lutz More than 1 year ago
Measure of Madness is exactly what the title implies. It makes sense of the senseless and reality of the unimaginable. With concise and readable style, Cheryl Paradis takes us on a tour of her experiences with serial killers. And what a knowledgeable and incisive tour guide she is. She gives us revealing and sometimes startling glimpses of the people who live in the skins of some of the most destructive killers of our time. Who are they, really, and why do they kill over and over? What in their lives makes them unlike the rest us? What demons plague them? Or what vital component are they missing? These fascinating accounts of real-life serial killers, written by an expert, are not the stuff of mere entertainment. They are like letters from the front, the better to understand the war. No one is more qualified to write those letters, and no one could do a better job of it. This is a gripping and revealing book that mesmerizes as it informs. ---- John Lutz
GabrielleV More than 1 year ago
For anyone even slightly interested in the field of forensic psychology, The Measure of Madness is sure to curb your craving for an insider's look at the criminal mind. With over 25 years of experience, Paradis describes a collection of some of her most interesting experiences in this page turning collection of case studies. Not only does she provide us with details about the crimes of the defendants and their incredible delusions, she also poses as tour guide through the criminal justice system. Readers can close this book knowing that they have learned about what happens to defendants from the time of their confessions to sentencing. Paradis describes the true job of a forensic psychologist through her amazing tales of competency to stand trial evaluations, competency to waive Miranda rights evaluations, and assessments of dangerousness and malingering. Readers are taken through every aspect of these fascinating processes and are also given in depth explanations of the many different psychological tests administered to defendants, such as the Rorschach inkblot tests and IQ tests. However, Paradis's interesting stories do not simply end in the psychological examination rooms, leaving readers questioning about the whereabouts of defendants. Instead readers are also taken through hearing processes, and are given excellent explanations of not only her duty on the witness stand but also the responsibilities of the defendant's attorneys. From Huntley Hearings to neurolaw, Paradis leaves no aspect of the criminal justice system unexplored. Besides its fascinating subject matter, The Measure of Madness' highly organized sections make for an easy and enjoyable read. The book is broken into three different sections (Evaluations of Mental State at the Time of the Offense, Evaluations of Competency to Stand Trial and Waive Miranda Rights, and Evaluations of Juveniles and Assessments of Dangerousness and Malingering), and each section is broken into chapters that describe individual case studies. Even the index offers readers a highly useful reference tool, allowing them to speedily look up forgotten terms. The book's organized make up only adds to its usefulness and educational value. Whether The Measure of Madness is used as an educational tool for forensic psychology students or simply a book to throw in your beach bag, it is sure to please any audience hoping to get their forensic psychological thrill.
WatermanHS More than 1 year ago
A "good read" which lay persons and professionals alike will enjoy. I had difficulty putting it down. The book is chock full of very readable 1st person accounts of cases the author has investigated. Her choice of case and her writing style make for a riveting reading experiences. The stories move quickly and smoothly to a conclusion...although not always the conclusion the reader or Dr Paradis were led to expect. Triumph and disappointment pepper the stories. Dr. Paradis is clearly knowledgeable, and expert in her field and her search for truth about the defendants she encounters is fascinating. I much appreciate her attention to detail in her interviewing... she is acutely aware of how easy it is to "plant ideas" into a witness or defendant's mouth. I strongly recommend this book to all.
LZSNYC More than 1 year ago
If you are interested in either psychology or criminal justice (as most of us are), you will want to get this book. The author, forensic psychologist Dr. Cheryl Paradis, has selected some of her most interesting cases to share with the reader. You feel as though you are in her shoes as she tests and interviews the men and women who may have murdered their husbands, their wives, and their roommates. In her 30-odd years of practice, she has sometimes been hired by the defense and sometimes by the prosecution, but her concern has been on the side of the truth. Was the defendant mentally ill at the time of the crime; is he/she capable of understanding and participating in an upcoming trial; is he/she a danger to society? Dr. Paradis provides brief but clear definitions of legal or psychological terms as needed, but focuses most particularly on the evidence she gathered regarding the crime, the context, the history, and mental state of the perpetrator. You will finish the book feeling better informed about the law and serious crime, and the potential of psychology to understand those who suffer from serious disorders. At the same time, you will regret the fact that this fascinating read has come to an end.
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Great read and very educational.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is full of great stuff
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