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The Devil You Know: Stories of Human Cruelty and Compassion

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In eleven vivid narratives based on decades of providing therapy to people in prisons and secure hospitals, an internationally renowned forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist demonstrates the remarkable human capacity for radical empathy, change, and redemption. What drives someone to commit an act of terrible violence? Drawing from her thirty years’ experience in workin In eleven vivid narratives based on decades of providing therapy to people in prisons and secure hospitals, an internationally renowned forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist demonstrates the remarkable human capacity for radical empathy, change, and redemption. What drives someone to commit an act of terrible violence? Drawing from her thirty years’ experience in working with people who have committed serious offenses, Dr. Gwen Adshead provides fresh and surprising insights into violence and the mind. Through a collaboration with coauthor Eileen Horne, Dr. Adshead brings her extraordinary career to life in a series of unflinching portraits. Alongside doctor and patient, we discover what human cruelty, ranging from serial homicide to stalking, arson or sexual offending, means to perpetrators, experiencing first-hand how minds can change when the people some might label as “evil” are able to take responsibility for their life stories and get to know their own minds. With outcomes ranging from hope to despair, from denial to recovery, these men and women are revealed in all their complexity and shared humanity.


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In eleven vivid narratives based on decades of providing therapy to people in prisons and secure hospitals, an internationally renowned forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist demonstrates the remarkable human capacity for radical empathy, change, and redemption. What drives someone to commit an act of terrible violence? Drawing from her thirty years’ experience in workin In eleven vivid narratives based on decades of providing therapy to people in prisons and secure hospitals, an internationally renowned forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist demonstrates the remarkable human capacity for radical empathy, change, and redemption. What drives someone to commit an act of terrible violence? Drawing from her thirty years’ experience in working with people who have committed serious offenses, Dr. Gwen Adshead provides fresh and surprising insights into violence and the mind. Through a collaboration with coauthor Eileen Horne, Dr. Adshead brings her extraordinary career to life in a series of unflinching portraits. Alongside doctor and patient, we discover what human cruelty, ranging from serial homicide to stalking, arson or sexual offending, means to perpetrators, experiencing first-hand how minds can change when the people some might label as “evil” are able to take responsibility for their life stories and get to know their own minds. With outcomes ranging from hope to despair, from denial to recovery, these men and women are revealed in all their complexity and shared humanity.

30 review for The Devil You Know: Stories of Human Cruelty and Compassion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    This book presents eleven case histories* of psychologically disturbed violent offenders. Of course these are not real cases, because there is such a thing as patient confidentiality. So what are they? Drawing from many encounters and case studies over the years we have created composites; the eleven mosaic portraits presented here are clinically and psychologically accurate but won’t be found on Google. For instance, we have the case of “Gabriel”. He is an immigrant from Eritrea who randomly stab This book presents eleven case histories* of psychologically disturbed violent offenders. Of course these are not real cases, because there is such a thing as patient confidentiality. So what are they? Drawing from many encounters and case studies over the years we have created composites; the eleven mosaic portraits presented here are clinically and psychologically accurate but won’t be found on Google. For instance, we have the case of “Gabriel”. He is an immigrant from Eritrea who randomly stabbed a passer-by on a street. So “Gabriel” is a composite or mosaic drawn from different real offenders. We understand, then, that all of these details are true, such as his sad back story, but not all true about one particular individual. And the name must be true of one of them too, as Dr Adshead goes on about the significance of Gabriel’s name (“A name with meaning”). But what about the very first of these composites, Tony the gay serial killer? There have been three such cases in the last 20 years in the UK, so if this chapter is really talking about a gay serial killer, it must be one of those guys. Or am I missing something? If I thought too much about this composite mosaic business, I got confused. So I tried to ignore that. HARDCORE COMPASSION The inmates in secure psychiatric hospitals have access to services the general public are denied, which means that the perpetrators of violence get therapy and their surviving victims don’t. Dr Adshead is aware of this, and thinks it very wrong, of course. But it is her job to treat these offenders. Back to Tony. According to this chapter he had strangled three men to death. “Tony, I think you’re brave enough to look at something really difficult”…”I’m not brave”. I looked into his eyes. “You don’t think so? Well, I experience you as brave. It takes courage to think about past violence… you’ve shown real courage.” And later I gazed at him, this man who so wanted to talk and who felt things so deeply. I thought about how removed he was from the image I’d once had of the ruthless and unfeeling serial killer. It’s possible that victim’s families will feel more than a little distressed should they happen to read this section. In another chapter she is dealing with Marcus who murdered his ex-girlfriend because she told him she was going to start dating other men. I used the remainder of our session to explain our team’s set-up to Marcus. The goal was to work together to treat him for depression, aiming to reduce his suicide risk and get him back to prison And later, also about Marcus We had given him a chance to resolve his inner conflict by caring for him, allowing him to talk about his needs and his anger towards people who had failed him early in his life This compassion for the perpetrators is probably entirely and absolutely correct but it really challenges the reader. You are perpetually thinking that there were never any teams of carers for the victims’ families. SOME THINGS THAT GRATED Dr A doesn’t indulge in too much therapy-speak (thank you for that Dr A!) but she is inclined to throw out general statements such as In a psychiatric sense faiths are not delusions because they are based on reason and an awareness of doubt, as well as being culturally coherent, whereas delusions are rigid and culturally alien. (“based on reason”?) And she seems to approve of such borderline-useless statements as Today’s statistics indicate that seven out of ten people in the UK are likely to experience PTSD in their lives And Intriguing research by American colleagues finds a correlation, particularly among men, between shame and higher rates of violence in times of increased social instability and wealth inequality. (Oh you don’t say so? I wonder which times of relative social stability and wealth equality these researchers were using to make their comparisons.) And also she has an off-putting tendency towards self-praise : I was able to keep a neutral expression while still communicating interest and warmth with my body language, eye contact and careful listening and questions NEVERTHELESS Given all the above caveats and dubieties, there is no doubt these eleven “composite mosaic” account make compelling reading, even when, as happens, you are left with gaping questions that Dr A simply never addresses (why would a woman try to commit suicide by fire multiple times - why not try an overdose or another method?). Making an argument for the humanity of violent offenders is, I guess, a laudable enterprise. If you are thinking that while I was turning the pages I was feeling really very queasy the whole time you are quite right. *THE ELEVEN CASE HISTORIES Tony – murdered three men – wait, he thinks it might have been four Gabriel – random street assault with knife Kezia – murdered her care worker Marcus – murdered his ex-girlfriend Charlotte – part of a teenage group which killed a homeless man Zahra – attempted suicide multiple times by setting fire to her rooms Ian – sexually abused his two sons Lydia – female stalker Sharon – Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy Sam – murdered his father David – a GP with a nasty secret

