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.
This book was written twenty years ago but the concepts are not dated. Hare developed the Hare Checklist for Psychopathy that has gained wider and wider acceptance as time has gone on. Your life has been touched by a psychopath/sociopath. The significance of that influence likely determines how interested you are in the subject. If your interest is high you must read this book as a seminal work on the subject. If your interest is somewhat lower, I would recommend the more recently written The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout.
The book is an astounding portrait of the psychopath, with lengthy descriptions of how they act, how they think, and how they see the world. The author clearly knows what he is talking about and the narrator is fluent with excellent diction and tone.
The multiple examples are engaging and easy to relate to.
I did find it a little repetitive towards the end.
My main dissatisfaction, though, stems from the book's inconclusiveness. The author paints this very detailed picture of this major problem but then offers little practical advice on how to deal with it both as individuals or as a society. I would have liked more concrete advice.
Hare created this genre of non-fiction and remains the master all others attempt to imitate. I originally purchased this book in paperback form many years ago, read it 2-3 times, and then lent it to a friend who never returned it. It was worthwhile enough for me to buy the audiobook format.
Hare was responsible for developing the gold standard in the identification of psychopathic personalities. This is a standard currently in-use across the criminal justice system worldwide. The author clearly distinguishes the characteristics of psychopathy, and discusses at length the way these individuals move amongst us in society. This book is objective, non-sensationalized, and presented in a to-the-point and interesting way that is both satisfying and enlightening for the layman. Advice for dealing with potential psychopaths at both the societal/institutional and personal levels are also informatively presented. This isn't your typical black-art psych book - Hare backs his conclusions up with solid research and decades of inventorying verifiable psychopaths from the nation's prison system.
Read it and see if you can pick out the psychopaths in your life.
I have long been fascinated with the subject of psychopathy, and this book covers the subject well. Dr. Hare obviously knows his subject well, and is able to communicate his knowledge to a lay audience.
I will recommend Audible to anyone who loves multi-tasking. I am able to learn while being active. It takes away my stress, totally!
This is the book that will reveal the dark side of people. A must read to survive the society the we live in.
Yes, but you only need to read/listen to half of it. It's very repetitive.
The whole concept is interesting and he does get much credit for his "psychopath" test. No question there. But nothing really new after that.
I read the Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout first. Her book was newer (2007 compared to 1999) and referred to this one so I decided to give it a try. This book was a bit too self-congratulatory for me and repetitive without giving insight or answering basic questions. It's more a series of the author's experiences and how revolutionary he was in drafting the psychopath test. Stout's book went more into possible causes, contrasting and comparing which gave one things to think about. Maybe it was unfair to compare Hare's book to Stout, but I really got tired of him halfway through and I find this subject matter riveting. Based on the first book, I would have second thoughts about listening/reading a second book of his.
This was not a very good book. Having listened to several audiobooks about psychopaths, notably Martha Stout's The Sociopath Next Door and Jon Ronson's The Psychopath Test, I think the lesson learned here is that journalists are better writers than academics.
Criminal psychologist Robert Hare is famous for having devised the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, which is referenced several times by Stout and Ronson. However, in this book he spends entirely too much time talking about how much research he's done and how clever he is to have formulated this unique way of studying and understanding psychopaths, yet the actual evidence he cites is largely anecdotal and even speculative at times. I started to doubt the doc's credibility about the third time he used fictional characters (e.g., Hannibal Lecter, Buffalo Bill) to make a point.
He does this throughout Without Conscience: he will describe psychopathic behavior, and then use a sensationalist example, often from a movie! He talks about psychopaths as if they are monsters who are practically a separate species. Granted, many psychopaths, even those who aren't murderers, are monsters. But it hardly seems useful or truly serving the cause of truthful inquiry to dwell on how horrible psychopaths are, using serial killers as the primary examples, even though Hare himself admits that serial killers are an extreme minority of psychopaths, rather than addressing more interesting and informative questions like how to identify psychopaths and what to do about them.
Martha Stout and Jon Ronson cover much the same ground, and while of course they talk about the most spectacular, cruel, and flamboyant psychopaths as well — serial killers, bigamists, con-men, etc. — they do both more entertainingly and with a little more sense of balance, addressing the fact that most psychopaths, while horrible people to deal with, live fairly ordinary lives (often miserable ones), doing as much damage to themselves as others. Whereas Hare seems to want everyone to hire a professional like himself and apply the Hare Psychopathy Checklist whenever you suspect you're dealing with a psychopath, which could be anyone who exhibits any psychopathic behaviors.
Here is where Hare's book also seems to flounder: he uses many examples of psychopathic behavior, and conflates them with psychopaths. Rapists, for example, are "often" psychopaths, he says. Yet while noting that not all rapists are psychopaths and not all psychopaths are rapists, Hare then goes on to describe rape as a crime that is typical of a psychopathic mindset, the extreme lack of empathy for others, the lack of impulse control, etc. Okay, and? What does this actually tell us about the relationship between rape and psychopathy?
He makes vague assertions about how various crimes, from stock market manipulation to government fraud and abuse to violent crime, "may" be the result of psychopaths, and that this is evident of the massive social and economic damage psychopaths do. Well, yes, I'm sure a lot of Wall Street predators and street-level grifters and conniving, bad people everywhere in-between are psychopaths, but not all of them, so just how many are and what is the measurable contribution of psychopaths to our social ills? It's impossible to say, but Hare just hints that psychopaths are becoming more common, as evidenced by how much "worse" society is getting - again, with no evidence.
The few chapters that were interesting and informative were those that talked about what makes a psychopath's brain different — they seem to often have linguistic mannerisms like misusing words or inventing neologisms, and they also seem to often have poor impulse control, an inability to control themselves even when they may be very smart and quite capable of foreseeing the consequences of their actions. This would also explain why psychopaths tend to get caught out eventually, whether they are serial killers or just that lying manipulator in your office who's always telling stories behind people's back.
Hare does not offer much hope for the treatment of psychopaths, since he points out the condition seems to start in childhood, if not at birth, and no form of behavioral therapy actually changes them: at best, you might convince a psychopath to "play by the rules" so long as they are convinced it's in their best interests.
Overall, while there were some interesting bits and a very comprehensive description of psychopathy, Without Conscience appeared to me to be scientifically weak, too much a vehicle for Robert Hare to promote himself and his work, and not as good as other books that have covered the same subject.
Linda in Omaha
Amazing that some people really have no regard for others. I used to believe that people had a natural caring for others, especially their own family members and spouse. Now I realize some people lack the ability to have feelings of caring. I seem to have had the misfortune of having a parent and a husband who fit the description. I always wondered if they were just plain mean, or if they were mentally ill. This book does an excellent job of describing what actually happens in the mind of a psychopath. I'm happy that I got this book. I have a better understanding of this problem than I ever had before, and I no longer have to wonder what I did wrong. By the way, I'm now happily married to a great guy who treats me well and is not a psychopath.
Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.
While Dr. Hare is the authority on psychopaths, and I gained a full understanding of what a psychopath is from his book, I found that his research dealt much more with the criminal element. The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout was more helpful to me, as it covers more of the day to day people we are in contact with every day . . . the ones we work with and for, go to school with and unfortunately have personal relationships with. I can now spot one a mile away. Wish I knew then what I know now . . .