BIO: I'm Dr. Al Carlisle, and I evaluated Ted Bundy after his initial arrest. Bundy later escaped from prison and called me from a payphone to brag which I have taped on an audio recording.

I have conducted extensive research on serial killers and interviewed Ted Bundy, the Hi Fi killers, Arthur Gary Bishop, Westley Allan Dodd, Keith Jesperson, and many others. I retired as the head of the Psychology Department at Utah State Prison, and am now an author and public speaker.


Comments: 691 • Responses: 106  • Date: 

shittyartist308 karma

What could the average person do to slow the rate of random spree killers?

DrAlCarlislePhD896 karma

For one thing, we need to get better control over the bullying problem

TheMotherfucker193 karma

How do you feel about the popularity of fictional serial killers like Hannibal who are depicted as anti-heroes?

DrAlCarlislePhD135 karma

Well, it's interesting fiction.

Dininiful48 karma

Yeah, what's with all the anti-heroes who kill people? Dexter, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, House of Cards, Justified, The Mentalist and I'm sure there are more.

DrAlCarlislePhD19 karma

I had a discussion with an author of horror books about this phenomenon. It's sometimes enjoyable to be caught up in horror and come out unscathed in the end. In the Alien, I identified with the hero and not the monster. Does anyone identify with the monster?

nonethewiser129 karma

What would you say to someone who knows they have a mental illness but is afraid of being diagnosed?

DrAlCarlislePhD255 karma

I feel sad for them because they may go through much of their lifetime running from their fear of the illness. It's better to take a clear look at it and make a decision as to how they will keep the mental illness from keeping them from enjoying life.

Frajer123 karma

Ted Bundy had a reputation for being charming despite what he did,did you find that to be the case?

DrAlCarlislePhD326 karma

Yes, he was charming but to a large degree it was political. He was intelligent, he had a nice smile and he was articulate. He could talk easily with people. When I first me him for the evaluation, he walked towards me and said, "Hi, I'm Ted Bundy. You must be Dr. Carlisle." His hand was extended towards me, he had a smile on his face and he walked rapidly as if he was happy to so me.

Bodark43116 karma

When my Dad was getting his education as a psychologist, the predominant notion in abnormal psychology was that criminal aberration was almost all caused by environment, especially during childhood development, and little of it was inherited . A friend who's a psychologist at a local prison recently told me he thought it was about 60% inherited and 40% environmental. What do you think?

DrAlCarlislePhD188 karma

I don't know. I worked 20 years in a prison and largely worked with violent offenders. I could see strong indications that the the problem started in their childhood (environmental) and I could see a logical connection between those childhood experiences and later pathology. There are some cases where a child has been violent beyond what was seen in their environment, but a lot more good research need to be done to resolve this issue.

karmanaut114 karma

Was there anything about them that you found particularly surprising when interviewing the serial killers? What were the most unusual traits that they all had in common?

DrAlCarlislePhD202 karma

I have interviewed in depth several serial killers. What was surprising was that they were so easy to talk to. They were open about themselves. A common element was emotional vulnerability as a a child and making wrong choices after that.

karmanaut43 karma

They were open about themselves

Was this before trial and conviction? Or after?

Just curious how much of a sense of self-preservation they had, or whether they were up-front about their crimes.

cokevanillazero110 karma

Many serial killers are attention seekers and manipulators. People wanting them to explain themselves and get into their heads truly appeals to their narcissism.

DrAlCarlislePhD92 karma

That's true.

DrAlCarlislePhD67 karma

it was after their conviction.

time2adjust83 karma

Is there any one thing that all serial killers have in common? Also, with a hindsight view, is there anything that friends or family of a serial killer could have done to stop them?

DrAlCarlislePhD166 karma

Most of the parents of these guys didn't know that anything was wrong. If a child feels he is succeeding in relationships, accomplishments, etc. and feels love in the home there is less of a chance that he will become a serial killer.

slapmytwinkie51 karma

Do you feel that the popularization of these shootings in the media perpetuates the problem?

DrAlCarlislePhD102 karma

To most people it doesn't. To a few, it does because they admire the guts and determination they believe it took to get revenge. They have so much anger and depression that they see these killers as justified. It's almost like suicide-by-cop. Kill a number of people and then get killed.

StormyJMaster72 karma

Was Bundy the most frightening evaluation you've done?

DrAlCarlislePhD177 karma

No. I enjoyed evaluating Bundy. I loved my work as a psychologist at the prison and there were no inmates who were threatening to me. One guy did hint that when he got angry at someone, he wouldn't kill him, he would harm his children. I still wrote a very negative report on him. I enjoyed interviewing all the serial killers I worked with.

masterofthenak71 karma

What are your thoughts on the recent shootings that have been happening in the US? Is there a pattern as far as the killers mental state?

DrAlCarlislePhD144 karma

This is an area that we need to do a lot of research on. When a precedent has been set, it's easier for another person to do the same thing. The basis of so many of these killings is a combination of loneliness, anger, depression and feelings of despair.

maytagjetcleanplus70 karma

do you think Bundy might have had a dissociative disorder?

