Obsession

( 14 )

Overview

In this eagerly awaited new book by the international best-selling authors of Mindhunter and Journey into Darkness, master FBI profiler John Douglas takes us into the minds and souls of both the hunters and the hunted. The legendary former head of the FBI's Investigative Support Unit, Douglas was the pioneer of modern behavioral profiling of serial criminals. In Mindhunter, we followed his development into a modern, real-life Sherlock Holmes as he tracked down the Atlanta child murderer, San Francisco's Trailside...

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Overview

In this eagerly awaited new book by the international best-selling authors of Mindhunter and Journey into Darkness, master FBI profiler John Douglas takes us into the minds and souls of both the hunters and the hunted. The legendary former head of the FBI's Investigative Support Unit, Douglas was the pioneer of modern behavioral profiling of serial criminals. In Mindhunter, we followed his development into a modern, real-life Sherlock Holmes as he tracked down the Atlanta child murderer, San Francisco's Trailside Killer, and Seattle's Green River Killer — a chase that nearly cost him his life. In Journey into Darkness, he directed his unique skills particularly to crimes against children and young adults, and showed how the quest for closure for the survivors does not always end simply with catching the killer.

Written with Mark Olshaker, the coauthor of Douglas's previous books and an acclaimed novelist, journalist, and filmmaker, Obsession is vital reading for anyone seeking to understand and prevent violent crime. In Obsession, Douglas once again takes us fascinatingly behind the scenes, focusing his expertise on predatory crimes, primarily against women. With a deep sense of compassion for the victims and an uncanny understanding of the perpetrators, Douglas looks at the obsessions that lead to rape, stalking, and sexual murder through such cases as Ronnie Shelton, the serial rapist who terrorized Cleveland; Joseph Thompson, New Zealand's South Auckland rapist; the stalking and killing of television star Rebecca Schaeffer; and New York's notorious "Preppie Murder." He plumbs the minds and motives of those who commit these terrifying and seemingly inexplicable offenses, using as examples his study of Ed Gein, Gary Heidnick, and Ted Bundy, the three obsessional killers who made up the composite character of "Buffalo Bill" in The Silence of the Lambs. (Douglas himself was the model for Special Agent Jack Crawford.)

But Douglas also looks at obsession on the other side of the moral spectrum: his own career-long obsession with hunting these predators; the obsession of the directors of a model police department's victim's program in Virginia that has literally saved the lives of survivors; and the obsession of a brilliant young lawyer who has established an innovative school in Harlem to combat crime, drugs, and despair. Finally, there's the poignant and moving story of Gene and Peggy Schmidt and their daughter, Jennifer, whose sister, Stephanie, was viciously murdered by a paroled rapist in Kansas, and who channeled their grief and anguish into fighting for a milestone Supreme Court ruling. Douglas analyzes the critical lessons of the Stephanie Schmidt case, which demonstrates the new empowerment galvanizing the victim's rights movement.

In a final section that serves as a call to action, Douglas shows us how we can all fight back and protect ourselves, our families, and loved ones against the scourge of the violent predators in our midst. But the first step is insight and understanding, and no one is better qualified to penetrate obsession than John Douglas.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
February 1998

Master FBI profiler John Douglas and acclaimed journalist/filmmaker Mark Olshaker — international bestselling authors of Mindhunter and Journey into Darkness — pair up once again to journey into the minds and souls of both the hunters and the hunted in Obsession: The FBI's Legendary Profiler Probes the Psyches of Killers, Rapists, and Stalkers and Their Victims and Tells How To Fight Back.

In Obsession, Douglas and Olshaker highlight the key issues, cases, and emotions of interpersonal crimes and provide an in-depth examination of crimes that are committed primarily against women and the elderly. They draw upon some of the compelling cases Douglas has investigated in his 25 years with the FBI and as the founder and head of the FBI's Investigative Support Unit for 15 years. Examining cases such as Ronnie Shelton, the serial rapist who terrorized Cleveland; the stalking and killing of Rebecca Shaeffer (who starred in television's "My Sister Sam"); and New York's "preppie murder," Douglas and Olshaker provide insight into what really drives criminals to commit these crimes. They also delve into the FBI files to draw upon the cases of infamous serial killers Ted Bundy, Ed Gein, and Gary Heidnick (the three obsessional killers who made up the composite character of Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs,) to give us an understanding of the motivations behind interpersonal crime.

