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Hostage/Crisis Negotiations: Lessons Learned From the Bad, the Mad, and the Sad

NCJ Number
Thomas Strentz, Ph.D.
Date Published
197 pages
This book explains how hostage and crisis negotiations should be conducted in order to save lives.
The author advises that hostage-takers and others who precipitate crisis negotiations can be classified as the "Bad, the Mad, and the Sad." The "Bad" are those with antisocial personality disorder; the "Mad" are those who are severely mentally ill, insane, or psychotic; and the "Sad" are those contemplating suicide. This book proposes tactics and procedures for interacting with and managing these three categories of people if they become involved in a hostage/crisis situation. Chapter 1 discusses the history of how law enforcement personnel have addressed hostage/crisis events. Guidelines are presented for active listening skills. The team approach is recommended for the most efficient and effective management of these events. Team roles and responsibilities are discussed in detail. The next three chapters focus on the types of individuals negotiators are most likely to encounter during a crisis. Excerpts from negotiator/subject dialogs are presented. A chapter on the "Bad," i.e., persons at risk for antisocial/violent behavior, explains rationalization and projection as the most common psychological defense mechanisms encountered with these types of individuals. In addition, the chapter discusses the 1973 Stockholm bank robbery that spawned the term "Stockholm Syndrome," in which hostages develop a dependency on and attachment to their captor. Chapter 3 focuses on "The Mad," i.e., people who have been diagnosed as suffering from a major mental disorder with symptoms of delusions and hallucinations. The concluding chapter considers the management of a crisis precipitated by a suicidal subject. Ambivalence in the subject regarding whether or not to commit suicide is discussed, along with implications for negotiation tactics intended to prevent suicide in such cases without resorting to forceful restraint. Chapter references and extensive photos


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