DrAlCarlislePhD136 karma

An excellent question. I don't think he had a Dissociative Identity Disorder (Multiple Personality Disorder) but I think he dissociated to some degree during the crime. The process begins prior to actually having the victim. He didn't dissociate to the degree that he wasn't aware of what he was doing. The dissociation ends when he has completed the cycle.

bobthebobd70 karma

Have you ever interviewed a person who was later exonerated, and was there any difference between them and your average killer (not the famous ones)?

DrAlCarlislePhD105 karma

I worked with one person who was in prison for homicide and I came to believe he didn't do it. I have worked with rapists who said they were not guilty and there was one that I actually felt wasn't guilty. As to differences between them and the average killer, no strong differences in what they said or how they presented themselves to me.

BobaFettuccine68 karma

Do you have any thoughts about how to deal with budding psychopaths when they're children? Is there a way to take a baby who is distant and unattached, or even a toddler who has begun abusing the family cat, and make them feel empathy? Or at least get them to fake it for society's sake?

DrAlCarlislePhD141 karma

Good question. I think there are several things we can do. First, show an interest in them and in their attempt to learn. Don't criticize to hard and not show love. LISTEN when they talk. Too many youth won't talk to their children because the parents give advice without listening. There are many, many things we can do. Regarding a family cat, for example, is the child abusing the cat as displaced aggression towards someone in the family, or in school who is causing anger and bitterness?

HiBillyTalent56 karma

Are there any particular clients where their behavior or stories have shaken you? If so, do you mind telling us who and what they did/say?

DrAlCarlislePhD115 karma

You get used to what you hear. Arthur Gary Bishop told me the details about each boy he killed. I wasn't shaken by it because the guys in prison I worked with were like subjects in a laboratory. I didn't enjoy hearing the details about Art's homicides but I wanted to know what lead up to the killing, how did he feel during the act and how it changed his thinking and his personality and why he continued killing.

Number1TomCruiseFan53 karma

What was the most chilling thing Ted ever said to you?

DrAlCarlislePhD173 karma

Remember, he was still saying he was innocent of having committed any crime when I evaluated him so he didn't say anything that was really chilling. However, there was one point during the interview when he was talking about his girlfriend going out with another guy and he said, "That was the last straw." The look of hate in his eyes at that point was intense.

Seanpab52 karma

Hi Dr Carlisle, thanks for doing this. When Bundy called you after escaping, what was going through your head? Why do you think he called you? Was there a bit of an ego/intellectual battle going on there? I understand you are both very intelligent men.

DrAlCarlislePhD103 karma

I was excited about his call because I wanted to find out why he escaped. We talked for over 15 minutes. When I went over the conversation later, I could have predicted that he would try to escape again. He called me Al and he wanted to be on a par with me so we could talk person-to-person and not as psychologist to inmate. I think he wanted to see me as a friend.

king_walnut14 karma

Is it not obvious why someone would want to escape prison? I mean .. it's prison.

DrAlCarlislePhD24 karma

However, people have escaped from out prison when they were within a month or two of going home and they were allowed to go on work release.

NDaveT52 karma

Did you get the impression the serial killers actively enjoyed inflicting suffering on others, or were they indifferent to the feelings of others?

DrAlCarlislePhD103 karma

it varies from killer to killer. Arthur Gary Bishop was executed for molesting and killing five children. He felt very bad about his crimes and he virtually set himself up to get caught. Westley Alan Dodd, on the other hand, killed two boys as an "experiment" to see if he could actually do it. It was his plan to have sex slaves and keep some and kill the others.

used_to_be_relevant51 karma

Have you ever felt sympathy toward a killer? Or after hearing their story did you ever think, maybe you could understand how they turned out the way they did?

DrAlCarlislePhD121 karma

I could usually see why they turned out the way they did. The purpose of my book I'm Not Guilty was to show how Ted became a serial killer. It's a psychological analysis of the development of the violent mind. There were many guys I worked with in prison that I liked. I often felt bad for what they did, but I didn't feel that they should not have been held responsible for what they did.

serrol_51 karma

How do you deal with all of the terrible stories you are told by each violent offender? Does it get to you?

DrAlCarlislePhD106 karma

Our prison has a set of gates at the entrance. I taught myself to shut off all prison stuff when I went out those gates and didn't consider prison problems until I drove back through those same gates into the prison the next morning. I was with Arthur Gary Bishop the evening of his execution and I was given the charge of talking to the press after. Following that I went home to bed and slept. it can be done.

johnny121b79 karma

Do you think that ability (the total ability to leave potentially traumatic events) "at the gates" makes you any closer to potentially being able to disassociate yourself from potential evil you may express in your own actions? You say it doesn't affect you, yet the ability to disassociate yourself from negativity is a trait often seen in some of society's most evil people..... Thoughts?

DrAlCarlislePhD99 karma

I like your question. I, and most others I personally know who have learned to do this, don't disassociate ourselves from evil. I try to be aware of my actions and the affect they have on others and my intent is always to do good and not harm. I don't always succeed, but I keep trying. I'm not disassociating from negativity, only a specific carryover emotion. A person can worry and worry about something they can't change and it causes harm to their system if they don't get some level of control over it. To be able to shut down the worrying (a negative process) doesn't make them more prone to evil.

ariablackfire48 karma

We had a budding sociopath in our neighborhood until recently. Single parent, no income house, he was supposed to attend a school for delinquents and skipped everyday. One day he pulled a trigger on a flash gun on my sister-in-law. What followed was a 2 month shit storm.