Obsession is also a call to action. In the chapter "Fighting Back," Douglas and Olshaker tell readers, womeninparticular, what they must do to prevent themselves and their families from becoming potential victims. They describe "Survivor Groups" that help the families of the victims of violent crimes, showing how these groups can help people move beyond their pain to bring about important legislation as well as awareness of interpersonal crime.

Obsession is vital reading for anyone seeking to understand and prevent violent crime.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With the warmth and frank bias of a firsthand observer, Douglas, the founder and head of the FBI's Investigative Support Unit and the inspiration for the character of Jack Crawford in Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon, here describes violent crimes and their consequences. With co-author Olshaker, with whom he wrote Mindhunter and Journey into Darkness, Douglas details the crimes and case histories of serial killers, serial rapists, child molesters, stalkers and others. Included are infamous killers such as Edward Gein, Ted Bundy and Robert Chambers, along with less publicized, though just as disturbing, purveyors of acts of fatal obsession. Asserting "that behavior reflects personality," Douglas shows how he and his colleagues can assess the different temperaments and motivations at work behind grisly acts. Rapists tend to fall into four basic categories, for example, the "power-reassurance rapist" (driven by feelings of inadequacy), the "exploitive" rapist (impulsive and overtly macho), the "anger" rapist (who uses sex to displace his rage) and, cruelest of all, the "sadistic" rapist, who "simply gets off on hurting people." What stands out in this eye-opening book is how Douglas's compassion for the survivors of violent crimes seems to equal his understanding of the criminals themselves. His description of the work of the countless people who counsel, comfort and fight for the rights of victims serves as a welcome reminder that horrific and isolated acts of darkness and coldness are counterbalanced by a warmhearted and, one hopes, more natural human determination to help. (Feb.)
Library Journal
If you want to avoid stalkers or rapists, keep away from those with a history of bedwetting, pyromania, and cruelty to animals. Of course perpetrators will act long before their backgrounds are discovered, in which case follow your instincts. The authors went to a lot of trouble compiling this uninteresting volume. It's intended audience, apparently, are the perps and their victims. Its most unique aspect is not that it's read by coauthor Douglas but that he stumbles over his own words. Save your shelf space; not recommended.James Dudley, Copiague, NY
Kirkus Reviews
A look at rape-and-murder and its perpetrators by one of the men who invented the forensic art of psychological profiling. Douglas (Mindhunter, also with Olshaker, not reviewed, etc.) was the founder and longtime head of the FBI's Investigative Support Unit and over his career saw many cases that went unsolved, including the Green River Killer, a case so frustrating that it nearly killed Douglas himself. Douglas's readers will be familiar with this assortment of famously grisly scenes combined with profiles of the murderers. This book focuses mainly on stalkers and their victims, so Douglas necessarily revisits the scenes of Rebecca Schaffer, Dominique Dunne, and Teresa Saldana. He also gives an overview of rapists/murderers such as Ted Bundy and Gary Heidnik, the City of Brotherly Love's answer to Jeffrey Dahmer. Unfortunately, much of the information here is already so familiar to crime buffs that there isn't much to be gleaned from these sections. Douglas is much better at the beginning, when he discusses a little-known killer who seems to have been the basis for Francis Dolarhyde in Red Dragon (Thomas Harris fans, take note). Douglas's profile of this stalker and killer is illuminating, unlike too much of this book, which is merely titillating. The promise of the subtitle goes unfulfilled—the "fighting back" seems limited to victim's families joining support groups, rather than any real advice to those seeking protection from a stalker. In fact, most of these victims had restraining orders against their stalkers, which were of little use in the face of a knife or a gun. Not much more than a collection of truly horrifying stories, which is a shame for both the reader, whojustifiably expects more, and for Douglas, who has more to offer. (Author tour)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451607437
  • Publisher: Gallery Books
  • Publication date: 8/1/2010
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 247,240
  • Product dimensions: 1.13 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 8.00 (d)

Interviews & Essays

On Sunday, February 22nd, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Mark Olshaker and John E. Douglas to discuss OBSESSION.


Moderator: Welcome, Mark Olshaker and John Douglas! Thanks for taking the time to join us online tonight to discuss your latest book, OBSESSION. How are you doing? Any opening comments?

