The Miami Herald describes what forensic psychologists do in a profile of Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter, who spends her days with some of society’s most pathological members. She evaluated serial killer Aileen Wournos and cop-killer Kenneth Wilk. “I see things other people never hear about,” she said. “Most crimes don’t get reported, so I see things like bus drivers driving drunk with a bunch of kids on the bus. It may or may not hit the news. But it hits my desk.” Bourg Carter, who has written five books and is an adjunct professor at Nova Southeastern University’s law school, became fascinated with forensic psychology during her doctoral studies at Nova.
The most challenging work, and what she is asked to do the most, is determining if defendants are faking mental illness, what the experts call “malingering.” She says, ”It happens a lot in criminal law that people will fake or feign mental problems to get a secondary gain. In forensics, you not only have to know the disorder, but also what faking would look like.” Yet the most difficult work can sometimes be facing not the criminals, but their victims or family.