For some reason everyone in our neighborhood came to me with info, not my SiL. Kid liked to fashion his own weapons and killed rabbits (witnessed myself), turtles, squirrels, ect,. Apparently beat his mother regularly. He skinned a lot of those animals and never treated them, so they just stank and rotted. If he was out and about with a bow or knife and you asked what he was doing, there was no subtrefuge. He would tell you he was going to kill something and what he wanted to do with the corpse.

After his attack on my SiL he started stalking her. Even ignoring her husband when he was there. She ended up living with our in-laws until he moved away.

My question is, what are his chances of being a serial killer? We tried to get the police involved in setting up something for the kid. Some sort of intervention or anger management, but it just didn't happen. Like, on a scale of 1 to 10, how likely am I to hear about this kid in the future on the news. His fate weighs heavily on my heart.

DrAlCarlislePhD58 karma

Sorry about all of that. He will likely be violent in the future. You can get a no-contact order on him. It doesn't always solve the problem but it helps. The authorities need to watch him closely.

wpmullen47 karma

Do you agree with capital punishment and do you think it is a deterrent in any way to the criminal? Did you talk to the offenders about the punishment they received?

DrAlCarlislePhD92 karma

This question came up frequently when I worked in the prison. Most of the inmates I talked to said that capital punishments was not (or would not have been) a deterrent to their criminal behavior.

wpmullen26 karma

Thanks for responding and thanks for doing this AMA.

DrAlCarlislePhD37 karma

You're welcome. Thanks for reading my comments.

SpookyShyGhosty46 karma

Would a post-graduate degree in Forensic Psychology lead on to a similar job as you do?

DrAlCarlislePhD110 karma

Yes. As a Forensic Psychologist you could teach college, engage in research and be a consultant for law enforcement. You might even get on CNN.

Unopregunta43 karma


DrAlCarlislePhD121 karma

"If I want to get even with a person, I wouldn't kill him. I'd blow off the kneecaps of his wife and children." This was said to me by an inmate who didn't want me to turn in a negative psychological assessment to the Board of Pardons.

Unopregunta38 karma


DrAlCarlislePhD62 karma

You're right.

Qwertyz1343 karma

What did you think of the show Dexter (particularly how Dexter became a serial killer)?

DrAlCarlislePhD83 karma

I haven't seen Dexter but I told my son to pick up the DVD for my because I keep getting asked this question. Sorry I can't answer this one.

jazzhandsfuckyou37 karma

It's on Netflix!

DrAlCarlislePhD26 karma

Thank you.

mostlynein41 karma

Did you ever feel sad for a convicted killer? Or realized that they couldn't help themselves? Much like Frtiz Lang's M.

DrAlCarlislePhD91 karma

I felt sad for a lot of convicted killers. There was one guy, for example, who was attending the bar in a nightclub. He got into an argument with a customer. The customer came up over the bar to beat him up and this kid grabbed a knife that was on the counter and held it up at the guy and it went through his heart and killed him. He came to prison on homicide.

bogidyboy14 karma

How much time in prison was he sentenced to?

DrAlCarlislePhD29 karma

I believe it was 1-15. If he hadn't tried to escape he could possibly have been out in two years. There's a question of whether or not Colorado had enough to convict him.

Dinomaparty37 karma

Has there ever been a good theory explaining why so many serial killers are white men?

DrAlCarlislePhD102 karma

Probably, but you will need to talk to a sociologist about that one.

Comedian42 karma

Your assumption behind this question seems to be wrong. According to The Serial Killer Database compiled at Radford University and Florida Gulf Coast University, whites are underrepresented and blacks are significantly overrepresented among serial killers in the US, when measured against population numbers (ie per capita).

DrAlCarlislePhD29 karma

I can't argue against that because I haven't seen those statistics. Thank you for providing a reference.

sweetsIIxteen37 karma

Was Bundy ever diagnosed with any mental illnesses? What is his psychological profile like compared to others you have studied?

DrAlCarlislePhD75 karma

Bundy was never diagnosed as having a mental illness until he came to prison. Then he was viewed as a sexual sadist. The problem with the term mental illness is that it's too broad. It included all categories of depression, anxiety and such. Was Ted psychotic? Was he insane? He was not insane because he understood the consequences of his actions. There were no voices that told him to kill and he didn't believe there were any conspiracies directed towards him. His psychological profile? That's an interesting question because it depends on what stage of life is being considered. Ted killed for a different reason than the Happy Face Killer (Keith Jesperson) and so their psychological profiles are similar in some ways but different in other ways.

rdpotter23 karma

What's the difference between psychotic and insane?

DrAlCarlislePhD56 karma

Psychotic is like a person hearing voices that tell him to kill himself or others. Insane is a legal term referring to the person's capability of understand that his actions are against the law. That's a simple definition.

dumbfrakkery34 karma

How long did it take you to realize that Bundy was a sociopath? Were there any instant signs?

DrAlCarlislePhD55 karma

Not sure what you mean by instant signs. The people who worked with him in political campaigns didn't see any strong indications that he was a sociopath.

