When Anne over at RandomThingsTours asked me if I wanted to take part in the blog tour for Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes, I jumped at the chance!
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
Welcome to the world of the forensic psychologist, where the people you meet are wildly unpredictable and often frightening.
The job: to delve into the psyche of convicted men and women to try to understand what lies behind their often brutal actions.
Follow in the footsteps of Kerry Daynes, one of the most sought-after forensic psychologists in the business and consultant on major police investigations.
Kerry’s job has taken her to the cells of maximum-security prisons, police interview rooms, the wards of secure hospitals and the witness box of the court room.
Her work has helped solve a cold case, convict the guilty and prevent a vicious attack.
Spending every moment of your life staring into the darker side of life comes with a price. Kerry’s frank memoir gives an unforgettable insight into the personal and professional dangers in store for a female psychologist working with some of the most disturbing men and women.
I’ve been so looking forward to reading this, an insight into the world of forensic psychologist, Kerry Daynes. It promised a “blackly funny memoir” and as soon as I read the prologue I knew I was not going to be disappointed.
Many of us are fascinated, some of us slightly obsessed about what makes people do bad things, or maybe it’s just me! And everyone has an image of the forensic psychologist as Cracker, and this book works to both feed our interests and debunk some of the myths that exist.
It details her first steps into prison life and she pokes a little fun at her naivety at the very beginning but also makes a serious point about the political agenda of the early 90s in terms of less understanding and more condemnation when it came to prisoners. It was also a shocking insight into the lack of guidance and thought to her personal safety from her superiors when in the first chapter we learn of the project she was given to do on her first placement, not to mention the treatment doled out to her by prison staff. I’ve worked out I’m around the same age as the author and it’s shocking to think that women were still being treated in this manner in the early 90s.
She demonstrates that there is no “them and us” and that by dressing criminals up as stereotypical monsters, we run the risk of becoming blind to the monsters who walk in our midst.
She also delves into mental health, domestic abuse and victim blaming; she points to periods in her life where prisoners showed more compassion than colleagues. At times it is heart-breaking and at others sadly funny.
While the cases she discusses within the book are not high profile ones you might have heard of, each of them brings something thought provoking to the read; the question of diagnosing insanity for the purposes of a trial, gender bias in the law and a not too gentle swipe, at times, at the profession she is a part of.
I found myself nodding my head in agreement throughout the book, she talks of looking beyond the labels of mental illness and seeking to find out what happened to individuals as opposed to constantly focusing on “what’s wrong” with them.
An area of particular interest for me was also touched upon and that was the prison population who are elderly, on the spectrum, have learning disabilities or brain injury. Kerry looks at how the system deals with and manages such prisoners and it is clear that it doesn’t do this particularly well. Given the high numbers of offenders in our systems with underlying issues which have potentially resulted in their offences, it further strengthens my personal view that the whole penal system needs a shake-up. I’m not saying nobody should be in prison, there are clearly many “bad” people who need locking up for the protection of society but there are also a number of extremely vulnerable individuals who require enhanced support and treatment as opposed to being locked up.
This was a fascinating insight, not only into the reality of the life as a forensic psychologist but also into the life of the woman herself. I’m really hoping she will be appearing at some festivals this year as I would love to hear her speak further about her life.
Don’t forget to check out what the other bloggers are saying:
The Dark Side of the Mind is available to purchase from:
About the author:
Kerry Daynes is a Consultant and Forensic Psychologist, speaker and media commentator. For over twenty years her average week has involved working with everything from stressed-out parents to serial killers and she is a sought-after court-appointed expert witness. Kerry regularly appears on international television networks and in the media; she was ‘The Profiler’ over three series of Discovery’s top-rated ‘Faking It’ documentaries. Kerry is Patron of the National Centre for Domestic Violence and Talking2Minds. She is an advocate for better conversations about mental distress and alternatives to the culture of psychological ‘disorder’. Kerry lives in Cheshire with two huge dogs and yes, she is a proud natural ginger.
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