Criminal Profiling: John Douglas

Source: cjcoombs

Source: cjcoombs


ohn Douglas will be 68 this year (2013). Source:

John Douglas will be 68 this year (2013).

As the cover of the book states, “From the Special Agent Who Pioneered Criminal Profiling,” I recommend “Mind Hunter” by John Douglas as a tool to learn about how behavioral science solves crimes.


John Edward Douglas was born near Queens in Brooklyn, New York on June 18, 1945. Douglas indicates in his book that he was almost tagged with the middle name of Holmes which was his mother’s maiden name. Her name is Delores. His father, Jack, a printer by trade, for safety and security, moved the family to Long Island. Douglas has one sister, Arlene, who is four years older. He played football in high school and even at the age of 18, he was developing what he refers to in his book, Mind Hunter, “amateur profiling techniques … by closely observing behavior and body language.” This is what I refer to in every day living as heightening a keen level of awareness of your surroundings, including enhancement of your own self-awareness.

Douglas served in the Air Force for four years and achieved academically with more than one degree in Adult Education. Meeting an FBI agent in late 1970 would be a turning point in building his career. What used to be referred to as the Behavioral Science Unit became the Investigative Support Unit under Douglas as its past chief. Douglas’ experience and expertise renders him to be a top serial killer profiler.

Douglas retired in 1995 after having served 25 years with the FBI. Douglas is married and has three children and resides in a Washington, D.C. suburb.


At the time I saw Silence of the Lambs, I did not know who John Douglas was. I did not have a high interest in forensic science as I do now. In fact, it was the expertise and popularity of Douglas that drove the movie’s main character and FBI agent, Jack Crawford in this movie. A few other movies have also used Douglas as a role model.

Douglas’ co-author is Mark Olshaker who is an Emmy Awarded filmmaker and also a non-fiction author who has appeared on the New York Times best seller’s list. Olshaker and Douglas have worked on seven books together.


Douglas was assigned to the Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) in 1977 and his role with others served as instructors and at the age of 32, he had an issue teaching police officers who were older than he was. At that time, he wanted more of a voice of personal authority as opposed to “authority from the Bureau.”

In Mind Hunter, Douglas talks about how everyone thought J. Edgar Hoover would never die and while he was essentially the “king” of the Bureau, they wondered who would take his place. He also discusses how he wanted to take the BS out of the BSU and once he ran the operations side of this unit, he changed the name to the Investigative Support Unit.


If you have any interest in profiling, I highly recommend Mind Hunter. I especially enjoyed how after reading this book, as a reader who is thirsty for knowledge on this subject, a piece of who John Douglas is as a person was also digested.

Throughout the whole book, the reader will learn how Douglas evolved into his roles both personally and professionally. Also, the book incorporates the cases and situations that Douglas experienced and not just limited to well documented serial crimes. Rest assured, too, he praised his father for recording his son’s career, which documentation could be relied upon in producing this book.

It was very important to Douglas to bring into his unit and teachings that behaviors of criminals and serial killers must factor in to the profiling equation. The agent cannot just rely on crime scene evidence. If a law enforcement officer wants to catch a killer, all things must be considered to develop a useful and effective profile. What I found striking in this book were the incorporated crimes and accompanying details. It would be like two friends sitting across from each other having a conversation, only this time, it’s the reader and a book. I guarantee some of the crimes will unnerve any empathic reader who will be drawn in and absorbed until the last page is turned. And, when the book is placed on your nightstand, a sense of appreciation for this former FBI agent will be strongly felt for all his giving contribution to the Bureau.

Copyright 2013 cjcoombs