Criminal Minds GlossaryThis is a featured page

Common question: What's an UNSUB?


Curious fans often have questions about the words the BAU uses when referring to crimes and suspects. Here's a glossary of terms that might fill in some of the blanks.


Anger Excitation Behavior – A classification of sexual violence motivated by arousal at the suffering of the victim.

Anger Retaliatory Behavior – A classification of excessive sexual violence motivated by revenge over imagined wrongs.

Anthropophagy – Cannibalism. This often occurs in murders that incorporate vampirism.

Arranged Crime Scene – A disposal site where an offender has arranged the body and other items to serve as a ritual fantasy, sometimes done to humiliate the victim and/or shock whoever might find the body.

Assault – An unlawful physical attack on someone often indicating a sexual assault or serious injuries due to blunt force.

Behavioral Evidence – Forensic evidence which suggests certain behaviors used to profile an UNSUB.

Bipolar Disorders – A group of mood disorders which consist of recurrent cycles of manic and depressive behavior.

Blitz Attack – The delivery of overpowering force, usually performed in a manner of surprise so as to incapacitate a victim or deliver a death blow.

Borderline Personality Disorder – Instability in relationships, job, mood, and self-image, including uncontrolled flashes of anger, impulsive behavior, and self-mutilation.

CODIS – Combined DNA Index System – used by the FBI for data/information center.

Compulsion – A strong, usually irresistible urge to perform a particular act, especially one which is irrational and/or contrary to one’s will.

Criminal Profiling – The use of observation of a crime scene, or crimes scenes, and the pattern of crimes to determine investigatively relevant characteristics of the perpetrator; it is used as a guide for police and other authorities to narrow down a list of suspects and devise a strategy for questioning.

Delusion – A false belief based on an incoherent inference about reality.

Devolution – The process by which an UNSUB begins to lose control, falling in a downward spiral, unable to control their urge to perform a particular offense brought about by the trauma of their offenses. The rapid movement from “Organized” to “Disorganized”.

Disorganized Offender – a person who commits a crime haphazardly or opportunistically, using weapons found at the scene and often leaving clues. (MO’s are typically more difficult to discover, and Signatures harder to find.)

Dissociation – Detachment from an idea or location which alters normal organization of thinking. This can lead to a loss of identity and/or consciousness.

Dissociative Identity Disorder/Multiple Personality Disorder – This disorder is characterized by more than one personality sharing the same body; it is often used by defense attorneys to relieve their client of the responsibility of any wrong-doing.

Eviscerate – To disembowel. This is generally done as a means of sexual excitement for a killer and as a way for an offender to shock whoever will discover the body.

Geographic Profiling – Using aspects of a geographical relationship among crime scenes and victims to infer offender characteristics.

Home Invasion – An offense occurring while the residents are home.

Homicidal Triad – The three things all serial killers have in common in their background. They are, arson (setting small fires when young), urinesis (bedwetting), and harming animals.

Insanity – A legal term for a mental disease or defect that if present at the time of a crime absolves the person of responsibility.

Kevlar Vest - bullet proof vest designed to "catch" a bullet in a web of very strong fibers. These fibers absorb and disperse the impact energy that is transmitted to the vest from the bullet, causing the bullet to deform or "mushroom". Additional energy is absorbed in each successive layer of material in the vest, until such time as the bullet has been stopped.

LDSK – Long Distance Serial Killer, is an offender who shoots their victims in order to create panic and fear; often improperly referred to as a “sniper”.

Love Map – The developmental representation or template formed in one’s mind depicting the idealized lover or idealized situation for which intimate relationships occur. In Serial Offenders (such as rapists and serial killers) the love map is adversely affected during puberty by environmental and biological occurrences, creating a skewed and distorted perception of love and how it should occur.

Masochism – A psychological disorder in which sexual gratification is derived from receiving emotional and/or physical abuse.

MO (Modus Operandi) – An offender’s method of carrying out an offense.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder – An enduring pattern of behavior characterized by excessive attention to oneself, grandiose thinking, and need for admiration. It can include a high level of vanity, and manifests itself in extreme acts of selfishness, with an inability to admit fault.

NCAVC – National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crimes.

NCMEC – National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Necrophilia – Erotic attraction to, and sexual contact with, dead bodies.

Obsession – A compulsive preoccupation with an idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety.

Organized Offender – A person who commits a planned crime, in a premeditated manner, leaving few to no clues. This type of offender may also carry a “kit” to a potential crime scene, and will generally choose their victims with precise specifications.

Paraphilia – Any group of psychosexual disorders characterized by feelings, fantasies or activities involving non human objects, or non consenting partners, such as children or pain and humiliation administered to one’s self and/or partner, and other sexual deviations.

