'Doc' Tim Watson-Munro is famous for his association with the infamous. As Australia's leading criminal psychologist he assessed over 20,000 'persons of interest' in some of the country's most notorious court cases, including Hoddle Street gunman Julian Knight, corporate fraudster Alan Bond, Melbourne gangster Alphonse Gangitano and, more recently, many of Australia's first terrorist convicts.
But the frontline of psychology is not a world for the faint-hearted, and such close proximity to evil wrought a devastating effect on Tim's private life. He was a leader in Melbourne's 'Corporate Cocaine Set', a hedonistic lifestyle that quickly spiralled out of control and ultimately led him to a terrible crossroads in 1999 - first wife dying, second wife pregnant, best mate betraying him to cops, career in crisis and $2000-a-week drug habit out of control.
Tim put it all on the line, handing himself in to the police. He was arrested, deregistered as a psychologist and sent back to square one.
But Tim resurrected himself. Today, he runs thriving practices in Sydney and Melbourne. In fact, his low road provided him with even more insight into the minds of those he assesses. After all, when you're dancing with demons it takes one to know one...
About the Author
Criminal psychologist 'Doc' Tim Watson-Munro spent his formative years in Sydney and San Francisco. Educated at Sydney University, Tim rose to prominence as a pioneering prison psychologist at Parramatta Gaol.
During the 1980s and 90s he gave expert evidence in some of the country's most notorious court cases and appeared regularly in the media while chairing the Forensic College of the Australian Psychological Society.
After succumbing to illness and addiction, Tim was deregistered in June 2000, but returned to practise in 2004. Today he operates thriving offices in Sydney and Melbourne and is father to five children.
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Dancing With Demons by Tim Watson-Munro (Published June, 2017)
This is a patchy read, part sensational, part informative, mostly anecdotal, with some so-called 'reflections' at the end. Even the image on the cover is ambiguous —the author faces the camera scratching his chin from a flashy red car sporting half a dozen bullet holes in the driver's door. We don't know what Watson-Munro's thinking; but our focus of course is on him. And like the book as a whole, this uneven theme — part bravura, part pleading for our sympathy — is held together by its author's continuous occupation of stage central.
I don't know if Watson-Munro's attention seeking is self-conscious. He does say in the book's closing pages 'The primary lesson of my life, which I wish to share for those who are willing to listen, is to leave your ego in a box. Accomplishment is a transitory phenomenon, but connectedness and love for others is not.' (p.331) Pity Watson-Munro didn't listen to himself 300 pages earlier.
He even then slips up two paragraphs later, momentarily pulling at our heart strings then throwing it away as he lists his children's 'transitory phenomen[a]': 'My greatest achievement has been that of fatherhood. I did my best, although I believe I could have done better. Despite years of c***, and primarily through the stability of Carla [his second wife], all of my children have excelled. Tom finished a double degree …' etc. etc..
Dancing With Demons then is an ambiguous read. On the one hand we are drawn by content, what is said; on the other by its teller, how it is said and whether it is to be trusted. Personalizing this another way: as a fellow mental health worker I am grateful to Watson-Munro for his exposé of some of the tragedies of drug dependency, especially in Melbourne; but I can't seem to help feeling that his colorful narrative is tainted with brashness, emotive persuasion and authorial self-glorification. While of course we all celebrate (and congratu
Published: 27th June 2017
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.2 x 15.6 x 2.6
Weight (kg): 0.52