BobaFettuccine33 karma

Were you happy at all (or relieved maybe?) when Bundy was executed? Did you attend?

DrAlCarlislePhD108 karma

I didn't feel happy or sad when Bundy was executed. However, had it been my choice, I would have kept him alive on condition that he revealed himself more. We need to understand better the step-by-step development of the mind of the serial killer. That's what I am trying to do through the books I'm writing.

KunSeii33 karma

Have you read "The Stranger Beside Me" by Ann Rule? If so what is your feeling on her characterization of Bundy and his mannerisms?

DrAlCarlislePhD38 karma

I have read the "Stranger Beside Me". It's been so long ago that I can't remember just what she said about his mannerisms. Tell me and I can comment on them.

KunSeii27 karma

She described him as very charming. She was surprised when he was arrested, as he would walk her to her car every night and advise her to lock her doors.

DrAlCarlislePhD65 karma

yes, he was a lot that way. He caught a purse snatcher when he and Liz were shopping. I also believe that he saved a life of a boy. He reportedly talked someone out of suicide when he was on the crisis line. One lady, the wife of an influential leader in the city, told me she would be happy to have Ted Bundy marry her daughter. This was all before he was convicted.

pete172932 karma

Did he seem relieved to unburden himself to you?

DrAlCarlislePhD82 karma

Good question. I actually believed that he enjoyed talking to me. It wasn't that he unburdened himself to me, it was more that there was someone who would listen. I saw Bundy as a lonely little boy in some ways, still trying to find his way in life.

bluestar_airlines31 karma

Do these serial killers come off as pure evil when you sit down with them and talk for a while? I'm just wondering if there was any hope of rehabilitating them at any point in their adult lives before they started murdering people.

DrAlCarlislePhD115 karma

If I picked three killers and had them come and talk to a group of college students, the students wouldn't see anything evil in them. They don't come across as monsters. It's not that they can totally fake it and seem to be good when they are not. It's more that each of us had a persona and a shadow, a good and a bad side to us. I once asked a group in a seminar I was conducting if good and evil can co-exist within the same person. Most said it's impossible. I think we need to consider that people can have good and evil thought and action potential within them and they choose which one to develop.

bluestar_airlines27 karma

Thanks for the response. So let's say hypothetically these killers were released. What kind of odds would you give they would never kill a human again? Is killing literally an addiction for this type of person?

DrAlCarlislePhD77 karma

I believe that you could let the majority of killers out of prison the day they come in and most of them wouldn't kill again. However, I don't include gang members in this group.

shutyourgob29 karma

Can someone be born a psychopath without the influence of environmental factors such as abuse or neglect? If so, what are the warning signs that a parent can identify and what can be done to stop them turning into the next Ted Bundy?

DrAlCarlislePhD55 karma

Good question. I don't know. I think we need to look at the brain studies of small children who show psychopathic traits and do longitudinal studies on them.

bgend27 karma

What are your thoughts on genetic influences for anti-social behavior (e.g., MAOA) and whether or not someone should be held accountable for their behavior if they inherit a predisposition?

DrAlCarlislePhD72 karma

Even should a person be genetically predisposed, I believe that everyone needs to be held accountable for their behavior. To me, to say otherwise is predeterminism and obviates choice.

KarmaNeutrino26 karma

Have you ever grown to like one of your subjects- innocent or not?

DrAlCarlislePhD73 karma

I had a lot of friends among the inmates when i was at the prison. One of my best friends was a contract killer. It's not that I like evil things, it's that I like a person who can be open and friendly and treat people respectfully.

lurkinghegemonik25 karma

Was there ever a point where you found out, in hindsight, a subject was stringing you along? How did you handle that?

EDIT: I accidentally a word

DrAlCarlislePhD37 karma

Many times. You win some and lose some and you live with it. It's expected because some people are extremely good at faking it.

AngyMc23 karma

Did Bundy, or any of violent offends you worked with, have some kind of twisted/rigid sense of morality which they didn't deviate from, or was morality something they viewed as being fluid or non-existent?

DrAlCarlislePhD70 karma

Morality is based on anger and justification. In a book I writing now, a Vietnam Combat Marine became a revenge killer in Nam and he returned to be a contract hitman. His morals allowed him to kill the enemy, whether it was the enemy in Nam or drug kingpins who were encroaching on his territory at home. He saw himself as a Samurai Warrior. He actually had strong morals and when he accidentally killed a kid, his entire life rapidly deteriorated and he ended up in prison.

Halaku11 karma

That reminded me a lot of Frank Castle.

You should do another AMA in /r/books when you get published.

DrAlCarlislePhD36 karma

I would love to. I don't pretend that I have all the answers, or if my beliefs are even the correct ones. However, I believe that through ongoing discussions and getting more people involved, that changes can be made.

Swipe-Shot21 karma

How do real serial killers compare to the ones found in movies?

DrAlCarlislePhD72 karma

The real serial killers are boring in comparison to the ones in the movies.

uberlad21 karma

You must have all sorts of fascinating stories and experiences. What would you say is your very best life advice?

