Aftermath Radio: Dr. Mary Ellen O’Toole and Dangerous Instincts

This week we are very pleased to be joined by Dr. Mary Ellen O’Toole, former FBI profiler and author of the book, Dangerous Instincts.

We first spoke with Sandy Ross, founder of The Hope Portal, an organization for the advocacy of survivors of psychopathic relationships  who now find themselves navigating the family court system. For more information, you can reach Sandy at 877-746-7381.

Mary Ellen O’Toole, PhD, a retired FBI Profiler spent nearly 15 years in the FBI’s elite Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) talks about how gut feelings are not the way to navigate through major decisions in one’s life and certainly not the way to correctly “read” people (Dr. O’Toole contributed the following):

Gut feelings are feelings or emptions that many of us think we can rely on to get through life. However, here is the truth about gut feelings. We don’t know where these feelings are located inside the body, we can’t take a class to improve them, we don’t know when they shut down or go on overdrive, and why sometimes they are not there when we really need them.

While working as an FBI profiler, I was frequently asked, “How do you size people up?” “How do you know if someone is dangerous?” “How do you interview people to learn more about them?” The fact is in the FBI we don’t use crystal balls, Ouija boards, or instinctual guesses. We rely on extensive training, research and experience to analyze crime scenes, do dangerousness assessments on people, and conduct interviews.

Getting a good read on people requires going beyond superficial indicators like the type of job someone has, their education, or the number of children they have. What is important is to see their behavior in different situations, while being aware of key personality traits that could be indicative of future problems, even dangerousness. For example, if someone lacks empathy or guilt for their behavior, takes risks and is a thrill seeker, blames other for all their problems, lies about everything and is grandiose, you may be in the company of someone manifesting traits of a psychopath and you are destined for problems, no matter what the nature of your relationship.

Serial sexual killers, although rare, are great examples of the manifestation of psychopathic traits and characteristics. In my work with serial sexual killers, I was constantly impressed by how normal these people appeared and how glib and charming they were during our interviews.  After talking to them, it made complete sense to me how an unwitting victim, would get into his car, or open their front door to him. These people come across as harmless and non-threatening but behind the mask, they are anything but.

The likelihood of you meeting a serial sexual killer is very rare. However, however every day you are meeting new people and making decisions about whether or not to let them into your life. In my new book Dangerous Instincts, I took the concepts and principles that I developed and used as a Senior FBI profiler and applied them to everyday life situations so that you can read people the right way, and then make decisions that will keep you out of danger.

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