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Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  439 ratings  ·  48 reviews
This thought-provoking and timely bookfrom a #1 New York Times bestselling novelist and noted child psychologist reveals the factors that often lead to explosive and shocking juvenile violence.

“Ethically and morally, kids are works in progress. Throw in psychopathy and you’ve got a soul that will never be complete.”

In this powerful, disturbing book, bestselling author and
Paperback, 144 pages
Published May 18th 1999 by Ballantine Books
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The book is way shorter than I thought it would be. Right off the bat I could tell it was more for the "general public" (i.e. diluting and adding buzz words). It irked me a little since I thought such an important topic shouldn't be dumbed down, but maybe that's just me. For the most part the author sounds embittered, pretentious ("scientists are seldom knowledgeable -or as effective- as they claim to be" and journalists are "scientifically unsophisticated" and they are often "gullible conduits" ...more
I don't know if I needed more pessimism. But maybe the perspective that "some are not fixable" is necessary. It scared me, the work that shows that those who are sociopaths at age 11 show no signs of recovery. It scared me, the potential that some poeople have for sustainable evil.

People should have to apply to be parents.
This book suffers from its own identity crisis: is it pop psychology? A serious, scholarly take on the subject? Or is it a stream-of-consciousness account of the author's private musings? Written by a clinical psychologist who just happens to be a prolific crime fiction author (or is it the other way around?), the book juxtaposes scholarly-style citations with punchy, buzzword-laden staccato sentences and exactly two case studies. For all the shade the author throws at scientists (who aren't as ...more
Valare Beauchamp
This is the book I wanted written and everyone should read. My ex was a "savage spawn" and eerily similar to 'Tim' when he was a teenager. He did whatever he wanted. Bars on his windows, parents buying him cigarettes at 14, they weren't able to make him go to the emergency room after a car accident at age nine. After an incident with a pet they took him to a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with sociopathic tendencies. I found out what he was after 10 years of being used, conned, and manipulated b ...more
Jan 23, 2015 Cara marked it as abandoned
One of my New Year's Resolutions was to put down crappy books instead of finishing them, so...
Savage Spawn started out strong but ended with a fizz. The author- striking me as one from the world of Academia is clueless in regards to human nature, and lives in a fantastical reality where 99.9%- if not ALL violent criminal children can be stopped by Government intervention. His ideas on preventing school shootings: Preventing access to fire arms to ALL children by mandating heavy-duty jail and monetary sentences on the parents that disobey. He also believes that children should be taken ou ...more
I don't think that this book is for your average Joe reader. I would definitely put this one in the psychology category and only for those who are looking to find out more about ODD, CD, and even psychopathic youth. Kellerman paints a vivid and eerie picture of what it is like to interact with a child psychopath. The way they interact in a dominating way even with individuals whom they should have some respect towards.

What I'm still debating is the whole nature vs. nurture philosophy on this one
Brian Newberry
I LOVE this book. This is a NON-fiction study of "conduct disorder" (juvenile psychopaths.) Holding a PhD in psychology, Kellerman knows of what he writes.

SAVAGE SPAWN is excellent! Kellerman recounts his own clinical experiences, as well as his own commentary on kids whose cold lifestyles make grim headlines (e.g. Colorado school shootings).

SAVAGE SPAWN gives vivid insight to lay readers.

MOST of Jonathan Kellerman's books are murder mysteries, featuring recurring characters LCSW Alex Delaware
Sandy Neal
Very thought provoking, research-based volume on the possible causes and treatment of violent children. Speaks of children are mentally ill and who are psychopaths. It differentiates from those who are "crazy" and those who are calm, cold killers. Jonathan Kellerman's training and work as a child psychologist give weight to his assessments and make me want to re-think the stance we, as voters, make on the penalties for crimes committed by these children and later adults.

Tough to read emotionall
As sensational as the title of this book is, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Recommended by a child psychologist friend, it was a great intellectual study of violent children (and adults). I especially enjoyed the topic of media violence. I was surprised that Columbine was not included, although other school-related shootings were used as case studies, albeit not in depth. Very interesting and topical. Different from what I normally read, but I'm glad I did.
Ellis Amdur
This is kind of a “cliff-notes” rendition of a selective read of research on psychopathy, now a decade and a half old. Kellerman is at his best in a common-sense review of the literature regarding theories – nature or nurture? Of course it is both. Kellerman is righteously outraged and practical, offering hard-line suggestions on how to address the problem of violent kids as early as possible. At the same time, the book must be regarded as a superficial treatment of a far more complex subject – ...more
2 1/2 stars

Gets pretty technical which is okay when I'm in a brainy mood. The author was attempting to establish his grounds with extensive research but I wanted more focus on stories of kids not the symptoms of future adult violent offenders. I guess I should have read the description better. Not a bad book if that's what you're looking for.
Frank Spencer
This book presents a point of view about aggressive children. The suggestions are to get children out of environments in which they are not nurtured, keep them away from guns, intervene as early as possible, and change maladaptive patterns of behavior.
Leashia Hoehn
This was an excellent book by someone who has dealt with disturbed children and could see the writting on the wall. i thought it was very insightful and a bit scary!
A thin article he turned out in response to the Jonesboro massacre.
He repeatedly advocates long, even life-long, prison terms but never once addresses the impact of that approach. Prison over-crowding; drugs / corruption / violence; sexually violent / career crims / lifers without hope of parole locked up alongside kids who got caught with small amounts of drugs or some other non-violent stupid act that gets them into big trouble. A couple of years ago we had riots in several cities & some o
This book was a rambling rant of pseudo-intellectualism based upon few actual case studies. Every time the author gave a personal example from his own life, his underlying God Complex mixed with his oversimplification of complex emotional beings managed to dredge up an actual dislike towards a person who could pen such sludge.

