THE HUMAN EQUATION
Articles published in Psychology Today
The Human Equation, looks at the dark side of human nature, with a special emphasis on women and crime.
Topics include female serial killers, Munchausen by proxy, cult leaders, and the psychology of evil.
Serial Killers, Self-Reliance, and Everything in Between
Extreme Beliefs or Religious Delusions
Where is the line between delusions and extreme religious beliefs? The answer to that question may help investigators solve the mystery of three dead adults and two missing children.
Lisa Snyder & the Deaths of Conner & Brinley
Lisa Snyder says her 8-year-old son committed a murder-suicide because he was bullied and depressed. Prosecutors say she killed them both. But what does the research tell us?
Serial Murder and
From the hit show Mind Hunter to documentaries about Ted Bundy; there was a lot of buzz about serial killers in 2019. But what happened in real life? Take a look at five trends.
Catch a Predator?
New evidence suggests that sexual assault perpetrators don't fit into neat categories. The date that rapes a naive college student could be the next neighborhood serial rapist.
Confessed Serial Killer Jollyamma Joseph
Police say a wife and mother killed 6 people over 14 years. Did disbelief that a woman could do this help her get away with it, even when her husband's body contained cyanide?
We Need to Talk About Kevin... and Harry and Aaron
Being diagnosed as a psychopath can only happen once someone is 18. How should we handle teenagers who look and act like their grown-up counterparts?
Poisoning at the Office
While managers and employees are aware of the potential for workplace violence, few think of it in terms of a coworker dying from an intentional poisoning. But it happens.
The Road to Rage
Few of us worry about being shot to death when we get behind the wheel of a car. But news headlines and recent statistics show road rage is happening more often and can be deadly.
Multiple Personality or Malingering?
What happens when a person with multiple personalities kills? Pamela Moss claimed her alters were linked to two murders committed years apart but insisted she, the host was not.
This Japanese Serial Killer Targeted the Suicidal
When a Japanese serial killer picked his victims on the internet by responding to suicidal posts, was he targeting people who really wanted to die?
Your'e Not My Real Mother (Part 1)
What if the person closest to you suddenly felt like a different person? Individuals suffering from Capgras delusions believe that a loved one has been replaced by and imposter. Here's why.
You're Not My Real Mother (Part 2)
Capgras sufferers who murder a family member don't believe they are committing a crime or are harming someone they love. In fact, their motive is often to save the world/themselves form evil or to somehow "rescue" their loved one from an imposter.
Now Dasher, Now Dancer, Now
It's common knowledge that domestic violence and holiday stress go together.But the real danger for domestic violence victims may not be what you think it is.
Bad to the Bone
Over 100 years ago, Charles Spearman identified a general factor of intelligence. Today, researchers say there is a general factor for evil, a dark core of personality traits.
Kidnap-Proof Your College Student
Mollie Tibbetts was a beautiful young college student abducted and killed while out for a jog. Let's honor her memory by keeping our own college kids save.
"She Would Never Kill Herself"
If someone you loved killed her or himself, would you believe it? A psychological autopsy can help death investigators figure out which ones are genuine and which are murder.
Innocent People Don't Confess and They Don't Plead Guilty
Is it possible for a serial killer to be innocent? The case of the Liptrick Killer, William Heirens, shows how complicated a confession can be.
Identify Theft and Murder
Identity theft is the fastest growing crime. Recently some victims have lost more than money when they were targeted by a lookalike criminal looking to start a new life.
Munchausen by Proxy or Con Artist Mom?
The tragic story of Gypsy and Dee Blanchare is set to air as an HBO documentary on May 15. Here's a look at the law and psychology behind a case of medical child abuse and murder.
Which is "Crazier?"
How does a forensic psychologist tease out the mind of a criminal defendant at the time he committed it? Debunking one myth - and investigating one source - at a time.
From Mice to Men
A recent rash of animal killings in Canada have raised new questions about a budding serial killer. Do serial killers target animals first? Here's what the research says.
Understanding Serial Animal Abusers
What exactly is the relationship between animal cruelty and violence towards humans? A look at serial animal abusers sheds light on this complex relationship.
The Psychology of Murder for Hire
It's pretty common to fantasize about a loved one's demise when we're in the throes of anger, hurt or desperation. But it takes a special person, to put those thoughts into action.
