Customer Reviews: Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us
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on February 10, 2005
Robert Hare's book is a landmark publication and very frequently referenced by other professionals, which speaks to the respect in which his colleagues hold his research and writings. This is an excellent book. It is well-written, lucid, and aimed at the lay person. His clarification of the terms "psychopath," "sociopath" and "anti-social personality disorder" are quite useful.

My only problem with the book is that Hare's examples come largely from the criminal world, where many psychopaths end up, and in which he worked for many years. Because of this, we may lose sight of the fact that many "psychopaths" are NOT criminals, but produce enormous chaos and emotional mayhem in the lives of others -- others who do not understand this disorder and cannot make sense of what has happened to them.

Psychopaths by their very nature are con artists, but not all are thieves and murderers. Some are just emotionally abusive, cruel, manipulative, controlling and bring families, employees, employers and acquaintances to ruin in a hundred other ways.

Empty, pathetic and destructive, they run the gamut from the emotionally frozen, disengaged, cruel parent to the serial killer -- all marked by one thing, their inability to relate empathetically to others.
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on December 21, 2005
After reading this extremely sobering text, and it is strongly suggested you do, you will recognize someone in your past, present or future to be a psychopath. As Hare suggests, it is dangerous to label individuals without proper clinical research including intense interviews and applying the "Psychopathic Checklist" before a likely diagnosis can be made. However recent research has shown that there are literally millions of psychopaths in jail, mental institutions or simply walking the streets. They can be in your work places, a problem child or sharing your bed. It's a frightening thought, and this book has been written to outline the essential characteristics of the psychopath and a general "survival guide" to help us recognize and prevent the majority of harm to oneself and our loved ones.

Hare provides many case histories from thousands of interviews with psychopaths and their victims. The renowned psychopathic checklist that he and his team developed over many years has proved to be a worthwhile tool in diagnosis. Most of these case histories are terrifying and ultimately sad as the psychopath invariably leaves a wake of destruction wherever they are and with whom they come in contact. These predators are the grand seducers because they have developed a strategy to detect one's weaknesses, doors of opportunity, to attain their every desire, whether money, sex or power. These characteristics seem obvious on first reading, but are a little more difficult to spot in actual physical contact.

The psychopath is usually glib and superficial, egocentric and grandiose and most importantly feels no guilt or remorse after committing an illegal or terrible act. Most often they are impulsive, deceitful and highly manipulative. Lack of responsibility for their actions and consistent antisocial adult behaviour are tell tale signs. Interestingly, most can be charming, good talkers and mesmerizing - a lot share the attribute of the intense, cold stare, an excessive eye contact used to intimidate. As the title suggests, all are without conscience and move through life in the pursuit of self-gratification, no matter what the cost.

What is sobering about this study is that our understanding of the condition is poor compared with other mental illnesses. Psychopaths do not respond to treatment and if incarcerated and set free, are more than likely to re-offend. As treatment is not an option at this time, the best we can do is have the knowledge to identify the psychopath and apply survival strategies to ensure the least amount of damage to others and ourselves. Hare gives us a "survival manual" at the back of the text, including an extensive bibliography to continue our personal research into the condition.

This book is a must read for anyone working in welfare, legal, rehabilitation and education, including law enforcement. All too often we are appalled and confused by certain behaviours, and this information clears this confusion and provides tools to deal with it. Excellent resource.
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on October 28, 2006
I never went looking for this type of book but it came to me after a very traumatic time in my life, a time when I was at odds with everything and everyone.I actually found this book at a second hand store without its cover.I saw the words "WITHOUT A CONSCIENCE" and new who it was about.

I was married to an extreme psychopath, he is actually in prison for raping and stabbing a strange woman with a screwdriver six times.Who knows what else he may have done, but got away with?

This man was a tirant in my life , he broke me mentally , emotonally, and spiritually.The problem is getting away from these people once they "OWN" you, because thats exactly how they feel about you.They don't let thier possesions go easily!I have to admit I got off easily, if he hadnt been incarcerated who knows where I would be today, or even if I would be at all?

