Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us
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"Psychopaths are social predators who charm, manipulate, and ruthlessly plow their way through life, leaving a broad trail of broken hearts, shattered expectations, and empty wallets. Completely lacking in conscience and in feelings for others, they selfishly take what they want and do as they please..." In Without Conscience Robert Hare argues convincingly that "psychopath" and "antisocial personality disorder" (a psychiatric term defined by a cluster of criminal behaviors) are not the same thing. Not all psychopaths are criminals, he says, and not all criminals are psychopaths. He proposes a psychopathy checklist that includes emotional/interpersonal traits such as glibness, grandiosity, lack of guilt, and shallow emotions, as well as social deviance traits such as impulsiveness, lack of responsibility, and antisocial behavior. His writing is lucid and illustrated with numerous anecdotes. The final chapter, "A Survival Guide," is especially recommended: as Hare writes, "Psychopaths are found in every segment of society, and there is a good chance that eventually you will have a painful or humiliating encounter with one."

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--and they do not always ply their trade by killing.

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.

Customer Reviews:

  • Read this book to protect yourself from psychopaths
    This book is a must read to learn about psychopaths. Not all psychopaths are murderers. In fact, a lot of them are highly functioning members of society. They are manipulative and very smart at getting their way.

    That is why this book is so essential to read. When you can spot people who have these traits, you can protect yourself from being duped by them.

    I also highly recommend the book Political Ponerology by Andrew Lobaczewski. He goes into how people like this manipulate society to control for their needs....more info
  • The foundation is intriguing but hollow.
    Without Conscience was definitely an intriguing book. Unfortunately, I believe one of the reasons why it and other books such as: The Sociopath Next Door are so intriguing is because they first shock us with the statistic that 4% of the population is composed of Sociopaths. The big problem with this is that we are NEVER told how in the world they were brought to that conclusion. Who was their target audience? Mainly people in jail? They also say that most of the people in jail tend to lie as well. We also don't here what the margin of error is. Also, one of the main things that distinguish a Sociopath from other criminals and other people in general is that they have little-to-no conscience. If that is the case how did they come up with the statistic that says that one in four people in the U.S. are like this? The problem is that there a list of other symptoms that are indicative of someone showing a propensity for being a sociopath but if those actions aren't combined with the cognitive lack of empathy and fear, we have no way of estimating.

    In other words, if they are liars (which they are) we can't assess them intrinsically. And their outward behavior in and of itself (despite how horrible) can't be conclusive evidence.

    ...more info
  • Extremely informative book on psychopaths.
    If you're debating which book to get in order to help you understand what defines a psychopath and why they act the way they do, definitely get this book. Granted it's the first one I've read on the subject, but I think it's going to be pretty difficult to top the level of information that Dr. Hare presents....more info
  • Wish I Could Have Given This Book 6 Stars
    This is the best book I have read on psychopathy and here's why. For starters, it is very well-written. Dr. Hare tells interesting stories about psychopaths rendering it easy to identify those psychopathic traits and behaviors that we encounter in people in our everyday lives. He also discusses how easily one can be conned by these personalities (professionals included), thereby mitigating any shame one may experience as the aftermath of having been exploited by one of these characters. Also, the author doesn't simply educate his readers regarding what behaviors to be look out for, but also includes a chapter on how to protect oneself from psychopaths. Finally, this book isn't simply anecdotal, Dr. Hare has based his findings on research but has been blessed with the gift of translating academic constructs into a highly readable and palatable book. ...more info
  • Without conscience
    This is an excellent book which outlines the concept of Psychopathy in a manner which is easily understandable and is easy to read. I can recommend this book to all who have an interest in abnormal personalities and who seek to understand the complexity of these morally deficient persons....more info
  • Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us.
    Very interesting. Reading it as a selection in a book group I belong to....more info
  • Frightening, but explains a lot
    I'm a hopeful person, and I sometimes tend to think anyone can be redeemed if you just reason with them. I've been burned by this fallacy a couple times in my life so while I'm still hopeful, I know there are times when someone is going to be a jerk (or much much worse) and there is nothing to be done, even if they present the most sincere apology.

    This book helped me realize that. It also helped explain the behavior of a person I work with. Using the psychopathy checklist, she matches almost all the behaviors. No, I'm not a professional, but I now can react to her more appropriately and keep her at arm's length.

    A great book. As society learns more about mental health issues, this is a good place to start your own self-education.

    Larry Nocella
    [...]


