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The following excerpts are from a professional journal book review by a forensic psychiatrist of the first book Dr. Hodges wrote on the JonBenet Ramsey case applying his “thoughtprint decoding” method to the study of the ransom note. The reviewer’s impression reflects the growing appreciation among forensic professionals of Dr. Hodgesȁ new profiling method.
James O. Raney, M.D., International Journal of Communicative Psychoanalysis & Psychotherapy 11:4 (1998). Dr. Raney is a forensic psychiatrist, a practicing psychotherapist, and a supervising analyst at the Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute.
This book is an exceptional example of an application in a non-therapy setting of the communicative approach to listening and interpreting. Applied here to criminal investigation, Dr. Hodges brilliantly decodes the complex and unusual communications of a very literate woman.
Hodges analyzes the text of the available written and spoken communications that surround the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. He began with the assumption that the so-called ransom note will contain clues, left unconsciously, which would reveal information about its author.
Methods of forensic science, physical science, and psychological science are very similar. The clinical method of the psychotherapist is also similar to science. In each procedure, preliminary data suggests initial hypothesis. The researcher then tests these hypotheses with further data and begins to create a story or working hypothesis. Further data supports, modifies or refutes the story. Previously ignored information that has not seemed important begins to fit and to support they hypothesis.
This is also the working method of the psychoanalytic psychotherapy. The communicative approach uses analysis of symbols and adds adaptive context to the investigative procedure. (In criminal contexts motive is synonymous with adaptive context.)
Symbolic communication means that the symbol stands for something unknown to the speaker. We therefore consider symbolically represented content to be unconscious. In this case, the writings and communications contain some that presumably Mrs. Ramsey knows. Much of her motivation and the impressively symbolic elements she uses, however, refer to meanings that are most likely unknown and unconscious to her.
An observer, such as a teacher, supervisor, or consultant can often read the symbolic communication of the therapy dyad more clearly than can the therapist. The analogy in this case is of course the outsider, Dr. Hodges, who analyzes the communication of all parties. In some sense Dr. Hodges speaks even for JonBenet as he constructs the events of her last hours and tells the truth that is hers. For other participants in the complex drama, he offers a voice and resolution.
Hodges suggests that this method of scientific psychological investigation of the text and context of criminal actions can offer important dimensions to criminal investigation. If this book is an example, his case is quite convincing.