Review: Without Conscience

1 May 2016

By Lauren E. White

Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us is a book giving insight to the life of the psychopaths. Published in 1993, the book is still a universal guide to understanding and identifying the symptoms of the psychopath.

Robert D. Hare is a researcher in the field of criminal psychology and specialises in psychopathy. Hare developed the infamous Hare Psychopathy Checklist before the book’s release. The checklist is used as a psychological assessment by clinical professionals around the world to identify psychopaths and is discussed frequently throughout Without Conscience.

In Without Conscience, Hare repeatedly presents us with case studies of real psychopaths that either he or some of his best university students have dealt with. With those case studies comes his world-class analysis and as a reader without any previous knowledge of psychopathy and just a very keen interest, Hare makes the book accessible and very simple to understand. Perhaps this is because Hare clearly has a burning passion for psychopathy and wants to share it with everyone in any way possible, or maybe due to the way he matches his examples with facts. It’s probably a mixture of both.

Possibly the most striking element of Hare’s book is when he discusses the effect of psychopaths who have had romantic relations with ordinary people. It is the stories of when the psychopath is totally trusted by someone they have just met and ends up taking all of their money, moving into their home and sometimes either just vanishing without any warning or else after some kind of violence and being caught red-handed.

Overall, Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us is a fantastic window into the life and mind of the psychopath. It is a medical area that still needs far more research, but what is understood about the field is in the contents of Hare’s book. For those who have a determination to learn and understand the way the mind of the psychopath works, as well as seeing the effects they have on ordinary people, then Hare’s intelligent and stimulating book is the book for you.

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