Mark Olshaker: I am happy to be here and am gratified by the tremendous response we have gotten from B&N and from all the readers for all three books we have written.


Karen from Maryland: In the book, you talk about the different categories of rapists and how each group's general crime style is different. While reading about this it occured to me that we have been hearing more about women raping men, boys, women, girls, and infants. My question is, What is the same and what is different about women rapists and their motivations from men who rape?

John Douglas: With men it is predominantly a crime of power and anger. When we see women, particularly in the case we've seen most recently, we have women that are having severe emotional and psychological problems. and the relationship that they are attempting to have with a juvenile is an attempt -- even though a feeble one -- to obtain something that is lacking in their life. i.e., security. And to fill a void of self-esteem.


Nelson from NYC: We've recently had a few cases where young men have disappeared after a night on the town, were missing for weeks, and eventually their corpses were discovered washed up ashore in Brooklyn. Could they be the victims of a serial killer who stalks young men and disposes of their bodies in the river? I heard about the discovery of the body but never the cause of death.

Mark Olshaker: Yes, Nelson, this quite possibly could be the case, but before we get a definitive response we need to get further info on the particulars of the crime itself. For example, were there any overlapping traits or factors in the victimology? Was there a relationship between any of the victims? Were any other cases like this going on in the area? What I have learned from John Douglas and Associates since I have been involved with this field is that the more specific info you can put into the equation, the more complete an answer you will get out. Somebody like John would probably want to see all of the medical reports on a case, all the witness reports, and see the crime scenes and see the body dump sites before determining whether these crimes were related.


Shorty II from Michigan: Mr. Douglas, thank you for chatting with us. Can you tell us if you are still employed by the Ramsey family? Has working with this particular case in any way modified the profiles that you have defined during your career?

John Douglas: I haven't had contact with the Ramsey attorneys for approximately nine months. I still believe that this is a crime where the perpetrator knows the family as well as the victim very well. My focus when I was in Boulder, Colorado, was primarily on John Ramsey, because I was told there was evidence of semen found on her clothing. As a result, after a four-to-five hour interview with John Ramsey, I did not believe that the criteria were present that I've seen in other cases where parents, particularly a father, has killed his child. In as much as my focus was not on Patsy Ramsey, I can not state whether or not she possibly could have been involved in the homicide. I'm not saying that I believe she possibly is a suspect but that my focus never was on her during the first week of January 1997.


Beth from Irvington, NY: I'm wondering if you have any leads on what's going on with the couple who disappeared from Pearl Street, NYC, and their landlord is suspect. Did that ever get resovled?

Rory from Florida: Hey Mark and John, I have two questions for you:
1)What was the weirdest crime you researched?
2)How do you overcome writers' block? Thanks a bunch!

Mark Olshaker: Rory, I would be interested in what John has to say, but I would have to think that the strangest crime I have studied or know anything about would have to be the murders by Ed Gein in Plainfield, Wisconsin, in the 1950s. We deal with this case extensively in our current book, OBSESSION, and you will probably recognize it right away because it has served as the basis for the novel and movie PSYCHO and the character of Buffalo Bill in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. In fact, our chapter entitled "Buffalo Bill" concerns the three offenders Thomas Harris used to create the composite character. In addition to Gein, they were Ted Bundy, a very bright and good-looking guy who targeted college coeds and used as an M.O. a fake cast on his arm so that potential victims would find him unthreatening, and the third character is Gary Heidnik of Phildelphia, who captured women and kept them in a pit in his basement. But back to Ed Gein. What makes him particularly bizarre was his habit of first robbing graves and later on murdering live women, so that he could remove their skin, tan it, and make it into a "garment" that he could wear. The speculation, which I agree with, is that he was trying to "re-create" his dead mother, whose room in his rural farmhouse Ed had made into a shrine after she had died. Now, John and I don't think many serial, predatory criminals are actually insane by the legal definition, but this is one that I think we both think rises up to that definition.
As to the subject of writer's block, that is perhaps the most serious and sensitive issue any of us in the writing business have to face. I wish there was a simple solution, but perhaps the simplest of all is that you must deliver when you have a deadline. As you may know, I have spent a large part of my career as a novelist writing suspense thrillers. One of the things that intrigued me about working with John Douglas is that novelists spend their entire career looking for great characters. John is such a character in real life, I have often said that writing these books -- MIND HUNTER, JOURNEY INTO DARKNESS, and OBSESSION -- is like writing a thriller novel and having the main character tell you what happens at the end.