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nigel

    In brief - Thoughtful, thought provoking and challenging at times - I really enjoyed this. In full Dr Gwen Adshead is a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist. In 30 years of experience seeing troubled people she has dealt with a wide variety of issues. Some of her time has been spent with patients at Broadmoor. In a series of 11 stories about cases she illustrates many key issues that affect the people she sees. Each case also allows her to expand on issues relating to the topic more generall In brief - Thoughtful, thought provoking and challenging at times - I really enjoyed this. In full Dr Gwen Adshead is a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist. In 30 years of experience seeing troubled people she has dealt with a wide variety of issues. Some of her time has been spent with patients at Broadmoor. In a series of 11 stories about cases she illustrates many key issues that affect the people she sees. Each case also allows her to expand on issues relating to the topic more generally. The cases are taken from both prisons and secure hospital setting as well as those who are in the community. They are challenging both in the sense of trying to help people deal with their issues but also because of the way the discussion can affect the therapist too. The introduction to this book is very good. It defines the general area of the book and sets the scene very well indeed. The 11 stories are wide ranging. They have in common very troubled people who have been violent, dangerous or with the potential to be. I won't give an insight into each of the cases - frankly they are all interesting. However by way of example I'll mention a couple. The story of Gabriel is about someone who attacked a stranger without any apparent provocation. He is an immigrant from Eritrea. The understanding that Dr Adshead eventually gets of his case is both powerful and interesting. Lydia's story was another fascinating one. She is leaving prison after serving a sentence for stalking. This allows the general topic of stalking as a offence - both the history and the overall subject - to be considered as part of the chapter. The actual case reads almost like a fiction story - remarkable. Every one of the chapters made for a good read for me. The broadening out of chapters to cover more general information worked well for me. As an example Kezia's case - she killed her support worker - allows the author to look at the topic of female violence generally. She also brings in the prevailing views on the subject among psychiatrists who are largely male. Other topics covered include PTSD and sexual abuse. It is probably fair to say that some of the stories make for quite challenging reads. Across the book there are topics of race and the rationale behind the request for a therapy sessions. The thoughtful and balanced approach that Dr Adshead takes with her patients was impressive. Her "asides" of how patients make her feel are very thoughtful and interesting. I think I probably highlighted more sections in this than in most of the books I've read because they seemed so interesting and worth attention. It is definitely one of the best medical non-fiction books I have read. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the subject - from a professional slant or simply interested. Note - I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review https://viewson.org.uk/non-fiction/th...

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    The Devil You Know is a moving, thought-provoking and compassionate exploration of the psyche of convicted criminals and in eleven vivid narratives based on decades of providing therapy to people in prisons and secure hospitals, an internationally renowned forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist demonstrates the remarkable human capacity for radical empathy, change, and redemption. What drives someone to commit an act of terrible violence? Drawing from her thirty years’ experience in working w The Devil You Know is a moving, thought-provoking and compassionate exploration of the psyche of convicted criminals and in eleven vivid narratives based on decades of providing therapy to people in prisons and secure hospitals, an internationally renowned forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist demonstrates the remarkable human capacity for radical empathy, change, and redemption. What drives someone to commit an act of terrible violence? Drawing from her thirty years’ experience in working with people who have committed serious offenses, Dr. Gwen Adshead provides fresh and surprising insights into violence and the mind. Through a collaboration with coauthor Eileen Horne, Dr. Adshead brings her extraordinary career to life in a series of unflinching portraits. Alongside doctor and patient, we discover what human cruelty, ranging from serial homicide to stalking, arson or sexual offending, means to perpetrators, experiencing first-hand how minds can change when the people some might label as “evil” are able to take responsibility for their life stories and get to know their own minds. With outcomes ranging from hope to despair, from denial to recovery, these men and women are revealed in all their complexity and shared humanity. In this era of mass incarceration, deep cuts in mental health care and extreme social schisms, this book offers a persuasive argument for compassion over condemnation. Moving, thought-provoking, and brilliantly told, The Devil You Know is a rare and timely book with the power to transform our ideas about cruelty and violence, and to radically expand the limits of empathy. I found it riveting and fascinating with great insight and objective information examining the minds of the sickest individuals in society.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nicola Mackenzie-Smaller

    A fascinating and deeply compassionate study of the people Gwen Adshead has worked with throughout many years as a forensic pyschiatrist. Dr Adshead has worked with writer Eileen Horne to explore composite characters who make up the “monsters” who commit violent crimes, of murder, stalking and abuse. She clearly shows the bravery and commitment she has brought to her work but also examines the humanity of those who are dismissed by society due to their crimes but deserve some compassion and unde A fascinating and deeply compassionate study of the people Gwen Adshead has worked with throughout many years as a forensic pyschiatrist. Dr Adshead has worked with writer Eileen Horne to explore composite characters who make up the “monsters” who commit violent crimes, of murder, stalking and abuse. She clearly shows the bravery and commitment she has brought to her work but also examines the humanity of those who are dismissed by society due to their crimes but deserve some compassion and understanding. From my perspective it was interesting to reflect on how we fail people early on in their becoming unwell, from not stepping in early enough to help children who have experienced loss or abuse, to mothers whose children enter the care system, and people who have PTSD and need intervention. It would be lovely if the current health secretary could make this part of his holiday reading this year, along with NHS top managers and anyone who has power and influence. Otherwise, I hope that a lot of people read this and use it as a basis for spreading the word about what we could all do better.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Faichney

