Nowadays the number of adults and adolescents who perpetrate violence and consider violence as normal in everyday life is swiftly gowning and it is terrible because values and beliefs about morality are distorted. The actions of adolescents seem meaningless and professionals often can’t understand and explain their motivation. Therefore, the book “Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of The Psychopaths Among Us” by Robert Hare is a well-developed work on psychopathic personality. The author analyzes the reasons and consequences of psychopathic behavior stressing that it is the most dangerous personality disorder as such people when affected don’t distinguish what is right and what is wrong. Their actions aren’t motivated by consciousness. Instead, their actions are driven by psychological disorders. Actually, the book is vivid and colorful portrayal of psychopathic disorder and the book can recommended both for professionals and for parents.
The book presents author’s research on psychopathic disorders. The positive moment is that the book is written in easy language and in readable fashion devoted to general audience. Hare analyzes clinical literature in non-technical trying to avoid professional jargon. The author combines empirical literature with personal anecdotes, with descriptions of psychopathic personalities from popular press and literature. Moreover, the author includes analysis of celebrated cases as, for example, Ted Bundy, Clifford Olson and the fictional Hannibal Lecter. Robert Hare provides deep insight into personality of psychopaths by describing disorder in dozens of individuals with similar diagnosis, all of whom “scored high on the PCL”. The author claims that he rejects psychodynamic approaches when describing psychopathic mind. Hare describes psychopathic personality as reckless, impulsive, egocentric, disturbing, content with self and such that lacks conscience.
Hare pays special attention to identification of the psychopaths. His Psychopathy Checklist presents ultimate understanding of psychopathic behavior. Actually, he uses his list to construct psychopathy as disorder. The author provides definitions, assessment tools and diagnosis approaches. Hare argues that “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…” (p.34) Psychopathy is associated with antisocial personality disorder. The author writes that not all patients with antisocial personality disorder are psychopathic personalities and they should not be provided with the same pessimistic diagnosis. Hare assumes that professionals are to be blamed for confusing psychopathic disorder with antisocial personality disorder.
The book conveys a number of important messages based on Hare’s fundamental perspective about psychopathic personalities and their behavioral types. The author portrays psychopathic personalities as personalities that seem to be born. Hare presents many stories about individuals who appeared to be normal, but with years became egocentric and aggressive personalities. The author is unprejudiced when he says that we are not aware of facts that change human behavior. A number of genetic and neurological studies were conducted to reveal the reasons and Hare says that environment plays crucial role in child upbringing. He concludes that psychopathy may be of different types ranging from con man to serial killer.
Three particular messages are hidden in the book. The first one is that the parents of psychopaths should not be provided with constant sense of guilty that their children are not normal. Instead, parents should immediately consult professionals to diagnose their children and if psychopathic disorder is revealed then to develop specific strategies involving structured and favorable environment with behavioral management techniques. The second message is that psychopathic behavior is not likely to change significantly or it may diminish with age. The most difficult thing to manage is that psychopaths are content with their behavior and often treatment efforts and therapies are not effective. Psychopaths believe their relations with people and treating them is fully justified and normal. Actually, psychopaths don’t understand they have serious mental problems and they are viewed as social danger.
Hare seems to be very critical with insight-based approaches as, for example, with therapeutic community. Instead, Hare says that work with psychopaths should focus on incorporating their pervasive self interest stressing that their behavior contradicts their own interests. The third message provides recommendations and ways how to protect yourself from attack of psychopathic personalities. Every person should now ways to identify psychopaths and to protect his life from being victimized and conned. A series of techniques designed by Hare is important for adults, especially for women and the elderly. Lonely people and those who are going to invest are endangered the most. Being forewarned is being forearmed. Hare says that “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”. (p.203) Hare intensifies his narration with real-world examples and anecdotes to describe different personality features of psychopathic personalities.
The book is very informative and professional, but it seems contradictory when the author says he relies on common sense and folk wisdom. Further, the author stresses that relying on such sources isn’t justified in professional environment. Despite several weak points, the book is very strong and persuasive. The author distinguishes between psychopathic disorder and antisocial personality disorder. He concludes that not all psychopaths are criminals and not all criminals are psychopaths. The author offers emotional and interpersonal traits as, for example, lack of guilt, grandiosity, glibness, shallow emotions, lack of responsibility, impulsiveness, antisocial behavior, etc.
Hare, Robert. (1999). Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of The Psychopaths Among Us. USA: The Guilford Press.