Paul from Morris Plains, NJ: In profiling all these serial killers, did either of you ever become the focus and victim of a hunter? What precautions have you all taken to protect yourself?

Mark Olshaker: We take the best precautions we can and try to keep our personal lives as private as possible. But I think we have both, in the course of our careers, been the object of, shall we say, "unwanted attention." That is probably all we should say about that.

John Douglas: Over my past 25 years in the FBI and since retiring from the FBI in 1995, I have at times received threats. However, most of the threats were from people with obvious psychological problems -- not serial murders or other types of violent offenders.

Mark Olshaker: One thing for sure, he is no longer with us. I had heard rumors for a long time that he was encased in the concrete of Giants Stadium. But a close friend of mine, who is an investigative reporter specializing in organized crime, assures me from his sources that Hoffa was killed the day he disappeared and proabably crunched up in one of those automobile junk presses. So I will just pass that along for whatever it is worth.


Sean from New Hampshire: I know you talk about Robert Chambers in OBSESSION and how he doesn't fit the normal profile of a rapist. Could you explain a little more? And how about Alex Kelly--what's your take on him? How different and how similar is he from Robert Chambers?

John Douglas: Both men were exploitive types of rapists. That is, they were capable of taking advantage of someone without the person knowing that they were being used. I would consider both Chambers and Kelly psychopathic personalities -- Chambers, on one hand, is less intelligent and had a prior criminal history involving drug and burglary activities. What's remarkable, I believe, to anyone looking at either of these rapists is the question, Why would they rape when each was very handsome? What you have to realize is that these crimes are crimes of anger and power. It is not a question of receiving sex, it is a question of taking sex and using sex as a form of violence, a weapon per se.


Ralph from Studio City, CA: You talk a lot about "signature" in all your books. Serial rapists and killers all leave some identifying mark or procedure that ties them to a case. Has there ever been a case that either of you know of where a serial hunter doesn't leave a signature?

John Douglas: Signatures are very difficult sometimes to detect, if, for example, the victims are found in advanced stages of decomposition. So as a result, there may be at times a series of cases where I cannot say unequivocally that all the crimes were perpetrated by the same offender.


Laura from Summit, NJ: I couln't help but notice that Linda Fairstein is mentioned throughout OBSESSION. What is your relationship with her? Do you work closely with her? Do you ever read her novels?

John Douglas: I got to know Linda Fairstein for the first time on the Robert Chambers homicide. She came to the FBI Academy requesting that I do a crime analysis for her so she could better understand Chambers's motivation as well as the series of events that took place at the actual crime scene leading to the victim's death. I consider Linda Fairstein to be an expert prosecutor in crimes of violence, and I greatly respect the work she is doing for victims of violent crime.

Mark Olshaker: One of the things that John Douglas figured out in the course of his intial research as a young FBI agent was that each crime has behavioral compoments that are consistent. That doesn't mean that every rape, robbery, or murder is going to be the same. What it does mean is that by carefully analyzing the behavioral evidence at a crime scene -- and this can include where the body is left or in what condition -- a trained and experienced profiler can make conclusions about the type of person who could have done this. That is the first step. The second step is to advise on proactive techniques that might help flush the criminal out and lead to his capture. If this is successful, then the third stage has to do with successfully interrogating him based on what you know about his behavior and then advising prosecutors on techniques that might help get him convicted.


Maureen from Bellingham, WA: I once heard a statistic, part of cocktail party talk, that most serial killers come from the Pacific Northwest. Something to do with the lack of sunshine up there. True? If so, then why don't more serial killers live in Sweden and Denmark?

John Douglas: I don't know if this is actually true, that more serial killers come from the Pacific Northwest, but if it is, it probably has less to do with the lack of sunshine than with the large expanses of rural and unpatrolled wilderness areas, which are a favorite hunting ground of outdoor types who make up a large percentage of the killers. You might say that for some of these guys, it is only another step from hunting game animals to hunting human beings.


