The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience (Paperback)

Staff Pick Logo
The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience Cover Image
Usually Ships in 1-5 Days

Staff Reviews

When he was a twenty-three-year-old freshman graduate student, Kiehl walked into the maximum-security prison in Abbotsford, British Columbia. His task was to interview prisoners to determine which ones showed psychopathic traits. Many of the men he would talk to were considered the most dangerous in Canada. But his work began the career detailed in this book, and it’s a fascinating story told by someone who is now one of the leading experts in the field of psychotherapy. Kiehl holds the reader's attention right up to the last page. ~ Ann

— From Staff Favorites 2017


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 compo-nent to their lack of conscience?

This is the question Kiehl, a prot g of famed psychopath researcher Dr. Robert Hare, was deter-mined to answer as he began his career twenty years ago. To aid in his quest to unravel the psy-chopathic 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 labora-tory--the world's largest forensic neuroscience repository of its kind. Over the course of The Psy-chopath 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 psy-chopaths, offering new clues to how to predict and treat the disorder.

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

Less than 1 percent of the general population meets the criteria for psychopathy. But psycho-paths 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 psy-chopath? 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

KENT A. KIEHL, PhD, is an executive science offi-cer 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 writ-ten 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, cor-rectional officials, and lay audiences about the inter-section of neuroscience and the law. From the Hardcover edition.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780770435868
ISBN-10: 0770435866
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication Date: April 21st, 2015
Pages: 304
Language: English