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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Steven T. Herron, MD (University of Arizona Health Sciences Center)
Description: Based on his own clinical experience and insight, Dr. Simon attempts to explain the fine line that separates people who commit unspeakable acts from those able to control their impulses.
Purpose: This is an update of the original book published in 1996 and is meant to provide a follow-up on many of the cases discussed in that edition and to offer additional insights Dr. Simon obtained during the last decade of his work.
Audience: While interesting for individuals familiar with mental health issues and/or the criminal justice system, this book is geared more for those in the community who have an interest in the darker side of human behavior.
Features: Both editions contain 12 chapters, though this update has been rearranged and includes a new foreword and preface. In addition, two chapters have been significantly restructured (one involving "Messianic Madness" in which religious cults are addressed). The original text is longer (324 pages, compared to this edition's 295 pages), though this is more likely due to the type font than to the deletion of information. Each book ends with a bibliography, separated by chapter for easier reference.
Assessment: Reading this update, I was reminded of the reason I originally found the book so appealing (though admittedly, the previous edition was absorbed about 10 years ago). The update completes the story, so to speak, on many of the individual cases discussed in the original version, and some of the dates have been removed to make the updated version seem more timely and fresh. While there is little in the way of astonishingly new information, the care and effort taken in compiling this new version is obvious, and it is an enjoyable, insightful, and, at times, disturbing look into an aspect of human behavior that is both fascinating and frightening to behold.