Robert Hare PhD, is a renowned researcher of criminal psychology, and the author of Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us, originally published in 1993. In this bestseller, Hare explores the definition of a psychopath, and asks us to break out of our predisposed definition of a psychopath. While most of Hare’s observations have been drawn from his experiences in the criminal system, he stops to make us consider the psychopaths we may be dealing with on a daily basis. He reminds us that while many criminals may possess psychopathic tendencies, not all psychopaths are criminal. In Without Conscience, Hare refers to psychopaths as “social predators” who seek to abuse or manipulate those around them. Much of the research used for the nonfiction book is based off of Hare’s own personal interactions and professional research. At the beginning of Hare’s career, he was employed by a prison where met a psychopath named Ray. Hare was eager to build relationships with the inmates of the prison and thoroughly help them recover. Ray was Hare’s first patient, and during their eight month doctor and patient relationship, Hare was the object of Ray’s manipulation. Experiences like this made Hare skeptical of the personality tests used to determine psychopathy. Hare believed they were unreliable and inconsistent, which led him to create the Psychopathy Checklist.
The Psychopathy Checklist, now referred to as the Psychopathy Checklist - Revised (PCL-R) is a list of 20 personality traits and behaviors to be reviewed during an interview along with other collateral information (official records, for example) to determine the presence of psychopathy in individuals. Psychopathy is a personality disorder marked by ongoing antisocial behavior, little empathy and remorse, and bold behavior. While criminals, like those Hare encountered, may have psychopathic tendencies, not all are violent legal offenders. The highest score on the checklist possible is 40. In the United States, those who score above 30 are labeled as having psychopathic behavior. In the United Kingdom, the cutoff is a score of 25. Among North American prisoners, the average score is 22.1, but 20.5% scored 30 or higher, as reported by Christopher Patrick in the Handbook of Psychopathy.
Without A Conscience will teach you the tactics of a psychopath, and equip you in dealing with them. According to Hare, there are many psychopaths among us, and we encounter them everyday. You shouldn’t be scared, but you should be prepared so you don’t fall prey to their manipulative behavior. This is an excellent read for those looking to learn more about the internal workings of a psychopath, and how to deal with them.
Hare earned his Doctorate in experimental psychology from the University of Western Ontario in 1963. Today is professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, where his research is centered on psychopathology and psychophysiology.