"Highly satisfying....Kirschman...perceptively treats complex racial, feminist, person and political issues while providing intimate knowledge of cops' shop procedure...neatly balances Dot's psychological expertise with her warmhearted humanity...."
Publishers Weekly on THE RIGHT WRONG THING
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Did you see this cover of TIME? (Remember TIME? A blog for another day.) But so thought provoking, and such an important perspective.
Publishers Weekly on THE RIGHT WRONG THING
One of our dear friends of Jungle Red, Ellen Kirschman, is a police psychologist. In her non-fiction life, she counsels police officers, especially after tragic circumstances. (In her fiction life, she writes terrific mysteries.)
Can you imagine? And since some of us write about police officers—it’s so important to understand all sides of the spectrum. Insight is the key to understanding and authenticity. And we are delighted to welcome and her unique and insightful perspective.
You may remember that I'm a police psychologist as well as a writer. I switched from non-fiction to writing mysteries in 2013 when I foolishly thought it would be easier to make things up. I use fiction to explore contemporary issues in law enforcement such as police suicide, post-traumatic stress and, in my current work-in-progress, the strain investigating internet crimes against children has on the investigator.
My protagonist is psychologist, Dr. Dot Meyerhoff. Dot was my mother's name and Meyerhoff was my maternal grandmother's surname. Neither lived to read my mysteries. It makes me happy to honor them in this way.
My books are inspired by clients, all of whom I've deeply disguised to protect their identities. I've lost count of how many officers I've counseled after a shooting. (For that matter, I've also lost track of how many officers' funerals I've attended.) Many are temporarily experiencing physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms. For them, time slows down or speeds up. Hands or weapons appear larger than life. Gunshots don't sound the way they do on the firing range. Memory degrades. So does patience. Isolation increases. It's hard to sleep, to stop thinking about the shooting or to engage in normal family activities. These are all involuntary reactions generated by a storm of stress hormones and neuro-chemicals activated by the human response to threats against survival. Normal or not, post-traumatic stress can make an officer feel as though she's going crazy.
The client who inspired this book struggled to come to terms with having killed a person even though the shooting was deemed lawful and justified. Like Randy Spelling, the fictional officer who mistakenly shoots and kills an unarmed pregnant teenager in The Right Wrong Thing, my client had nightmares and suffered from extreme guilt and remorse. Unlike Randy, she found a good therapist (apologies for tooting my own horn) to help her recover.
I am very grateful to so many officers who have allowed me to fictionalize their stories and helped me get the details right. It is my hope that my books are not only good reads but are informative and shed some light on the too often unacknowledged emotional risks of being a cop or being married to one.
HANK: What questions do you have about what police officers think? How they make decisions? How they do their jobs? Ellen is a terrific resource! And she’s here today to give us the scoop.
Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in independent practice. She is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Society for the Study of Police and Criminal Psychology, the American Psychological Association, and the International Association of Women in Law Enforcement. She is the recipient of the California Psychological Association's 2014 award for distinguished contribution to psychology as well as the American Psychological Association's 2010 award for outstanding contribution to the practice of police and public safety psychology. Ellen is the author of the award-winning I Love a Cop: What Police Families Need to Know, I Love a Fire Fighter: What the Family Needs to Know, and lead author of Counseling Cops: What Clinicians Need to Know (2013). Her debut novel, Burying Ben: A Dot Meyerhoff Mystery (2013) is about police suicide told from the perspective of the psychologist. Ellen and her husband live in Redwood City, California.