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Inside the Criminal Mind

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  585 ratings  ·  57 reviews
In 1984, this groundbreaking book presented a chilling profile of the criminal mind that shattered long-held myths about the sources of and cures for crime. Now, with the benefit of twenty years' worth of additional knowledge and insight, Stanton Samenow offers a completely updated edition of his classic work, including fresh perceptions into crimes in the spotlight today, ...more
Hardcover, Revised, 288 pages
Published March 30th 2004 by Crown (first published 1984)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,589)
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Rachel Bayles
The oversimplification in this book is jarring. This is a 250-page book that can be summed up in Nancy Reagan's ever-helpful admonishment to "Just Say No."

It's simply a whole list of people behaving badly, rather like reading the news. His whole thesis is - people have control over their actions. Sure - why not? But who cares?

There is nothing new here. Maybe this book was cutting-edge in the '80's, but it still seems like pages and pages of nothing. The premise of the book is sociology tries to
...more
Liz Wilkins
**Actual rating 3.5 stars***

I requested this book via netgalley because I wanted to read some more non fiction and the subject matter was interesting to me – I do have a passing interest in psychology and crime so it seemed as if this would be fascinating. And it was.

There was a definite academic quality to the writing but done in an accessible fashion so that it was easy to follow – and the author’s thoughts on “criminal personality” and the possibility of identifying criminals early were well
...more
Kathy Wormhoudt
This was a strange, strange read. I was not familiar with Dr. Samenow prior to reading this book, but now that I have, I'm suspicious regarding how this man has a career. He spends most of the text talking about "criminals" as though they are a homogenous group of like-minded abominations who think differently than "normal" people. That may seem reasonable until you realize that the "criminal" mind he is describing applies to everyone from a marijuana user to an axe murderer. There doesn't seem ...more
Meera
Samenow believes that murder is a choice. He believes that environmental factors - such as abuse, (even prostitution), poverty, racism are but excuses to commit murder. A bad past obviously does not excuse murder but Samenow misinterprets this to a harmful degree. He even states that abused children deserved to be abused.

And his evidence? That there are exceptions to every rule. That people of all social groups commit crime. What he doesn't realize is that not all abused children are abused in t
...more
Suzanne
Many people react strongly to Samenow's conclusions in this book. He is simultaniously accused of being "too hard" on criminals by some, and "too soft" on criminals by others. He is "too hard" on criminals because he expects them to take full accountability for themselves and not blame their disadvantaged childhoods, abuse by parents, poverty, etc for their problems. He says there truly are "bad seeds" who are just antisocial. But he is is also accused of being "too soft" because his approach is ...more
Tracy
The author clearly thinks in black and white. Stating that poverty is not a factor in criminality is ludicrous. Most of his examples from the first few chapters are those of upper middle-class parents who have no problem forking over money for therapists, college tuition and attorneys. The fact that the author finds typical adolescent behavior as being “delinquent” and “criminal” is really appalling. Most young people do not want to listen to their parents and/or go to school - it’s called being ...more
Mariah
I was greatly disappointed by this book. Other books that I've read on this subject had actual statistics and research findings, whereas this book revolved primarily around anecdotes and hypotheticals. Anyone without a PhD could tell you that criminals don't obey rules, or that they act out. Considering the author had a PhD, I expected a lot more.

I received this book for free in return for an honest review from Blogging for Books.
Christen
I attempted to read this book. It was oversimplified and most of the information learned is the stuff you learn from watching L&O: CI or Criminal Minds or just by watching the news. Other reviewers have mention is felt like a newspaper piece and it does. I got bored quickly making less than 50 pages.
Christina Rumbaugh
"A criminal is a criminal is a criminal." That's the overall message I got from Inside the Criminal Mind by Standon E. Samenow, Ph.D. The book goes into detail on a myriad of different criminal behaviors, and the thought processes behind them. But chapter after chapter, it was "once a criminal, always a criminal."

I actually found this quite refreshing since most other books that I've read on this subject (there haven't been many), have indicated that criminality is the result of upbringing. As
...more
Danny
I won this book as part of Goodreads Giveaway. I've become more interested in reading & learning about the brain, elasticity, mental health, PTSD, etc. Some of this interest stems from the social work that my brother and some friends are involved in for their jobs. I was really disappointed in this book. The author's main point in the end is that thinking leads to choices which leads to behaviors. This "nugget" holds true for anyone; "criminal" or not.