    The thing that struck me most about Dr Adshead's account is how incredibly difficult her job must be, on so many levels. A psychiatrist and psychotherapist with some 30 years experience, her role is very much a balancing act and an exercise in finding humanity. Through case studies, research and anecdotes we are afforded a greater understanding of human cruelty. Dr Adshead also raises issues with the current system and the ways in which mental health services are often not fit for purpose. "The The thing that struck me most about Dr Adshead's account is how incredibly difficult her job must be, on so many levels. A psychiatrist and psychotherapist with some 30 years experience, her role is very much a balancing act and an exercise in finding humanity. Through case studies, research and anecdotes we are afforded a greater understanding of human cruelty. Dr Adshead also raises issues with the current system and the ways in which mental health services are often not fit for purpose. "The Devil You Know" boasts an extensive further reading list, featuring both fiction and non-fiction titles. I also appreciated the inclusion of reference sources relevant to each case study. An intriguing, thought-provoking read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Before coming to this book, I had read good things about it. I have also previously read similar books/memoirs. What I had taken from the reviews, and how this book was being publicised, was that it offered a different way of looking at those individuals who commit violence during their life. To use Adshead's own words, from her introduction: "Each chapter covers different ground, but an important theme here and in all forensic work is the common risk factors for violence. A colleague of mine hel Before coming to this book, I had read good things about it. I have also previously read similar books/memoirs. What I had taken from the reviews, and how this book was being publicised, was that it offered a different way of looking at those individuals who commit violence during their life. To use Adshead's own words, from her introduction: "Each chapter covers different ground, but an important theme here and in all forensic work is the common risk factors for violence. A colleague of mine helpfully describes the enacting of violence as a bicycle lock. A combination of stressors aligns . . . The final 'number', the one that causes the lock to spring open and release an act of harmful cruelty, is the most intriguing. It tends to be idiosyncratic, something in the action of the victim which has meaning only to the perpetrator" (p.10-11). For me, this was what pulled me into this book. Yes, there may be common themes which may suggest someone's risk of violence, but there is also an individuality, to each perpetrator, and Dr Adshead will be offering insight into this particular individuality for some of the cases that she has worked on. Another intriguing perspective that Adshead puts forward is that, "Every violent crime is a tragedy, for the victims and their families as well as for the perpetrators" (P.5). This is an interesting statement when you focus on the last part of the sentence. Obviously, people who hear about violent crimes will no doubt be able to see the tragedy involved for the victim, and their loved ones. But, for the perpetrator? Whilst Adshead is not stating that she wants to excuse acts of violence, within these pages, she is offering 11 case studies which will potentially cause us to look at the offenders of these crimes in a different way. It is easy to look at the perpetrators of violence as being some kind of monster, and separate from the rest of us, but as Adshead argues (with the help of quoting W. H. Auden), "Evil is unspectacular and always human, / and shares our bed and eats at our own table" (p. 335). Some of the crimes covered within the case studies include stalking, arson, murder, CSA as well as viewing/downloading indecent images of children. For me, some of the studies were more interesting than others. And some, such as when discussing paedophilia, challenged me (this is because I have worked with survivors of CSA, so to consider the perpetrators of such crimes with compassion is a difficult thing for me to do). For those with an interest in forensic psychiatry or crime, this should be an interesting read.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    -There’s no such thing as a bad seed, just bad soil. - This is a concept that will stick with me after reading this book. It’s an interesting and insightful read, and certainly helps to give a different perspective on the “monsters” who commit violent crime. Looking behind the newspaper headlines and into the psyche of those imprisoned in secure hospitals, to see the person rather than the perpetrator. I found the narration of the Audiobook far too slow, so played it at 1.3x otherwise I think I’d -There’s no such thing as a bad seed, just bad soil. - This is a concept that will stick with me after reading this book. It’s an interesting and insightful read, and certainly helps to give a different perspective on the “monsters” who commit violent crime. Looking behind the newspaper headlines and into the psyche of those imprisoned in secure hospitals, to see the person rather than the perpetrator. I found the narration of the Audiobook far too slow, so played it at 1.3x otherwise I think I’d have given up before the end of the first chapter, but I did enjoy that it was narrated by Dr Adshead herself, as the inflections and intonations were genuine and natural. I work in mental health, so maybe I had a ‘special interest’ here. I don’t think that needs to be a prerequisite to enjoy the book though; anyone with an interest in others, in human behaviour, will find enjoyment in this book and hopefully will take a moment to pause the next time the tabloids blaze another family’s misfortune in sensationalised block print on their front page. There is more than one victim in most crimes, and I think this book helps to demonstrate that the victims are not always just who you think. And the perpetrators are people too.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laura Doe

    This book is a fantastic read into the real life work of a psychiatrist and the struggles that she faces with both the system and her clients. Throughout, Dr Adshead tells us of different cases she has dealt with throughout her career but also intersperses it with facts and makes sure that they are backed up with sources too. We follow her as she deals with murderers, arsonists, sex offenders and stalkers, and we get a rare insight into why they committed these offences. We also are able to read This book is a fantastic read into the real life work of a psychiatrist and the struggles that she faces with both the system and her clients. Throughout, Dr Adshead tells us of different cases she has dealt with throughout her career but also intersperses it with facts and makes sure that they are backed up with sources too. We follow her as she deals with murderers, arsonists, sex offenders and stalkers, and we get a rare insight into why they committed these offences. We also are able to read her own thoughts into the offenders and the difference that extra funding into health care would make. This is definitely a book that anyone with an interest into mental health and those currently working in mental health would benefit from, even if it’s just for the reason that someone agrees that mental health services in the UK are completely underfunded and at crisis point, and have been that way for years. Thank you so much to Dr Gwen Adshead and Eileen Horne for writing this insightful look into the world of psychiatry and mental health and to the team at Pigeonhole for allowing me to read it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kate Potapenko

    Absolutely brilliant! 11 stories of 11 human beings, most of them have commited a violent crime. Some stories don't have a start or an end to them, but they're not unfinished in any way. We are looking into individual stories, Dr Adshead is trying to understand how it all has come to that and how each individual can be helped. What amazed me the most is that within a couple of pages you get such a clear picture of the person in front of you, the feel of the room and even the tone of their voice. Shor Absolutely brilliant! 11 stories of 11 human beings, most of them have commited a violent crime. Some stories don't have a start or an end to them, but they're not unfinished in any way. We are looking into individual stories, Dr Adshead is trying to understand how it all has come to that and how each individual can be helped. What amazed me the most is that within a couple of pages you get such a clear picture of the person in front of you, the feel of the room and even the tone of their voice. Short stories, but they stir so many feelings and thoughts. It has exceeded all expectations as apart from giving insights into the world of violent crimes, it is also extremely well written and structured.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Claire O'Sullivan

    Powerful. Thought provoking. “Hope is not fanciful or naive;it is a mature defence against sadness and loss”

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Van Damme

    The Devil You Know discusses a number of Dr Adshead's cases throughout her impressive career. It was certainly eye-opening in a number of ways, and sometimes heart-breaking, but unfortunately as a whole it didn't work all that well for me. Note that this is clearly an unpopular opinion, as my fellow readers all loved it. Some cases I found fascinating, others much less so. I disliked the sometimes flowery language, and things like the literary quotes the doctor would think of when she stepped in The Devil You Know discusses a number of Dr Adshead's cases throughout her impressive career. It was certainly eye-opening in a number of ways, and sometimes heart-breaking, but unfortunately as a whole it didn't work all that well for me. Note that this is clearly an unpopular opinion, as my fellow readers all loved it. Some cases I found fascinating, others much less so. I disliked the sometimes flowery language, and things like the literary quotes the doctor would think of when she stepped into a room for a consultation that just bugged me and took me out of the experience. Again, this is clearly me being overly sensitive. I also felt that it was somewhat one-sided, monotonous, lots of X or Y grew up in bad circumstances and was exposed to this and that horror and here we are today, with X or Y having committed this or that crime. Thanks to the Pigeonhole for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest opinion.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Downey

    Thank you Faber & Faber, Gwen Adshead & Eileen Home for an ARC. Sorry, i tried to read this book, but the intro took so long and i felt that the first couple of chapters really dragged and didn't really hold my attention. I think i was expecting something else of this book. I have read other psychology books about people who commit crime and why and they have held my attention, but this one sadly didn't Thank you Faber & Faber, Gwen Adshead & Eileen Home for an ARC. Sorry, i tried to read this book, but the intro took so long and i felt that the first couple of chapters really dragged and didn't really hold my attention. I think i was expecting something else of this book. I have read other psychology books about people who commit crime and why and they have held my attention, but this one sadly didn't

  13. 5 out of 5

    Karl Wardlaw

    This is interesting and an insight into a subject that I don't think has ever been discussed before. Dr Gwen Adshead has worked as a forensic psychiatrist in prisons and hospitals for a number of years including Broadmoor. This book explores the subject through work with a number of her patients. This book really excels in showing how small factors can build up over time and then just a small, seemingly insignificant thing can cause someone to commit unspeakable acts in some cases. This explains h This is interesting and an insight into a subject that I don't think has ever been discussed before. Dr Gwen Adshead has worked as a forensic psychiatrist in prisons and hospitals for a number of years including Broadmoor. This book explores the subject through work with a number of her patients. This book really excels in showing how small factors can build up over time and then just a small, seemingly insignificant thing can cause someone to commit unspeakable acts in some cases. This explains how the mind can build up barriers to protect. I would recommend that everyone buy this for a greater understanding of the human mind.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pheadra

    Gwen Adshead a leading Forensic psychiatrist collaborates with Eileen Horne in this book to present various case studies of people treated in both hospitals and secure institutions. Arsonists,  stalkers, serial killers etc. are just some examples of the people seeking therapy which the media have labelled as monsters. The overall message is one of hope and humanity with compassion in place of condemnation. I'm not sure my personal opinions on those claiming mental insanity as a defence has altered Gwen Adshead a leading Forensic psychiatrist collaborates with Eileen Horne in this book to present various case studies of people treated in both hospitals and secure institutions. Arsonists,  stalkers, serial killers etc. are just some examples of the people seeking therapy which the media have labelled as monsters. The overall message is one of hope and humanity with compassion in place of condemnation. I'm not sure my personal opinions on those claiming mental insanity as a defence has altered but I certainly agree with increased spending for Mental Health instead of the severe cutbacks with devastating consequences being experienced. 4 stars.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Miss Hanna Loves Grammar

    Gripping and rooted in wisdom! This is a psychiatrist who has seen a wealth of trauma and uses her insights to share how we need to change the perception and treatment of mental health!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hayley

    Definitely not easy reading, but fascinating and compelling.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Interesting read from the authors perspective. Personally felt there was little compassion for the actual victims of the crimes mentioned. Their understandable feelings & trauma were apparently insignificant to the writer, even to go so far as to say that the perpetrators will receive the care they deserve but the victims likely won't get the care they need. Thought it was quite sad to see how the doctor immediately discounted the claims made by Gabriel about being raped by calling them delusion Interesting read from the authors perspective. Personally felt there was little compassion for the actual victims of the crimes mentioned. Their understandable feelings & trauma were apparently insignificant to the writer, even to go so far as to say that the perpetrators will receive the care they deserve but the victims likely won't get the care they need. Thought it was quite sad to see how the doctor immediately discounted the claims made by Gabriel about being raped by calling them delusions without any proof. Not all the training in the world will create a healer if they put their own spin & narrative on another persons story.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Thought provoking book on mental health and how we judge based on not knowing hardly any of the back story. A wrong is a wrong but giving chance to understand and help heal from the Mind is more powerful than we realise. This has made me re-evaluate how I initially judge and rely on my preconceptions. A tough insightful read learning invaluable lessons, listening is under rated. It takes special people to work in the field of mental health even more so in the criminal field under funded and essenti Thought provoking book on mental health and how we judge based on not knowing hardly any of the back story. A wrong is a wrong but giving chance to understand and help heal from the Mind is more powerful than we realise. This has made me re-evaluate how I initially judge and rely on my preconceptions. A tough insightful read learning invaluable lessons, listening is under rated. It takes special people to work in the field of mental health even more so in the criminal field under funded and essential work.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    “The Devil you know “ is an account of Dr. Gwen Adshead’s career as a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist. Working both in the infamous Broadmoor and in the community, the book covers anonymised cases from her career. The insight into Dr. Adshead’s role is fascinating. The cases covered in this book are, as you would expect, harrowing and unnerving but also poignant and even in some cases hopeful. If you like true crime, you will love this. The book also serves to illustrate the nature of “The Devil you know “ is an account of Dr. Gwen Adshead’s career as a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist. Working both in the infamous Broadmoor and in the community, the book covers anonymised cases from her career. The insight into Dr. Adshead’s role is fascinating. The cases covered in this book are, as you would expect, harrowing and unnerving but also poignant and even in some cases hopeful. If you like true crime, you will love this. The book also serves to illustrate the nature of different mental disorders and the history of the treatment used. It spotlights the impact government cuts have had on mental health treatment and the stark fact that most of the cases wouldn’t have been given access to treatment until their mental illness accelerated to a level where they committed a crime. What I am really disliked about the book was the writing style. It’s flowery and poetic style is at odds with the content of the book. There are frequent quotations of classic literature. At points I wasn’t sure if I was reading a meta analysis of mental illness in classic literature. These quotes were jarring and interrupted the flow of the narrative. I also think that the book is poorly named - in the introduction Dr. Adshead comments about the inaccurate perceptions of the people she treats as monsters and yet she has included one in the title of her book. It feels inappropriately sensationalist. Thank you to the authors, Netgalley and Faber and Faber for the opportunity to review the book in exchange for an honest opinion.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Therese

