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Inside the Criminal Mind

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,251 ratings  ·  118 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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Jana Laura, you will find this book helpful no matter who you work with. I work with women in the county jail -of all types - and it is a book about…moreLaura, you will find this book helpful no matter who you work with. I work with women in the county jail -of all types - and it is a book about THINKING patterns and understanding how criminal behavior manifests as a result of mindsets. It has been a fantastic resource for me to better orient my teaching to deal with some of the ingrained thinking, not just modify certain behaviors based on environmental or social issues. I think you will find the last several chapters (case studies) very insightful. So far this has been the best resource I have discovered for understanding how to effectively mentor and teach in a jail setting. (less)

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Darcia Helle
This is one of the worst books - if not the absolute worst - I've read on criminal behavior. The short version of my thoughts is that the writing is repetitive, the passages often lead nowhere aside from self-serving examples, and the tone is arrogant and judgmental.

So much is wrong here that I'm not even sure where to begin. Samenow criticizes the neuroscience approach to studying psychopathy, making the claim that criminals have "errors in thinking" rather than specific brain anomalies. Yet h
I read this for a doctoral level class I'm taking in Social Deviance. I wish I hadn't though. In this book, Dr. Samenow sets out to answer the age-old question of why criminals commit crimes and spends 50,000 words (or how ever long this book is) answering, simply, "well, because they choose to."

Don't get me wrong. I am not the one to coddle or play hug-a-thug either with the big bad wolves of society. I did agree with some of the points he makes here. Samenow says that criminals are
Rachel Bayles
Jan 14, 2013 rated it did not like it
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 sociol
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
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.
I really got into this book.
Interesting way to look at the criminal mind.
Stanton Samenow's Inside the Criminal Mind was an often-frustrating book, but shouldn't we read things with different perspectives? Wouldn't our fractious times profit from listening? In fact, the very differences between Samenow's and my own worldviews were what I most appreciated. This book was ultimately helpful, sharpening and refining my views on criminality.

Throughout, Samenow talked about "the criminal," as though there is only one type of person committing crimes. People end up i
Sheryl Sorrentino
Sep 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
I'm on page 44 and I can tell I won't get much further. First of all, the author's constant reference to pot smoking as criminal/delinquent behavior, even in the updated edition, is irksome. Adult use marijuana will be legal in California in January 2018 and is already legal in a few other states. I know many, many successful, good, even professional people who smoke pot and aren't criminals. So Dr. Samenow lost me there.

Second, I simply don't buy the notion that nothing--absolutely
Liz Barnsley
**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 cr
Stephen Bourque
Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mira Joseph
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
Kathy Lynch
Dec 30, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Michelle Desgagne
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
I received the latest edition of this book as part of an early review program; my understanding is that the updates in this release are mainly in the examples used (Boston Marathon bombings, Aurora theater shooting, Sandy Hook, etc have been added).

I'm ambivalent about this book. As another reviewer has already thoroughly explained there are a lot of problems with the author's views on the causes and repercussions of criminal behavior, frequently to the point of oversimplifying or even seeming like he d
Yes, he could be a lot less arrogant in his delivery, but on the whole (and as a former therapist) I absolutely agree with the premise that people need to take responsibility for their own actions and stop blaming everything in the world except themselves for where they are in life. Samenow's "three options" are pretty stark, but the story of Leroy is inspiring and shows that it CAN be done when and individual WANTS to make the necessary changes. Maybe if we started with these concepts a little ...more
Jan 15, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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.
Oct 05, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
We have this cult of exhonoration in our society where choice is subjugated to the panorama of our painful experiences. While our traumas and past serve to explain, Samenow sets to rights the conscious choices we must make to not allow those shadows to define our present.
Tadas Talaikis
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
Interesting, but doesn't answer the question - why and how, talks too much about symptoms. So, I'll stay to my usual explanation - life's economics.
Alana Cash
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended to me by someone who actually uses Samenow's technique working with prisoners in a state criminal justice system - AND IT WORKS. In fact, the prison system in which she works has such a low recidivism for the prisoners in the program that they have been contacted by other states to train the Samenow theory and system.

Samenow's theory is about taking personal responsibility for bad choices. No excuses for child abuse, neglect, poverty, bad parental examples,
Michal Leah
May 31, 2015 rated it did not like it
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
Bastard Travel
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I can see why this book is controversial. Taking a look at the other reviews, you'd think Samenow was advocating bringing back flogging.

This guy, likely the hardest psychiatrist I've ever heard of, worked with irreconcilable criminals for his entire career, and established that maybe they weren't that irreconcilable. His theory posited that the issue was all of this empathy, understanding, gentle words, sad eyes, and Freudian excuses provided exactly the smokescreen that criminal psychopaths ne
"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
Nov 16, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1.5 stars. I finished this book. I mention that because from about the time I reached the 100-page mark until near the end I kept asking myself and over and over "what is the point of this book?" it's one bleak vignette after another, most about manipulative criminals selfishly looking out for #1. the stories are journalistic and they pile up on one another. that said, it seems unfair to knock a book for living up to its title: this is a book about how criminals think, or, at least, how they ref ...more
Diane S
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
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
G.C. Neff
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was very impressed with the depth of this book. The author explained in detail how the criminal mind works, and tells precisely how to change his thinking so that he can become a "normal" citizen. My only negative comment about the book is due to the lack of response by those who deal with criminals to be more interested in the concept and adopt it in prisons or jails.

It is, after all, something within the criminal's mind that causes him to act. Therefore, it makes perfectly logica
Tiffany M
Jun 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
Highly recommend! I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be buying some of the authors other publications. I have my degree in forensic psych and currently work in corrections - this book gave me greater insight and a deeper understanding of the criminal personality and behaviors. The book was clearly written and the examples used helped to clarify and illustrate the author's major points.
Carl Smith
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When I first picked up this book, I figured it would be full of medical references and would be difficult for the average person to read. I was totally wrong. It was a very easy and enjoyable read and I found the topic facinating. I loved the story of Leroy, which rounded off the book nicely.
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Explains the centrality of dysfunctional cognition to criminal behavior. Invaluable background information to anyone providing social services or re-rentry programs for inmates or offenders. Made me realize how much money has been wasted on interventions focused on increasing self-esteem.
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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