********** – The act or fantasy of an adult engaging in sexual activity with a child or children.

Philia – A tendency toward a particular thing which border on, or are, full blown obsessions, preoccupations, that tend to be anti-social.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)– A psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults like rape.

Power Assertive Behavior – Using aggression to restore an offender’s self-confidence, authority, and control.

Power Reassurance Behavior – Behaviors used to restore self-confidence through low aggression means, suggestive of a sense of inadequacy.

Profiler – In this case, a Criminal Profiler, is a mental health professional and/or law enforcement officer with behavioral science training who helps determine the traits of an Unknown offender from aspects of the victim and crime scene.

Psychopath – Personality disorder defined by long-term unsocialized criminal behavior by a person who feels no guilt or remorse and is inclined to never stop such behavior.

Psychosis – A major medical disorder in which a person’s ability to think, respond, communicate, recall, and interpret reality is impaired. The person shows inappropriate moods, poor impulse control, and delusions. Often confused with insanity, which is a legal term, and psychopathy, which is a character disorder.

Sadism – A psychological disorder where sexual pleasure is derived from inflicting pain on others.
Schizophrenia – A group of disorders manifested in delusions, disturbances in language and thought, mood shifts, and maladaptive behaviors.

Script – The specific things an offender forces a victim to say and/or perform in order to fulfill a ritual scenario.

Signature – Evidence found at a crime scene which is a specific need of the offender but is not necessary for the crime itself.

Sociopath – A person with behavior identical/similar to a psychopath, but the personality was forged by social forces and environment during the maturing process.

Souvenir – See “Trophy”.

Staged – When a crime scene is set up to look like one type of crime in order to mislead and investigation and cover up another crime, i.e. when a fire is set to cover up a murder.

Stalker – One who follows and observes, persistently, another, usually out of obsession or derangement.
Stressor – The specific incident which drives an offender over the edge to commit a crime.

Threat Assessment – The process by which Profilers research a particular threat, and determine the intent, scope and magnitude of a particular threat or offender.

Token – See “Trophy”.

Trophy – A personal item taken from a victim and kept by the offender in order to be used as a memory aid for the offender to relive the crime.

Try-Sexual – A term used to describe an offender who has no preference or type of sexual victim. They will “try” anything.

UNSUB – (Unknown Subject) The term used by Profilers in lieu of a suspect’s name.

ViCAP – (Violent Criminal Apprehension Program) A data information center used by the FBI to collect, sort and analyze information about crimes and their perpetrators.

Victimization – An act that exploits someone or makes a victim of them, such as child pornography, molesting a child or sexually assaulting any person or child.

Victimology – The study of a victim, or all victims, in order to discover clues and information in regard to the offender’s opportunity and selection process. (“Why this particular victim at this particular time?”)

Vivisect – To dissect a living body, human or animal.

This information has been paraphrased from information gathered from speeches by Jim Clemente, the Internet, the and DSM-IV.


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Latest page update: made by jareaufan , Feb 16 2010, 12:42 PM EST (about this update About This Update jareaufan Edited by jareaufan

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Keyword tags: bau criminal minds Glossary
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ILuvdoktorREID what happened with Mandy P.(Jason Gideon) & Lola G.( Elle Greenway) 10 Mar 24 2012, 7:31 PM EDT by jxsmommy
Thread started: Aug 29 2010, 10:02 PM EDT  Watch
#1: I was wondering why Lola (the actress who played Elle Greenway) is only on the first 2 seasons? anyone know whats up with that?
...Dont get me wrong I love Paget just wondering what happened?

Then I also would like to know why Mandy P. isn't on anymore either he left in he beginning of season 3 & I loved his character!!
...I love SSA Rossi too though! Just wish Lola & Mandy could come back as guest spots. Would Love for SSA GIDEON to come back & join the rest of the team :)

NOW I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED WITH THEIR CHARACTERS ON THE SHOW BUT I AM CURIOUS TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED IN THE REAL- LIFE SITUATION OF IT!!!
So If anyone knows what happened I would love to find out!! Thanks!
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a_i_psych DSM IV 2 Apr 19 2011, 3:31 PM EDT by andromeda1960
Thread started: Nov 5 2010, 10:51 PM EDT  Watch
DSM means data of statitistics and manuals of mental disorder 4th edition.............or rather you can read Synopsis of Psychiatry................Rectifying some typographical error............It's Diagnostics and Statistics of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition
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marie1124 derek's silver watch 1 Jun 10 2010, 11:54 AM EDT by DoveLightMist
Thread started: May 14 2010, 9:44 PM EDT  Watch
watching an old episode....derek has on a big silver watch, not the black one in the new series. can anyone tell me about it? thanks......
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