113 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on 2 October 2003
Robert Hare has delivered a fascinating insight into the terrifying world of the psychopath. Without Conscience is aimed at the layperson, as opposed to the academic, and is pitched perfectly. It is detailed enough to properly explain and simple enough to be intelligible to the average reader.
A concise background to the condition sets the scene before the main traits of the psychopath are revealed and explained along with pertinent anecdotes to demonstrate how these traits operate in practice. Hare also explores psychopathy in children and young adults, charting their development to adulthood as well as the pernicious influence of non-criminal psychopaths in the workplace.
This book is of particular importance because it brings the danger of psychopaths to the everyday reader who may well suffer at their hands in future, if they have not already. It appears that the public are largely ignorant to the extent of the threat posed by psychopaths because of ignorance to what a psychopath is, how many of them are out there and their incredible ability to appear to be what they are not.
Hare provides some strategies to combat the effect of psychopaths at close hand. While less than cast-iron (due to the nature of the disorder, not Hare’s writing) they might provide some assistance to people trying to cope with, or escape from one.
Hare goes on to mention how research is developing strategies to limit the negative behaviour of psychopaths. I look forward to reading the results in years to come.
A highly recommended read for anyone looking for a beginners insight to psychopathy or has been victimised by a psychopath.
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2011
There is certainly no shortage of reviews which heap praise on this book and author. The problem I found with the ones I read, was that they failed to show the limitations of the book. This book is mainly about PSYCHOPATHS who have committed crimes and ended up in prison. It does not deal with the inbetweenies who have some of the characteristics and would not be labelled psychopaths.
My interest in the subject was stimulated by references, in several TV programs, to the presenter being diagnosed as psychopathic, although they appeared to have perfectly normal lives. Twenty five percent of prison populations are psychopathic and one percent of the general public are psychopathic; so it is reasonable to assume that we all know at least one and don't realise it.
To quote the author - `When I agreed to write this book I knew it would be difficult to present hard scientific data and circumspection in a way that the public could understand' and also `It is my hope that this book will help the general public and the criminal justice system to become more aware of the nature of psychopathy'.
The author has successfully removed most of the medical technical jargon, but the language used shows that his target audience is the `university educated members of the general public'.
Like so many psychology awareness books it carries the usual `don't try this at home' warning. The author quite rightly points out that the public interpretation of `psychopath' and the psychologist's interpretation is totally different. It was pointed out to me some years ago, that virtually every medical word that is used in everyday speech is technically inaccurate. This is hardly surprising since the record of the medical profession, educating the `working class general public' is virtually non-existent. This book deals with psychopaths in Canada and US; we are left to assume that the information is relevant to the UK.
On the plus side - the book shows that psychopaths are actually more dangerous than the public think they are; why? .... because even the experts have difficulties in identifying them.
This book will give the reader an excellent understanding of what a psychopath is and how much devastation they can introduce into your life.
If you are interested in human behaviour, you will find a great deal of knowledge in this book; unfortunately it is very dry and boring to read. Non university educated readers should not stray far from a good dictionary. This book just about gives you enough information to fire up your interest in the subject, but is likely to leave you with more questions than answers. This is a good place to start but it should leave you with a feeling that it simply doesn't cover the subject adequately; but does such a book exist?
This book does have an important message for the general public, but how do you persuade them to read it. If academics are serious about educating the general public, they must learn to communicate in plain English.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on 16 May 2011
This book is very helpful. I was dealing with what I believe is a narcissist type, it's been awful, on so many levels. This book when I read some of the character traits literally made me cry as I could associate so much to it.
Just reading this book, helps sooth you, through understanding the madness and meanness of the situation and personality disordered type.
It's actually quite sad to read it on so many levels, but by the end you feel better, calmer and soothed, that it has a label, you think, "ah that's why he does that". It won't and can't change the person, but you do start to understand what you are dealing with in that person. It talks about criminal and non-criminal types of characters. For me the criminal types were less applicable but also interesting to read about, almost like the same type by as a non-criminal one but a further along the scale.
So it helps you heal in that way and gives you some answers, clarity and closure.
This book is truly a well written and healing resource, thanks to the author for the wonderful insight into these types of people.
I'm not so keen on the term "psychopath" as I associate that with all the maniacs who are in prison having committed awful crimes. However the more modern term used is "sociopath" of which I suspect my ex was one. They often are in society doing fine, or even successful, and not with any criminal record, but they do have the same underlying character.
It gives you a list of the character traits of this type of person. They are:
- glib & superficial
- egocentric & grandiose
- lack of remorse or guilt
- lack of empathy
- deceitful & manipulative
- shallow emotions
- poor behaviour controls
- need for excitment
- lack of responsibility
- early behaviour problems
- adult antisocial behaviour
and explains them in further detail.
It explains how they choose people, they are skilled at doing this.
It looks at origins of the problems, and behaviours at a younger age.
Whether therapy would be helpful or not...... mostly not.
For me, there was a bit too much information and references to the criminals who are sociopaths and looking at their stories, so it would be a useful resource to people impacted that way. But they are still interestng to read and have that insight on, if only to attempt to avoid them in the future.
Finally the last is a chapter on how to protect yourself and survive, which was a short chapter that I would have liked to have seen this as a much longer one, as it's the key to our futures if we are to be happier.
