The real ‘Mindhunter’ nurse criticises Netflix series
(Credits: Netflix)


The real 'Mindhunter' nurse criticises Netflix series

Ann Burgess, the psychiatric nurse who directly inspired the character of Dr Wendy Carr in Mindhunter, has criticised the popular Netflix show for altering details about her and the team she worked with while creating pioneering advances within the FBI.

In the 1970s, Burgess teamed up with John Douglas and Robert Ressler, who were working on a new system for criminal profiling. With Burgess on board, she helped to advance their research, creating the blueprint for profiling sexual offenders now used by the FBI. Her work has changed the way that sexual violence is investigated and treated, making her a hugely influential figure.

Yet, in Mindhunter—created by Joe Penhall, with David Fincher tackling much of the direction and executive production—Burgess’s story is slightly altered. Details such as her job, sexuality, and place of residence were all changed, with Burgess’ character given the name Dr Wendy Carr.

Burgess believes that the show placed too much emphasis on her personal life, which wasn’t even based on reality, as well as doing the same for the fictional versions of Douglas and Ressler. She explained to The Independent, “The backgrounds of the three of us [were] totally wrong – and that’s a shame.” 

The show’s decision to change Burgess’ job from a psychiatric nurse to a psychologist angered Burgess because her work in the nursing industry was revolutionary. By changing her profession, she believes that Mindhunter minimises the impact of her work. “I’m very hopeful that nursing, especially forensic nursing or psychiatric nursing, gets a good share of understanding, because nurses have not been well portrayed,” Burgess commented. 

Mindhunter first aired in 2017, with Jonathan Groff, Anna Torv, Holt McCallany, and Hannah Gross starring in the main roles. It received widespread acclaim, but Fincher eventually moved on to other projects, allowing the show to end with season two, released in 2019. 

Burgess added, “It’s no surprise they didn’t get a third season. They got too caught up in the after-story, or whatever they were talking about, on the three of us – and trying to work that up instead of staying with the cases.” 

Luckily for Burgess, justice for her incredible work will come in the form of the upcoming docuseries Mastermind: To Think Like A Killer, which will air on Hulu next month. It is inspired by her recent book, A Killer By Design: Murderers, Mindhunters, And My Quest To Decipher The Criminal Mind.