I found this book helped me get through the post tramatic problems I was having, and to learn to trust again.This book will help you to understand the way these people think.I certaintly know now how to avoid ever being in a situation like that again.It also was intriguing in a way of just getting into the head of a psychopath. knoledge is always the best defence!
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on October 5, 2006
A person like this ruined my life, my nephew's life and my child. I ended up seeing a psychiatrist as part of my recovery after the incident and she recommended this book. I wish I had read it before I met the psychopath and I would never have been drawn into his manipulations and deceptions. These people are out there among us and you probably already know at least one. The only way to protect yourself from them is to know what to look for. My psychiatrist promised me that once I read this book, I would never again fall victim to these people. She was right; I have since been able to identify them and avoid them. I recently lent this book to my neighbor whose teenage daughter was deceived by a teenage psychopath and who was beeing ruthlessly lied to, manipulated, stalked and harassed by him. Read this book and share it with everyone in your family. It has been a blessing to me and mine.
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on November 19, 2003
In this seminal textbook, Robert Hare, distinguishes psychopathy from mere antisocial behavior, the main criterion used by the DSM-IV-TR to diagnose the Antisocial Personality Disorder.

The disorder appears in early adolescence but criminal behavior and substance abuse often abate with age, usually by the fourth or fifth decade of life. It may have a genetic or hereditary determinant and afflicts mainly men. The diagnosis is controversial and regarded by some scholar as scientifically unfounded.

Psychopaths regard other people as objects to be manipulated and instruments of gratification and utility. They have no discernible conscience, are devoid of empathy and find it difficult to perceive other people's nonverbal cues, needs, emotions, and preferences. Consequently, the psychopath rejects other people's rights and his commensurate obligations. He is impulsive, reckless, irresponsible and unable to postpone gratification. He often rationalizes his behavior showing an utter absence of remorse for hurting or defrauding others.

Their (primitive) defence mechanisms include splitting (they view the world - and people in it - as "all good" or "all evil"), projection (attribute their own shortcomings unto others) and projective identification (force others to behave the way they expect them to).

The psychopath fails to comply with social norms. Hence the criminal acts, the deceitfulness and identity theft, the use of aliases, the constant lying, and the conning of even his nearest and dearest for gain or pleasure. Psychopaths are unreliable and do not honor their undertakings, obligations, contracts, and responsibilities. They rarely hold a job for long or repay their debts. They are vindictive, remorseless, ruthless, driven, dangerous, aggressive, violent, irritable, and, sometimes, prone to magical thinking. They seldom plan for the long and medium terms, believing themselves to be immune to the consequences of their own actions. Sam Vaknin, author of "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited".
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on March 18, 2005
I read this book a few years ago and was fascinated by it - as someone who reads true crime books, such as those written by Ann Rule, I wondered about the mental make-up of psychopaths and how they came to be they way they are. Professor Hare's book is not an academic text but instead, is geared towards the layperson. I feel he does an excellent job of explaining what psychopaths are, how they came to be that way (unlike other writers, he does not blame childhood abuse entirely but notes that there seems to be a genetic component involved, as well) and how to recognize them.

I turned to this book again after following the Scott Peterson trial and hearing experts describe him as a "classic psychopath". Dr. Hare's description of the psychopath's inability to feel emotion would seem to explain Scott Peterson's behaviour: his total lack of remorse, his callous and cavalier actions during the time his wife was "missing" and finally, his complete lack of any reaction at all to the verdict and sentencing.

A very good book, highly recommended.
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on March 4, 2011
I am the "long suffering" Mother of one of these creatures.If you'd like to read my story buy this book. I have several books on this topic. Some I get from the library.

I checked out Without Conscience from my local branch. I didn't read past page 37. Put the book back the the library bag and ordered it that same day.

It begs to be highlighted. Other critics took issue with the use of prisioners. But they are mistaken. Most of these creatures spend at least a little in some sort of prison.

My son has had a few stays in the county jail, and the work release program. Violated his probation repeatedly. Just spent the last 5 months. Until he could do his "thing" on the judge. He got off, probation was cancelled, he got his full driving privliges, incredible!

