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
Anger, Depression, Violence, and Lost Children
There's a saying that those who don't learn from history are destined to repeat it. The story of a 1920s murder-suicide shows just how true that is.
What Kind of Son Kills His Dad?
It's rare for a child to kill a parent, no matter what has happened between them. When he does, it's likely to be for one of three reasons.
How Much Influence Can One Person Have?
No one outside of a cult understands what it's like to be in one. Perhaps this woman's story can change that.
Some People Don't Believe a Loved One Committed Suicide
Few things are harder to accept than a loved one's suicide. But when an unexpected death carries the stain of suicide and the smell of murder, it can be a double whammy.
Cheerleaders, College Students and Call Girls
Of the 65 percent of serial killers' victims who are women, 76 percent are sex workers. But is that who they are or what they've done?
How do Killers find Their Targets, and Why They Often Get Away with it
Why do so many predators target the homeless, sex workers, or others on the margins of society? Looking at the most vulnerable victims may say something about all of us.
Wrongful Convictions, Memory, and Eyewitness Testamony
A number of wrongful convictions have suggested we view eyewitness memory with a healthy dose of skepticism. But is it our memory that's the problem?
A Real-World View of Incompetence to Stand Trial
Accused murderer Lori Vallow has been found incompetent to stand trial and sent to treatment. Is she faking it? Will she ever stand trial? Here's a forensic psychologist's take.
Would You Want a Teenage Killer Locked Up for Life?
Should teen killers be given a break because of their developing brains or should the facts of the crime guide the punishment? The Supreme Court has spoken.
Lori Vallow Found Incompetent to Stand Trial
Just as Lori Vallow is finally facing murder charges, a psychologist says she is not competent to stand trial. But is she really similar to other incompetent defendants?
The Volga Maniac has Been Arrested
In 2011 and 2012, a Russian serial killer murdered over 20 elderly women along the Volga river. Now that he's been caught, what can we learn from his confession?
One is a Tragedy, Two is Suspicious, and Three is Murder
In 2019, Nancy Moronez was found guilty or murdering three infants over 30 years ago. All three deaths were initially attributed to SIDs. How could this happen?
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.