Base Instincts: What Makes Killers Kill?

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9780393323238: Base Instincts: What Makes Killers Kill?
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"[A] significant contribution to the national debate about violent criminal behavior."? Senator Joe LiebermanNeurologist Dr. Jonathan Pincus personally examined and probed into the family and medical history of numerous serial killers and other violent criminals to analyze what creates and triggers the violent instinct. He discovered that virtually all suffered severe abuse as children, as well as brain damage and mental illness. In these gripping, terrifying stories, Pincus concludes that violent criminal behavior is the catastrophic product of a dysfunctional brain coupled with an abusive environment. Focusing on these critical factors, how can we prevent the development of potentially violent persons from a young age before the damage becomes irrevocable? And how do we evaluate chances of rehabilitation? "[A] rigorous, troubling, and profoundly humane book."? Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic "An urgent wake-up call for the nation. . . a must-read for every professional engaged in the administration of criminal justice."? Samuel Dash, Georgetown University Law Center

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About the Author:

Jonathan H. Pincus is chief of neurology at the Veteran's Administration Hospital, Washington, D.C., and professor of neurology at Georgetown University School of Medicine.

From Publishers Weekly:

Pincus explores the biological, psychological and social influences at work within the minds of contemporary murderers in this collection of case studies. Chairman emeritus of Georgetown University's Department of Neurology, he notes that although he spent years as a "regular" neurologist studying violent criminals, his prejudices (and those of his colleagues) colored his study of criminal cognition and behavior. His longtime collaborator, Dr. Dorothy Lewis, helped him develop a new theory: "It is the interaction of childhood abuse with neurologic disturbances and psychiatric illnesses that explains murder." He presents several cases from the approximately 150 murderers he has examined, detailing the subtle interrelations between these three elements, which often go unnoticed because of violent individuals' denial of their own past victimization. Pincus delves into how the disparate group of killers arrived at a similar condition of extreme paranoia and instability. In each case, he depicts upbringings devoid of love and nurturing, which disposed these individuals toward violence. He concludes by discussing options for prevention and treatment, acknowledging that "tough on crime" measures receive support over more complex intervention proposals, like Hawaii's Healthy Start program and similar efforts in other areas, which target at-risk families with the goal of "parenting the parents" and have produced surprising decreases in reported abuse and neglect. This is an excellent book for all those concerned with addressing the root causes of violence and one that should be read by those who favor punishment over prevention. (June) Forecast: Pincus is a recognized expert on the mind of a killer who has received prior media attention, including coverage by the New Yorker. For this book, the publisher plans author appearances in D.C. and New York and expects major media interest.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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9780393050226: Base Instincts: What Makes Killers Kill?

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ISBN 10:  039305022X ISBN 13:  9780393050226
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