Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Life Lesson From a Criminal Psychologist

Dr Tim Watson-Munro is a Sydney based Criminal Psychologist.

Starting his career at the then notorious Paramatta Gaol, he quickly established his credentials as a talented  analyst of the criminal mind.

He went on to became the 'go to' Criminal Psychologist for many senior criminal lawyers seeking professional analysis of their clients. Working for such highly credentialed members of the criminal legal fraternity meant he was also working on high profile cases and his public profile grew accordingly.

Watson-Munro notes that many, if not the majority of his criminal analysis investigations were not to the benefit to the Court case of the accused therefore never seeing the light of day.  

It was 1999 and his career was soaring. His profile was now truly National through his work with Alan Bond, Hoddle Street gunman Julian Knight and Melbourne identity, Alphonse Gangitano. He was Chair of the Forensic College of the Australian Psychological Society and a member of an advisory Board at Melbourne University. Life was good.

It was at a Party for a QC friend that he realised his world was about to collapse.

Through all his success, Watson-Munro had been living the double life of a Cocaine addict, and one with a $2000 a week habit. That afternoon, news came through of the arrest on drug related charges  of well-known criminal lawyer, Andrew Fraser.
Fraser was a regular source of coke for Watson-Munro and he knew immediately he would be implicated by way of Police intercepts that would have been conducted as part of the investigation.

He took pro-active action and presented himself to police and his subsequent guilty plea was met with a good behaviour bond, a payment to the poor box and no conviction being recorded.

In his book, Dancing with Demons: True Life Misadventures of a Criminal Psychologist, he references the superficiality of the media coverage that greeted his past success and accompanying so called high achievement life style.

He emphasises that “Accomplishment is a transitionary phenomenon but connectedness and love for others is not”. Ego drives us in many ways and all too often the direction it takes us is negative. Watson-Munro’s states his primary lesson in life as being “to leave your ego in a box”.

I heard an interview  with Tim Watson-Munro today and he said something else that is most important.

He talked about his poor decisions perhaps being due in part to a regular environment of being with criminal elements. He referenced their world perhaps ‘infusing’ in to his noting it is hard not to be affected by those we spend time with.

He still works in Criminal Psychology but has taken specific steps to balance or mitigate the effects his work may have upon him.

We are the product of our environment and by definition, the people within it.

We perhaps should regularly review who is in our environment and the impact it may have on us. This could be at work, in our sporting endeavours, friendships and acquaintances and cross check that our own values are not being compromised. We should also ensure that such relationships are not simply feeding our egos at the cost of our core values.

It can be difficult to perhaps leave a long-standing employer when new people arrive or a corporate direction changes to such an extent that it now fails to live up to our own standards. The decision to be made is difficult. Do we compromise and stay, or make the harder decision and leave? To leave is a risk, but arguably one with a guaranteed return.

The same goes for friends and particularly those acquaintances who are constantly passing through our world.

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