A forensic psychologist has taken to the internet answer any burning questions users may have about their profession, offering a glimpse into their sometimes disturbing working day
As far as professions go, the career path of a forensic psychologist surely has to rank among the most intriguing, with practitioners in this field gaining unparalleled insight into the darker recesses of the human mind.
It’s no great surprise therefore that, after one forensic psychologist from the US took to Reddit’s Ask Me Anything forum, they were bombarded with questions about the more disturbing aspects of their job.
Curious commenters were certainly not left disappointed, with the ‘relatively new’ professional opening up candidly about their line of work with all types of clients – including those who have committed murder.
The unnamed individual says they currently work at a conditional release program that provides therapy, case management and evaluations for those with severe mental illness.
They explain these patients have previously been committed to the state hospital on account of the dangerousness of their offence and their aim is to bring them safely back into society.
One of the main questions Reddit users had was whether or not people were ‘evil’ by nature or because of ‘society/parenting/circumstances’.
The forensic psychologist, who writes under the username u/hippokuda, stated that they believe both things to be true, going on to address the differences between psychopathy and sociopathy.
They wrote: “If you look at ‘psychopaths’ vs ‘sociopaths’ that’s an example of innate vs environment. Psychopathy is something people are born with and we can see neurological differences that inhibit their ability to empathize with people.
“Whereas someone who is a ‘sociopath’ is not inherently born with it and behave in a way that could be a product of their environment (e.g. gangs). And you can see that they are able to empathize and have connections with people, but perhaps shaped in an antisocial lens”.
However, they went on to say they believe that “even for the psychopaths it’s still both”, remarking that “not everyone with psychopathy is a serial killer”.
“Some of them participate in our society in socially acceptable ways (e.g. professors, CEOs). Even when you look at a lot of serial killers you’ll see that a lot of them have pretty significant histories of trauma and abuse,” they explained.
For this particular forensic psychologist, the realisation that psychopathy can be found in ‘everyday people’ is the most interesting thing they’ve learned so far, with the user remarking that they are always startled by “just how ‘normal’ a lot of my clients present”.
They add that even when meeting people outside of work, they now “can’t help but wonder how many gnarly people are out there that are flying under the radar”.
No doubt many of those who’ve read the thread will now feel the same way.