“Part true crime, part neuroscience and a page-turner from start to finish,” this is a look at the biology behind violent psychopathic behavior (Kirkus Reviews).
How many times have you seen a murder on the news or on a TV show like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and said to yourself, “How could someone do something like that?”
Today, neuroscientists are imaging, mapping, testing and dissecting the source of the worst behavior imaginable in the brains of the people who lack a conscience: psychopaths. Neuroscientist Dean Haycock examines the behavior of real life psychopaths and discusses how their actions can be explained in scientific terms, from research that literally looks inside their brains to understanding how psychopaths, without empathy but very goal-oriented, think and act the way they do. Some don’t commit crimes at all, but rather make use of their skills in the boardroom.
But what does this mean for lawyers, judges, psychiatrists, victims, and readers—for anyone who has ever wondered how some people can be so bad. Could your nine-year-old be a psychopath? What about your co-worker? The ability to recognize psychopaths using the scientific method has vast implications for society, and yet is still loaded with consequences.
In this fascinating page-turner, neurobiologist Haycock tries to uncover the correlation between brain abnormalities and violent behavior, and whether one guarantees the other. Drawing deeply on recent brain research as well as on psychological manuals, he takes us into the minds and lives of Jared Loughner, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, and others to illustrate the ways that brain research can aid both scientists and lawyers to determine whether a person is a criminal psychopath who recognizes right and wrong, or a psychotic person acting in response to a delusion. He observes that research "clearly indicates a strong connection between psychopathy and impaired function in parts of the brain that play a central role in regulating emotions and in how we react to emotions in ourselves and others." For example, psychopaths often have trouble recognizing fear in people's facial expressions and such a response may be caused by a damaged amygdala. Haycock concludes "that the neurological profile of the criminal psychopath is consistent with key features of psychopathy: a lack of moral sense and a lack of empathy." In the end, though, he admits that criminal responsibility cannot be traced unequivocally to a neurological basis but that such research can certainly begin an important conversation in the legal world.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Helpful Book on Psychopathy
Not particularly easy for non-academic readers. It is helpful in explaining how popular media has sometimes misinformed the public or oversimplified the results of studies on psychopaths. The conclusion still seems to be that the brain is extraordinarily complex and that we are nowhere near knowing what causes psychopathy much less do something about it in afflicted individuals.