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The Devil You Know: Encounters in Forensic Psychiatry Paperback – 30 Jun. 2022
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THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
A SUNDAY TIMES, NEW STATESMAN & IRISH TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR
SHORTLISTED FOR THE CRIME WRITERS ASSOCIATION GOLD DAGGER FOR NON-FICTION
A perspective-shattering work into the minds of violent criminals that reveals profound consequences for human nature and society at large.
*INCLUDES A NEW CHAPTER*
'Brilliant . . . The book is a powerful myth buster. Name a sterotype about violent offenders and Adshead upends it.'
'Deeply moving . . . the most overwhelming feeling I had on finishing this book was of hope . . . Compassionate and fascinating.'
Dr Gwen Adshead is one of Britain's leading forensic psychiatrists. She treats serial killers, arsonists, stalkers, gang members and other individuals who are usually labelled 'monsters'. Whatever their crime, she listens to their stories and helps them to better understand their terrible acts of violence. Here Adshead invites the reader to step with her into the room to meet twelve patients and discover how minds can change. These men and women are revealed in all their complexity and shared humanity. Their stories make a powerful case for rehabilitation over revenge, compassion over condemnation. The Devil You Know will challenge everything you thought you knew about human nature.
'An unmissable book.' OBSERVER
'Adshead's compassion is almost as shocking as the offences themselves . . . it gives her distance and extraordinary insight.'
THE TIMES, Books of the Year
'The Devil You Know has permanently recalibrated my empathy dial.'
NEW STATESMAN, Books of the Year
IRISH TIMES, Books of the Year
'Exceptional.' VAL McDERMID
'Extraodinary.' SEBASTIAN FAULKS
'Gripping . . . ultimately enlightening.' PHILIPPE SANDS
'Fascinating and beautifully written.' CHRISTIE WATSON
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On killing and other crimes - a forensic, gripping, extraordinary and ultimately enlightening insider's account of how and why it happens. -- Philippe Sands
An extraordinary book. Shocking, sad and absolutely fascinating. -- Sebastian Faulks
A fascinating, erudite and beautifully written deep-dive into the nature of evil. The Devil You Know makes the case for radical empathy and reminds us that all human beings are capable of darkness, and of light. -- Christie Watson
Finding light in the deepest darkness, this book makes an invaluable and urgent case for improved mental health care and could forever change the way we think about violence and those who perpetrate it. -- David Lammy
Challenging but really important. -- Alastair Campbell
A remarkable book; powerful, illuminating, humane, and suffused with extraordinary compassion. -- Gavin Francis
From one of the most distinguished and brilliant minds in psychiatry, The Devil You Know is an illuminating page-turner. I kept reading not out of a morbid or macabre fascination in these stories of extreme cruelty, but to understand the darker side of what it means to be human. Meticulous, elegant, provoking, this book is a profound act of social service. -- Marina Cantacuzino ― author and founder of THE FORGIVENESS PROJECT
Clear-eyed and compassionate . . . a captivating journey through the corridors of Broadmoor hospital and beyond, into the prison system, the community and the consultation room . . . it is [Adshead's] constant and reassuring voice, a voice not hesitant to admit to its own occasional missteps and misjudgments, that makes the book so valuable and absorbing . . . Adshead's words are effortlessly readable and deeply moving . . . the most overwhelming feeling I had on finishing this book was of hope, not only for the patients but for the readers. Over the last 12 months we have all seen too much and therefore, perhaps, become blinded. This insightful, compassionate and fascinating book will help us to move away from our blindness and misconceptions and shine a light on the stories beyond the headlines - stories that desperately need to be heard. -- Joanna Cannon ― Guardian
Literature lovers like me are fond of saying that reading promotes empathy; it feels true, though you might struggle to prove it. However, The Devil You Know by the forensic psychiatrist Gwen Adshead with Eileen Horne has permanently recalibrated my empathy dial. As she helps offenders understand and take responsibility for their actions in the wake of terrible crimes, Adshead quietly, humanely shows us that people remain people, despite their actions. -- Melissa Harrison ― New Statesman (Books of the Year)
Given the nature of the crimes, Adshead's compassion is almost as shocking as the offences themselves. But it gives her distance and extraordinary insight - not least into the nature of therapy, and of punishment. -- James McConnachie ― The Times (Books of the Year)
An extraordinary tour through the psyches of the criminally disturbed, every bit as discomfiting as it is fascinating . . . It is the humanity in the stories that makes [this] book so extraordinary. -- Rosie Kinchen ― Sunday Times
