The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience

The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience

by Kent A. Kiehl

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Overview

The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience by Kent A. Kiehl

A compelling journey into the science and behavior of psychopaths, written by the leading scientist in the field of criminal psychopathy.

We know of psychopaths from chilling headlines and stories in the news and movies—from Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy, to Hannibal Lecter and Dexter Morgan. As Dr. Kent Kiehl shows, psychopaths can be identified by a checklist of symptoms that includes pathological lying; lack of empathy, guilt, and remorse; grandiose sense of self-worth; manipulation; and failure to accept one’s actions. But why do psychopaths behave the way they do? Is it the result of their environment— how they were raised—or is there a genetic compo­nent to their lack of conscience?

This is the question Kiehl, a protégé of famed psychopath researcher Dr. Robert Hare, was deter­mined to answer as he began his career twenty years ago. To aid in his quest to unravel the psy­chopathic mind, Kiehl created the first mobile functional MRI scanner to study psychopaths in prison populations. The brains of more than five hundred psychopaths and three thousand other offenders have been scanned by Kiehl’s labora­tory—the world’s largest forensic neuroscience repository of its kind. Over the course of The Psy­chopath Whisperer, we follow the scientific bread crumbs that Kiehl uncovered to show that the key brain structures that correspond with emotional engagement and reactions are diminished in psy­chopaths, offering new clues to how to predict and treat the disorder.

In The Psychopath Whisperer, Kiehl describes in fascinating detail his years working with psy­chopaths and studying their thought processes— from the remorseless serial killers he meets with behind bars to children whose behavior and per­sonality traits exhibit the early warning signs of psychopathy.

Less than 1 percent of the general population meets the criteria for psychopathy. But psycho­paths account for a vastly outsized proportion of violent crimes. And as Kiehl shows, many who aren’t psychopaths exhibit some of the behaviors and traits associated with the condition. What do you do if you discover your roommate, or boss, or the person you are dating has traits that define a psy­chopath? And what does having a diminished limbic region of the brain mean for how the legal system approaches crimes committed by psychopaths?

A compelling narrative of cutting-edge science, The Psychopath Whisperer will open your eyes on a fascinating but little understood world, with startling implications for society, the law, and our personal lives.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780770435868
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 04/21/2015
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 133,967
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

KENT A. KIEHL, PhD, is an executive science offi­cer of the nonprofit Mind Research Network and a professor of psychology, neurosciences, and law at the University of New Mexico. In addition to authoring more than 130 articles in peer-reviewed publications, Kiehl has writ­ten for Scientific American, has appeared on NPR, and was profiled by John Seabrook in The New Yorker. He currently directs five major NIH-funded projects in psychopathy and related mental illnesses. He lectures extensively to state and federal judges, lawyers, cor­rectional officials, and lay audiences about the inter­section of neuroscience and the law.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Maximum Security 1

Chapter 2 Suffering Souls 35

Chapter 3 The Assassins 50

Chapter 4 The Psychopath Electrified 78

Chapter 5 The Psychopath Magnetized 95

Chapter 6 Bad Beginnings 126

Chapter 7 Ivy League Lessons 151

Chapter 8 Teenage "Psychopaths" 185

Chapter 9 Mobile Imaging 203

Chapter 10 The Decompression Chamber 216

Chapter 11 A Serial Killer Unmasked 228

Acknowledgments 269

Notes 271

Index 285

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The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous 8 months ago
As a teacher I have worked with some students who made me wonder how young psychopathy could be diagnosed. While we would never want to stigmatized a child with that label, effective early treatment could save lives and broken hearts. This book is written clearly but leaves you with questions about victims, fairness, and evil whose answers are not clear at all. Gripping read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An unbelievable book. I enjoyed and learned a lot from this. The author is an amazing writer! If you're interested in this topic, this book is a MUST READ!
Patito_de_Hule More than 1 year ago
In this fascinating scientific exploration into the biological differences between psychopaths and non-psychopathic people, Kiehl discusses his own dealings with psycopaths in prisons. Kiehl is known as the first person to use an MRI in a prison to study the differences between psychopaths and non-psychopathic prisoners. Kiehl would determine psycopathy by interviewing prisoners and then rating them 1-3 on a list of 20 attributes. A score of 30 indicates a psychopath. Approximately 20% of inmates were psychopaths. A balanced number of people who rate high and low on the psychopathy scale would be chosen for the experiments. Once the study subjects were put in the MRI, they would be shown pictures of three types: a morally neutral photo (perhaps an ice cream cone), a morally ambiguous photo (perhaps a wrestling match), and a immoral act (perhaps someone placing a bomb in a car). The prisoners would then rate one a 1-5 scale how immoral the picture was. When a person who scores low on the psychopathy scale sees an immoral picture, his limbic system lights up; but a psychopath's limbic system remains eerily dark. In his book, Kiehl also discusses findings other people have made about psychopaths - like the fact that they have no startle reflex. This mixture of scientific, psychological, and personal narrative make for a fantastic book. I enjoyed this book quite a bit - especially the ethical implications of whether a psychopath deserves an insanity plea because their brains function differently than "normal" people and they are unable to physiologically respond the "right" way to the thought of immoral activity. Kiehl himself longs for a day when psychopathy will be caught earlier in childhood, so that they can receive treatment rather than incarceration. But the issue is quite an ethical dilemma. Where do you draw the line on the insanity plea?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Facinating
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended by my Brother who is a professor. He teaches education and thought this book was interesting. Being in the criminal justice field I thought I would take a chance. The book is well written and not too theory based. Someone with little or no psych knowledge can understand it. Worth reading if you're interested in this kind of topic.
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