Sexual Murder: Catathymic and Compulsive Homicides

By Louis B. Schlesinger | Go to book overview

Introduction

During graduate school, I had planned on a career in professional psychology with an emphasis on evaluating and treating children and adolescents. After a 2-year traineeship at a state hospital, I was ready to begin my clinical internship at the New Jersey Neuropsychiatric Institute in Princeton. Due to an administrative snafu, however, I was unable to go there and had to choose another site. The director of training recommended I consider the Menlo Park Diagnostic Center, the state's forensic facility. I was not exactly sure what forensic psychology was since there were hardly any forensic psychologists in 1974. But I had to go somewhere, so I decided to give it a try. I certainly did not realize that the administrative foul-up that resulted in my placement at the diagnostic center would so profoundly change my life and professional career.

While at the center I met Eugene Revitch, one of the country's leading forensic psychiatrists, who not only provided exceptional training in assessment but allowed me to participate in sodium amytal interviews, hypnoanalytic sessions, evaluations in state prison, and consultations with law enforcement officers, as well as to observe court testimony. I became so interested in forensic psychology that I signed up for the second half of my internship at Trenton State Prison. My fellow interns all thought I was out of my mind for pursuing forensic psychology as a specialty since the opportunities back then seemed so limited. In the mid-1970s, in order for psychologists to get involved in a forensic case, they had to be invited by a psychiatrist and their role was usually limited to psychological testing. I never dreamed that 20 years later the professional status of psychologists would change so dramatically and that we would have such a major impact on legal decision making.

Dr. Revitch and I became close friends, and over the years we collaborated on many forensic cases and several books. In 1981 we coauthored Psychopathology of Homicide; in 1983 we coedited Sexual Dynamics of Antisocial Behavior; and in 1989 we wrote Sex Murder and Sex Aggression. Although Dr. Revitch (who died in 1996) had no direct involvement in writing the current volume, his influence is present on almost every page.

-xiii-

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