    What drives human beings to commit horrific crimes such as decapitating a stranger, murdering a parent or abusing a child? Shouldn’t we just lock up these evil monsters and throw away the key? Surely we shouldn’t waste scarce resources on therapy for people who might never be released from prison? In this brilliant book, forensic psychologist and psychotherapist Dr Gwen Adshead provides illuminating and compassionate answers to these questions. Dr Adshead has spent a lifetime working with ‘the vi What drives human beings to commit horrific crimes such as decapitating a stranger, murdering a parent or abusing a child? Shouldn’t we just lock up these evil monsters and throw away the key? Surely we shouldn’t waste scarce resources on therapy for people who might never be released from prison? In this brilliant book, forensic psychologist and psychotherapist Dr Gwen Adshead provides illuminating and compassionate answers to these questions. Dr Adshead has spent a lifetime working with ‘the violent insane’, and believes passionately that ‘no one should be discounted for treatment’: ‘it is only through a staunch belief in every human heart that we move forward’. The offenders she works with, she says, are ‘like survivors of a disaster, where they are the disaster’: Dr Adshead and her team are the first responders. You would need to have a heart of stone not to be moved by the life stories of these eleven offenders who, Dr Adshead firmly and compassionately believes, are more sad than bad. Dr Adshead reminds us in every case that ‘this person was once a child’. Unsurprisingly, many of her patients open up to her about the horrific trauma they have suffered in childhood which has led directly to their disorganised, criminal lives. Marcus, who initially irritates Dr Adshead as he presents as a boastful, vain womaniser, eventually reveals what Shakespeare calls his ‘naked frailties’, saying that he never received affection as a child. ‘All I ever wanted was to be beautiful’, he weeps as he finally takes responsibility for murdering his lover. I was particularly moved by the story of Gabriel, who was granted asylum in the UK at the age of 17 and twenty years later made an unprovoked, near-fatal attack on a stranger. After several sessions, Dr Adshead feels that he is possibly too disturbed for therapy. Yet on hearing a Christmas carol being rehearsed, Gabriel breaks out into a beatific smile, telling Dr Adshead that he was named after the angel Gabriel: ‘God is strong in me’. Gabriel is finally able to reveal the horrors he has seen in Eritrea. Witnessing such moments, says Dr Adshead, is a special privilege, what a colleague describes as ‘the strange and terrible beauty’ of the work. Another story which stays in the mind is that of Lydia. The story reads like a riveting psychological thriller. Dr Adshead is initially taken in by the smart, intelligent ex-solicitor, who is the ‘picture of serenity and calm’ and appears to show regret for her stalking offence. Dr Adshead is about to agree with her team that Lydia is safe to be released, but cannot understand why she suddenly feels ‘a nagging fear’ in her presence. It is a chilling moment when she realises why. One of the most interesting aspects of the book for me is the way Dr Adshead practises forensic self-analysis and self-control in only asking her patients about their crime when she feels they are ready, not when she wishes to satisfy her curiosity. The breakthrough moment, in which the patient finally accepts responsibility for their crime, comes only after months of often frustrating sessions in which little of importance might be said. It is also fascinating to see how Dr Adshead refrains from passing judgement on her patients, ‘hovering in the Bardo’ with ‘a kind of compassionate detachment’. The process is slow, and costly. It is desperately sad that only 10-20% of grossly mentally ill prisoners receive therapy, and only after they have committed a crime. So much money is put into the care of our physical bodies, says Dr Adshead, whilst so little is spent ‘to help people fix or rediscover their minds’. Yet is only by attempting to understand the factors that cause violence that we can prevent them from happening again. Dr Adshead is eloquent in her plea for more money for mental health services and reveals the devastating effects of austerity as prisoners do not receive the help they need to be able to leave prison and desist from re-offending. Dr Adshead believes that telling ‘these tales of suffering and violence’ will have served a purpose if the people in this book stay with the reader, in the same space where the media ‘conjure ideas of the devil’. She believes that we need to look at those the media call ‘monsters’ ‘with a new consciousness’, knowing that we are all more alike than we are different. To use her brilliant ‘bicycle lock release’ analogy, we are all just one number away from that fatal combination of stressors that release an act of cruelty. Written with boundless compassion, huge intelligence, ruthless self-analysis and great humanity, this groundbreaking book deserves to reach the widest possible audience. The frequent quotations from Shakespeare and Keats illuminate Dr Adshead’s writing and underscore her understanding of what it is to be human. I would like to thank Faber and Faber and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book in return for an unbiased review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Fay Flude

    The headline is sensational, but the sub title encompasses the essence of this HUGELY IMPORTANT book more accurately. There is nothing sensational about the contents. Whilst it is an exceptional exploration of the human mind, the triggers, the environmental factors of childhood trauma and importance of early attachment, and the bicycle lock analogy whereby all the risk factors come together and the final number clicks into place to produce dangerous and fatal actions for some, it does not rely o The headline is sensational, but the sub title encompasses the essence of this HUGELY IMPORTANT book more accurately. There is nothing sensational about the contents. Whilst it is an exceptional exploration of the human mind, the triggers, the environmental factors of childhood trauma and importance of early attachment, and the bicycle lock analogy whereby all the risk factors come together and the final number clicks into place to produce dangerous and fatal actions for some, it does not rely on the half truths so often padding out and peddled by the TV, newspapers and social media platforms. Instead it is full of considered, well researched, evidence based insights from one woman who has spent her life working in a challenging field, offering therapy, treatment and assessment as a forensic psychotherapist to make a resounding difference in the lives of so many people in situations where society shakes its collective head and throws away the keys. From Broadmoor to probation hostels, to secure psychiatric units, to private practice and back to Broadmoor, Dr Gwen Adshead invites the reader to look beyond the crime or extreme behaviour and mental illness, to see into the hearts and minds of the people who are imprisoned, suicidal, in denial, out on parole, taking part in group therapy or meeting with Gwen one to one, to reflect upon a culture where physical health needs supercede mental health needs every single time. Yet, with the right investment and human resources, specialist teams and individuals, a different approach to sanctions and mental health in general, we could all contribute to a society where our most vulnerable are given the appropriate care and support. The Devil You Know is a powerful, fascinating, emotional and compassionate book with extraordinary professional insight at its centre. In the 10 days that I have been reading this book, a stave at a time on Pigeonhole, my life has been CHANGED by what I have read. The information, references and footnotes, the detail, reflection and the diverse range of patient case studies/stories used has been thought provoking, mind blowing and in many ways therapeutic. In reading about killers and serial killers, child sex offenders, psychosis, schizophrenia, mothers whose children have been taken away from them, betrayed lovers, rejected, neglected children, stalkers, unwell doctors, and those battling the demons of addiction, the tragic real life stories combine to reiterate and reinforce how VITAL timely, appropriate and specialist care is needed for mental health sufferers and their families. I emerge from this book a different person, enlightened and most definitely able to see beyond the media hyped headlines of monsters and devils. No question, a 5 star read for me. My thanks goes to the high security hospitals and secure psychiatric units, the prisons and the probation service and anyone working in the mental health arena for the NHS, working tirelessly on the front line, day in day out amidst cuts, severe lack of funds and human resources to do a good enough job. But as this is a book which primarily has made me think, learn, cry and understand, I would like my good wishes and the parts of my heart these compelling narratives have touched, to go to the patients/clients, their families and victims for their bravery, courage, regret and acceptance. Whether your name is Tony or Gabriel, Kevin, Marcus, Charlotte or Zahra, Ian or Lydia, Sharon or Sam, or David, or something else entirely, may you know peace and a future where your changed identities, however challenging, can be lived with HOPE. Enormous thanks to Dr Gwen Adshead and Eileen Horne for their collaboration and determined desire to bring such life changing insights to our attention. READ THIS BOOK, TELL YOUR FAMILY, FRIENDS, WORK COLLEAGUES AND STRANGERS ALL ABOUT IT. GIFT THE BOOK TO GPS, LEAVE THE BOOK IN SURGERIES, CLINIC GROUPS AND ANYWHERE YOU CAN. SEND A COPY TO YOUR LOCAL MP. Change minds, change futures!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Penny Adrian

    Disclosure: I am a survivor of father-daughter incest. My heart and my allegiance is always with the victims of sexual violence, especially since perpetrators of sexual violence are always more powerful than their victims. It is important to have the courage to stand with the most vulnerable, even when to stand with them is viewed as "unenlightened". I have a masters degree in psychology, and at a graduate school meeting I met a woman who said she worked with sexual predators. She shared with us Disclosure: I am a survivor of father-daughter incest. My heart and my allegiance is always with the victims of sexual violence, especially since perpetrators of sexual violence are always more powerful than their victims. It is important to have the courage to stand with the most vulnerable, even when to stand with them is viewed as "unenlightened". I have a masters degree in psychology, and at a graduate school meeting I met a woman who said she worked with sexual predators. She shared with us how one of her clients was a man who sexually abused children and was "deeply ashamed" of this behavior (though not ashamed enough to stop himself from doing it). To help this man, the woman told him that his abuse of children was just a bad habit, like biting one's nails. He just needed to learn to change his behavior and he would be fine. In this therapist's scenario, the grown man was the human, and the children he raped were fingernails. The therapist reinforced the perpetrator's view of himself as the center of the universe and his victims as disposable. We live in a society that worships power and romanticizes predators. Those who identify with power often identify with predators (victims are such whiny bores). To justify this identification, they claim that we are all capable of committing evil acts, and therefore shouldn't judge those who rape, batter, and kill vulnerable people. But where is the proof that we are all capable of committing evil acts? Where is the evidence that everyone under certain circumstances is capable of torture, murder, and sexual violence? There is no evidence of this. It is a self-serving theory that excuses those who commit sadistic acts and condemns victims of those acts as being no better than their perpetrators ("you'd have done the same thing if you were them" is the claim). I am a parent. I was horrifically abused as a child, yet I never so much as spanked my own child. My son tells me he had a happy childhood and is a happy young man today. But according to Dr. Adshead I am just as capable of cruelty as my father. I am capable of evil, too, so I have no right to judge the man who terrorized me throughout my childhood. So, rather than my father having been the perpetrator and me having been the victim (which is binary and therefore can't be true) we are both victims and there is no perpetrator. I was four when my father started raping me, but he is no more responsible for his choices than I was - he was not the bad guy and I was not the good guy. We were both innocent and in a way, we were also both guilty. Does this view of cruelty best serve the powerful or the vulnerable? Does it best serve adults or children? Does it best serve men or women? If no one is innocent, then little girls who get raped by their fathers are guilty - or at least just as guilty as their rapists. The idea that there is no such thing as good or evil, innocence or guilt, allows us to minimize violence and cruelty - which is far more comfortable than facing the reality that evil exists. I have had direct experiences of sadism and evil, and I have earned the right to say that I am not capable of committing sadistic acts against my fellow human beings. Most of us are not capable of sadism. There truly are both good people and evil people. We abandon victims of evil when we pretend that evil does not exist - and we do this for our own comfort, not out of any real courage or compassion. Accepting the reality of evil is hard. We may never understand it completely. But it does exist. And we enable evil people when we pretend they are no different from their victims. They are different. Evil exists. And so does innocence. I'm afraid this book makes the world an even lonelier place for victims of cruelty.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Carole Tyrrell