Jennifer from Concord, CA: In OBSESSION you say that ordinary citizens need to do some profiling themselves. What do you mean by that? What are some simple laws of profiling that the ordinary citizen, who isn't thinking about becoming a victim every minute of the day, can take?

Mark Olshaker: If you place youself in situations where you are increasing the potential of being a victim of a violent crime, you have to be on a higher level of alert -- what I mean by that is that you do not and should not take chances or risks. You should rely heavily on your instincts, intuition, and gut feeling when someone or a certain situation does not feel comfortable or right to you. For example, you are leaving a shopping center at night, approaching your vehicle, and parked very close to your vehicle is a commercial type of van with the windows blackened. If something tells you that this situation is potentially dangerous, whereby you could be abducted, pulled into this van, you should go back into the store, and security would be more than willing to walk you out to your car. I use that as an example because, as you probably know, the van is a vehicle of choice for serial murders and rapists, and this is typically their M.O.


Bob from Chicago: Many of the offenders you discuss show early signs of deviant behavior. Is there any way that our communities can detect these individuals and prevent them from causing future problems?

John Douglas: I believe it would take the kind of financial and personal committment that we had -- as an example -- during the Persian Gulf War to turn this cycle of violence around. As I have stated in my past books, schoolteachers are probably some of the best profilers. They get to see children who are neglected, abused, and coming from families where there is no love or support. The teachers see students who are violent, void of any concern or passion for others, possessing bitterness and hatred toward authority figures and their fellow students, as well as children who are cruel to animals who commit other acts of destruction such as arson. But I do believe you can break the cycle if you can take these children out of these environments and give them the love and affection that every one of us want as a child.


Harvey from Dayton, OH: Mark, I read THE EDGE a couple of years back and was riveted. When will you come out with another novel? What will it be about?

Mark Olshaker: First, Harvey, let me thank you for your kind words. That means more to a novelist than anything. I very much enjoyed writing THE EDGE and defiantly intend to do more novels featuring the main character, Sandy Mansield. Tangentially, I might add that at the time I wrote it, I was put under a lot of scrutiny for presuming to write in the first person from the perspective of a female homicide detective. Yet I just noticed that Martin Amis, the distinguished British novelist, has just come out with a book written in the first person from the perspective of a female American homicide detective, so maybe I started something. As to when I will do another novel, I hope you will be pleased to hear that John Douglas and I are working on a novel based on the FBI right now. But once I get finished with some of my current commitments, I definitely want to follow up THE EDGE.


Stanley from Nevada: Mark, will you ever work on another documentary to follow up on "The Mind of a Serial Killer"?

John Douglas: I certainly hope so. Frankly, I have been so busy writing books lately that I haven't had much time to pursue filmmaking. However, a couple of projects have been presented to me, so I will probably try to get my hand back in later in the year.


Georgia from Mobile, AL: Are these stalkers and serial killers ever women? You seem to profile mostly men.

John Douglas: We have had women serial killers in this country. However, their crimes are generally against people they know, i.e., family, neighbors, and associates. With serial murders it is predominantly a male crime. With stalkers, at any given time in this country, there are over 200,000 people who are being stalked. One out of every 20 people will be the victim of a stalker in their lifetime. The primary person who is doing the stalking is in these cases generally a spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend. Eighty percent of the total number of stalkings are perpetrated by males.


Natalie from New Orleans, LA: The focus of the work that two of you do seems very draining and depressing. Aren't you ever disgusted with how low humans can go? What keeps you fascinated and interested in this subject?

Mark Olshaker: Well, Natalie, the answer is that we are disgusted all the time. It is amazing to me what some human beings are capable of doing to their fellow men and women. But, as we strive to make very clear in OBSESSION, for every one of these horrible monsters, there are many wonderful people equally obsessed but in a postive way, who are working very hard to make the world a better place to live. These include prosecutors like Linda Fairstein, victim counselors such as Carrol Anne Ellis, and the victims themselves, like Gene and Peggy Schmidt, who have transformed their grief over the rape and murder of their beautiful young daughter, Stephanie, into positive action. People like this are really doing God's work, and I never fail to be inspired and humbled by their stories.

