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Publisher's Summary

Most people are both repelled and intrigued by the images of cold-blooded, conscienceless murderers that increasingly populate our movies, television programs, and newspaper headlines. With their flagrant criminal violation of society's rules, serial killers like Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy are among the most dramatic examples of the psychopath. Individuals with this personality disorder are fully aware of the consequences of their actions and know the difference between right and wrong, yet they are terrifyingly self-centered, remorseless, and unable to care about the feelings of others. Perhaps most frightening, they often seem completely normal to unsuspecting targets. Presenting a compelling portrait of these dangerous men and women based on 25 years of distinguished scientific research, Dr. Robert D. Hare vividly describes a world of con artists, hustlers, rapists, and other predators who charm, lie, and manipulate their way through life. Are psychopaths mad, or simply bad? How can they be recognized? And how can we protect ourselves? This book provides solid information and surprising insights for anyone seeking to understand this devastating condition.

©1999 Robert D. Hare, Ph.D. (P)2011 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A fascinating, if terrifying, look at psychopaths.... Hare makes a strong case for the view that psychopaths are born, not made.... A chilling, eye-opening report - and a call to action." ( Kirkus)

What members say

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Dr. Hare, always at the forefront!!

This guy is the father of all this type of research. He created the PCL-R!! What more to say. All points made are always backed with the statement, 'for example...' The examples are great and get right to the point.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kevin
  • SPRING, TX, United States
  • 05-23-14

Excellent Read & Overview of Psycopaths

What made the experience of listening to Without Conscience the most enjoyable?

I enjoyed how Dr. Hare divided the topics of psychopaths, which made reading more enjoyable and less mundane (see extended review for details).

What did you like best about this story?

I liked how Dr. Hare identified areas of society were the term "psychopath" is misused and even in criminal justice system, doctors and such are misusing the psychopathy checklist.

I also liked how he explored the area of psychopathy in children, which is rarely discussed due to the moral and ethical implications.

Which scene was your favorite?

The chapter on children psychopaths.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No.

Any additional comments?

Considering this book was published in 1999 and is now 15 years old, it is still a relevant and insightful read on psychopaths. Dr. Hare is also an early pioneer in trying to develop, and correctly administer the psychopathy checklist, which I found interesting to hear how this technique came about.

Like most books on psychopaths, there are plenty of examples of murder, deceit, and injury to others; however Dr. Hare did an excellent job in breaking the book into a few basic sections:

- Defining the Psychopath
- White Collar Psychopaths
- Psychopathy in Children
- Appropriate Use & Misuse of the Psychopathy Checklist by Society
- Methods to Identify & Protect Yourself From Psychopaths

The book length is just right and it was well edited. I would recommend this read to anyone interested in psychopaths and trying to understand psychopathic behavior.

Pros: Addressed the issue of psychopathy in children and made me really ponder if people can be born "bad."
Cons: Book highlighted all negative aspects of psychopaths, but did not touch on any positive features - which have primarily been addressed in Kevin Sutton's "Wisdom of Psychopaths"
Bottom line: Quick and interesting read - would recommend.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Todd
  • Duluth, MN, United States
  • 04-15-14

A very good baseline for understanding psychopathy

If you could sum up Without Conscience in three words, what would they be?

Illuminating
Knowledgeable
Disturbing

Psychopathy is very interesting, and the author presents an excellent overview of knowledge.

What three words best describe Paul Boehmer’s performance?

He seemed disinterested in some parts. In others, his tone and delivery was excellent for the material.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not a Bad Intro

If you could sum up Without Conscience in three words, what would they be?

Psychopaths are jerks. Or, in three sentences: Without Conscience is a good overview of psychopathy. Hare discusses the history of the diagnosis, symptoms, theories on cause, common misconceptions, possible treatments, and so forth, using anecdotes to flesh everything out. He struck me as a bit alarmist, and a little preening when it came to his Psychopathy Checklist, but nothing too bad so long as you view at the book as a layman's introduction.

What did you like best about this story?

How Hare discussed every facet of psychopathy moderately, as opposed to discussing a couple facets deeply.

Have you listened to any of Paul Boehmer’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not, but I didn't have any real issue with Boehmer's reading. A dry and clinical reading for a dry and clinical book. The only thing that struck me as odd is that whenever he reads a series (X,Y, Z...) he gives a full pause between items as though they were separated by a period instead of a comma.However, I don't know what the punctuation looks like in the printed book, so maybe it was typed like that.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

That perhaps is the weirdest question Audible has ever pitched at me. "Without Conscience: A Fascinating Look Into The World Of Psychopaths"? Maybe?

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim
  • United States
  • 07-04-13

Felling Null

I'm not trying to be morbid, but since the new season of Dexter just started, Dr. Hare's research of psychopaths in "Without Conscience", is just terrifying because there are real serial killers among us. I was glued to my headset to this book because it was so fascinating.

Not only Robert Hare breaks down each mainstream serial killers, such as Jeffrey Dahmer and explaining his mind set of his justifications as being a psychopath, but Dr. Hare also gives normal like examples of children being a bad seed and going toward the wrong path by harming others and having no remorse.