    The Devil you know Dr Gwen Adshead is a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist who has worked within the NHS, the probation service and in private practice. She begins her book with an interesting introduction in which she discusses her views on people who commit unspeakable crimes. As one person says ‘You can be an ex bus driver but not an ex murderer’ which emphasises the notoriety of the crime. But, as the author herself says ‘Every violent crime is a tragedy.’ The introduction then leads i The Devil you know Dr Gwen Adshead is a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist who has worked within the NHS, the probation service and in private practice. She begins her book with an interesting introduction in which she discusses her views on people who commit unspeakable crimes. As one person says ‘You can be an ex bus driver but not an ex murderer’ which emphasises the notoriety of the crime. But, as the author herself says ‘Every violent crime is a tragedy.’ The introduction then leads into the 11 cases that feature in the book and begins in Broadmoor. However, she doesn’t judge her patients. Instead, she presents the facts of their cases, their crime, and the background to events. The cases include arson, sexual abuse, neglect and stalking amongst others. What makes people take that final step into the darkness? As each case progresses through the therapy sessions, clues are revealed through their past history and Dr Adshead’s notes and observations. Dr Adshead includes background information on them as the sessions progress which gave an invaluable insight into the patients as people and not just perpetrators. There was no sensationalism but instead a calm and considered approach. She also includes her thoughts on the person in front of her. The case of the stalker, Lydia, was particularly disturbing. Dr Adshead feelsuneasy about Lydia without knowing why. On the face of it. Lydia seems to be engaging in the process and is looking forward to release. Then she finally plays her hand and Dr Adshead realises how manipulative, determined and angry Lydia really is. I couldn’t see a positive outcome for her or her victim. The author also discusses the changes in the NHS with treatments and care in the community, reorganisations, funding, austerity and which can lead to difficulties in people being able to access the help that they need. She works within prisons and in private practice as well. I felt that two of the cases might have a more positive outcome as the patient had gained insight into what they had done and had changed. However, I sense Dr Adshead’s compassion for these people and her sadness that only 10-20% of grossly ill prisoners receive therapy. With an emphasis on ‘care in the community’ and the family, if there is one, increasingly having to carry the burden themselves. If you’re looking for gory details, then this book isn’t for you. Instead, it offers the reader the opportunity to look inside the minds of people who have committed the worst of crimes and are now faced with the aftermath. The Devil You Know is a thought provoking book which has real insights. It demonstrated how the unspeakable crime is often the culminations of a slow build up of smaller factors and not just an act out of the blue. The human mind is infinitely fascinating and this book goes a long way to explaining its darker side. My thanks to Faber & Faber and Netgalley for an ARC.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Thank you to the author, publishers Faber & Faber and online book club Pigeonhole for access to read this book for free. This is an honest and voluntary review. Part of my fascination with crime fiction is the ability to see things from the perspective of the perpetrator, even in an imaginary way. To have the opportunity to try and understand why someone is behaving the way they have, and what drives people to do horrible things to other human beings. The question of why is often satisfyingly wra Thank you to the author, publishers Faber & Faber and online book club Pigeonhole for access to read this book for free. This is an honest and voluntary review. Part of my fascination with crime fiction is the ability to see things from the perspective of the perpetrator, even in an imaginary way. To have the opportunity to try and understand why someone is behaving the way they have, and what drives people to do horrible things to other human beings. The question of why is often satisfyingly wrapped up within a TV drama or book in a way which it never truly is in real life. This book offers an opportunity to look at people who have committed acts or behaved in ways that typically we might find difficult to understand. Each of the individual stories included within this volume are made up of the experiences and behaviours of a number of different patients which Dr Gwen Adshead has worked with over the years in secure hospitals, prisons and in the community, but the stories are told as part of a cohesive narrative which makes it easier to follow and understand. This is thanks to co-author Eileen Horne, who has taken the professional experiences of Dr Adshead and translated this into a book form which is more accessible for non-professionals. Many of the stories are hard to read, dealing as they do with highly emotive topics of trauma, abuse, and violence. Despite the title referring to 'devil', this is not a book about good and evil. Even the most gut wrenchingly horrendous offences committed by one of the individuals is presented in a way which doesn't try to excuse their behaviour, but does open up the shades of grey around their intention and their understanding of the impact their actions had on the victims. It's not a quick or light hearted read, but it is a fascinating one, and if you're interested in understand the why, and are willing to accept that there are no easy answers, this is a compelling insight into the experiences of someone working with people who in many cases it would be simple to dismiss as 'evil'.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    This is a non-fiction account of some the individuals that Dr Gwen Adshead has encounter during her time as a "psychiatrist and psychotherapist who works with violent offenders" (her words not mine) at some of the most highest security prisons. I found this to be fascinating and informative, and would be an ideal read for anyone interested in criminology and investigating offenders profiles. This gives just a little glimpse into the minds of some of the most vicious criminals, whose brutal attac This is a non-fiction account of some the individuals that Dr Gwen Adshead has encounter during her time as a "psychiatrist and psychotherapist who works with violent offenders" (her words not mine) at some of the most highest security prisons. I found this to be fascinating and informative, and would be an ideal read for anyone interested in criminology and investigating offenders profiles. This gives just a little glimpse into the minds of some of the most vicious criminals, whose brutal attacks are unravelled, piece by piece. Deeply thought provoking and captivating. I am particularly impressed at the inclusion of both male and female offenders in this, and how Dr Gwen brought to our attention some of the not so high profile criminals which were equally as savage as some of the well known cases over the decades. After reading this, I am still undecided whether some people are simply born evil, or if there is a much deeper reasoning and conclusion as to why some offenders are so extreme. Could there ever be ground and/or purpose to take another's life? However, this book does have me swaying towards the latter. The human mind can be so fragile and extraordinary at times. Don't we all, somewhere deep rooted and locked within us, have the ability to act out in such disturbing ways if that was ever unleased for some reason? What do you think? I'd be keen to discuss this with anyone who has read this either now or in the future. Perfect for crime book clubs and discussions. Thank you to Netgalley and Faber & Faber Ltd, for a free gifted digital copy of this, in exchange for an honest review.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Denyce

    I was drawn to this book as I have always been interested in the psychology of people and what makes them behave the way that they do. Gwen Adshead is both a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist and has worked in Broadmoor, treating people who have committed terrible crimes and some who have severe mental health issues. The case studies in this book are an amalgamation of some of the patients that she has treated in her career, and I found it to be a fascinating and enlightening but sometimes diff I was drawn to this book as I have always been interested in the psychology of people and what makes them behave the way that they do. Gwen Adshead is both a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist and has worked in Broadmoor, treating people who have committed terrible crimes and some who have severe mental health issues. The case studies in this book are an amalgamation of some of the patients that she has treated in her career, and I found it to be a fascinating and enlightening but sometimes difficult read. Her job entails "thinking of the whys and wherefores of behaviours that may appear to be alien to most." She explains each of the case studies with objectivity and compassion, which in some instances might seem to be difficult, considering the violent nature of some of the crimes, or the person's challenging behaviour. It would be easy to dismiss some of these people as monsters, but as each study progresses, a clearer picture of their life emerges and it becomes easier to see them from a more sympathetic point of view. This book challenges the gut reaction most of us will have to these behaviours and encourages us to engage with a deeper understanding. Adshead employs literary references throughout the book, as part of the narrative instead of an introductory 'quote' at the beginning of each chapter, which reinforces the adage of art imitating life. I also found it interesting reading about the development of her career as a psychiatrist and how she deals with her own emotions and feelings. An interesting and thought provoking read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katri Skala

