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Morrison, Helen 1942-

MORRISON, Helen 1942-

PERSONAL: Born July 9, 1942, in Greensburg, PA; married George J. Dohrmann, III (a neurosurgeon), December 22, 1979; children: two sons. Education: Graduated from Temple University; Medical College of Pennsylvania, M.D., 1972; Chicago Institute of Psychoanalysis, postgraduate studies, 1975-84.

ADDRESSES: Home—Chicago, IL. Agent—HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10022.

CAREER: Psychiatrist, specializing in general psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry. Johnson & Johnson Research Foundation, research technician, 1962-65; AME Assoc., Princeton, NJ, lab personnel director, 1965-67; Biosearch, Inc., associate director, 1967-70; University of Wisconsin Hospital, intern, 1972-73, resident in psychiatry, 1972-75, fellow in child psychiatry, 1975-76; Wisconsin Psychiatric Research Institute, research associate, 1976-77; Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University, Chicago, IL, director of child psychiatry, 1978-80. Center for Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison, member of executive board, president of house staff association.

MEMBER: American Medical Association, American Academy of Child Psychiatry, American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, American Academy of Forensic Science, Chicago Heart Association (women's board).


(With Harold Goldberg) My Life among the SerialKillers: Inside the Minds of the World's Most Notorious Murderers, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2004.

Coauthor of Contemporary Issues in the Treatment of Psychotic and Neurologically Impaired Children: A Systems Approach, and editor of Children of Depressed Parents: A Comprehensive Study in Research and Treatment; contributor to professional and academic journals.

SIDELIGHTS: Helen Morrison is a forensic psychiatrist who has worked with and studied nearly a hundred serial killers, including Ed Gein, the real-life inspiration for the film Psycho. Gein was a grave robber and killer who turned his Wisconsin farmhouse into a butcher shop where he dismembered human bodies. Morrison's first encounter with a serial killer came in the late 1970s when she met Richard Macek, who was suspected of brutally killing several women in Wisconsin and Illinois. Macek was dubbed "The Mad Biter" because of the bite marks he left on his victims. In a strange twist, he had his teeth pulled before he was caught.

Morrison also interviewed John Wayne Gacy, who buried the bodies of the thirty-three men and boys he killed in the crawl space of his house north of Chicago. Morrison's My Life among the Serial Killers: Inside the Minds of the World's Most Notorious Murders, written with journalist Harold Goldberg, was published on the tenth anniversary of Gacy's execution at Joliet in 1994. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote that "even readers who are willing to have an open mind about Morrison's theories are likely to find some aspects of her report a little creepy." Library Journal contributor Tim Delaney noted that what is said to be a toned-down version of her research on savage killer Robert Berdella "is enough to make the average reader cringe."

Morrison first met Gacy before his 1980 trial and spent approximately fifty hours with him before testifying that he was legally insane. Gacy asked her to study his brain, and after his death, Morrison obtained a notarized letter from the family allowing her to take it, as well as sections of his other organs. Researchers who have studied these remains have found them to be unremarkable, but as Morrison notes, most brain research is conducted with living brains, which react to stimuli and changing conditions. Morrison's plan was to preserve Gacy's brain in the hopes that science may one day develop new ways to analyze it.

Morrison, who has acted as a consultant to a number of law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has spent more than twenty-five years attempting to find patterns in the behavior of serial killers. She concludes that there may be a genetic explanation: a serial killer's personality, including his compulsions, may be part of his makeup even before he is born. A Kirkus Reviews critic remarked that the volume is "a scary piece of work, with even scarier implications." Booklist contributor David Pitt called My Life among the Serial Killers "an absorbing, disturbing book that makes it clear just how much we have yet to learn."



Morrison, Helen, and Harold Goldberg, My Life among the Serial Killers: Inside the Minds of the World's Most Notorious Murderers, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2004.


Booklist, May 1, 2004, David Pitt, review of My LifeAmong the Serial Killers: Inside the Minds of the World's Most Notorious Murderers, p. 1530.

Chicago Tribune, May 29, 2004, Jane Fritsch, review of My Life among the Serial Killers, "News," p. 1.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2004, review of My Life among the Serial Killers, section A, p. 17.

Library Journal, April 15, 2004, Tim Delaney, review of My Life among the Serial Killers, p. 103.

Los Angeles Times, May 23, 2004, Sharon Cohen, review of My Life among the Serial Killers, p. A17.

Publishers Weekly, April 5, 2004, review of My Life among the Serial Killers, p. 56.*

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