Criminal Profiling: Myth vs. Reality

Before taking this course, my understanding and perception of criminal profiling was that profilers used to know everything and that their analysis or profiling of an offender was always true. I believed that profilers could just look around them and extract correct conclusions about the mental processes of any offender according to his/her behavior. In addition, I thought that foolproof forensic techniques were reliable. I used to believe that a forensic analyst could validate everything at a crime scene. To my understanding, criminal profiling was like a one hundred percent accurate method of identifying offenders and analyzing events. I also thought a profiler could be hired by an agency like the FBI. Profilers to me were people who had super human abilities. Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs, certain CBS TV shows and Profiler are some of the movies that come to my mind when I think of what formed by opinion concerning criminal profiling.

Having studied statistics and real facts about criminal profiling, I realized that criminal profiling was a multi-disciplinary forensic practice (Kocsis, 2006). Criminal profiling can be a strong law enforcement procedure which may be used as a last resort. It is also remarkably different from what the media presents. At times, it can be misleading, and some people may be mistaken for the real offenders.

There is a significant difference between the profiling image in the popular culture and the detective world’s reality itself. The law enforcement agency has for long been a source of fodder for imaginative thinkers that have entertained people in front of the TV. However, the criminal profiling as it is portrayed in popular culture is not usually an accurate depiction of the true to life investigation procedures used in the real detective world. The criminal profiling image in popular culture usually makes people believe that law enforcement authorities draw upon large teams of specialists, who are able to come up with immediate and accurate conclusions concerning criminal cases and felons. In reality, criminal profiling is usually conducted by few FBI agents with numerous cases under their belts. In addition, in the real world of detectives, the criminal profiling deductions are not always as accurate as portrayed in popular culture and entertainment mass media.