John Douglas: As you probably know from my first book, MINDHUNTER, I nearly died in 1983 after collapsing in my hotel room while working on the Green River murder case. The rewards that I receive come from the police, but more particularly the families who have lost a family member to a violent offender. If I could help any police department, any victim, any prosecutor, in identifying the subject as well as assisting in the prosecution of the offender, that is what makes this work very worthwhile. Since retiring from the FBI, I am doing more work these days for various victims as well as survivors of violent crime. This has been a very enlightening and rewarding experience for me, particularly working with the surviving victims who are left behind.


Rob from Atlanta: Mark, I would love to see some of your films. Where am I most likely to find them?

Mark Olshaker: The best place to obtain most of my work is through the PBS video catalog. They are located in Alexandria, Virginia, and have an 800 number. Thanks for your interest....


Sharon from Oyster Bay, NY: How did either of you get involved in this subject?

MO: I am sure John's answer will be fascinating. I think I know what it is, after writing and reading MINDHUNTER, but as for myself, I have been a novelist and a documentary filmmaker for a number of years, and in that business what interests you most is the human condition: why people do the things they do. Nowhere is the human conditon-- love, hate, revenge, tenderness, sex, violence, etc. more raw and basic than in the field of criminology and crime detection. I wrote and produced a film for NOVA on PBS entitled "Mind of a Serial Killer," which focused on John's unit of the FBI in Quantico. Through that film, I became extremely interested in the subject and very friendly with John and his colleagues. So when he retired, he asked me if I wanted to work with him on these books, and I said I would. I have had no reason to regret that intial decision.

John Douglas: I was always interested in why criminals particularly do the things that they do. In simple language, what was their motivation, how did they perpetrate the crime, and particularly, why did they perpetrate the crime? I found myself in prisons asking those questions of murderers, rapists, and child molesters. What was surprising to me was that many people working in the mental health profession never concern themselves or want to know the answers to those questions. To understand the criminal personality, you must look at the crime. Anyone making any decisions relative to sentencing, treatment, probation, and parole, and who's never once looked at the crime scene photos, autopsy report, and preliminary police reports, has no business making decisions that ultimately return the violent offender back into our community. This has been my obsession and my mission, to try to change the way people look at and treat violent offenders.


Roddy from Sante Fe, NM: John, how much contact do you have with the people you hunt after you've caught them? Have you ever met Ted Kaczynski, before or after his trial?

Mark Olshaker: Sometimes I have followed up on cases where I have been actively involved in the investigation. Ted Kaczynski is one person whom I would really like to interview. I do not believe for a minute that he is mentally insane, he has an IQ of 153, he was able to allude law enforcement for 18 years, and he manipulated the FBI and the media throughout that reign of terror. After being identified and later convicted of his crimes, he continued to manipulate the juducial system while in custody. It is for this reason that I would like to interview him, because I think I could learn a lot from him that I would be able to apply to similar cases in the future. And there will be similar cases in the future, unfortunately.


Francis from Pennsylvania: Has there been any forensic investigation or studies of brain chemistry or structure, such as that which is seen in schizophrenics, of serial murderers that might shed light on why some people commit serial murders and others do not?

John Douglas: There has been research looking at biological reasons why some people have become violent offenders. However, I am not sure whether this has anything to do with brain chemistry or has something to do perhaps with causing someone to be impulsive in their behavior. Defense attorneys have been trying to use this as a defense for years,. However, the question that one must always ask oneself is whether or not the subject knew right from wrong. Was the subject capable of understanding the nature and consequences of his acts? Generally what you'll find is that the offenders knew what they were doing was wrong, they had the ability to make a choice. However, these people, remember, have no guilt or conscience. Therefore, I still strongly believe that what we are dealing with is a character disorder, more so than some biological misfire in someone's brain.


Ray from Buffalo, NY: Do you agree with the advice and suggestions by Doreen Orion in her book on stalking, I KNOW YOU REALLY LOVE ME, in avoiding such difficulties? Do you agree with her assessment that often little or nothing will trigger an obsessive attachment?

Mark Olshaker: It is often true that stalking victims have done nothing to encourage or provoke the stalker. Of course, in the case of celebrity stalking, the victim proably had never even encountered the stalker. Stalking is a very difficult crime to deal with, and there is no easy general piece of advice. Different strategies work best in different situations, but the central idea, which is nearly always true, is that the victim needs to take whatever steps are necessary to completely cut off contact with the stalker.


