Exploring the Dark Recesses of the Criminal Mind
This is a story about how we need to understand how normal-seeming people can become absolute monsters. – Dr. Al Carlisle
Violent and horrific crimes are definitely nothing new. It’s my belief that people start off inherently good and that many are drawn to violence of some degree, like enjoying boxing or MMA matches. That doesn’t exactly make someone dangerous, or ‘off’. But are violent minds created or born that way? The age-old “nature vs nurture” debate.
We have a way of viewing violence where sometimes it’s not perceived as such. Some people don’t realize that by very definition, yelling is violent. There’s a long-standing debate if full-contact sports are violent. To sports fans, they’re not. But again, by definition, while the contenders aren’t technically intending to harm someone, there’s still excessive force and unpleasantness.
What Is It About True Crime?
But there are people who fall into a space where the pull is to commit violent acts as opposed to observing them. And while those acts are unfathomable, there’s a pocket of people who are fascinated by the people who commit them. What makes someone capable of harming others in such a way?
In Oxygen’s Violent Minds: Killers on Tape, we explore never before released archive media. Recordings, letters, and notes from Dr. Al Carlisle, a truly remarkable clinical psychologist, who studied Ted Bundy before he would become known as the notorious serial killer he’s known as today. Dr. Carlisle would study many incredible cases in his 50 years of work in criminal psychology.
I had the awesome opportunity to talk with an anthropologist and long-time friend and archivist to Dr. Carlisle, Carrie Anne Drazewski-Keller.
Music Credit: FesliyanStudios, ‘Dark Detective Music Mix’
Expanding the Profile
Criminal psychology has evolved over the decades to expand the study of serial killers and violent offenders. And today, we have true crime as a genre of ‘entertainment’. ‘Entertainment’ is an uncomfortable word to use, but seems fitting, since true crime does exist as a genre of consumable media. Everyone has their own reason for intrigue. And those who have no interest in true crime whatsoever, sometimes paint true crime enthusiasts in a less-than-favorable light.
But I believe in its importance. There’s so much for us to know as a society. Granted, the horrific details of the cases are never anything that anyone wants to hear. But it’s part of the account that we learn from. The focus shouldn’t linger on the “how”, but more on the “why”?
What I hope changes, is that we will be more open to learning from people we immediately deem “monsters” or “evil”. That interest in learning is what can help us ultimately keep ourselves and loved ones safe. At least from falling prey to a violent criminal. And that, at its core, was what Dr. Carlisle hoped to achieve with his work.
You can catch new episodes of Violent Minds: Killers on Tape on Oxygen True Crime on Sundays at 7 pm ET or on the Oxygen True Crime app. The complete series will also stream on Peacock.