DrAlCarlislePhD63 karma

Find a direction to go with your life in which you can love others and love yourself and find deep meaning and enjoyment in the process of doing so.

bobthebobd21 karma

Have you interviewed any killers that would probably not be killers had they not have access to a gun? I guess it's a gun-control question - do you think all those killers who used a gun, would use some other means of killing? or would some of them not kill? (and if so, what would be the percentage that wouldn't kill)

DrAlCarlislePhD93 karma

I can't give you a percentage. Would a person not kill if he didn't have a gun? Certainly a gun makes it easier and more probable that it would happen. However, eliminating all the guns in the country wouldn't necessarily stop the problem. I think we need to look at the issue of why the person wants to kill in the first place. A gun didn't cause it to happen. It only made it easier to do so.

polishgravy21 karma

Do you think mental health should have a higher priority in society?

DrAlCarlislePhD49 karma

When you consider the number of people who are depressed, anxious, have alcohol or drug problems etc., then it suggests that it is a primary issue that needs to be addressed. It is gradually improving over what it was when I first began working in the field.

HappyTerrorist20 karma

Are there any other serial killers/spree shooters you would have like to interview that you haven't been able to? (Jeffrey Dahmer or the Columbine shooters for example)

DrAlCarlislePhD51 karma

I would have like to have interviewed Jeffrey Dahmer, the Columbine shooters and Elliott Roger.

zack_the_man19 karma

When you got that call, what was the first thing you did? Also how does the way a serial killer works interest you? Its interesting to me but I can never find a way to explain it.

DrAlCarlislePhD45 karma

A child doesn't have a violent mind. He may be aggressive, but he doesn't have a deep seated hate or consistent desire to harm others. I want to understand how a normal child can become an obsessed killer. When I got the call from Ted I recorded it and then went about my regular duties at the prison.

derpinita18 karma

I'm fascinated by the role of charisma in psychopathy..e.g., Hitler was said to be extremely charismatic. Was Ted Bundy charismatic?

DrAlCarlislePhD26 karma

Yes he was. There are two aspects to the charisma issue. Hitler had charisma when he took leadership of the German people. They had been through one war and their need for solutions for their society was very high. They needed a leader who seemed to have the answers, and Hitler fit the bill. Charisma in a situation where the need isn't as great has less affect.

jbarj16 karma

Any thoughts on the guy who coined the term 'affluenza?' I'm thinking he's done your profession a bit of a dis-service...

DrAlCarlislePhD21 karma

I don't know who coined the term 'affulenza" I'm actually happy that he did because it opens up an area that we need to address. That is, can a person become amoral because of wealth to the point that they can be excused from responsibility for his misdeeds?

DrAlCarlislePhD18 karma

I'm not familiar with that term.

jbarj15 karma

It was from the trial of a teenager who drove drunk, struck and killed several pedestrians and some of the people riding in his truck. At his trial, a psychologist testified that he couldn't be held accountable for his actions due to the extreme amount of wealth he'd been raised in. Essentially that he was too rich to know right from wrong, he called this illness, 'Affluenza.' I believe the boy was found guilty, but at sentencing given rehab over the jail time he should have had.

DrAlCarlislePhD33 karma

Thank you for the reply. I remember the case now. Personally, it doesn't make any sense to me to say that because somebody comes from a very wealthy family he should not be held responsible for a crime to the degree that a less wealthy person should. I remember a guy who grew up in a family in which the parents would write out several false checks and have his children cash them and then they would move to another town and live off the money. When the money ran out, they would do the check-cashing routine there and then go to another town, etc. This kid did this until he was in his early 20s. He grew up amoral. It was a family practice. He was caught till tapping at a job he had at a gas station and sent to prison. Should he have been judged to be less responsible because of the family environment he grew up in? He knew that what the family was doing was wrong because they would cash the checks one day and be gone by the next morning. The Affluenza defense has to assume the kid didn't know that what he was doing was wrong, which means he didn't hear it was wrong in school, on the TV, in papers, etc.

ConsummateK16 karma

At what point do you feel we should hold others responsible for their actions? For me, it becomes a very interesting philosophical discussion when we can explain behavior's origin via brain chemistry, and that if we shared a similar chemistry would probably be doing the same things.

However, we obviously can't let everyone off the hook even if their brain "made" them do it. Where do you think that line is?

DrAlCarlislePhD49 karma

I have a question that I would like someone to answer. Does the brain chemistry and synaptic circuitry cause the behavior, or did those conditions come about because of the behavior of the person? There has been a lot of research that has implicated an inferior frontal lobe process to psychopathic behavior (impulsivity, less guilt, etc). Viewing the plasticity of the brain, did frontal lobe problems result in criminal and violent behavior, or did a person's behavior generate changes in the frontal lobe areas and their connections to the limbic system over time?

BobaFettuccine16 karma

Did you feel even a little sorry for Bundy when he was doing everything in his power, up to the last minute, to avoid execution?

DrAlCarlislePhD44 karma

I didn't want Bundy to be executed. I think that if we could have studied him for a few years we would know a lot more than we know now about the development of the violent mind. Yes, he deserved to be executed, but I would have liked him to have been given life without parole.

ladyledylidy16 karma

This is why I feel the way I do about the death penalty. Aside from the fact that death does not result in rehabilitation because the person is, well, dead, it's sort of like cutting off the nose to spite the face. We deprive ourselves of great subjects for research that would help society to be aware of behavioral patterns that could prevent these situations to begin with.

