College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
tell me how to avoid getting taken advantage of (like the moronic How To Deal With Difficult People) and the worse than useless In Sheep's Clothing), I decided to take a look at the opposite end of the problem--the manipulators themselves: a much better idea, as it turns out. Without Conscience provides a nicely developed portrait of the psychopath, people born without the ability to empathize and register normal human feelings, even though they can imitate them convincingly enough to con and abuse others. (There are an estimated 2 million psychopaths among us in the US, and they are not to be confused with their most extreme representative: the serial killer. Chances are you know or have known a psychopath.) The neurology represented in this book is a bit behind the current wisdom and for better information about the brain's role in psychopathy, one might read The Science Of Evil and The Tell-Tale Brain. Overall, Without Conscience is a very useful book for understanding the serious manipulator and how to deal with him/her.
for the neurological and psychological basis of "non-empathetic" behavior. Baron-Cohen does a fine job in describing the diathesis mode of approach to those who go through the world unable to experience or understand normal human feelings of empathy and the sorts of sensitivity toward one another that most of us take more or less for granted. By employing the medical model, he forces a redefinition of what has formerly been termed "evil," redefining it "non-empathetic." Obviously, those who are narcissistic, borderline or psychopathic are on the negative end of this scale, as they range from simply annoying to out and out life-threatening, though Baron-Cohen also explores the positive end of the spectrum in the way of autistics and those with Asperger's syndrome (a disorder along the autistic spectrum), who are not only usually nonviolent but who are often creative and supra-moral. An interesting, informative and well-put together read.
This is not a throwback to the old mind/matter dualism of Descartes, though it does decidedly (and, I believe healthfully and rightly) break with some of the tenets of hardcore behaviorism and inflexible functionalism. In short, the authors do view the brain as the seat of thought and emotion and all lower and higher cognitive functions, but they view the mind as something other than "byproduct of a dynamic, like the noise that is emitted by a lawnmower," as some radicals have asserted. Rather, the mind is a Gestalt, a whole greater than the sum of its biological parts, a living dynamic with "a life of its own": and that Gestalt is something special and real--the minds, the personalities, the psychic beings that we are.
Entrepreneur, marketer, Zen Buddhist.
I've been a junkie on this topic ever since I took the first class Richard Thaler (Author of "Nudge" and heavily cited in this book) ever offered on Behavioral Decision Theory. Kahneman and Tversky are the great pioneers of the subject. Kahneman's book does not disappoint. This subject is so important it should be required reading.
Kahneman does an excellent job of making the subject clear and understandable. The narration is excellent. This is a first-class effort in every way.