The main disappointment came from the a
...more
Stephen Bourque
The chief merit of this book is Dr. Samenow’s orientation to objective reality-—specifically, that he regards human beings as creatures possessing free will and capable of thinking. This plainly evident fact apparently constitutes a radical departure from conventional views in his field, and Samenow admits that he and his mentor had to completely overthrow their university training in order to advance their understanding of the evidence they faced.

Although Samenow does, at the end of the book, e
...more
Diane S
Samenow's theory can be summarized by stating all criminals make voluntary choices, behave in a similar fashion and have similar thoughts, and are not influenced by outside factors. While the author writes in a clear, organized way, this theory is full of fundamental flaws. I found myself thinking about these flaws in every paragraph I read. I like reading others' points of view, but he doesn't back up his claims with statistical research. His antecdotal style might make for an interesting read, ...more
Michelle Desgagne
Wow. This authors ideas coupled with experience and training completely undressed my obviously out-dated assumptions of the minds of criminals. In fact, I hadn't even realized that I had specific opinions until there were challenged directly by the concepts presented in this book.
The author takes the reader on an inside-the-criminal-mind trip that will at first challenge then shock you into a full-on reconsideration of Everything You Think you know about Criminal Behavior, Rehabilitation and Th
...more
Michal Leah
I'm in chapter 4 of this book and my intention was to finish it, but I really can't waste more of my time with a book which I will get nothing out of.

This book is terrible and I do not recommend it for anyone. The book is full of conjectures and anecdotes with no studies or other reliable evidence to support its offensive views. The author is also internally inconsistent with constant contradictions that undermine his whole "argument," if you could call it that. For example, the early chapters
...more
S.J. Francis
Fantastic and informative read. Insightful. Criminals Will Hate This Book.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books and I wasn't disappointed.
First off, I hesitated reading this book. So often, books about criminals praise criminals and make excuses trying to excuse their crimes. There is no excuse for a crime; just someone wanting instant gratification without paying for it.
This book, however is a refreshing read. The author, a respected psychologist says wha
...more
Jennifer Boyce
http://premierbookreview.wordpress.co...

Inside the Criminal Mind provides a fascinating and insightful look into the inner workings of the criminal. This book touches on the mentalities that apply in a general way to all criminals and then explains in more depth in relation to each criminal type (whether it's burglars or pedophiles).

Samenow's main point is that the criminal has a "criminal personality" which has been present to the relations of the criminal since they were young. Thus, one can
...more
Brian
This is a weird one to review -- occupational hazard. I read the original version, which was published in 1984, and immediately went into historian mode. Samenow, a research psychologist, says criminal behavior is 100% voluntary. It's a product of disordered thought patterns that are almost entirely congenital. Poverty doesn't cause crime, Samenow claims. Nor do bad parenting, peer pressure, drug use, or any of the other standard excuses (his word). Some kids are born anti-authoritarian thrill s ...more
Lauren at Life Between Reads
When I saw Inside the Criminal Mind on Blogging For Books, I was stoked. I find criminology fascinating (I work in law enforcement) and this book did not disappoint. In fact, I found myself being the obnoxious non-fiction reader who tells everyone within earshot the various theories and ideas I read.

The book was first published in 1984, and this is the revised edition. It’s updated to include examples such as Columbine, Newtown, and updated studies. Though crime has evolved, to include more scho
...more
Alex
I wanted to rate it higher...it's an interesting read, but I disagree with 30% to 35% of what he has to say...He's a 'giant' in my field, regardless.
Kali
from kalireads.com:

As a lover of true crime novels and mystery fiction, I often think to myself, “I should work in this field, man! I should become some sort of criminologist or detective and get out there, sleuthing bad guys.” And then I read a book like Stanton E. Samenow’s Inside the Criminal Mind, and I am confronted full-force with my naiveté. Samenow, a clinical psychologist, has researched criminal behavior for his entire career. Starting in his twenties and continuing today into his seve
...more
Valentyna Zelena
This is my first, and definitely not the last book about criminal behavior. Learning about why criminals are criminals is both annoying and interesting. Inside the Criminal Mind has showed some great ideas, the very basic of which is that a person becomes a criminal because he CHOOSES to do so. The idea is not new, but shocking. We are used to blaming everything else for the criminal behavior - bad parents, wrong peers, ineffective school program, they live on the wrong street, etc. The communit ...more
Melissa Peltier
Dr. Stanton E. Samenow - who I just had the immense pleasure of interviewing for a DISCOVERY ID program - is not your "touchy-feely 'he had a terrible childhood'" type of clinical psychologist. Quite the opposite - his thesis is that criminality arises from a method of thinking which can be exacerbated by environment or circumstance, but is not caused by it. Whether it's inborn in the DNA or due to some sort of early coping mechanism gone wrong (no one knows), Samenow lays out the case that crim ...more
Jake
Apr 28, 2009 Jake rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jake by: jsteinmann@gmail.com
Inside the Criminal Mind was one of the books that I pulled off of Rory Miller’s recommended reading lists. I think I found it on his website, but I’m honestly not sure. Wherever I found it, I’m glad I did.

Inside the Criminal Mind is a very interesting book, though I confess, it’s not entirely what I expected. While Samenow does get very deep into criminal psychology, he does so from a very…global…perspective.

Global is not the right adjective there. I’m having trouble finding one.

Samenow is conc
...more
Jack Bauer
Mar 11, 2013 Jack Bauer rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any individual who is interested in psychology or criminology
Shelves: psychology
This is an absolutely fantastic book. My two bachelors degrees are in English and Psychology, with additional post baccalaureate work in Forensic Psychology for my masters degree. Needless to say, this book was right up my alley.

I couldn't agree more with Dr. Samenow's view of criminology and how criminals themselves are dealt with in the legal system today. For those that haven't yet read the book, Samenow's underlying point is that the criminal is responsible for his own choices and nobody asi
...more
Apzmarshl
Reading for Jason's Master's in CJ.

Samenow seemed to make a rather generalized, simplistic blanket thesis that criminals have a mindset that precludes societal causes, parenting styles, bullying, IQ, or mental disorders. At first it was a bit off putting. I did come to see that he was probably on to something.
Samenow wagers that the true criminal mind is a way of thinking. The criminal is always endowed with the ability to choose. He just chooses evil instead of good. He chooses to serve himsel
...more
Meaghan
I think this book is just as relevant today as it was when it was first published back in 1984, and it ought to be required reading for counselors, psychiatrist, corrections officers, and others who have to deal with dysfunctional and criminal individuals on a regular basis. Samenow takes a no-nonsense approach to crime: Criminals become criminals because they want to be. A bad upbringing, no education, antisocial friends and drugs and alcohol don't make a criminal act the way he does -- his own ...more
Jennifer
Ever since I saw the movie Silence of the Lambs I have been interested in Criminology. I have been interested in understanding the way criminal minds works, especially serial killers. While this book is every well researched, it didn't touch on all of the aspects that can make someone into a criminal. I do have some more insight into the Criminal Mind and I will recommend this book to fans of the show Criminal Minds or interested in Criminology.
John
Punishment & rehabilitation have both failed to reform criminals. Programs have been rooted in theories about crime causation instead of in an understanding of how criminals think. Based on erroneous premises & misconceptions, failure was inevitable.

Criminals may find human relation classes agreeable way to pass the time, but to teach criminal social skills without addressing lifelong thinking patterns is as useless as pouring a delectable sauce over a slice of burnt, rancid meat.

When a
...more
Jenny
Oct 24, 2007 Jenny rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People interested in criminal justice; people who work in the social work or criminal justice fields
Although I heartily disagree with most of Samenow's conclusions, this book was thoroughly researched, and it is actually quite interesting.

I work in the criminal justice field, primarily with defendants, and I have a Master's degree in law, so this book was particularly of interest to me. I doubt that many people outside the profession would be too keen on it. People sympathetic to defendants' causes, such as criminal defense attorneys, probation officers, forensic psychologists, social workers
...more
Sam Mlyniec
Although there was a lot in the book that resonated with me, at least from my personal experience, I couldn't get past the stodgy writing and the broad generalizations. It was like listening to an old man yell from his porch for three and a half hours.
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Dr. Samenow received his B.A. (cum laude) from Yale University in 1963 and his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1968. After working as a clinical psychologist on adolescent inpatient psychiatric services in the Ann Arbor (Michigan) area, he joined the Program for the Investigation of Criminal Behavior at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. From 1970 until June, 1978, ...more
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