DrAlCarlislePhD25 karma

That's my point as well. On the other hand, we kill the offender because then he is gone from our mind. The families of the victims don't need to hear from him again. There's a permanency of resolution with death and (to some people) an uncertainty of future outcome if the person is allowed to live.

bobthebobd16 karma

In your experience do most serial killers live a solitary life, I think a good example is Son of Sam? (please forgive if I'm wrong), or do they intermix well into society like the BTK one?

Are the 'quite ones' really the dangerous ones?

Is it same with serial killers and one-time killers?

DrAlCarlislePhD28 karma

Good questions. Generally they have a private life and some are loners. Chris Wilder had a business and was outgoing. Bundy was outgoing. Arthur Bishop was easy for his employer and employees to talk to. Serial killers are more likely to be loners and more private because the process of becoming a serial killer is lengthy and takes up much of their private time. Thus, Bundy lived in his own apartment when carrying on a relationship with Liz Kendall. With one-time killers it's more of the single situation problem.

candilotus15 karma

Do you have thoughts as to why some serial killers get more media attention than others? Ted Bundy is known to the vast majority of people but the Hi Fi Killers are not even very well know to people from Utah. Is there something about the level of personality of the killer that attracts more media attention?

DrAlCarlislePhD29 karma

Some depends on the degree to which it seem unexplainable. We can understand the Hi Fi Killers because they were pulling off a robbery and everything started going wrong. We can't understand a college graduate who is going to law school and is obtaining excellent praise from campaign workers. The greater the seeming disconnect between the person and the nature of the crimes generates the mystery.

josegoldenrabbit7 karma

I was under the impression the hi if murders were much more than a robbery gone wrong. Those people weren't simply shot and killed. They were tortured severely. And the muderers planned the killings.

DrAlCarlislePhD15 karma

No, they didn't plan on killing the people in the store when they went in There were a series of problems and thus the Drano to keep them from talking and shooting the victims because is was believed that they could still write down the descriptions of the killers. And, since the killers were local military, it would have been easy for them to have been identified. Add to that the effects of the drug combinations which were demonstrated when they rolled a vehicle a week or two before and you have, what I believe, is the methodology and the robbery-gone-wrong in the crime. The driver of the vehicle (who spent 12 years in prison for simply driving the van) got out of there fast when he went in to see what was taking them so long. He said there was no initial intent to kill the victims. Selby's partner said the same thing. Correct me if you have other information.

Doudos13 karma

Were the killers like Bundy obviously different in demeanour from the average person? Do you think you would notice a difference between psycho/sociopaths if you had a minor conversation in everyday life as opposed to a proper talk and evaluation?

DrAlCarlislePhD18 karma

No, I don't think I would have been able to tell that a person was a killer unless he opened up to me and talked about it.

cp518413 karma

Have you ever read the watchmen graphic novel? In it, the sort of sociopathic moral absolutist that is the narrator is arrested and then his background is revealed through his evaluation by a psychiatrist. If you have read it, did you have any reaction to it? How realistic was it?

DrAlCarlislePhD17 karma

I haven't read it. Is it good?

scottlarocc6 karma

It's on the Time magazine top 100 novels of all time. I liked it.

DrAlCarlislePhD9 karma

Thank you. I'll get it and take a look at it.

candilotus11 karma

What was the most challenging part of working at the Utah State prison? As head of the psychology department what was your day to day work like?

DrAlCarlislePhD20 karma

Evaluations of inmates, responding to suicide and violence crises. Working with the public, doing individual and group therapy, etc. For several years a very good friend of mine, Dr. Allan Roe, and I both ran the department but he was officially the Head. I took over as the department head when he retired.

InYourWindow42011 karma

Im extremely interested in becoming a criminal psychologist where I can evaluate, and study criminal and serial killer behaivor. Im currently on a break from college, but what would you recommend I study to pursue something of this nature? Thanks for doing this ama and I appreciate any input you can give me!

DrAlCarlislePhD16 karma

Get a PhD in some area of psychology or law enforcement. If you want to evaluate and study criminal behavior, work in a prison for a few years.

josegoldenrabbit11 karma

What can you tell me about your interviews with the hi fi murderers?

DrAlCarlislePhD18 karma

I interviewed Pierre Selby the day before his execution. He was quite open with me about his history and the crime. I have it on tape and plan on putting it in a book.

Nuhir10 karma

I sincerely hope I am not too late to get an answer.

I am sure you have been in this business for a long time and heard as well as see horrid and evil things. I myself, have seen some pretty disturbing things from the war.

But are there things that are said in interviews that ever affect you? Like to the pit of your stomach and you have to make sure not to seem affected to the killer you are interviewing?

Could you tell me about something said to you in an interview that made you feel that way and who said it?

DrAlCarlislePhD19 karma

You're not too late. I plan to do this as long as people have questions. Combat experience in the war is more gruesome and difficult for the human mind to deal with than talking to any of the killers I have worked with. However, when Arthur Gary Bishop told me the details of killing his first child, it made me very uneasy.

yournameheree8 karma

When you were studying to become a psychologist, did you ever think you would end up evaluating serial killers? Was that what you wanted to focus on or did you have something else in mind and just end up there somehow? What was the process of getting there like?

