My list of best books about psychopaths is, of course, going to be different then the next person’s.
Everyone has their own preferences and I am not saying that there might not be better written books about psychopathy than these ones here on my list. I just recommend these because they helped me a lot. I’ve been really annoying to my friends and family about how much I loved them.
Unfortunately, they did not exhibit any kind of enthusiasm for the subject.
When I say to them This awesome book is about psychopaths, first they think it is about some real-life horror stories. Why would anyone want to read that when they can get the same in the news every day? Then when I tell them that it’s really about how to recognize psychopaths who might be around us looking completely normal, they think I’m being too paranoid. If I mention a few facts from the books or citations by the expert authors, that assume the books are boring and full of professional psychological definitions.
But no, these books I am suggesting are very easy to read, easy to understand and highly enjoyable if you are interested in learning about psychopathy.
It is too bad that this subject is still largely unknown to people in general, even after they had been hurt by a psychopath.
We need to spread the word and help others.
Here are the best books on psychopathy in my humble opinion:
1. Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us
by Robert D. Hare, PhD.
This is my no.1 recommendation because this is where I started.
It is the book that opened my eyes and I will never be the same person again.
I will not turn the other cheek anymore. And I will have enemies from now on. Because the truth was finally clear to me- that some people are rotten in their very core and they can never be like the rest of us, because they do not want to be.
But this truth was for me easy to except only because this author knows what he is talking about. He is not just making this up.
He spent decades learning about psychopathy, studying psychopaths and he is the most well-known and respected expert in this field- Dr. Robert D. Hare.
Dr. Hare talks about how he studied psychopaths, what observations he made, and the conclusions he drew. He talks about the famous Hare Psychopathy Checklist that he constructed and that is still being used for diagnosing the Antisocial Personality Disorder (or psychopathy).
You will not find a single serious article on this subject that does not mention Dr. Hare or his Psychopathy Checklist.
So yeah, it is the best place to start for those who are serious to quickly get down to the bottom of things.
You can check it out here: Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us
2. The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout, PhD.
This is basically Psychopathy 101. It is a perfect starting point for someone who wants it spelled out for them so that they absolutely get it.
This book is also written by a psychologist, but I thought the author was much less concerned about the sources of the facts that she provides. Sometimes you are not sure where she got the information from, but it doesn’t really matter because she manages to get her point across very clearly.
Also, it is good for those who are not completely interested in the subject, who would read it out of mere curiosity and be amazed by what they will have learned.
I should probably give this book as a present to some of my friends who think psychopaths look like Freddy Krueger. It is also ideal for someone who is in denial, who is blinded by a psychopath and think that they need to help him/her when, in fact, they need to help themselves and run as fast as they can in the other direction.
The author uses the term “sociopaths” but by that she definitely means the same thing that Dr.Hare (and I on this blog) call “psychopaths”- the individuals suffering from the Antisocial Personalty Disorder.
I highly recommend this book for those who want to get a general understanding of psychopathy.
Go to this link to see more details The Sociopath Next Door
3. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
I know many people would be surprised to see this novel listed as one of the best books on psychopathy. A lot of people do not even think this book is about psychopathy. They believe that it is about bad parenting, when it is actually about a psychopathic child.
Of course, the author never said it because she probably likes the fact that the subject of her book is debatable, and because labeling a child as a psychopath is still highly controversial. But from her writing, one can definitely see that she had done her research. I am sure Dr. Hare would agree with me on this.
I recommend that you read this book after you gain some understanding on psychopathy. That way you can see the clues and the signs of this disorder mentioned early on in the novel. And you will still wonder if the mother was a good mom or not. This book is just brilliant.
Unfortunately or not, I saw the movie first. After the movie, I could not wait to go and buy and read this book. The movie was excellent, but I knew that book had another dimension that had to be lost in the movie. Only the book can show us the most subjective point-of-view of the protagonist (the mother), it can literary get into her head, which is next to impossible for any film to get across to the audience.
And still, even when inside her head, we do not find the mother 100% likeable.
As for the child, he is clearly a highly manipulative child, incapable of real feelings, but capable of mimicking them and blending in. The mother is the only person that sees his true nature (maybe a reflection of her own?)- one that absolutely terrifies her. And no one believes her. The son hates her for seeing through his mask. But she is also the only one he “respects” because she is not an easy target. She is the only one he really cares to see deeply hurt.
I could go on and on about it this amazing book, and what I should do is write a whole review of it in a separate post. But I should probably read it again first. 🙂
To see the details about this book, go to We Need to Talk About Kevin .
Here are some more good books about psychopaths:
4. Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work
6. A Dance With the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath
7. In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People
8. Psychopath Free: Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships With Narcissists, Sociopaths, & Other Toxic People