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Conrad Gudmundson- Psychopathic Research

Alright, admit it. After watching countless hours of shows like CSI, everything suddenly seems like a mystery, and you’re determined to get to the bottom of it. Where did that pen go anyway? And why is the light still on after you thought you turned it off? This “mystery” might not require a crazy car chase, or an encounter with a criminal like the Hollywood version but a girl can dream, right? Conrad Gudmundson admits his life isn’t quite like the TV shows either, but he actually has the opportunity to talk to prisoners each week to gain insight on how their minds work. I don’t know about you, but I’d take that over a TV show any day!

What is your major?

Can you tell us a little bit about your research opportunity that you have?
Once a week I go to Fox Lake Correctional Institution, which is a medium security men’s prison. I administer a new sort of behavioral treatment, or therapy, to psychopathic inmates. This treatment was created by the professor that I work with along with a graduate student of his to target the attention deficits that he believes are responsible for psychopathy.

What does “medium security” mean?
Medium security describes the type of inmates that occupy the prison. Most of the offenders that we see are serious drug offenders, sex offenders, or individuals with an extensive criminal record of minor charges.

Do you ever feel scared or nervous while interviewing them?
They trained us well before putting us into any situation that could cause fear, so I have not. For the entire second semester of last year I trained for the position. Running through the various treatments, becoming acquainted with the prison system and the atmosphere at prison, etc. It would be a bad situation if the prisoners sensed that you were nervous or scared, and that is when you could possibly be in danger.

Do a lot of the prisoners share similar qualities or are they very different?
There are a few trademark qualities of psychopaths, but most of them are different for a variety of ways.

What are some of the trademark qualities of psychopaths?
Some of the trademark qualities of psychopaths are glibness/superficial
charm, grandiose sense of self-worth, pathological lying, cunning/manipulative,
lack of remorse or guilt, shallow affect (genuine emotion is short-lived and
egocentric), callousness; lack of empathy, failure to accept responsibility for
own actions, etc.

What is your favorite part about this opportunity?
I love being able to be part of groundbreaking research that I am sincerely interested in. It also directly relates to what I would like to do in the future, so it is a great fit.

What is your favorite crime scene TV show?
I love the show Criminal Minds, as do a lot of people in my lab. It is not completely accurate, but it is entertaining.

What question do you wish to ask a future campus celebrity? Be creative!
If you could leave tomorrow, and travel anywhere in the entire world, where would it be?


Tricia Fishbune is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She plans on majoring in Communication Arts, and eventually wants to work in the entertainment industry in either journalism or public relations. Aside from writing, she loves to hang out with friends, meet new people, travel, exercise, and try new things. 
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