The Death of Munchausen by Proxy (Part 2)
Medical child abuse is rare but it happens. Pediatricians who suspect it must balance the safety needs of the child against the risk of a false accusation.
The Men Who Murdered Halloween
Halloween has thrilled trick or treaters for years and terrified parents for just as long. What if your child bites into an apple with a razor blade inside or trips out on an Exstasy-laced Pixie Stixx?
The Death of Munchausen by Proxy (Part 1)
It's time for the term Munchausen by proxy to die a timely death in terms of its use in medical child abuse allegations and for investigators to focus on the impact on the child rather than the intent of the parent.
Like Mother, Like Daughter
Children who are raised by toxic parents often grow up to be decent human beings who learn to separate themselves from their parent's problems and surround themselves with loving, encouraging friends.
Life on the Baby Farm
Once upon a time, there were unskilled and unwed single mothers, shunned by their families for their "immorality" and without social services to help them with childcare.
With Munchausen by proxy, the same mechanism that predicts that women should be the ones to to provide greater investment to their children can at times 'misfire' by having psychiatrically damaged women create conditions that signal to the world their attentiveness and devotion.
Wife Killers Part 2: The Nice Murderer Next Door
What kind of man murders his wife? Two kinds, it seems. There's the wife beater who keeps going until she winds up dead and the calculating spouse who chooses murder over divorce.
A Mother's Day in Court: Women Who've Killed for Their Daughters
These three women show that the most dangerous place to be is between a mother and her child. And if you do, you'd better not brag about it.
Children Who Are Cruel to Animals: When to Worry
Animal cruelty in children is one of the best predictors of later violence and criminality. However, most young children do mean things to an animal at some point.
Postpartum Panic : Not Depressed, Just Scared to Death
More and more pregnant women are familiar with the perils of postpartum depression but what if the symptoms you experience after birth don't fit?
The Doctor is in... a Bad Mood
We like tod think our docto's effectiveness is determined by his education and expertise. You might be surprised - and alarmed - to learn what else impacts his or her treatment decisions.
Hey, Dear Abbies!: Three Things to Consider Before You Give Advice
Ever had a friend ask you for advice and then get mad when you give it? Join the club. Here's why giving advice is trickier than you might think.
Trying to Set Diet Goals? Put the Main Course before the Desset
When we're on a diet, it's easy to get so focused on the work involved that we lose sight of why we're doing it. Here's why that dooms us to failure.
Need a Little Laughter This Mother's Day? Here's Your Gift!
All mother's need a sense of humor. This Mother's Day, here's a look at some hilarious - but true - research studies to answer all-important questions like, "Does beer really cause a beer belly"
Three Things You (Probably) Don't Know About Depression
Even mental health professionals have trouble keeping up with the latest research findings. Here are three examples of how to bridge the gap between research and practice.
Grounded By Baby: Pregnancy and the Fear of Flying
A fear of flying often begins during pregnancy. One reson is the pending sense of responsibility for another life. For most moms, this intense need to protect our child begins when s/he is in our womb.
Teenagers: Let's Hope Big Brother (or Sister) is Watching
No matter how good our communication is with our adolescents, there are things they will not and cannot tell us. One of the biggest gifts we parents can give is to point our child toward a trustworthy role model.
Cancer Fraud: People Who Fake Illness
Faking an terminal illness to dupe friends and family out of money sounds like a plot of a psychological thriller. Unfortunately, cancer fraud is becoming all too common.
Want to Manage Your Time Better? Start with Your Relationships
Thinking about time management conjures up images of lists and calendars, yet investing in our relationships can - in the long run - be the best way to save time.
Use the Internet to Self-Screen, Not Self-Diagnose
New research suggests that searches for health information on the web can cause unnecessary worry. Here's how to use the internet to self-screen - but not self-diagnose.
Psychiatric Diagnosis: It Takes a Village
Taking charge or your mental health often means assembling a team of trusted experts to help guide your diagnosis and treatment. Here's how you can take charge of your state of mind.
Trust Me: I'm Your Shrink: Avoid Misdiagnosis
A lot more goes into a psychiatric diagnosis that your symptoms. Here's a candid, and sometimes alarming, look at the many factors that can influence your mental health professional's diagnosis.