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.
“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.”