I definitely recommend this book, it will help you see the type and understand some of what you have been through that often seemed bizarre and it helps you get some closure as a result.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 6 April 1999
This book is invaluable for the psychiatric community. I think it should be required reading. It is also an asset to the lay person, particularly if this type of person is a family member. Dr. Hare "nails" both the personality traits and the behaviors of the psychopath. This book is the ONLY book I have found so far to be as direct and helpful to my family and I as it has been. I found Dr. Hare's approach to treatment of these people to be useful also. While some may find Dr. Hare's conclusions somewhat final, I appreciated his candor. For anyone who deals with these types of people, this book is a "must have"; especially families of these persons. I found the book to provide ideas for action instead of the floundering about offered in so many other texts. My thanks, Dr. Hare, for an excellent and informative read.
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on 15 June 2001
This is an excellent resource book for those working in the criminal justice field and the lay person alike. With all the myths and hype surrounding the term "Psychopath" this text provides a realistic description of these disturbing and predatory individuals within our society. I defy anyone to read this and not wonder if it's someone they know...
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2010
This book was great, it gave a very clear, easy to follow look into the mind of the psychopath. Having met one myself (it was the reason I got the book) it helped me understand the persons behaviour, although it doesn't explain why they are like this, not the fault of Dr Hare as it is a question still being asked, it's an unknown. Is it genetic? Is it brought on by social influence? Is is just a dysfunctional brain? who knows, but these people are best avoided.
All in all a very interesting read, it's just a pity this doesn't reach a wider audience so we can all be aware of these parasites who walk among us.
I think everyone should read this.
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on 14 June 1999
All too frequently, we're confronted by people who do and say things that are beyond belief in their negative impact. And we're left wondering how these people can sleep at night...how they can live with themselves after doing or saying these things. Dr. Hare's book "Without Conscience" answers the question brilliantly. They simply lack the kind of conscience normal people have. What a scary fact! Without resorting to titillating details of psychopathic depredations, Dr. Hare writes lucidly, authoritatively and with a readability normally reserved to best-selling novels. A must-read, especially in these times when psychopathic behavior has become, in some unfortunate quarters, "cool."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 June 2014
Having been introduced to the idea of a psychopath in Jon Ronson's book The Psychopath Test, I was curious to read (or in this case, listen to on the way to work and back over the course of a week), Hare's own take on the subject.
While much of Ronson's book is given over to the question of whether we can have a single test for psychopathy, and how reliable such a test really is, Hare's book is very focused on telling us that such a test is of course needed. Not entirely surprising given that licensing for this test accounts for a large portion of Hare's income.
That being said, there's still a lot here that's of interest, whether you agree with the conclusions (or assumptions) or not. I suspect most people have met a psychopath at some point in their lives - I know I have - and possibly live or work with one today. The more information you have about them, and the more easily you can recognise one when you meet one, the easier it will be to avoid them, or at least deal with them if they can't be avoided. All the ones I have met have been through work (I think), and it would certainly have been handy at the time to have recognised this fact - I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort.
I'm not sure I agree myself with all of Hare's assumptions, though the discussion on whether or not we really have free will is a lot more wide ranging than the scope of this book. If that is a subject that interests you I would recommend you read some Daniel Dennett, and go from there.
As others have noted a large portion of the discussion in this book is given over to "notorious" psychopaths, while at the same time Hare maintains that most psychopaths are not of the serial killer mentality. I don't see this as any kind of disconnect - it's hardly surprising that the well known cases get brought up for discussion, and it does pave the way for discussion of the individual traits which you may recognise in people closer to home.
In short: if this is a subject you are interested in, then Hare's own work - as somebody well established in the field - is almost required reading on the subject. It's just a bonus that it's pretty easy to get through and holds your attention.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 7 February 2008
This is one of those books that once you get finished reading, you feel an almost moral obligation to share it with everyone. This fascinating work was my first introduction to the subject of psychopathy, and it literally shocked me to the core. You just won't see the world in the same way again... your eyes will be opened.
In the Preface to the book, Dr. Robert Hare writes:
"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, violating social norms and expectations without the slightest sense of guilt or regret. Their bewildered victims desperately ask, 'Who are these people?' 'What makes them the way they are?' 'How can we protect ourselves?'"
And this is THE question that is in dire need of being dealt with in all areas and levels of society. Just think about it: we don't even teach our children about pathological deviance, because otherwise it wouldn't be happening so much. And the suffering continues.
Everyone needs to take some time out, read this book and any related materials, and really make the effort to integrate this reality into their world-view. Because the fact of the matter is: we're already victims. We've grown up in a world that favours American Idol over acquiring the necessary information that could save our lives.
One question that really made me wonder was: okay, so the very real dangers of psychopathy are not taught or discussed in a very specific way... is that by design? Have psychopaths worked their way into the educational system?
Most of us have a general mistrust of politicians and powerful media figures, but it still remains vague and with little weight in our minds. What if these people are actual psychopaths?
That's actually a rhetorical question however because reading this book, Paul Babiak's "Snakes in Suits" and Andrew Lobaczewski's "Political Ponerology" to name a few, will completely disabuse you of the notion that there a mostly good, honest decent people in the most powerful positions in society. It's actually the complete reverse.
Our world is really a dark place, and it's getting worse by the day. And you know what? Ignorance isn't bliss, because whose to say you won't be next on the menu? Not only are victims of psychopathy sorely lacking in knowledge of how to protect themselves, they're also lacking the awareness that they are NOT invulnerable... and that's why people get swindled, conned, hurt, tortured, and murdered.
Question is: are you any different?
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 1999
well organized and very accessible