It is obvious that most of us have a moral judgement from what is wrong and right, but in a psychopath there is no middle ground of being bad or good. It seems like that they cannot foresee the consequences of their action.

After reading Dr. Hare's research, I have come to a conclusion that there are some of us that our feeling is "null" and having zero value.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Claire
  • Jerusalem, Israel
  • 06-23-13

Wasted my $4.95.

The science is old and watered down to middle school level. The narrator sounds like he is bored but has been instructed to "read with expression".

I couldn't be bothered to finish. Don't bother to buy it.

2 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Viscerally Chilling

A well-written and detailed account of the worst human beings in society, Without Conscience is based on decades of case-studies and psychological research. Despite this technical and esoteric foundation, Hare has created a very listenable and engrossing tome of psychology's recent discoveries in this arena.

Alongside a gruesome and terrifying introduction (in which Hare briefly describes the most iniquitous, egregious and brutal crimes of psychopaths) is Hare's clarion call for awareness and action. Not only do they blend in among society and appear more "genuine" than human beings with a conscience, but they can manipulate even the criminal justice system into paying them exorbitant sums for revealing the bodies of their victims (this is not in any sense rare; one villainous woman who murdered her children to be with a man who did not wish to raise children attempted to paint herself as the victim). Unchecked and manipulative psychopaths tend to end up as puppet masters in their own despotism, and having a democratic government is no barrier to them, as the 20th century proved all too well.

Chapter 1 details Hare's experience with a psychopath who was, perhaps, the best liar in the world. While the pranks he played on the then-greenhorn Hare were generally inconveniencing as opposed to violent, they still revealed an inability to empathise (or even an interest in empathising) with others. Years later, when Hare met Ray while he at a university, Ray's silver tongue effortlessly glided from one lie to the next, claiming to have been Hare's assistant. Ray's versatility and lack of even a remote sense of guilt allowed him to deceive everyone he came into contact with.

Ariel and Alice feature prominently as twins with polar opposite temperaments and behaviour. While Ariel was a perfect angel by any metric, Alice was delinquent, violent, impulsive and saw her parents as nothings more than crutches to lean on and people to exploit. Cigarettes and marijuana were normal for her in high school, and she gave up on college after less than two years.

Chapter 2 defines psychopathy in objective terms, from glibness and charm to anti-social behaviour to indifference in the face of others' suffering. Being manipulative and charming to nearly supernatural (and certainly incredulous) extents enables them to indulge in another trait - social parasitism, being waited on hand and foot by individuals who believe their every word (at least for a while).

The following two chapters describe the characteristics of psychopaths in superb detail. As Hare mentioned in his introduction, everyone has dealt with these individuals, and after a thorough read, one might suspect which acquaintances and "friends" are psychopaths, although a definitive diagnosis is impossible without substantial training or access to an fMRI device.

Predictably, psychopaths often turn to crime, their manipulative and deceitful talents being excellent for manipulating others to do the deeds and enable them to keep their hands clean. Their invariable egotism and arrogance makes them almost certain to defect in prisoner dilemma scenarios, going free while hanging their temporary partners out to dry.

In addition to case studies, Hare analyses films and novels based on psychopaths, with biting insights from his work in the field. These not only provide a wealth of information into the minds of individuals and why some can become utterly enamoured with the monster within, but also into how society views these monsters, contrasted with what they actually are. There certainly is no stereotype for the face of a sociopath, and anyone from any race, culture or ideology could be one. Fortunately, they are a minuscule minority, and it is possible to detect these aberrations.

The most crucial and important tools I gleaned from this book were two very simple but effective ways. Firstly, one must be watchful for stories that seem too good to be true, or almost too conspiratorial or alluring to believe. These will almost always have an air of plausibility about them. Secondly, discard your intuitive naivete about people. Trust must always be earned, never granted as a default. Psychopaths are always all too willing and able to exploit this tendency.

As Hare describes eloquently in his final paragraphs, as the technology of society progresses to include home-made explosives and automatic weapons, identifying, isolating and treating these anomalies becomes more crucial than ever before.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Pino
  • Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • 03-22-13

Discovering Psychopathy

Any additional comments?

After listening to "The Sociopath Next Door", which is excellent, I was pleasantly surprised. It starts with the author in his early years where psychopathy was somewhat new and gradually changes into a dissection of the disorder. While if found the stories less entertaining than the "Sociopath Next Door", the overall experience is worth it.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Scary as hell

What did you love best about Without Conscience?

When I was in the Army back in the early 90’s and deployed in the Middle East, I had a sergeant tell me that if all hell broke loose he would be the one raping and pillaging. His justification was that the people had brought it upon themselves and that in the end he had the might, and might makes right.
Luckily, I never had to find out if he was just an idiot or the clinical definition of a psychopath.
Even before this incident, I always questioned the massive amounts of cruelty in the world which led me to ask, “How could someone do that?” at least once a week, if not more.
This book is as close I’ve come to finding an answer.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Don't expect to sleep soundly for a while

This is a truly terrifying account of psychopaths and the idea that they are all around us all the time. The narrator is iffy--he mispronounces a few words--but what else is new? Audible seems to not care about those details.

You'll find yourself going through the list of people you know and comparing them to the list of symptoms in this chilling book. Fascinating.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful