The Anatomy of Evil

Narrated by: Charles Constant
Length: 16 hrs and 3 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (209 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this groundbreaking book, renowned psychiatrist Michael H. Stone explores the concept and reality of evil from a new perspective. In an in-depth discussion of the personality traits and behaviors that constitute evil across a wide spectrum, Dr. Stone takes a clarifying scientific approach to a topic that for centuries has been inadequately explained by religious doctrines.

Stone has created a 22-level hierarchy of evil behavior, which loosely reflects the structure of Dante's Inferno. Basing his analysis on the detailed biographies of more than 600 violent criminals, he traces two salient personality traits that run the gamut from those who commit crimes of passion to perpetrators of sadistic torture and murder. One trait is narcissism, as exhibited in people who are so self-centered that they have little or no ability to care about their victims. The other is aggression, the use of power over another person to inflict humiliation, suffering, and death.

What do psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience tell us about the minds of those whose actions could be described as evil? And what will that mean for the rest of us? Stone discusses how an increased understanding of the causes of evil will affect the justice system. He predicts a day when certain persons can safely be declared salvageable and restored to society and when early signs of violence in children may be corrected before potentially dangerous patterns become entrenched.

©2009 Michael H. Stone; Epilogue copyright 2017 by Michael H. Stone (P)2018 Tantor

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The pinnacle of true crime

I will start off by saying that this book is NOT for the faint of heart, or for those with a weak stomach. There were several points when I had to put it down for a moment to absorb the information. Stone does NOT pull any punches with details. That being said, this is one of my favourite books now. Period. It balances psychology, neuroscience and the art/science of detection brilliantly. There’s a chapter towards the end of the book that focuses predominantly on neuroscience that can be a bit challenging to grasp, but other than I couldn’t recommend it more for those willing to take a dive into the minds and motivations of some of the most “evil” people from modern times. Two big thumbs up!

32 people found this helpful

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Buzz buzz buzz

Excellent book, and a fairly good direction. However, there is a horrible buzz going out through the end higher reading. Makes for a very hard listing if you’re wearing headphones. This reading should’ve been either cleaned up, or rejected him down again.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Evil and Psychopathy



Dr. Michael Stone has produced a most impressive analysis of psychopaths that will serve as a leading reference. Weaving an intricate pattern that draws from many different disciplines he successfully argues for an improved classification system to differentiate the many subtypes of criminal personalities, clarification of how the term ",evil" is best understood , and puts forth a theoretical model incorporating social and behavioral evidence. He makes liberal use of well I own cases, which are edited to accommodate the sensitivities of the reader. His eclectic approach is demonstrated by his familiarity with Dante Alighieri, Puccini, and the prefrontal cortex. The search for transtheoretical hypotheses in exploring origins of criminal behavior is fortunate to have Dr Stone's
considerable talents.

18 people found this helpful

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Amazing and fascinating!!!!

This book is so detailed and kept me in the seat of my pants the whole time!
I will be listening to it again soon!
Excellent!!!

8 people found this helpful

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Sickening

As I listened to ‘anatomy of evil’, I first thought it was a regurgitation of gory tales, for a shameless money grab. But, as I persisted through, I realised it was much worse.

The book follows a calculated marketing formula:
- Put a shocking vile picture on your cover.
- Find a misleading title with wide appeal.
- get a collection of newspaper cuts.
- glue them together with a some convoluted rating system.
- tickle emotions with gory detail.
- as inhibition is lowered: insert prejudice. - the pointless emotional journey will leave you wondering in a tunnel of dark fear and looking for a source of light.
- publish book two: the new evil! Which will take you deeper into the tunnel.
- at this point, listeners are a trapped cash cow and a vessel to the author’s self righteousness. Prepare for book three..

Such ‘formula books’ are usually written by journalists or a collaboration of sensational storytellers. Which might forgive the cynical nature of such endeavour. But this book is supposed to have an academic merit!? I honestly cannot say if the book is academia at the service of sensationalism, or, sensationalism at the service of academia. It tries to both. From one paragraph to another, it jumps from scientific claims to opinion to anecdotal mumble. This constant shifting of rhetorical stance, leaves the listener at the mercy of the authors’ whims.

However, the book goes from shameful to troubling, when the author gives a glimpse of they view of humanity. The author vilifies a whole continent with a single anecdote! Apparently, South America is ok with jealousy murders, because the author “remembers” reading an article in Columbia, where a judge shot his wife because he suspected she flirted with another man in a party “that’s normal in this country” the author says! He then goes into another rant, worthy of the most vile bigot, about honour killing in Palestinian society. He uses another anecdote of a parent murdering his daughter because she took a boyfriend. And arbitrarily assigns the crime to “cultural reasons”! I would comprehend such ignorance if it came from a far right radio host, but a university professor?

When addressing hate crimes, the author seems to be allergic to the word: racism. He amazingly manages to glide through the issue without mentioning the word, let alone the culture that begets racism. The last chapter, was especially sickening, as the author addresses war crimes, genocide, torture, and other crimes against humanity. The selective sampling of such crimes is flabbergasting. He either have selective amnesia or is a manifestation of an disconnected and arrogant establishment.
I don’t mean that every single crime against humanity should have been listed, but the sample should at least try to hide the writers’ prejudices.
The criminals and mentally sick serial killers, murderers, torturers, and rapists, have a collective tally in the hundreds. Evil, on the other hand, decimates, starves, and holds billions in perpetual misery.

9 people found this helpful

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awesome

The book is excellent as it relates to crimiogenic behavior, psychopathy in people who commit these horrific acts of violence.

