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Mind Hunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit (1995)

by John Douglas

Other authors: Mark Olshaker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,308215,725 (3.79)38
Now a Netflix original series Discover the classic, behind-the-scenes chronicle of John E. Douglas' twenty-five-year career in the FBI Investigative Support Unit, where he used psychological profiling to delve into the minds of the country's most notorious serial killers and criminals. In chilling detail, the legendary Mindhunter takes us behind the scenes of some of his most gruesome, fascinating, and challenging cases--and into the darkest recesses of our worst nightmares. During his twenty-five year career with the Investigative Support Unit, Special Agent John Douglas became a legendary figure in law enforcement, pursuing some of the most notorious and sadistic serial killers of our time: the man who hunted prostitutes for sport in the woods of Alaska, the Atlanta child murderer, and Seattle's Green River killer, the case that nearly cost Douglas his life. As the model for Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs, Douglas has confronted, interviewed, and studied scores of serial killers and assassins, including Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Ed Gein, who dressed himself in his victims' peeled skin. Using his uncanny ability to become both predator and prey, Douglas examines each crime scene, reliving both the killer's and the victim's actions in his mind, creating their profiles, describing their habits, and predicting their next moves.… (more)
  1. 40
    Whoever Fights Monsters by Robert K. Ressler (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Both are about early FBI profilers attempting to understand the minds of serial killers. Mindhunter is the more dramatically written while Whoever Fights Monsters included more specifics on profiling itself.
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» See also 38 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
This was such a good read. The writing had me hooked from the start. The information that was presented was readable so anybody essentially can read it. I highly recommend this. ( )
  mythical_library | Jun 15, 2022 |
A marginally better book than Whoever Fights Monsters by Douglas' contemporary Robert Ressler, this one is a mixed bag.

Other reviews saying you have to get through about 100 pages before it gets to the good content are correct. Douglas spends so much time flaunting a massive ego during which we must be told how tall, athletic, smart, attractive to women and generally brilliant he was at anything he ever turned his hand to, I found it excrutiating enough to almost DNF.

After about a hundred pages of this (including such notes as him being too tall and muscular to meet the FBI's standards at the time, having all the women typists at a field office fighting over him when he was "single" even though he was engaged and took weeks to tell them, and basically bragging about weighing up leaving his fiancee for a very wealthy woman who was into him) we get to the meat of the matter in terms of studying incarcerated killers and profiling active cases.

That's generally good material although he follows Ressler's example of being very self-congratulatory about accuracy of profile details and never gives a real example of a profile being off. He also repeats Ressler's mistake of claiming as fact the notion that the "Wearside Jack" Yorkshire Ripper hoaxer was a retired police officer with a grudge when the hoaxer was not identified until 10 years after he wrote this book and was nothing of the sort. As I noted in my review of Ressler's book, if the author is going to present that baseless speculation as fact, it undermines the credibility of everything else he writes.

At the end there's a half-hearted "Sometimes the dragon wins" chapter where some (at the time) uncaught killers are discussed, primarily BTK and the Green River Killer. Notably, Douglas does not give us the detail of his profiles on these cases so unlike earlier examples where he can brag about accuracy here he seems to be unwilling to risk the embarrassment of being wrong. He tries to take credit for his profile scaring BTK into stopping but with hindsight that doesn't seem to be the case. He also is convinced the Green River cases were likely 3 separate killers but he was ultimately wrong about that as well. So these since-solved cases go to show that he is not the infallible genius he otherwise presents himself as and I imagine there were a lot more lessons that could be taken from the other cases if he was a bit more humble.

If you're coming at this from the true crime perspective, you could honestly skip straight to chapter 6 "Taking the show on the road". That is certainly what I'll be doing if I re-read it. I'm torn between 2 and 3 stars but I don't do half stars so I'm going to round down because I just couldn't stand Douglas' self-aggrandizing personality. ( )
  ElegantMechanic | May 28, 2022 |
Still an interesting read, but the way Douglas dismisses women and describes his female co-workers is certainly "of its time." ( )
  suzannekmoses | May 20, 2022 |
作者小時候的願望居然是成為獸醫,我真的太經常無意遇上原本要當獸醫後來轉行得千奇百怪的作者寫的書了8(。

大概是FBI探員常以幽默(尤其是黑色幽默)來排解壓力的緣故,行文非常淺顯易懂,四百頁刷刷看完,雖然題材沉重但卻是相當不錯的休閒讀物之選。大致看了下 Goodreads 的評價,還好我不是唯一一個覺得作者在某些部分(尤其是談及個人生活時)顯得格外自大臭屁 obnoxious 的讀者⋯⋯雖不至於不忍卒讀,但讓人很有衝過去理論一番的衝動

第18章特別值得深思,執法者和精神醫生的角度有很大不同,前者力圖阻止扼殺犯罪、而後者力爭罪犯人權得到保障,但是靠自述如何能斷定一個窮凶極惡之人真的有心改過、以及對罪犯的人性化處理和寬容是不是對受害者和家屬乃至執法者的殘忍,這兩點都非常值得社會討論。之前也瀏覽過一本DSM編者反對DSM的過度使用,感覺確實是術業有專攻,犯罪心理還是交給犯罪心理學家來處理比較好。看完這本大概適合立馬接著讀 Stephen Seager 的 Behind the Gates of Gomorrah

以及常和死者打交道的職業似乎特別容易遇上家庭問題,上次看的法醫回憶錄也是一樣婚姻無法維繫⋯⋯ ( )
  puripuri | Sep 9, 2021 |
All the stuff dealing with profiling and the crimes was very interesting. Disturbing, obviously, but very interesting. On the other hand, I really didn't care for Douglas as a human being. He's smart and moved the field forward, of course, but he really comes of as having a huge ego and a bit of a douche bag.

Also hope I don't have nightmares about killers. ( )
  amcheri | May 25, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Douglas, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Olshaker, Marksecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
André, EmeliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carrisi, DonatoPresentazionesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davidson, Richard M.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Douglas, John E.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guelbenzu, AnaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
In de wal, Martin JansenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ingwersen, JörgTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Korhonen, JussiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peterson, LucasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piccioli, Maria BarbaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Foul deeds will rise,
Though all the earth o'erwhelm them,
to men's eyes.
—William Shakespeare,
Hamlet
Dedication
To the men and women of the FBI Behavioral Science and Investigative Support Units, Quantico, Virginia,
past and present --fellow explorers, partners on the journey
[from Gallery Books, 2017 ed.]
First words
I must be in hell. It was the only logical explanation.
Quotations
To this day, the [Kris and Doug] Welles case remains one of the few on record in which intended victims of a serial killer were actually able to fight back and kill their attacker in self-defense. Their story is a miraculous one, and we have had them out several times to speak to classes at Quantico. This unassuming couple have been able to give us rare insight from the perspective of victims who became heroes. Having been to hell and back that night, they are amazingly warm, sensitive, and "together" people.

At the end of one of their presentations at Quantico, a police officer in the class asked them, "If Wayne Nance had lived and there was no death penalty -- that is, if he were still sharing the earth with you -- would you both be as mentally sound as you are now?"

They turned and looked at each other and then silently agreed on their response. "Almost definitely not," said Doug Welles. (Chapter 17, "Anyone Can Be a Victim", p. 361-362; Gallery Books, 2017)
The psychiatrist, who was around fifty, gave me a positive response [...] and said that Vanda could be ready for parole if this progress continued.

I asked him if he knew the specifics of what Vanda had done. "No, I don't want to know," he replied. [...] And he added, he didn't want to unfairly influence his relationship with the patient

Well doctor, let me tell you what Thomas Vanda did [...]

I finished my story about Vanda. "You're disgusting, Douglas!" the psychiatrist declared. "Get out of my office!"

"I'm disgusting?" I countered. "You're gonna be in a position to make a recommendation that Thomas Vanda is responding to therapy and could be freed, and you don't know who in the hell you're talking to when you're dealing with these inmates. How are you supposed to understand them when you haven't taken the time to look at the crime-scene photos or reports, to go over the autopsy protocols. [...] How in hell do you know if he's dangerous or not?" Chapter 18, "Battle of the Shrinks," p.364-365; Gallery Books, 2017)
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Now a Netflix original series Discover the classic, behind-the-scenes chronicle of John E. Douglas' twenty-five-year career in the FBI Investigative Support Unit, where he used psychological profiling to delve into the minds of the country's most notorious serial killers and criminals. In chilling detail, the legendary Mindhunter takes us behind the scenes of some of his most gruesome, fascinating, and challenging cases--and into the darkest recesses of our worst nightmares. During his twenty-five year career with the Investigative Support Unit, Special Agent John Douglas became a legendary figure in law enforcement, pursuing some of the most notorious and sadistic serial killers of our time: the man who hunted prostitutes for sport in the woods of Alaska, the Atlanta child murderer, and Seattle's Green River killer, the case that nearly cost Douglas his life. As the model for Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs, Douglas has confronted, interviewed, and studied scores of serial killers and assassins, including Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Ed Gein, who dressed himself in his victims' peeled skin. Using his uncanny ability to become both predator and prey, Douglas examines each crime scene, reliving both the killer's and the victim's actions in his mind, creating their profiles, describing their habits, and predicting their next moves.

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