I talked about it a lot-- over lunch with friends, phone conversations with my sister, emails with my coaching forum. I was dramatic about the not knowing. I would exclaim, with great emphasis, I have absolutely NO IDEA why this is so. And everyone would agree with me. Eventually I realized that if I didn't like what I saw out there, I did have the power to change myself, my inner world, my beliefs, and my perspective. I realized that if I didn't like what I was seeing in the mirror I had to change myself, not the image I saw in the mirror. Ironically, as long as I wasn't trying to change out there, as long as I was really focusing on changing myself, out there changed. The paradox is that if I want to change out there I can't. Life mirrors our inner world; I began to ask myself questions like, What set of beliefs does this situation suggest? What am I telling myself about these events and the choices available to me? Eventually I was able to lovingly and gently ask myself the question, What choices would a person who loves herself unconditionally make in this situation? Inevitably the question changed into, What new choices do I need to make if I want a different outcome? I embraced the concept of life as a process in which I make a choice, observe the outcome, and then make another choice. Veteran Los Angeles Police Department detective Tim Marcia said as much when describing his interactions with serial killer Samuel Little, who admitted to killing more than ninety women. Looking into his eyes, I would say that was pure evil, Marcia said. Believe it or not, you only see evil a few times in your career. But in order for even this tiny percentage of our nation's currently incarcerated population to be imprisoned for prolonged periods, the people we hold must continue to meet specific criteria for this removal from society. Psychiatrists know perhaps better than anyone how difficult it is to accurately assess risk. We cannot know with certainty which of our suicidal patients will kill themselves, which of our homicidal patients will harm another.

Nonetheless, I cannot keep my patients hospitalized indeterminately, so I must use the tools I have to try to predict as best I can. Our strategy in corrections should be the same. Patients who are found not guilty by reason of insanity undergo periodic evaluations to determine when--or whether--they're likely to be safe to be released. We ought to mandate that men and women who are sentenced to prison in our country undergo these same kinds of evaluations. But this will soon change. I'll describe ways to bridge the distances that separate you from people and from yourself. My patient Kim, thirty-eight and an architect, came to me because she'd been lonely for as long as she could recall. Kim loved her work, even more than the men she'd met so far, and had several close friends, but she'd never married, though she longed to. She'd had relationships lasting a year or two, but each ended. One man proved to be a compulsive gambler, always scheming to get something for nothing--to her chagrin, he even snuck into movies without paying. Another wasn't ready to commit. Still, like many people, she believed that meeting the right mate would cure her loneliness. She joined a cyberdating service; This service promised to match couples up by compatibility according to personality tests, which sounded reasonable to Kim. It sounded legitimate. We would go round and round on the mystery. It looked as if we were addressing the problem. We were paying so much attention to it. Dedicating so much time to it. I never realized that the belief, I don't know why.

I was never going to know as long as I told myself that I didn't. That's because we always take actions to prove our beliefs. This way, we can keep telling ourselves how right we are. As long as I believed I didn't know the answer, I certainly wouldn't go looking for it. The first step in the process was learning to ask myself questions and then being able to hear the answers. The Words You Speak to Yourself A subtle way that we keep our filters intact and distract ourselves with the mitote of our minds is through our internal dialog. Do you consciously listen to your internal dialog? Do you know what you tell yourself that makes you feel angry, sad, or happy? Today your mind said 95 percent of the same things it said yesterday; Becoming aware of your internal dialog takes practice. Your habitual inner dialog constantly reaffirms your filter system and it stops you from being able to heal your emotional wounds. Once you become aware of your inner dialog you can change it to a gentle, nurturing, encouraging voice supporting you in your quest for personal freedom. Listen to what you say to yourself on a regular basis. And rather than the opaque and often arbitrary nature of the nation's parole process, risk assessments should be conducted in a targeted, evidence-based manner by forensic experts. And the evaluations should focus entirely on the risk that, if released, a person will commit acts of violence in the community. Instead of mandatory minimums, we ought to have sentencing maximums after which point a person must be assessed and deemed to pose a real, continued risk in order to justify his continued incarceration. It's impossible to know when a person is convicted of a crime whether he will continue to be a danger to others twenty, forty, sixty years from the time of sentencing. How can we possibly purport to know who is irrevocable? I've been in debates on TV, Dr Rosenqvist tells me, where a politician would say, `If a man commits murder and walks down the streets of Oslo a few years later, that's not long enough.

But there are also times, Dr Rosenqvist continues, when prison won't reduce dangerousness. Sadistic traits won't change. In which case the pertinent question is simply, how long does the court think it's reasonable for a person to be here for the crime he's done? The pertinent question is whether the structure of outpatient treatment is enough to provide some reassurance that he likely would not pose a risk, or whether he's someone who likely wouldn't cope with the combination of stressors and risk factors outside of prison. But the computer made some choices that were, at best, comical. First, out of five million members, it fixed Kim up with her full-of-himself neighbor, a baby food mogul, for whom she'd never felt an ounce of chemistry. The next perfect match, a Hollywood director, stated, What I most want to share with my partner is tantric sex, and, he added, she must have advanced lovemaking skills. Understandably, Kim didn't find these expectations an aphrodisiac. Another prospect, an accountant, asked her to call him promptly at 3:00 P. She did, but he wasn't there, and never got back to her. Although in hindsight Kim could see a bit of humor in these real-life Seinfeld episodes, she felt like a loser, lonelier than ever. Painful and true, but in therapy we utilized this loneliness as a starting point for Kim's emotional growth and transformation. The wound was now exposed and ready to mend using the techniques that you'll learn too. Years of hearing patients voice their loneliness and feeling my own have taught me that there's more to this emotion than what's traditionally believed. And so, I didn't. I just kept spinning in I-Don't-Know-Land. It was quite comforting there actually. It was all childish and victim-y. I was just waiting there for someone else to figure it out and tell me the answer. And tell me what to do about it as well.

Or maybe they'd just fix it for me while they were there. Guess what? If I had just changed my belief to I'm going to find out why this is so, I would have skipped some of those lunches and done some detective work. I didn't need to know exactly what to do or how to find out in order to believe it. Start selecting what statements you choose to believe or listen to. Ask yourself if there is a more expansive way of speaking to yourself. MONITOR YOUR INTERNAL DIALOG What do you say to yourself about: Mirror Work--An excellent way to start is by talking to yourself in the mirror. You can begin by looking deeply into your eyes, taking a few deep breaths, and taking a few minutes to really look at yourself in the mirror. You might feel silly looking in the mirror and talking out loud to yourself. But who cares? You're talking to yourself all the time anyway. So go ahead. The question is not, does he deserve to be released? Her answer no longer startles me, now that I've become accustomed to the fact that these issues in Scandinavia are guided at all times by a fierce pragmatism. It's not that evil isn't an intellectually interesting question, she seems to be saying, but it's actually not relevant as she goes about her job assessing which of these people--all of whom have done terrible things--remain dangerous enough that they require continued detention. And Anders Breivik? I asked her. She nodded.