Important note: This whole section has been compiled from books and websites, with occasional help from people working in this field. Like the rest of Deep Background (of which this is only a small part), this information is designed for writers of X-Files fiction, and covers only those things that they might be expected to need. It is not a comprehensive guide to the subject.
Forensic psychiatrists work with prisoners and criminals to assess their mental condition, treatment, and whether they are fit to plead or to be released. Presumably this is what Dr Aaron Monte was in "Tooms", when he recommended Tooms's release.
In particular, they establish:
For the defendant to plead insanity he is admitting guilt - sauing that, yes, he did the crime, but here are the mitigating factors. If he makes this plea, he must be examined by a psychiatrist and can't refuse this.
As we all know, this is what Mulder did before the X-Files.
Profiling is the term used for the process of examining all aspect of the crime scene in order to build up a picture of the sort of person who committed the crime. This picture can be remarkably complete, including sex, age, occupation, disorders, upbringing, marital status, home, type of car they drive etc. The profiler also can give information about how the crime was committed. It doesn't produce a name but it does produce information about the perpetrator which can be just as good as a name.
For further information, read "Mindhunter" by John Douglas.
The Investigative Support Unit
Mulder's former place of work is situated in the Academy, in a cramped maze of offices sixty feet beneath the indoor firing range, which used to be a nuclear fall-out shelter for the Director and his chief staff. It is part of the National Centre for the Analysis of Violent Crime. To get there you press "LL" on the elevator, or "Low-Low", as it's jokingly called. (This fact is also gleaned from a Patricia Cornwell novel). According to John Douglas, they sometimes call themselves the "National Cellar for the Analysis of Violent Crime" and joke that they are ten times deeper than dead people. It is sometime called the Behavioural Science Unit, or BSU. It is used as a service of last resort by all other law enforcement agencies, but it particularly used to catch serial killers.
There are 36 agents in this unit, but only 10 are full time profilers. The others work in VICAP, advise in hostage negotiations, appear in court as expert witnesses etc. They each work about 40 or 50 cases at once and work is constantly having to be turned down. About 11,000 cases are brought to them every year, though they only do about 800 full profiles.
Usually, they only accept cases that have gone unsolved for years. Even then, their profiles result in an instant arrest in about 5 percent of the cases.
Attitude of the FBI
Profiling starting in the FBI in the late 70s and wasn't taken seriously. The Behavioural Science Unit existed before then but it was mainly for teaching things such as hostage negotiation. It was only from about 1979 that they made a start on the idea that criminals would be profiled. To this end, there was a project of interviews with convicted criminals to build up a picture of the various motives and methods that criminals use. These were done between 1979 and 1983 and make up a large database of profiles and personality traits that can be drawn upon.
According to John Douglas, the recently retired head of the Behavioural Sciences Unit, the FBI seemed to regard what he was doing at this point as "a hobby". Although he kept updating the records on the criminal profiles, no-one seemed eager to use it. It as only by 1982 or 83, when he had had some sucesses working with local police, that the FBI began slowly to come round to the idea of using it.Even so, at the time Mulder was there, only about 50 percent of the FBI really approved of profiling.
Much depends on who's in charge at the moment, whether nationally, at the top of the FBI or in field offices. Some SACs in field officers are very supportive. Others, as Douglas says, say, "Forget it. It's too much like witchcraft."
"Grotesque" shows Patterson, and, in a way, Mulder, cracking under the strain of doing a profile. Does this really happen?
In the early 80s academic qualification such as a PhD were the main prerequisite of joining the BSU. However it was later found that personal qualifications were if anything more important. Profilers are chosen for their ability to cope with the huge workload and the type of work they do.
Nevertheless, as Douglas says, "no-one can ever really shrug it off." He talks about going for a walk in the park with your family, seeing an area of undergrowth and thinking what a wonderful place it would be to hide a body, then thinking back to the other bodies found in similar places. "We have people burning out from stress down here," he says. "There's too much work.... We work ridiculous hours in lousy space. We haven't the resources to take on any more people..."
As for Patterson's "becoming a monster" thing - this too is necessary. When talking to a killer, you can't go in all self- righteous and angry. You have to win his trust, and try as hard as you can to actually think like him. Profiler and killer can be seen sitting next to each other in a cell, laughing together at the details of some gruesome murder. The profiler mustn't get angry at what the killer has done, but must "get in these guy's shoes, laugh with them and think on their level."
This is the key to most profiles. The profiler looks at the victim and the cime scene and from that works out the details of the victim's reaction during the crime. From that they move on to working out why the killer needed to see that particular response.
The Profile of a Violent Serial Offender
Apart from these, much depends on the individual nature of the crime
It is necessary to move fast when faced with a serial killer. For the first few murders he's still refining his modus operandi. If you don't catch him then, it gets much harder.
Profilers divide murderers into two types, although some have aspects of both types in their personalities:
This type of killer is often known as the psychopath.
These killers are often schizophrenic
The Profile of a Bomber
In case anyone wants to include a bomber in their stories (and because I happened to find this information) here is Douglas's profile of a bomber:
A nice snippet of information that I couldn't fit anywhere else:
A right-handed person, when asked a question, will usually look to the left if they are genuinely struggling to come up with the answer. If they look to the right, they may be lying.
And vice versa....