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Negotiating with Mentally Disordered Hostage Takers: Guiding Principles and Practical Strategies

NCJ Number
Journal of Police Crisis Negotations Volume: 83 Issue: 63 Dated: 2007 Pages: 63-83
Laurence Miller Ph.D.
Date Published
21 pages
This article outlines principles and techniques for negotiating with the most common types of mentally disordered hostage-takers likely to be encountered by law enforcement professionals.
In order to be effective in dealing with hostage-takers who are mentally disordered, negotiators must combine the art and science of crisis management with insights on personality and psychopathology offered by mental health professionals. It is in this aspect of hostage and crisis negotiation that the police psychologist can make a key contribution. This article discusses principles and strategies for negotiating with the following types of mentally disordered hostage-takers: schizophrenic hostage-takers, paranoid hostage-takers, depressed hostage-takers, bipolar hostage-takers, antisocial/psychopathic hostage-takers, borderline hostage-takers, histrionic hostage-takers, narcissistic hostage-takers, avoidant-dependent hostage-takers, and hostage-takers with organic brain syndromes. For each type of mental disorder, the author describes its characteristics, how the mental disorder relates to hostage-taking behavior, and the negotiation strategy most likely to produce the desired outcome. 41 references