Feb 8, 2016
(Sorry for any grammar mistake)

I have to choose a college major this year and i'm in doubt among Forensic Psychiatry, Forensic Psychology or even Forensic neuropsychiatry or Forensic neuropsychology (Two that I consider possible options)

I know Psychiatry has a better salary, it is very relevant for me although I think the most important factor is truly enjoy my profession.
I've always sympathized with the forensic field in somenthing I think can be between psychiatry or psychology, I think it may be by the fact that I've always been an avid reader about interesting high profile cases. But I do sympathize with psychiatry and psychology in a general way too.

The problem is, I don't know which one of these exerts what I have in mind to be. I read that psychology among other things, focuses on the personality, behavior, etc and etc. In the case of psychiatry, I read it focuses on medical reports and mental ilnesess, not focusing on personal characteristics of a individual or in general. There is the problem, I would like to focus on both, I like the idea of analyze both personal characteristics - such as personality - and what it has to do with the mind and the brain. I think both complements each other. I also heard by other people that psychiatry kind of can do all of it. I'm not sure about any of these things.

Considering all of it, which one should I choose? I know it's a stupid question, but I am reading and trying to know more about these careers.

I think about not working in the clinical field too, doing researches. Or working for government in high profile cases ( Is it possible? Work only for government not doing other clinical consultations rest of the time? ) if I chose one of those two options, would it change your answer?
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I'm not sure where you are from, but here in the US, psychiatry is not a major, rather it is a specialty after medical school, which comes AFTER college. As for psychology, that is a major in college, but only sets you up for graduate school to obtain a masters or a PsyD or PhD, whereas a graduate degree is required in most cases to work and see patients with some exceptions, and certainly for the field of forensics. Neuropsychiatry again is after medical school and is a subspecialty within either psychiatry and/or neurology and is uncommon to find with few programs for it (pay does not increase either to my knowledge, it just opens doors for departments and expertise). As for neuropsychology, this can be studied while working for your PhD, but to become a neuropsychologist, you must to a post-doctoral fellowship after completed a clinical psychology graduate degree.

My best advice would be to study psychology and take medical school pre-reqs to help with your interests and preparation for any direction you take.


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you are putting the cart before the horse here. no one cares what your major is. but if you want to consider medical school then you must do your pre-med requirements and consider whether you can get a high enough GPA and the like in order to get into medical school. becoming a neuropsychologist is not easy either, it is really the very smartest psychologists who become neuropsychologists and this too is very competitive. psychiatrists do not do much in the way of psychological testing with some specific exceptions (for example we could do things like the TOMM or SIMS) so if you are interested in being able to do extensive testing of personality, memory, learning, attention, language, higher cortical functions, perceptual-motor, and visuospatial functions then you would want to do neuropsychology rather than psychiatry. Neuropsychology concerns itself with dementia, traumatic brain injury, and the cognitive and behavioral manifestations of cerebral dysfunction (for example in epilepsy, stroke, MS, Parkinson's and so on). Forensic neuropsychologists would be very important to civil cases involving these disorders, particularly in detecting malingering or exaggeration of deficitis as is very common. Forensic neuropsychiatrists actually often rely very heavily on the input of neuropsychologists and have to integrate the findings of the neuropsychologist into their report. In cases involving dementia and TBI, the cases often hinge on neuropsychological testing and thus the neuropsychologist is very important. Neuropsychologists will also perform intelligence testing which is importance in cases of intellectual disability which has implications for things such as the death penalty.

Forensics in the US involves not just criminal work (which may include things like competency to stand trial, insanity defence, competency to be executed) but also civil law (testamentary capacity, fitness for duty, fiduciary competency, psychic injury, disability). Psychiatrists or psychologists may be involved in this kind of work. The detection of malingering and exaggeration is very important to forensic work. Profiling of criminals is what many people think of forensics - this is something that psychologists, and not many do this kind of work, in fact it is often neither psychologists nor psychiatrists who do this kind of work - it may be done by criminologists for example. I'm not sure if when you say "work for the government" you mean working for the FBI. Its not really something you "choose" to do. The jobs are very limited, they don't pay very well, and it's pretty hard to get into. I wouldn't recommend considering these fields if that is all you would want to do. Also the unethical practices of psychologists working for the federal government participating in torture has come to light.

It is great to have very career specific goals and to focus on them but you must be pragmatic. The first question is whether you are interested in medicine or psychology? The second question is whether you have the academic capabilities and aptitude to pursue higher education in either of these fields.
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I'd recommend you read the various threads on going into psychology vs psychiatry. Please ignore the BS turf wars that occasionally happen between people in our fields.

Psychology in general is the study of the human mind itself and uses a combination of biology, behaviorism, statistics, and theories of the mind.
Psychiatry is branch of the medical art and sciences that specifically deals with treating mental illness. There's a heck of a lot of difference. Psychologists for example could be hired by an advertising company to see what makes people buy certain products. Psychiatry has no expertise in that area.

Forensic psychology and psychiatry have a lot of common traits but in general forensic psychologists get better training with using psychological tests while psychiatrists have an advantage in dealing with the neurological/psychopharm/medical aspects. E.g a guy is claiming to not known what happened after he crashed his car and was on Ambien. Guy could've been sleep-driving.

IMHO both have their merits. I would recommend going into the field where you feel a better grasp of the material, enjoy it more, and the lifestyle it provides. Medical school will require you live like a Spartan for literally several years but you could have something of a life as a graduate student in psychology. If anything this is more a criticism of medical training because I do think the hours and stress can go overboard. While psychology graduate school certainly isn't easy it's not like you have to wake up 5 AM, have a surgeon scream at you for 18 hours a a day then you get to go to sleep about midnight and live like this 6 days a week for several months straight while the next rotation is easier, you get to sleep 6 hours a day instead of 5.

My favorite forensic experiences was when I worked with an excellent forensic psychologist. They knew the testing stuff better, I knew the medical stuff better and we worked well together.
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Feb 8, 2016
First of all, I want to thank you all for answering me, it surely helped me a lot and made me understand things I didn't know and realize that I have to think way more about it.

I also want to rectify the fact that I've referred to Psychiatry and Neuropsychiatry as a major in college. I know if I chose one these two I would have to do medical school first and then do a specialty in one of these two. This is, btw, why I am actually kind of worried about what I'll choose as a profession. I do have in mind all the energy and efforts a medical school would requires me; I must confess the thought of almost literally have no life outside the medical school scares me bit, hearing everyone saying how much it is exigent and stressful etc etc. But in the other hand I know how much all the effort would be worthy, I mean with it a better salary and stability (despite the fact that I'd have a nice job, in case of medicine really be my thing) cause psychology and medicine have
significant differences in wages from what I know (?). But as I said, though salary is an important factor, the most one is truly enjoy my job, and I would willing to strive for it, either it medicine or psychology. That's why I need to make a choice ASAP.

In the past three years I was trying to figure out what I'd want to do and I just couldn't find anything that interested myself, untill a day I was watching some interviews and documentaries with/about Dr. Park Dietz, a forensic psychiatrist also graduated in psychology, known for dealing with some famous high profile cases, and it was the only thing I could considered exerts as a career, even though not knowing exactly which career is it (?).

Anyway, I'll really think much more about all this stuff and I may end up exerting something that I've never thought about.

(Again, sorry about any grammar mistake)
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There's no rush to make a decision. You simply take the pre-med courses and can major in psychology. Worst case scenario, the pre-med courses knock out some generals requirements.
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