This book was tabloid trash on steroids.

I found it condescending, oversimplified, and at times, disgusting. Facts on dangerous child behavior only seem to emerge when the a
Interesting and thought provoking, but somewhat unsatisfying. I do, unfortunately, agree that some people are truly evil from a very early age, and can't be rehabilitated. However, I don't think the author did enough to distinguish the redeemable criminals from the truly evil. He talks about criminals being either psychopaths or psychotics, but the reality is that many criminals are neither. Many criminals are just ordinary people who made poor choices for a variety of reasons. I don't think he ...more
Rather interesting read about young murderers and serial offenders, discussing the possible causes and ideas for treatment and if that in fact is even an option. Although I don't necessarily agree with some of the authors recommendations I think some excellent points were made.. And coming from a country with much stricter gun control laws than the US, I have to agree with his theories on gun control.
Lukas Lovas
Wow. These studies and particular cases of psychopathic children are fascinating....and unnerving. The book sheds light on what the possible causes and correlations of violent behaviour might be, how to predict more accuratley who might be a menace to society....and what to do about it.
The book is short, succinct and most important....informative without swamping your brain with irrelevant data.
Deanna Norris
Saying it was an easy read is going to sound odd, especially considering the nature of the topic discussed, but it is true: if you would like a quick and insightful view of sociopathic criminals, this is an excellent choice. While many reader reviews seem to want more clear-cut solutions for dealing with children who exhibit evil at an early age, it is unreasonable to expect the author to provide those solutions and the result is a feeling of dissatisfaction at the end of the book. The good news ...more
Denise MacDonald
I waited a long time to read this book, it was a bit difficult to find and it was worth the wait. The children this book was written about are the children I often find myself working with, and the ideas Kellerman suggests for helping these children are bang on. I also liked that he backed up his thoughts with lots of research and gave a disturbing list of warning signs to watch for. This book was written awhile ago and most of the suggestions be made still have not found a place in our society. ...more
Reads more like an article than a book. A mix of good and bad here. Definitely shows its age. I can appreciate the calls for gun control and psychological intervention at an early age for children with conduct disorders/odd.
This book is a must read if you want to learn hard truths about how hard core criminals develop and what are effective approaches to dealing with them.
I was expecting something more than a rant by someone who seems to know about psychology stuff. But this was pretty much a rant with some definitions in it. I was pretty disappointed. That's all.
interesting and informative but in layman's terms......too short, though!
Silver Raven
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 07, 2008 Minnie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
a thought provoking book about the nature of evil and more specifically, young children. Generally speaking to acknowledge true evil in children is extremely difficult. What about other influences etc but perhaps the most chilling point to emerge for me personally is, as the author says, "Bad people are different." and we cannot deal with them within our own experiential parameters. This book was written pre -Colombine. I wonder how he would write his book now?
Natalie Gainer
The beginning of this book was sensationalized and made very broad statements and conclusions. However, when he got into the characteristics of sociopaths and psychopaths, it got much better. The end of the book discusses what we should do and they make a lot of sense! It's good for anyone to read that wants to do something about the shootings that have been happening. It's something and more than just gun control.
Very fascinating book by Jonathan Kellerman, who usually writes non-fiction. But, as a trained and practicing clinical child psychologist, he gives his opinions, and presents facts, regarding the rising psychopathic behavior of boys on our society. I recommend it, if only to gain information and insight into the minds of these violent children. But, I warn you, it did give me the creeps!
Mcrae Molatore
This small book is a glimps into the mind of a child psychologist and his opinion on how to handle young children who show early signs of psychopathic behavior, and what happens when we let them slip through the cracks. Insightful and a little scary. Also a bit academic (It was assigned reading for a psychology class in college) but a good read.
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Jonathan Kellerman was born in New York City in 1949 and grew up in Los Angeles. He helped work his way through UCLA as an editorial cartoonist, columnist, editor and freelance musician. As a senior, at the age of 22, he won a Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award for fiction.

Like his fictional protagonist, Alex Delaware, Jonathan received at Ph.D. in psychology at the age of 24, with a specialty in the t
More about Jonathan Kellerman...
When the Bough Breaks (Alex Delaware, #1) Deception (Alex Delaware, #25) Victims (Alex Delaware, #27) Time Bomb (Alex Delaware, #5) Silent Partner (Alex Delaware, #4)

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