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Cold-Blooded Kindness: Neuroquirks of a Codependent Killer, or Just Give Me a Shot at Loving You, Dear, and Other Reflections on Helping That Hurts Hardcover – April 26, 2011
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"Cold-Blooded Kindness is a terrific book. It combines old-fashioned narrative skills with new insights from science and a tough-minded view of good and evil that is neither sentimental nor cynical." --Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of How the Mind Works and The Blank Slate.
"This true-crime tale is as oxymoronic as the title suggests: An animal-loving mother of four kills her husband execution-style. Oakley studs the book with input from experts on battered women, altruism, and empathy gone awry. Her approach taps another paradox: We can understand genetic influences and remain baffled by any one human's behavior. Read this if you're convinced people are never who they appear to be." --Psychology Today
"I was up all night—read it in one fell swoop. Oakley's riveting narrative, lyrical prose, black humor, clarity of thought, and attention to detail put Cold-Blooded Kindness right alongside Capote's In Cold Blood and Mailer's Executioner's Song, but the insights from neuroscience put this in a class by itself." --Robert Burton, MD, neurologist and author of On Being Certain
"Cold-Blooded Kindness is a masterpiece. Our culture mistakenly teaches that all acts of kindness and altruism are good, but there are many overlooked victims out there who know that kindness can also control, manipulate, and harm. This book is their salvation." --Dr. Helen Smith, forensic psychologist and author of The Scarred Heart: Understanding and Identifying Kids Who Kill
"Truly a tour de force. Barbara Oakley couples the story-telling gifts of a born novelist with the insights of a sophisticated neuroscientist. Beginning with a sensational crime, Cold-Blooded Kindness gradually pulls back to reveal labyrinthine depths of duplicity conducted on a grand public scale. I alternated between shivering in horror and laughing out loud. This book is a murder mystery, a case study in social pathology, an artist's biography, a courtroom drama, and a scientific detective story all at once. A lot is at stake: human decency; the integrity of the legal system; and the powers of science to illuminate human behavior in its strangest and darkest forms. Cold-Blooded Kindness is a triumphant achievement. --Joseph Carroll, Curators' professor of English, University of Missouri, St. Louis; author of Evolution and Literary Theory and Literary Darwinism: Evolution, Human Nature, and Literature
"Barbara Oakley has written the most ambitious kind of true crime book, one that goes beyond a story well told and takes the lid off the simmering conditions and psychopathology that cook up into a tragic killing. There are haunting warnings for all of us in Cold-Blooded Kindness, as well as a fundamental truth: Homicide is self-will run riot—even if it wears a smiley face." --Lowell Cauffiel, New York Times bestselling author of House of Secrets
"This brave and important book reminds us that even our best intentioned assumptions become prejudices if they go too long unexamined. Truth and justice deserve our rigorously honest attention and we must trust that they will protect us better, in the long run, than convenient lies. The book is also an excellent read—lively, suspenseful, strange, and as insightful as it is disturbing. You should read it." --Jennifer Michael Hecht, author of The Happiness Myth and Doubt: A History
"Cold-Blooded Kindness is a masterful fusion of analytic depth and powerful narrative. A singularly incisive expose of the fallacy of simplistic moral dichotomies we routinely deploy to judge (and misjudge) the intricacies of human nature. And a gripping read to boot." --Elkhonon Goldberg, Ph.D., ABPP-CN, Clinical Professor of Neurology, NYU School of Medicine
"Barbara Oakley sets her sights on a seemingly mundane act of domestic violence to reveal the many hidden layers beneath. To make sense of those layers, Oakley uniquely dissects the dynamic psychological, social, and cultural forces that led an artistically gifted and seemingly kind and caring woman to kill her husband. Was she an abused victim or conniving victimizer? Read Cold-Blooded Kindness and find out." --Mark Blumberg, F. Wendell Miller professor of psychology, University of Iowa, and author of Freaks of Nature: What Anomalies Tell Us about Development and Evolution
"A wonderful, intelligent and engaging study that illuminates the disturbing relationship between some of those who appeal to our better instincts, as victims, and those on whom they prey, including ourselves—it will grip the general reader and should be compulsory reading for anyone working in the 'caring' professions. For many the world will never look the same after reading this book." --Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist, author of The Master and his Emissary
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Top Customer Reviews
If you've read Oakley's previous book, Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend, you'll know what to expect: engaging narrative interspersed with the latest in cognitive research and neuroscience, with quotes from many of the leading authorities on all the topics involved. So you don't just get a true-crime story, but insights into animal hoarding, brain hemisphere functions, personality disorders, parent/child role reversal, altruism, and more.Read more ›
I don't know what to think of Carole Alden. Is she a liar? Is she odd? Is she a calculated and manipulative killer? I don't know but hopefully assume that the authorities got it right when they convicted her. This book didn't give me much to go on except some vague theory of pathological altruism. The author was unwilling to label Carole Alden as a pathological altruist, however. So why am I reading a book with the theory and the subject entertwined? I got the feeling in the end that the author was more excited to present a trendy new psych label than to deeply investigate and concisely present her ideas.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The book's title is somewhat deceptive in that Carole Alden's actions seemed more opportunistic than altruistic. Read morePublished 8 months ago by TAS, Fort Worth
a reporters inside look at the participant in a sado-masochostic relationship[ that ends in murderPublished 12 months ago by B. Roth PhD
Worth the read. An intellectual approach to a true crime, telling the tale of a lifetime "professional victim" who manipulated all around her. Read morePublished on January 4, 2014 by T. Molander
Amazing book. Barbara Oakley has cracked the code and reading this brought me more insight than years of other "here's why" books. Makes incredible sense! Read morePublished on December 3, 2013 by Monica Hess
Having worked for Attorney Slavens before his untimely death, I needed to read this account. It was insightful and a necessary, straight forward narrative on the fragility of our... Read morePublished on July 11, 2013 by Miss B
It has some really good eye opening information on co-dependency. I needed some "hands on" suggestions for treatment, and it really helped.Published on February 3, 2013 by Shelley Gibson
One of my four daughters read this book and it made her angry because, as she said, it was clear to her that the subject - Carole Alden - was a psychopath of some sort and she felt... Read morePublished on July 10, 2012 by Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Barbara Oakley takes us down the road in an investigation into the mind of Carol Alden. She slowly opens up the "victim" and all the peculiarities of her life. Read morePublished on November 17, 2011 by M. Pratt
Awful, failed attempt to ennoble standard Anne Rule tabloid fare. The "reflections" found herein are attenuated by excesses of pretense, purple prose, elevation of discredited... Read morePublished on November 9, 2011 by Flawedplan