We haven't spoken since and it tears me up. But THIS book and others like it keep me from weeping every time there's more emotional carnage.
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VINE VOICEon March 2, 2006
Unbelievable as it might sound, the MAJORITY of us have either come face-to-face, or will do so at least once in our lives, with someone who is a bona-fide psychopath. Sadly, most of us won't know it until it's too late, and even then, it'll be next to impossible to understand and/or admit that it has happened.

Make NO mistake - behind these smiling faces is pure evil. If we're not prepared to deal with it, the results can be tragic.

If you think we're talking about Manson-esque murderers; Adolph Hitlers, Saddam Husseins or Jeffrey Dahmers, think again. Psychos are not always killers, and some are not even be violent.

Most often they'll be someone we work with or for. But they could be someone we go to school with; our lover; our spouse; or even our child.

Again, the problem is, the VAST majority of us who encounter such a person won't know until it is too late. As Dr. Hare points out in this book, even the best trained and most experienced mental health care professionals can be fooled.

There are many decent books written on the topic, but NONE is as easy-to-read and understandable as this one. You won't be left with too many questions, and you'll be WELL-ARMED when you come face-to-face with the evil these people can unleash.

As an employer, you should add it to your REQUIRED READING list. And it should be on the bookshelf of every school, church and home in America. That's not an overstatement. Read the book, and you'll agree! Kudos to Dr. Hare...!
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on May 25, 2005
I had the misfortune of having a psychopath wreak havoc in my life and the lives of my friends and family a few years ago. This followed an incident in the 1990s, where a group of us at an Ivy League university were scammed by a beautiful con artist.

I asked a friend who works for the FBI how this could happen twice in a relatively short time period to a group of pretty darn smart people. His response: 1 out of every hundred people is a psychopath. They are not all murderers and they are not all in prison - they live among the rest of us and are often charming and interesting, at least on superficial acquaintance.

We had the misfortune of running into two of them in a decade because we were living in places that psychopaths often target: where people with money and power are. These people THRIVE in transient communities, especially in RICH, transient communities. The university town and the ski resort where we met these folks both have wealthy, transient populations. Apparently, we lived in a dream destination for con artists. (Later, when speaking to long-time residents of the ski resort about what I learned from my FBI pal, I was amazed to hear that they also had learned - with hard experience - that this gorgeous little town had attracted far more than its fair share of really awful people who stole and lied and cheated their way into big money, and then disappeared, with hearts broken, bank accounts empty, and other people holding useless contracts and big debts.)

Normal people give most people they are getting to know the benefit of the doubt, so when things said by these two people didn't add up, we all kind of blew off that troublesome "hey, wait a minute!" feeling. THAT was our mistake, both times. If we'd paid attention to that niggling "something doesn't add up" feeling, we wouldn't have had money and credit cards and jewelry - and a Mercedes! - stolen, reputations and credit ratings (thankfully only temporarily) smudged, and - for a few of the people - there wouldn't have been broken hearts and sad days and weeks of wondering, "how could s/he have deceived me so when I was so good to her/him??"

Strangely enough, after their stories were blown, family members of both of these folks admitted that the behavior of their psychopaths had driven them to depression and other problems; in both cases, therapists had told the family members that these con artists were most likely psychopaths!

If you've had a psychopath in your life, this book will really help you. Somehow, once you know that what you've lived through is part of a larger pattern that also happens to other decent, intelligent, hard-working, and honest people everywhere, then it's easier to gain some distance -- and more importantly, to actually listen to your instincts the next time you have a "hey, wait a minute" moment, when you think, "something doesn't add up here!"

Listen to your instincts. They're right more often than you'd think.
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on August 5, 2006
After reading this book made me realize what I suspected for a long time. A close family member appears to be a psychopath. After many years of struggling with this person, this book has opened my eyes to see that by adulthood, many psychpaths do not change. Thanks to this book I have taken a drastic decision to walk away from my situation/ relationship with the suspected psychopath. The checklist matched line per line with this individual. Even some quotes in the book rang very similarly to what my family member has said in the past. Chilling but very liberating facts. I highly recommend this book to any one because in our lifetime we all have encountered a psychopath. With varying degrees of the condition. Not necessarily a serial killer, but maybe somenoe who manupulates, lies, cheats, steals, and is abusive. All for personal gain and "Without Conscience".
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