4 people found this helpful

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Murder pornography, little analysis

I expected to get cultural and historical accounts of why we call certain things evil, how it relates to our society, etc. I wasn’t expecting a disjointed 16 hours of nothing but depictions of this and that and those murders over and over and over with only a few moments of any attempts at coherent analysis.
The pointless parading of murder after murder to no academic end, the author’s dabbling into concepts he clearly knows little about (human evolutionary history, animal behavior and cognition) combined with his repeated declarations of someone being “technically bisexual but mostly gay” that are both inaccurate and offensive made this book an exhausting slog. The narrator does a fine job with the text and has a pleasant voice, but overall this is time I wasted and can’t get back.

18 people found this helpful

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Detailed

It is very detailed in describing the "Gradation of Evil" that the author created. It can be hard to listen to some of it because of that, but overall it is a good book. If you are interested in how people rate the crimes of individuals, its worth the read.

1 person found this helpful

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Good read, interesting and informative

Good read & very informative to learn about the evil’s traits possesses in human and only human has ability to commit such an evils acts, even though, so much advance in medical and psychology discovery, to understand and detect the evil’s trait in early stage, the most scaring things is that evils is hiding inside, that most of the time found out that the people beside you is evil 😈 is after crime is committed!!!!!!!!

3 people found this helpful

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GET TO THE POINT

A sickening and unnecessary recounting of atrocities against children with little scientific substance.

The word "anatomy" leads one to believe that at some point the actual physical anomalies of human beings would be detailed in how they affect murderous behaviors, but after 65% completion I am left miring through one horrific episode after another with little context only to be assaulted again with another example of exactly how terrible people can be to each other.

will not finish.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Eldasensei
  • 07-30-18

No doubt this will be referenced as a seminal work

This was an absolutely fascinating and very accessible exploration of what constitutes "evil" as defined within the narrow boundaries outlined by society and the law (primarily around the American jurisdiction). I am not a clinical or forensic psychologist so I cannot attest to how up-to-date or relevant some of the theories are when compared to today's criminal landscape but the book tends to postulate upon the psychology of evil rather than try to faultlessly define it's meaning. I found the narration to be excellent; some of the descriptions in this book are extremely (I mean no-holds-barred) graphic - they have to be to necessitate the depravity of the crimes - and the narrator does an excellent job of keeping a measured pace throughout the more clinical parts of the book as well as when the crimes themselves are being narrated. This was completely riveting; anyone interested in the forensic psychology field or true crime genre should give this book a spin.

4 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Mandy Dockery
  • 11-28-19

Please be careful purchasing this book, and others by the same author..

If I could give this book and 'the new evil' a 0 rating I would.
I'm not a sensitive flower by any means, but these books are gratuitous in the extreme.
Prolonged description of torture and abuse, which seemed unnecessarily graphic, for the reader.
Two points, you cannot 'unsee' and you cannot 'unhear'. In some of these stories, ie... 'A child being abused, using shoe polish as a 'lubricant' felt truly abusive. I became the Voyeur and the victim through listening to the narrative. Also I paid for this! I lined the authors pockets to recant this nightmare. I feel violated, and I won't buy his books again. Ever. Also if I can prevent another unsuspecting soul from lining the authors pockets with 'blood money' then hopefully I've atoned for buying these dreadful book in the first place. For your own mental health Avoid!

4 people found this helpful

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  • j jones
  • 04-21-20

Anatomy of evil

Very well read,full of information on all the psychological aspects of what we call evil. I would recommend this to any crime aficionados out there.some of the details are pretty graphic so don’t entertain if you have a weak stomach.five star’s all round.

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  • Lee
  • 01-31-20

The Anatomy Of Evil

Straight forward detailed analysis of the motivation behind crimes, criminals, and thieir behaviours!!! Evil - from the inside-out!?

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  • DR Pullen
  • 11-27-19

Dark but truly fascinating, a macabre masterpiece.

A recent interest in studying the ‘dark tetrad’ and the ‘abnormal psychologies’ of sociopaths and psychopaths lead me to this book- and what a journey. The numerous case studies are not for the faint hearted, some of the details are truly horrific. I love the references to Dantes’s inferno and would have like more of this. I would have also like some more of the psychoanalytic views of various real cases as they are most interesting. These points should not detract from what an epic work this book is, expertly read, the delivery is very easy to listen to for long periods, even if the subject matter is far from easy. An excellent book.

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  • Sukhdeep
  • 05-18-19

Intellectual and Engaging

This book discusses some interesting theories, preconceptions and case studies. It was an excellent book but not for the faint hearted. If your interested learning about evil then this is the book but it can a bit disturbing so be prepared.

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  • Eva
  • 02-25-19

Interesting case studies

Full of interesting criminal case studies, good for those interested in forensic psychology or criminology.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-15-20

Not what I expected

Given the summary for the book, I had expected a philosophical and psychological discussion on the concept of evil. Instead, this is a highly voyeuristic summary of hundreds of crimes, detailing the depravities and sadistic elements of each act. I found many of the psychological concepts outdated and a mysogynist vein that ran through the book. I have read numerous book written about true crime, including many written by forensic psychologists and forensic pathologists, so I'm generally not squeamish. This book, however, is one I'll never finish, but will always regret spending good money on.

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  • Miss Amy V
  • 03-04-20

Perfect for criminology lovers

Thoroughly enjoyable listen. Perfect if you're a criminology lover - or just interested in forensic psychology. Well researched and written; and the narrator does it perfect justice.
I would recommend this to criminology and psychology students.

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  • Luke Reid
  • 02-24-20

An excellent contribution to the field

Having read Hare and Peck in depth I found Stone's work to be an excellent contribution to the study of evil. His book is painfully thorough and it is sometimes difficult to listen to the matter-of-fact rendition of some truly awful crime. I don't recommend this book to people of a melancholy disposition as it will certainly leave you feeling depressed. I'll be buying the print edition to refer to in my further reading.