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The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain
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The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  3,232 ratings  ·  444 reviews
“The last scan in the pile was strikingly odd. In fact it looked exactly like the most abnormal of the scans I had just been writing about, suggesting that the poor individual it belonged to was a psychopath—or at least shared an uncomfortable amount of traits with one....When I found out who the scan belonged to, I had to believe there was a mistake....But there had been ...more
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published October 31st 2013 by Penguin Group USA
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Ambre The way he talks about himself has to be seen to be believed. He talks up his every accomplishment as though he's the only person in the world who eve…moreThe way he talks about himself has to be seen to be believed. He talks up his every accomplishment as though he's the only person in the world who ever accomplished them, and then blows off things like stealing cars and setting fire to furniture as adolescent hijinks.

He doesn't write anything for us to relate to. It's a fairly dry analysis of himself done by his greatest fan, himself. He doesn't, for example, ever describe how his behavior affected his wife other than to say she got mad at him. Not that she was hurt, she was angry. Things like that.

He, makes it clear that he has enjoyed life and describes people who like him, but doesn't really talk about people who have been harmed by his behavior because he thinks he's never harmed anyone (even though he admits to stealing cars, breaking into homes, emotional adultery, revenge, etc). (less)
Deb M. I found it very poorly written. The title was used to suck in readers who might hope to gather some insight, not happening! I would have been far more…moreI found it very poorly written. The title was used to suck in readers who might hope to gather some insight, not happening! I would have been far more tolerant had the first portion of the book, genetics, brain chemistry, and brain structure come to an end and then moved to the author's life and his observations. Instead, we got more of the "I am brilliant", "I was not all that bad", and "I was a pretty good Dad even though once my children were born I did not care for them much."(less)

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Claudia Putnam
This guy is a complete jerk, as you might imagine from the title. As a narcissist, he not only doesn't mind this, he kind of likes the idea that he's an asshole. Once you get past that, he does happen to know a few things about brain science and about genetics. For the most part, he explains them quite well. He also knows a bit about mental illness, neurotransmitters, and how psychotropic medications refine communication within the brain. You often hear that we have no idea what causes mental il ...more
Pamela D
Oct 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction, reviewed
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first review copy that I considered not reviewing in a very long time. I kept going back and forth about what I was going to do. In the end, I decided to review it, because I figured maybe someone might want to read it for all of the reasons that I did not like it. This sounds very ominous, huh? Let me explain. In the "real world," I am a graduate student studying clinical psychology. All I have left to do is to
Nov 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
James Fallon is a neuroscientist, a professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine at University of California, Irvine. He is an active researcher in brain structure. He discovered telltale attributes of brain scans (PET, fMRI) that indicate that a person is a psychopath.

So, it was with shock and some degree of disbelief, when he found that his own brain scan showed that he, himself is a psychopath! And then, additional evidence came in that he is a psychopath. First, a relative did a genealo
Dec 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
This book should be called "Me, Myself & I" ...more
Sep 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially the science. I skimmed through some reviews and saw many people didn't like the book because they thought the author was full of himself and down plays the wrong he has done and the hurt he has caused others. Of course he is and has. If truly a psychopath (even lite or pro-social as he says) he literally cannot fathom empathy or emote it genuinely. What he says in the book aligns with much of what I've read about sociopathy and psychopathy, but he delve ...more
James Fallon is a neuroscientist who was conducting studies comparing brain scans of psychopaths vs. the "normal" population to see if there were any differences that would indicate a person's predisposition to violence of the most heinous kind.

To make the study valid, he needed a control group. Many of his family and friends volunteered to have the scans done for this purpose.

Imagine, if you will, that he is sitting as his desk working diligently on his study when he notices a scan that would i
Oct 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
The title should be "The Narcissist's Personal Journey into Cashing in on His Own Self-Indulgence". While maintaining that he has insight into his grandiose and self-centered thought patterns, the author has failed to recognize the degree to which he comes across as a boorish ass. He should have hired an editor to save him from himself---or (heaven forbid) maybe he did do that and the original draft was even worse.

Some of the genetic information discussed borders on interesting, but it is prese
Joy D
Non-fiction memoir from a research neuroscientist who inadvertently discovered his brain scan is similar to that of the psychopathic killers he had been studying. Fallon is married, has a family, and does not show a history of violence; however, he admits he possesses many of the traits of a psychopath, such as lack of empathy and remorse, unreliability, impulsivity, putting loved ones in danger for the thrill of it, lying, manipulation, and narcissism. He provides plenty of examples from his li ...more
Jason Koivu
Continuing my Halloween reads. I was afraid that there might be a twist, where I find out I'm the psychopath!
Jan 14, 2014 rated it did not like it
This could be a great book club read except that some of the members might buy the book which just seems wrong. Fallon pretty much spends a whole book telling us what a jerk he is. Buying the book rewards him for that. Stealing the book hurts the bookstores, not Fallon. Maybe take a copy out of the library. As a libertarian who believes it is just fine to let people starve, Fallon can't possibly approve of spending tax money on library books.

In any case, do not read this book alone. If you don't
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Overall - very interesting. For those that say this was a narcissist's memoir, I just have to say that it was a book about him, and his brain... so what were you expecting?

Publisher says:

The Psychopath Inside tells the fascinating story of Fallon’s reaction to the discovery that he has the brain of a psychopath. While researching serial murderers, he uncovered a distinct neurological pattern in their brain scans that helped explain their cold and violent behavior. A few months later he learned that he was descended from a family with a long line of murderers which confirmed that Fallon’s own brain pattern wasn’t a fluke.
As a scientist convinced that humans are sha
Nov 07, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Though I forced myself to finish this, it was agony. This guy's narcissism, evident on every page, was insufferable. As a tour of a "pro social" psychopath's brain and mind (I'd guess he has plenty more personality disorders in the mix), I couldn't wait for the journey to end. As he says, he does not care one whit for other people's feelings, and his every behavior is motivated by some perceived benefit he derives. Here's an example: as a Libertarian he felt compelled in the 1990's to refuse fed ...more
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book in short is not only phenomenal in its creation but draws conclusions about human nature that could revolutionize how we parent and teach our children. Every paragraph speaks to some condition in today's environment that could easily explain the host of flaws many of us see in the 'casual' parent. Its only flaw lies in the title. Granted it is entirely about one man's search for self-awareness after learning that his brain scan mirrored a 'psychopath's'. But the layman's approach to ex ...more
Jeff Raymond
The strange thing about getting multiple books about psychopathy in from the library is how quickly you get to see the differences in the styles of the books. Having read the M. E. Thomas one a few weeks back, reading a more clinical take was an interesting endeavor.

The hook with this book is how Fallon, while investigating other brain issues for things like Alzheimer's and such, inadvertently learned that his brain scan matched many society would consider to be psychopathic. This brought him fu
Lupita Reads
Oct 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
"Good grief, Mrs. O'Leary, other than that, how's your cow?"

Seriously this book was a wild intellectual ride for me. After reading it, I just had to read the acknowledgements and as listed there; there is truly a specific audience for this read. I really enjoyed the science aspects of the book. Fallon is very talented in explaining scientific theories etc, however like every great scientist can get carried away and can get you a lost. My advice, stick with the book anyways, it is truly interesti
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Most of the really good stuff here could be got from any general psychiatry text. What remains is engaging, self-absorbed and self-serving waffle.
Aug 22, 2014 rated it liked it
A neuroscientist finds out accidentally that his brain scan resembles those of murderous psychopaths. He’s shocked. After all, he’s a renowned scientist with wife and children and many friends and colleagues, not a murderer. He wonders what this means. He reads the literature on psychopathy, digs into his past, talks to his family and friends, and it turns out that he’s actually quite an asshole. Not all psychopaths are violent criminals. Most are “prosocial” non-violent types who lie and manipu ...more
Feb 07, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a fascinating book. Some of the scientific jargon and details about the brain I could have done without, and I would have liked more specific details from the author's life about how some of his psychopathic behaviors have affected him and others close to him. He's not the best writer. However, it was still good and worth reading, especially if you're interested in psychopathy and the nature vs. nurture thing. Fresh insights, etc.

And I have to give this book credit for really getting me
Oct 28, 2013 rated it liked it
I was so intrigued by the premise of this book, but overall, I never really got attached to the story. It's pretty apparent that this man is a scientist and not a writer. He may be brilliant, but he doesn't know how to capture the reader. There were just too many examples of him saying he'd done bad things without ever elaborating on what they were.
Pretty interesting. I puts tabs on quite a few pages, as I felt I was learning some pretty fascinating things. The author sounds like an annoying, narcissistic person to be honest, but I don't think he'd disagree with that. Overall, an educational read, but nothing all that memorable for me.
Sep 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: interesting, fact, science
This is a terrifying book. A neurologist who discovers he is a psychopath explains his condition and personality to us. While he attempts to justify, alleviate, and avoid blame and shame, his own observations reveal his true nature. To him, his young children were just "dolls", only after they grew were they interesting, and thus worthy of his time and attention. Later in life his children described him as cold, an emotional black hole. His friends, of which he had many (according to him), said ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
This guy sure is a dick.
This book is pretty fascinating. It definitely is more of a memoir than a general narrative on psychopathy, though it does have a lot of scientific moments in it. I think that if it had found a way to meet in the middle of being too personal and too dry I would have probably liked it more. At times it was uncomfortable in some ways just because Fallon fully admits to having very little empathy for others, and can be kind of flippant about it and the suffering of others.

But at the same time, for
Jun 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
Man, all I want is just an informative book about psychopaths. All I’ve been getting is narcissistic blowhards telling me about their own journeys. This guy has been the worst of the bunch. Yet another person trying to make a case for why psychopaths or sociopaths should be in society. Keep talking. I’m walking right on by.
Mirta Ćorić
Aug 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Pretty poorly systematized and organized for a scientist and at times, I found the level of detail in neuroanatomical explanations unnecessary. Also, some questions that I thought would be answered in this book were not addressed and some chapters felt incomplete. But overall it's an interesting read and a thorough insight into psychopath's brain that makes you think a lot. I was fascinated by degree in which some of our behaviors and traits can be so directly linked to processes and structures ...more
Loryn Kelley
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Despite popular opinion, I enjoyed The Psychopath Inside: A Nueroscientist's Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain. Working in the field of addiction, the topic tickled my fancy. As others have mentioned, the book focused on the author - it's a memoir. Love it or hate it, the book is written in the author's psychopathic perspective. Personally, I thought his personality added something special. After all, it's about diving into a psychopath's brain.

To me, the book read like an entert
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
James Fallon is a neuroscientist. While studying brain scans for research on Alzheimer's, he discovered he has the brain scan of a psychopath. Next, he discovers his family tree is full of psychopathic murderers. Lizzie Borden is one of his cousins. This part is really fascinating.

The author admits he is a narcissistic womanizer (but he has never hit his wife) and he is a psychopathic liar who lacks empathy. He provides plenty of anecdotes from his life to prove his point. He describes in great
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
How would you feel if one day you randomly figured out you are a psychopath? Would you think twice about it? Would it affect how you see the world?

What if you read some books on the subject and then you learned how to spot a psychopath and realized that many of the people you admire have most of the traits that would put them in the same category with some of the most horrible criminals that you've heard about? Would you tell everyone about it? Would anyone care?

What if you could study the peop
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
I received this book for free through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

This book is probably closer to 3.5, or maybe even 3.25, stars. But I just reviewed a couple of books that I really didn't like so I'm being generous on this one.

Overall this book had a lot of really interesting information in it. The author is obviously very knowledgeable about the subject.

I did wonder a lot about the intended audience for this book. A fair bit of the book is incredibly technical--I think to make it "readabl
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There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
29 likes · 5 comments
“People with autism lack theory of mind but not empathy, while people with psychopathy lack empathy but not theory of mind. Without empathy you can still have sympathy, though—the ability to retrieve emotional memories, including those that can predict what painful event is probably about to befall another person, and the will to help that person.” 8 likes
“Despite the controversy over whether psychopaths exist, psychiatrists generally agree that one of the defining characteristics of those we refer to as psychopaths is the lack of interpersonal empathy, what one might call a flat emotional playing field. Psychopaths may not hate, but they also may not love the way most of us would prefer to love and be loved. Psychopaths are usually manipulative, are champion liars, and can be quite glib and disarmingly charming. They don’t fear consequences the way most people do, and while they may react to the stress of being caught in a lie or violent act like anyone would, some remain cool as cucumbers. Even the most dangerous can appear jovial, carefree, and social at times, but sooner or later they will display a telling distance, a quiet coldheartedness and disregard for others. They are often impulsive, yet lack guilt and remorse, meaning they may invite you to join in on their reckless, even dangerous fun, and then shrug their shoulders if someone gets hurt.” 3 likes
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