    ...more info
  • Refreshingly free of hyperbole and generalization
    Too many books on sociopaths are written in such a way that they lead you to believe that anyone you don't like (primarily bosses, coworkers and your ex (s)) could be described as one. Dr. Hare, one of the world's leading experts on antisocial behavior has written a short, concise and informative book on what a sociopath is and, just as important, what they are not. It's not enough to say "mean people are bad...and EVIL!" Dr. Hare takes the important step of distinguishing the ordinary bad things that people do to each other out of ignorance and thoughtlessness from the mindful, directed, calculating predatory qualities that distinguish the true sociopath. It would be nice if the book gave more of a survey of the field beyond his own research, but you can't blame the guy since he's actually done so much good research himself. This is probably the best non-academic book on the topic you can buy....more info
  • Normal Folks ...Watch Out...They are out there.
    For Anyone of us who have ever said to yourself...that person is truly odd and just different...
    To those of us who consider ourselves just average but know that there are those other folks among us...
    To the woman who continues in a relation ship just for the sake of a companion....
    THIS BOOK IS CALLING YOU... Please read this one...it tells of the true nature of people you know...people we all know.
    I knew this person for over 15 years and always knew something was wrong and after reading the characters in this book....that person is a 100% PSYCHOPATH. He passed the clinical test with a score of 40. I NEVER knew the words to explain him to my friends or myself. I could never find the words to describe the character he presented to me. Now I have all the exact words....It is crystal clear to me and No he is no longer in my life. Turns out he is a Sexual Predator and is a PORN KING...OUCH!...more info
  • Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Physhopaths Among Us
    People referred to as psychopaths are human anomalies, probably accidents of nature, free of those constraints we call "conscience," who live among us like members of mainstream society, until their impulses lead them to acts of exploitation, deception, and self-gratification that leave us baffled. Based on a career of working with psychopaths and their victims, Hare presents a flowing description of their world, interspersed with multiple case histories, effectively short and to-the-point. As one reads, questions arise, but one only has to turn the page to find each question answered in the next section. Hare's writing has that rare combination of carefully crafted simplicity, approprate drama, and scientific objectivism. The case histories are like exerpts from film strips. The degree of repetition is just right to drive home the simple messages regarding this perplexing human anomaly. For those of us who have experienced psychopaths in our lives, and realize it, Hare's repeated humble admission that even he and his students are fooled from time to time is reassuring. Unfortunately most of us who live in the company of psychopaths do not know it. Their charm, charisma, deceptions, and manipulations are so effective that most people -- even those who consider themselves street-wise -- remain clueless or in denial, even when the truth is pointed out. This book, therefore, will have more traction with those who realize that they have been "had" than with those have been "had" but fail to admit it. This, perhaps, is the most important lesson of all. Psychopaths influence our individual lives and entire societies primarily because we let them.

    I have two regrets regarding this book. First, I would like to have seen more attention paid to non-criminal psychopaths, but Hare addresses these in a separate book. Second, I would like to have seen the Psychopathy Checklist he frequently refers to, but he probably witholds this to steer readers aways from engaging in frivolous diagnosis of individuals in their lives....more info
  • Better than expected--extremely accessible
    The book is well-written and the examples are elucidating. Service was superior....more info
  • Important Read
    It is becoming more and more important to be able to identify the psychopath. Why? Because these predators are the ones ultimately running our governments, religions and corporations. Dr. Hare's book is not only easy to read, but has very important information on how psychopaths think and act, two ways to identify them. His findings have been used by many other psychologists in identifying psychopaths; Dr Stout and Dr. Cleckley to name just two of them.

    He shows how easily one can be conned by these people. Which is why we need to read all the information that we can. And this book is loaded with information that you can use....more info
  • They aren't all rabid killers but....
    They can still ruin your day, your month, YOUR LIFE! And there seem to be quit a few of them in all kinds of places. The one thing they seem to have in common is they are all looking for more victims, all the time. At least that's what this book says and I guess Dr. Hare would know if anyone would. It was not as indepth as I would of liked. For instance I would like to know more about the psychopaths brain. Which parts light up and which don't and when and why? How does it compare to a 'normal' brain and why are they different? But I guess those are the million dollar questions. It was interesting to learn that psychopaths were not all molested and abused in childhood.But I was still left wondering about the internal world of the psychopaths. Do they ever form attachments or have dreams/goals (besides those that involve causing someone else misery) or get lonely or disapointed for instance? The examples were interesting with a lot of discriptions of the actions of psychopaths and it was a good read. I did not fall asleep and I would reccomend this book. In fact I would say that all young people should read it. Especially those just leaving home and facing the world on their own. There is a saying that selective distrust is the parent of security. This book will sure help you learn to be more selective and secure. ...more info
  • where is the checklist?
    Another reviewer writes, "Dr. Hare evidently wrote a Psychopathy Checklist, but we never get to see it, or to find out why it's a valid indicator of anything. I didn't learn much from this shallow volume". This was my major complaint with this book as well, and why I gave it three stars instead of four. I'll explain further. The main theme is probably a definition of what a Psychopath is and isn't. This was done well, with many interesting and not over the top gruesome examples, as well as many from the less violent but still fiscally and emotionally damaging case studies. And insight is given into what makes the sensational cases (Dahmer, Bundy, etc.) tick. No problems here, well written, well documented, well done. A secondary and just as important a theme concerns how to diagnose a Psychopath, as Hare makes clear an important consideration. Much, much, much is made of a
    Psychopathy Checklist he has come up with, and he hints that he is reluctant to disclose it to the lay reader for fear of abuse. Therefore we must take his word for what a wonderful tool it is, without many concrete examples of its efficacy and few examples of acceptance by the Psychiatric community at large. This doesn't mean it's not everything he says it is, just that we are left to take his word for it- not exactly what you want from a book like this. It would be like reading an energy book about the invention of a 200 mile per gallon car, with no witnesses and no description of how it works, it would more than beg a few questions.

    Overall the book was well written, informative without being tedious, insightful and interesting. I'd actually recommend it, but I wish the Checklist was either verified better or left out of the discussion altogether....more info
  • An excellent book!
    I decided to read this book after seeing it among a few others at a conference. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up buying it for friends and even recommended it to many other people.

    Dr. Hare gives elaborate information on an easy to read and understand basis regarding psychopathic personality and behavior. The book goes into extensive detail concerning the symptoms, history, and treatment of this type of condition as well as many case studies from Dr Hare's own work and the work of others. I consider myself to be pretty knowledgeable in regard to personality disorders, particularly antisocial personality--still, after reading this book, I walked away with more information on top of solidifying what I already knew.

    It is an excellent book that I continue to recommend to others to read. ...more info