Melissa from Gulf Coast: In profiling the Ramsey case, what can you tell us about the psyche of the person responsible for murdering JonBenet? And do you think the murderer has killed before or will kill again?

John Douglas: This crime reflects severe emotional rage on the part of the offender. JonBenet Ramsey was struck in the head with some unknown object, and medical examiners said the force of the blow could have taken down a 300-pound man. In addition, JonBenet was strangled with a ligature. This shows overkill as well as sustained aggressive attack against a small, helpless child. For those reasons, I do not believe that this is a stranger homocide. I believe this is a personal cause homocide, which I have addressed in a previous book I wrote called THE CRIME CLASSIFICATION MANUAL.


Heather from Brantford, ON: Mr. Douglas, do you think serial killers continue to kill unless they die or are caught, or do you think they can simply "burn out" and stop killing if they manage to escape detection for previous murders, such as the Green River killer did.

John Douglas: Serial killers do not burn out. Psychologists and psychiatrists have told us that these crimes were for sexual reasons and motivations. This is wrong. These crimes are crimes of domination and control. As a result, these serial killers can kill and keep killing up until the day they die. They don't, however, have to kill regularly. As many of you know, serial killers can go years between each of their killings.


Moderator: Thank you, John Douglas and Mark Olshaker. Any closing comments?

Mark Olshaker: It has been a pleasure being here, wherever here is in cyberspace. I am not quite sure, and let me just say that as some of our correspondents have pointed out, what we write about is not easy or pleasant, But I consider myself very fortunate to be assocaiated with world-class investigative talent like John and equally fortunate that the brave and noble victims of the crimes we have described have taken us into their lives, confidences, and hearts. Both John and I will be forever grateful.

John Douglas: The questions were excellent this evening. I wish I had time to answer all of them. Hopefully, in the books that Mark and I are writing, you will have the answers to many of your questions, now and in the future. Thank you for having me.


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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2010

    A must read for every woman.

    Long before I finished reading Obession I was and will always be a firm believer every woman and young girl entering into womanhood should read this book. ALL men are NOT monsters. But for certain every womanin her lifetime will cross paths with a monster, be it a stranger or someone ser knows. Obession I believe can save lives. I am grateful I read this book, and if I had this book at when I was a young woman the quality of my life would have been better.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2003

    Astonishing & Insightful

    F.B.I. profiler John Douglas explores and exhibits the most horrific killers of our time. Douglas' knowledge and expertise is both interesting and astonishing. Douglas explores all aspects of serial murder and also gives insight to rapists and stalkers who may be on the verge of murder. A must read for all students who dare to 'look inside the mind of a killer' and those who may be interested in this facet of crime.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2008

    GREAT!

    An awesome book! Definitely recommending to any true crime fan.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2004

    It's Amazing!

    This book was the first true crime book that i had ever read. thanks to the authors of the book for the way they wrote the book it has hooked me into reading other true crime books and it even sparked some interest into me being a police officer or corrections officer.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2001

    OBESSION: A Must Read Survival Handbook

    OBESSION is a very in-depth book into the criminal pysche and how they tick. John Douglas is a very great author to take time out of his retirement to write about what he did as a FBI criminal profiler. I take my hat off to him as well as his co-author, Mark Olshaker.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2000

    Captivating

    Ever since I was a young child, I always wanted to know what made these types of individuals tick, an obsession of my own. In reading not only this book, but John Douglas' other books, I feel that he is giving his reader the in's and outs of the possible goings on in the psyches of these distorted individuals. All of his books have given me some insight on how to look after myself in this not so perfect world!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2000

    READ THIS

    THIS IS ONE THE BEST BOOKS I HAVE EVER READ. IT IS TRULY INSIGHTFUL INTO THE CRIMINAL MIND. EVEN MORE IMPORTANTLY IT CAN HELP YOU UNDERSTAND HOW TO LOOK OUT FOR YOURSELF IN THIS CRAZY WORLD. THE CHAPTER TITLED 'KATIES STORY' IS INCREDIBLY TOUCHING.

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    Posted February 24, 2009

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    Posted June 17, 2011

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    Posted February 6, 2010

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    Posted April 23, 2011

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    Posted September 19, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2008

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    Posted September 6, 2010

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