    A fascinating and compelling read, TDYK explores the ways in which an individual, any individual, might end up committing a criminal act of violence. The book, narrated by forensic psychiatrist, Dr Gwen Adshead, and co-written by Eileen Horne, is organised into chapters based on composite characters drawn from Adshead's long professional experience as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. We meet them, largely in prison, at a point when Adshead is called to give a professional assessment of their A fascinating and compelling read, TDYK explores the ways in which an individual, any individual, might end up committing a criminal act of violence. The book, narrated by forensic psychiatrist, Dr Gwen Adshead, and co-written by Eileen Horne, is organised into chapters based on composite characters drawn from Adshead's long professional experience as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist. We meet them, largely in prison, at a point when Adshead is called to give a professional assessment of their mental state for a variety of reasons to do with the prison and probation services. All have done something dreadful. Adshead's interventions give us a glimpse into how a seemingly normal person might be driven to commit crimes that challenge our basic moral sense of their humanity. The strength of the book lies in Adshead's compassionate and reasoned approach to her subjects as she gradually - and we, the reader, alongside her - gets to an understanding of who they are. Critical is the idea that each person can be brought to reflect on their own behaviour, and in so doing, experience a kind of remorse. Also critical is the argument, forcefully made, for greater intervention early on in childhood to treat mental illness or psychological damage. The stories unfold with the tension of short dramas, such that I, for one, found my desire to turn the page almost indecent, given the complexity of the subject matter. A very worthwhile read indeed.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Molly O'Connor

    This is an absolutely remarkable book that shines a light on the psyche of those who have committed acts of unimaginable violence and cruelty. Dr Gwen Adshead is a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist who has spent her career working with people who have committed serious crimes such as murder, stalking, arson and child sexual abuse. Working with dramatist Eileen Horne, she has crafted eleven narratives that are representative of her experiences of working within the criminal justice system This is an absolutely remarkable book that shines a light on the psyche of those who have committed acts of unimaginable violence and cruelty. Dr Gwen Adshead is a forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist who has spent her career working with people who have committed serious crimes such as murder, stalking, arson and child sexual abuse. Working with dramatist Eileen Horne, she has crafted eleven narratives that are representative of her experiences of working within the criminal justice systems and allow her to explore a range of issues including female violence, PTSD and the long-lasting impacts of child abuse. In spite of the fact that each of these narratives centres around someone who has committed a terrible crime, I found myself feeling empathy and compassion for each and every one of them. This book invites you to do the challenging work of seeing those who we would usually write off as 'monsters' for what the really are, people. Damaged people who have done huge amounts of harm to those around them yes, but also people who are deserving of our compassion. Some of these narratives end in progress and hope, others end in in regression but each of them expands the readers understanding of violence, trauma and what it means to show empathy to our fellow human beings. I hope more people working in criminal justice read this book, it's an incredibly important and invaluable resource.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carl

    The Devil You Know by Gwen Adshead I have long been fascinated by true crime, especially that about serial murderers, but even more so I've been curious as to the why – – what causes a person to kill someone else, or multiple someone elses? I have read several books which tried to address this question, but found none of them particularly enlightening, until I ran across this book. I found this book both enlightening and compassionate as well as well written. The key to understanding her discussio The Devil You Know by Gwen Adshead I have long been fascinated by true crime, especially that about serial murderers, but even more so I've been curious as to the why – – what causes a person to kill someone else, or multiple someone elses? I have read several books which tried to address this question, but found none of them particularly enlightening, until I ran across this book. I found this book both enlightening and compassionate as well as well written. The key to understanding her discussion is this metaphor which she offers early in the book: "A colleague of mine helpfully describes the enacting of violence as a bicycle lock. A combination of stressors aligns: --the first two “numbers” are likely to be sociopolitical, reflecting attitudes to masculinity, vulnerability, or poverty; bluntly, most violence in the world is committed by young, poor males. --The next two may be specific to the perpetrator, such as substance abuse or varying kinds of childhood adversity. --The final “number,” the one that causes the lock to spring open and release an act of harmful cruelty, is the most intriguing. It tends to be idiosyncratic, something in the action of the victim which has meaning only to the perpetrator: this might be a simple gesture, a familiar phrase, even a smile." She illustrates this metaphor with each of the 11 cases which she discusses. As for the writing what I appreciated were both her multiple literary references – she is clearly a well read author – and her great use of metaphors, such as the above one. Both of these devices helped me better understand the points she was making.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kate Southey

    I loved this book! I’ve always been fascinated by criminal behaviour and how we as a society treat those convicted. Thankfully like me, Gwen Adshead believes in rehabilitation and respecting the humanity still held in even the most violent offenders. I can’t stand the media headlines of ‘Monster’ ‘Pedo!’ that seek to demonise these men and women and do nothing to help society except spreading fear and hate. And thank you, thank you, thank you Dr Adshead for pointing out what a paedophile actuall I loved this book! I’ve always been fascinated by criminal behaviour and how we as a society treat those convicted. Thankfully like me, Gwen Adshead believes in rehabilitation and respecting the humanity still held in even the most violent offenders. I can’t stand the media headlines of ‘Monster’ ‘Pedo!’ that seek to demonise these men and women and do nothing to help society except spreading fear and hate. And thank you, thank you, thank you Dr Adshead for pointing out what a paedophile actually is and what a child sex offender is. It’s a shame that the case studies had to be composites though I understand why. It would have been fascinating to know if any psychotherapy like this has helped with the mindset of any high profile offenders though. That said, having these composite anonymised case histories did mean that that author could add in snippets of her experiences in the USA and in therapy in other settings. For me the best part of the book was the beautifully woven in literary references! For someone like me who loves classic literature it was fabulous to read and each one was perfectly relevant and well chosen. I’m sure Dr Adshead has many more such stories and I for one would be happy to read book two!

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