DrAlCarlislePhD17 karma

I needed a job and my mentor in my doctoral program offered this opportunity. It was entirely accidental. I have always been interested in discovery (my initial choice for an occupation was to be a nuclear physicist), and once I got to the prison and saw all the types of pathology, my interest became towards understanding them.

_JCaylorS7 karma

Can you share the audio file? If not, can you give a brief description on what he said?

DrAlCarlislePhD10 karma

I have a video-audio file from a presentation I did. I post it here to see if it is going to work. i can't get it right now but I'll keep trying.

Muted_Post-Horn6 karma

Can sociopaths ever get "better"?

DrAlCarlislePhD17 karma

Definitely, yes. Most of the inmates in prison are from age 18 to about age 35. They burn out as they get older. Every day you come in contact with a number of people who have been in prison and you are not aware of it because they aren't showing sociopath behavior. They can become productive citizens. Some of the worst people I have known haven't been in prison but have been brutal to their children.

xGiraffex6 karma

At university I am studying psychology, counselling and psychotherapy, I am fascinated with the minds of people like Ted Bundy and why they do these things, Could I eventually go on to work in a similar job such as yourself? If so how could I get there?

DrAlCarlislePhD8 karma

Well, I would try to get a job in a prison. That way you can talk to a number of types of criminals and get the information straight from them while going to college. You will learn far more by talking to criminals than you will get out of a textbook (including mine).

AndPOPGoesHerCherry6 karma

What's it like to stare into the eyes of someone that's completely psychotic?

DrAlCarlislePhD18 karma

I've done that many times. It's not really creepy because you get used to it and you are spending the time with them analyzing the structure of their speech, their delusions, etc., to come up with an accurate diagnosis.

RzK6 karma

I heard Bundy was a very charming and cunning man which is what made his murders successful. In prison did he keep that side of him, even when interrogated or did he reveal himself more as a "psychopath"?

DrAlCarlislePhD14 karma

He functioned quite well in prison because it was him against the legal system and he had many followers throughout the world. He was able to use his legal acumen. He was respected by many inmates because he could help them with their legal briefs.

tinsleymeow6 karma

Does being a psychologist require a different disposition? Do you have to be indifferent or more/less empathetic?

DrAlCarlislePhD21 karma

it helps to be understand. The more you can put yourself in the position of the client (criminal, etc.) the more you can figure out why he does what he does.

leif8275 karma

Did you ever notice yourself being manipulated by any of them? Do you think that as a psychologist, you have a greater understanding of when you are being manipulated?

DrAlCarlislePhD11 karma

I have been out manipulated often I'm sure. I have learned many techniques that are used to manipulate people and I am sensitive in that way. It's like an artist who can pick out the flaws of paintings easier that most of us can.

kodyboye4 karma

As someone who is clinically diagnosed with mental disorders (Bipolar 2, PTSD and GAD) and has been (properly) treated since 2010, I wonder how particular offenders (Bundy, Dahmer) would have turned out had their conditions been caught and treated prior to their crimes. I know there's a lot of stigma (and finger-pointing) behind certain violent behaviors (guns, abuse, drug addiction, etc.,) but do you think preventative measures such as therapy and medication could have prevented the crimes Ted (and others like him) committed?

DrAlCarlislePhD7 karma

I think that had Ted felt more wanted when he was a child he would not have engaged in fantasy so much. He was extremely shy as a teenager so therapy could have helped here.

sonia72quebec4 karma

I have a very unethical question : Do you believe that, with the right circonstances, we could produce a serial killer ?

DrAlCarlislePhD5 karma

I guess that's always possible, but not likely. However, I'm not including terrorists in that list. Under those circumstances, yes, we can create a lot of them.

CapAnson4 karma

Not to put down your work or anything, but when I think about the things those monsters have done, well I really, really start liking the death penalty quite a lot. Do you ever feel when doing interviews/studies of these sorts of criminals anything like "Why am I bothering? This person simply needs to be dead ASAP"?

DrAlCarlislePhD4 karma

I don't get offended by people who don't like my views on things. I think it's healthy to have different views. I haven't wondered why I bothered to gather this information. I believe the way I gather my research is different from the way others do it so I hope it will add to the understanding that we have on these guys.

uber_kitty4 karma

Why did he always have half his hand under his belt?

DrAlCarlislePhD4 karma

Don't know.

MrAlarming3 karma

When you spoke to him in prison did he talk about anything other than the crimes he committed?

DrAlCarlislePhD6 karma

Ted didn't admit to any of his crimes when he was in prison. It was only a few days before his execution that he confessed his crimes.

slapmytwinkie3 karma

How accurate are the serial killers in popular movies and tv shows such as "Silence of the Lambs" and "Dexter"? Do these characters accurately portray serial killers.

DrAlCarlislePhD10 karma

I can't say about Dexter, but Anthony Hopkins did an excellent portrayal of an intelligent and violent serial killer, which, I understand, was a composite of two or three serial killers enhanced for Hollywood film.

Unopregunta3 karma

I've read psychologists often have psychologists themselves. Have you had to see help to keep yourself sorted after so much exposure?

DrAlCarlislePhD4 karma

Not really. However, in my doctoral program, we were required to be in group therapy at the college and also when I went on my internship at Patton State Hospital.

