Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths among us

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Robert Hare wrote "Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us" in 1993. The book was then published by the New York-based Guilford Press, which has produced several editions in the years thereafter. In this book, the author delves into the world of psychopaths and their misdeeds to study the idea of psychopathy. Hare's purpose in creating the book is to help his readers, especially those in psychology and criminology, understand the world of psychopaths. Hare probes into the world of con artists such as rapists, serial killers, and other predators as he seeks to documents their motivations and how people can protect themselves against such characters. Robert Hare is considered to be among the world’s leading experts in the field of psychopathy. Currently, Dr. Hare is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Apart from this book, Robert Hare has also published abundant scientific articles and developed tools of assessing psychopathy.


Robert Hare organizes the book into thirteen chapters along with an introduction and epilogue. The book is organized into chapters such as “Experiencing the Psychopath,” “Crime: The Logical Choice,” and “The Roots of the Problem.” Hare (1993) seeks to argue that psychopaths know the difference between right and wrong and fully comprehend the consequences of their actions and yet they are self-centered and unable to show remorse for their victims. Through this argument, Hare focuses on aspects on how people can recognize psychopaths and seek protection against them. Robert Hare then develops this thesis throughout the various chapters in the book. In the introduction chapter, Hare details various psychopaths such as serial killers and rapists. For example, John Gacy”… murdered thirty-two young men in the 1 970s, burying most of the bodies in the crawl space under his house” (p.3). Another example of a psychopath Hare uses to develop his thesis in the introduction part is Colin Pitchfork who raped and murdered young women. Furthermore, there is also the example of Constantine Paspalakis and Deidre Hunt, “who videotaped their torture and murder of a young man…” (p.5). In general, the use of these real life examples help Hare demonstrate that psychopaths come in all forms, and that their behaviours are violent..

In subsequent chapters, Hare further develops his thesis by focusing on different aspect of psychopaths. Indeed, the second chapter Hare details his experiences with various psychopaths that he has interacted with in his line of profession. In the second chapter, Hare builds on these experiences by focusing on the whether psychopaths are bad or just mad. Indeed, most psychopaths “…torture, kill, and mutilate their victims-appalling behavior that sorely tests our ideas of what "sanity" means…” (p.23). Some of the actions psychopaths undertake are shocking, but as Hare maintains, these individuals know what they are doing. Furthermore, Hare continues to give various examples of symptoms that are related to psychopathy such as impulsiveness, shallow emotions, and antisocial behaviour. Moreover, Hare also questions various convicted psychopaths who do not regret their actions. For instance, one notes that "Get real! He spends a few months in a hospital and I rot here. I cut him up a bit, but if I wanted to kill him I would have slit his throat. That's the kind of guy I am; I gave him a break"(p.41) where asked if he felt any remorse for his victim. In essence, it is clear that Hare develops is thesis by focusing on real life examples of psychopaths.

Critical Assessment

The central argument in this book is that even though psychopaths are aware of the severity of their actions, they do not show any remorse for their victims hence people should find a way of protecting themselves against such characters. The author bases this argument from various points of view. Firstly, Hare uses his own perspective and experience to explain the world of psychopathy. He details his experience with rapists, murderers and serial killers as he seeks to comprehend their actions. Moreover, Hare also uses the psychopaths’ perspectives where each of them discusses their story and what led them to commit the specific crimes. Additionally, the author also uses evidence from published literature as he seeks to support his arguments. For example, his book is based on his own research into the field of psychopathy hence this improves the reliability of the arguments he makes. The other evidence that the author provides is a variety of sources that interested readers can use to research further on the topic.

At the same time, the book also fits into the current assessment of psychopathy as it provides evidence based on interaction with real life psychopaths. Moreover, the book also provides behaviors that are associated with psychopaths hence people can identify and avoid such people. In recent years, numerous neurobiological researchers have strived to establish whether individuals who receive a categorical diagnosis of psychopathy present minimal levels of autonomic arousal, in light of their core callousness. Additionally, Hare’s book fits into the contemporary assessment of psychopathy because it offers new insight into the diagnosis, intervention, etiology as well as the prevention of psychopathy. Moreover, the text presents evidence of the personality syndrome not only among incarcerated individuals but also among the general population particularly the young children as well as adolescents.  Further, Hare uniformly balances the text’s focus on the character makeup of psychopathic individuals as well as the vulnerability of their potential targets, thus demonstrating the message that everyone is a potential victim of the “psychopaths among us.” Moreover, Hare’s argument is also logical and valuable as the information presented is not biased and is based on scientific research. Through 25 years of rigorous research, Hare authored the book which gives an insightful perspective into the world of psychopaths and their activities.


I find that Hare’s book is of value to individual both in criminology and psychology that are interested with psychopathy. One of the merits of this book is the way in which it is organized which allows the reader to follow through the argument easily. Moreover, the book is also based on real life evidence which adds to the credibility of the argument the author makes. Additionally, the book is also useful for people that seek to help victims of psychopaths. It identifies strategies that are based on evidence from scientific research. The book makes a unique contribution on understanding the world of psychopathy and why the individuals commit such heinous crime. In general, the book underscores the fact that psychopaths are well-aware of their actions yet they proceed to harm others.


Hare, R. D. (1993). Without conscience: The disturbing world of the psychopaths among us. Guilford Press.

April 26, 2023

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