Between The Law and the Mind: Forensic Science
There’s little doubt that today, many people love sitting down in the comfort of their own home, flicking on the television, and enjoying some nail-biting crime show. The increase of interest in this style of police show, which focuses on the criminals more than just on the crime, is most likely related to the fact that we are no longer simply interested in seeing the law upheld and criminals punished. As a culture, we have taken an overall interest in understanding the psychology of the criminal or the roots of criminal motivation. Action, chase scenes and violent interrogations are fun as entertainment up to a certain extent. But as a culture becomes more educated, the relationship between psychology and the law have a greater appeal precisely because they appeal to our desire to penetrate beyond flashy entertainment to deeper understanding of why human beings are pushed to the extremes of criminal behavior.
If our quest for knowledge is the reason why the work of a Jason Gideon (Criminal Minds) or a Patrick Jane (The Mentalist) is more fascinating than, say, a Dirty Harry or Baretta, then it is no surprise that more and more people are interested in turning from television shows to real-world education in the forensic sciences. And just as we engage in these programs from home, so can we take advantage of online learning to get an education in criminal or forensic psychology. For those considering this exciting field, here are a few of the subjects one can expect to cover:
Criminal Psychology- This branch focuses on criminals, specifically, what motivates them into crime. It penetrates far deeper than regular motivations based on financial need. It employs the knowledge of profiling, mental disorder, and sociological pressures.
Police Psychology- Learn to evaluate personalities of law enforcement officers to determine their ability and efficacy in dealing with serious crimes. This also learns to help officers who have experienced traumas in the line of duty.
Victimology- Help victims of violent crimes learn to deal with their traumas and adapt back into everyday society. Focus on making it easy for victims to help the police and justice system track and prosecute their offenders.
Court Psychology- Understanding the special dynamics in court as criminals, victims, the police and the law are all brought together. Court psychology often works with criminal psychology for offering testimony.
Correctional Psychology- This branch studies the rehabilitation of criminals and offenders in prisons and other correctional facilities. Also serving to evaluate criminals for parole.
These studies are not an exact science and many moral and ethical issues are constantly shaping the way we treat criminals, their victims, and their relationships to the law. As these subjects are continuously under investigation, the opportunity to study them in continuing education programs will only ensure more educated professionals will help to improve our understanding for generations to come.