DeathStrudel3 karma

A couple of questions, actually. First, (and completely off topic) how do you feel about the new DSM revisions? Other than ASP, what other psychological diseases do these people have in common? And how do you feel about psychological profiling of unknown subjects, as rare as it may actually be?

Thanks for this AMA!

DrAlCarlislePhD4 karma

Actually, I like the DSM V. As to profiling, as long as their are common characteristics among specific categories of criminals then profiling can help. I once had a detective call me for help on a case of a sex offender. When they told me the circumstances of the crime I said it appeared to be someone who lived in the neighborhood. I got a call soon after that and was told it was a person who lived in the neighborhood. I didn't have any particular profiling skills, although I had been working with sex offenders for a number of years. To me, most of it is just common sense. Profiling doesn't give you a solution, it gives you a suggesting of a possible direction to go for a solution. I would like to see more in the DSM V about personality disorders.

xScruffMcgruffx3 karma

What's something he told you that no one would expect him to say? Such as thoughts he's had, habits, attraction s, etc...

DrAlCarlislePhD4 karma

It think it's everything he said that was interesting. The only way he could have been more interesting was if he had confessed his crimes to me. However, there were many others who did so that's where I obtain my understanding of the violent mind.

Zalvager3 karma

Did you ever apply the Hare Psychopathy Checklist to Ted Bundy, if so what did he score?

DrAlCarlislePhD5 karma

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist wasn't available when I saw Ted.

xlxcx3 karma

What is your opinion on shows like Criminal Minds that seems to make the lifestyle all flash and no substance? Do you think it's doing more harm then good within your field?

DrAlCarlislePhD5 karma

People seem to like it. Maybe it gives the impression that these guys can be figured out fairly easily (within an hour). Maybe it gives people an impression that law enforcement is extremely skilled in what they do so the rest of us are safe. I haven't seen that it helps or hurts my field.

knuckle-sandwich2 karma

Have you ever conducted any evaluations that made you seriously reconsider your career choice? Any times when you just thought "I can't do this anymore?"

DrAlCarlislePhD3 karma

No. I'm still doing it and I enjoy it. I retired from the prison years ago but I still do evaluations. There are times that I evaluate someone and think, "I sure hope you don't know where I live. I would not like to make you angry."

OrangeCrow712 karma

One of my pet theories is that most, if not all, male serial killers are repressed homosexuals. There's more going on psychically than just that, I know, but it might explain the sexual hatred that a lot of these men feel towards women. Any thoughts on that?

DrAlCarlislePhD1 karma

Sorry, I don't see it that way. A psychoanalyst might agree with you.

Redsox9332 karma

How is talking about your patients on the internet not a violation of HIPPA?

DrAlCarlislePhD10 karma

Because I'm not identifying them personally. The serial killers I have worked with have given me permission to use their cases and their names. The only personal names I use are those who have given me permission to do so.

Dininiful2 karma

Could you describe his personality and mannerisms for us? Little things that he did or obvious.

DrAlCarlislePhD4 karma

When Ted was in the Maximum Facility in our prison, he got up in the morning, had breakfast, exercised, read one of his books (one I remember was about a person who was convicted of a crime and then proved that he was innocent). He would then work on his legal briefs, write letters, etc. He preferred nice things in his apartment in Washington (mostly stolen) and he liked classical music. These are some things about him.

n0r3gr3tz2 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA it's very interesting reading your work. I'm definitely going to put your book on my reading list. Did you ever watch the Dexter series? If so did you enjoy it and have you met a serial killer with similarities as the main character Dexter?

DrAlCarlislePhD4 karma

My son is looking for the Dexter series for me now. I can tell you more after I have seen them. Thanks for the compliments.

hihello952 karma

What was your first impressions of Ted Bundy and other serial killers? Is there a commonality that stands out between them other than the fact that they killed people?

DrAlCarlislePhD4 karma

I have respect for the serial killers I have worked with because they have been willing to share their stories with me for my research. The commonality is that they go through developmental stages beginning with vulnerability during childhood, making choices that made them feel good but were actually destructive for them, continuing along that path until it got out of control and then not being able to stop.

vivepopo2 karma

How does intelligence measure up in the likelihood of someone becoming a serial killer, regardless of socioeconomic factors?

DrAlCarlislePhD3 karma

Lower intelligence persons generally don't make good serial killers because they make too many mistakes.

MacduffFifesNo1Thane2 karma

Why did you get into this field?

DrAlCarlislePhD4 karma

When I was in college working on my PhD, the head of the psychology department came up behind me as I was walking down the hall and said, "There's an opening at the prison, would you be interested in applying for the job?"

adiabolicidiot2 karma

Where does Ted Bundy rank in your list of patients in terms of having mental problems?

DrAlCarlislePhD3 karma

His level of violence was severe, but other serial killers I have worked with have shown that same level of violence.

Fattsanta2 karma

In your experience are these killers miserable all the time? Or depressed?

DrAlCarlislePhD4 karma

They have their ups and down's like everyone. They are not miserable all the time. Ted had some very enjoyable times when he was involved in political campaigns. I think they get depressed over their crimes, but they learn to shut off the guilt which minimizes the depression.