Laudably sagacious and temperate . . . brilliant . . . The book is a powerful myth buster. Name a stereotype about violent offenders and Adshead upends it. -- Rosamund Urwin ― Sunday Times
Adshead's warm intelligence, curiosity and nuanced understanding of her work inspire trust in what turns out to be an unmissable book . . . it is precisely her gift for empathy that offsets the desolation of much of what she describes . . . The Devil You Know is not a book of excuses. It persuades us that it is only through understanding why horrific crimes happen that mental health services and the judicial system can have any chance of being improved. This revelatory book encourages us to see that it is our responsibility to consider the worst of humanity - and of ourselves. And while we are at it, it urges us to hang on to Adshead's most powerful imperative: "the duty of hope". -- Kate Kellaway ― Observer (Book of the Week)
Adshead's new book - The Devil You Know: Stories of Human Cruelty and Compassion, a memoir comprised of chilling case notes - leaves the reader with a nuanced, subtle understanding of "evil" . . . Adshead has a literary soul . . . This affinity for language explains Adshead's gift as a psychiatrist. -- Neil Mackay ― The Herald
A fascinating window into criminal minds, suffused with compassion.
A SUNDAY TIMES, NEW STATESMAN & IRISH TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR
- Publisher : Faber & Faber; Main edition (30 Jun. 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 400 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0571357628
- ISBN-13 : 978-0571357628
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
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The author is very familiar with people like me who have serious doubts about the amount of resource poured into treating people who are 'mad, bad and dangerous' whereas virtually nothing is spent helping the families of their victims negotiate such a colossal loss as having a family member murdered. At one point she actually comes out and says: "When I'm working with people who have hurt or killed others, I have to think about the victims and their view of things , almost as much as I do with the perpetrator."
I do accept that, as the author frequently mentions, psychotherapy and other treatments are important in order to reduce the risk of the offender attacking fellow prison or hospital inmates and staff, and others upon release. But I think the over-intellectualising of offenders' states of mind can result in naïve decisions about their fitness to be returned to the community when there can be, albeit rare, catastrophic results. In 2019 Usman Khan killed two at Fishmongers Hall in London and was later shot dead by Police. Throughout his earlier incarceration he conned all the experts responsible for 'treating' him in order to gain his freedom and commit the terrorist attack. I think I'm right in saying that most of the whole-life tariff prisoners in our jails were given those rare sentences because they were released before and immediately went on to kill again. Can high-powered minds not detect when someone is gaming the system? Or is their belief in a core goodness in everyone immutable?
I got a little tired of the frequent criticism of governments failing to provide enough funding for the NHS, and mental health in particular, and how accountants have been allowed to run the show to the detriment of patients. No mention is made of the colossal amount of waste and mismanagement that pervades the NHS, and how the spend always seems to expand to fit the budget available plus another 25% or so.
Notwithstanding the above, it was an intriguing read and an insight for me into what goes on in trying to find the best way to deal with people who have committed heinous crimes.
I was baffled by the need the writer/s obviously felt to reinforce her/their argument – or prove the breadth of her/their education – with endless quotations, (mostly Eng Lit), from Lady Caroline Lamb to Kipling to Keats plus Philip Larkin. And many, many from Shakespeare. Obviously there were some from the psychiatry 'greats', too, but those I expected. Anyone who thinks this sounds unfair need only count the quotes.
However, the cases were all fascinating, in different ways, with – to my mind – the best kept to last.
Parts of the book seem aimed at the academic reader, other parts at the prurient thrill seeker, and clearly Dr Adshead is hoping to gain an American audience. It also struck me as
grabbing an opportunity to blow her own trumpet, I got somewhat fed up reading how only her skills could pick up telling nuances in her clients' stories. This is what really puzzled me about whether she was writing a manual for therapists or sensation seeker's bedtime read!
At any rate, it sent me to sleep very quickly every night, which is why it's taken me over a month to finish it - with a sigh of relief! I find it hard to believe its been voted Book of the Month in the Guardian!!!!
A very commendable book and I also thought the footnotes and reading list at the end were helpful.