Daily Archives: June 12, 2014

** The Psychopath’s Whisperer by Kent Kiehl


The Psychopath Whisperer: The Science of Those Without Conscience is a clumsily assembled book of science, personal memories, and judicial prescriptions. You would not know it from the first chapter, masterfully situated in a high-security Canadian prison where the author, then a young graduate student, interviews inmates with lengthy rap sheets to determine whether they are psychopaths (the hunt is excellent!) with the view of studying their brains for anatomical peculiarities. That first chapter is self-deprecating, lively, and funny despite the grim surroundings. There are others like it, typically describing further research, both in prisons and in MRI rooms.

Unfortunately, the author also describes how he interviewed for various jobs and got great offers — not in a boasting way, mind you, but with geeky confidence that readers will be fascinated by the tidbits. Not so much. And then, having shown that psychopaths have marked brain differences from the rest of us, he never manages to make coherent recommendations for screening or treatment, or to suggest how to treat psychopaths in the judicial system, so it’s a bit of a missed opportunity.

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