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The Psychopath: Emotion and the Brain 1st Edition

18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0631233367
ISBN-10: 0631233369
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The Psychopath: Emotion and the Brain + Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us + Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work
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Editorial Reviews


“The psychopath always fascinates, and this new book rises to the challenge of its subject. The book exhaustively covers everything known about psychopathy to date. It also brings an exciting new theory, exploring the neuro-biological underpinnings of psychopaths’ broken emotions. The Psychopath will be an engrossing read for any clinician, scientist or student who wants to understand that mysterious individual, the criminal psychopath.” Terrie Moffitt, Institute of Psychiatry, London

“A gem of a contribution to the field of psychopathy, this wonderful resource provides a highly coherent and integrative review of developments in cognitive and affective neuroscience and their implications for understanding the nature of psychopathy. The authors are passionate about their research and this book presents their personal assessment of the field in a remarkably powerful, readable, and detailed manner. The book is an extraordinary accomplishment and a boon for the field.” Joseph Newman, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin

“This timely book represents an exciting new synthesis which has taken into account emerging data on the biology of psychopathy, including its neurocognitive basis. The authors lucidly describe discoveries about emotional processing in psychopaths and new thinking about its psychiatric nosology. They have performed a notable service in providing this highly readable survey, which summarises objectively the strengths and weaknesses of various theoretical accounts, including their own, and the implications for forensic, adult and child psychiatry.” Trevor Robbins, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Cambridge

“A comprehensive summary of recent research on the cognitive, emotional, and neurological correlates to psychopathy. One of the few resources to consider the manifestations of psychopathy throughout the lifespan.” Professor Paul J. Frick, Director, Applied Developmental Psychology Program, University of New Orleans

"the book as a whole contains a wealth of information and insight that make it an excellent avenue into the current state of knowledge and thinking about psychopathy. The authors' scholarship is unquestionable, and they bring together an exceptional amount of information within a manageable number of pages...The book will provoke considerable thought from students, practitioners, and researchers who will have to integrate their thinking on this vital topic." David Nussbaum, PsycCRITIQUES

Book Description

Psychopathy is a disorder embedded in mystique, controversy and fantasy. Consistently portrayed in the media and popular culture as unusual, inhumane and emotionless creatures, individuals with psychopathy are the bogeymen of today's society, and the label psychopathy is used widely to describe a broad range of notorieties from political figures to serial killers. This timely new book separates fact from fiction. It presents the scientific facts of psychopathy and antisocial behavior, addressing critical issues such as the definition of psychopathy, the number of psychopathic individuals in society, whether they can be treated, and whether psychopathy is down to nature or nurture. More controversially, the authors present their ground-breaking research into whether an underlying abnormality in brain development, reducing emotional learning, is at the heart of the disorder. The resulting theory could lead to early diagnosis and revolutionize the way society, the media, and the state both view and contend with the psychopaths in our midst.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (September 23, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631233369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631233367
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #432,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

111 of 116 people found the following review helpful By shr nfr on January 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
If that statement does not mean anything to you, then you should not attempt to read this book. It is an excellent work and if you are into the the conjectures of the neural causes of psychopathology I would highly recommend it. But if you are just interested in learning about psychopaths at a more elementary level, you will be better served by reading one of Bob Hare's works first. It would also serve you well to read some of Restak's books on the organization of the limbic system before you launch off into this if you do not know anything of the subject matter. If however, you are aware of the physiology of the brain and the manifestations of sociopathic or psychopathic behaviour, I think this book is an excellent read.
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139 of 150 people found the following review helpful By J. Gunderson on February 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book does not examine the behavioral methodologies of a psychopath. Don't expect to read this and be on the edge of your seat as you hear about a psychopathic rampages or case studies into previous criminal activities.

It is an extremely well researched book documenting the relationship between psychopathy and emotion. With an intimate use of research to prove theoretical points, James Blair does an excellent job trying to find the underlying cognitive and biological causes of anti-social behavior and the lack of empathy most psychopaths employ.

If you don't have a good grasp on psychology or the research methodologies (and lingo) I wouldn't recommend this book.

However, if you plan on doing research in the field of criminal psychology or are writing a paper on psychopathology, this is a must have.
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69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Harrison Koehli on July 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
The Psychopath: Emotion and the Brain is the latest research on psychopaths. While it is not as accessible as Robert Hare's work (Without Conscience, Snakes in Suits), it is an in depth and lucid account of the latest studies on psychopathic individuals.

Specifically, Blair et al., demonstrate that "Antisocial Personality Disorder" is not a synonym for psychopathy. Most antisocials are NOT psychopathic. This is perhaps the most important point made in this book. Psychopathy is a genetic, biologically determined disorder that affects emotional makeup.

Blair et al.'s work provides an excellent background for other works, like Andrew Lobaczewski's Political Ponerology, which describes the larger effects psychopaths have on society, especially when in positions of political power. The new research only confirms what Lobaczewski and his colleagues learned generations ago under the Polish Communist regime.

If you have a handle on psychological terminology, and want to learn something TRUE about psychopaths, check out these books.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Jean Decety on May 31, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Forget about Dexter or Hannibal Lecter, the fictional characters created by Hollywood. If you want to learn serious and real stuff about psychopathy, then you'll find this book very helpful.
With only 155 pages of actual text, it's a quick read. The book is well organized and draws on contemporary research in psychology and neuroscience.
I will certainly use it when teaching a class on psychopathology.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By C. Studlar on February 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're already familiar with case studies of psychopaths but want to dig deeper into questions about the incidence and causes of the disorder, this book is a great resource. It's best for those whose curiosity has already been piqued about psychopathy, not as one's first introduction to the subject.

Nonetheless, some self-congratulatory reviewers exaggerate the "advanced" nature of the book. The prose is academic but that doesn't mean that you need a background in psychology or a familiarity with the anatomy of the brain. If you can handle a college psychology course, you can handle this book.

The book isn't a great choice for one's first book on psychopathy simply because it doesn't have the detailed case studies. Instead, this book focuses on descriptions and possible explanations of the mental states which underlie psychopaths' horrifying behavior.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kathryn A. Thomas on October 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
The Psychopath: Emotions and the brain is a wonderful technically written book detailing on psychopathic emotions and behaviors. As a reader who is in a technical major within the science field, I found this book highly enjoyable. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the actual science behind the development of psychopathic behaviors from a psychological as well as neurological point of view.

The Psychopath: Emotions and the Brain is not a book for the casual reader curious about fictional characters such as Dexter and Hannibal Lecture. The book is written more like a Neurological collection of Case studies and research that all point to how a psychopath is developed not from the outside in, but starting with the signaling pathways within the mind. Technical terms such as identification of parts within the brain were used {Amygdala, sagittal, prefrontal cortex, etc.) which could cause a few stumbles in reading this densely packed book if you have not encountered such terms before. But considering I am not of the Neuro-Psychology profession, I was able to read through this book very quickly.


1. What is Psychopathy? - Chapter includes brief details of four cases of people whom all have Psychopathic characteristics at different levels and different expressions. A brief introduction to the theme mostly about the nature of Psychopathy contrasted to that of the diagnoses of conduct disorder and antisocial personality disorder.

2. The background facts- Full of numbers and hard science, these pages of text provide facts to lead you to the understanding that Psychopathy is not a common disorder but has been known to be diagnosed incorrectly as numerous other disorders.
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