A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain

By James Fallon

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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
nollie
Starts off well, but rambles a bit too much away from the intended points. Also gets repetitious at the end, to the point where I wondered if one chapter had been proof-read. An easy, quick read, but I would wait and get it at the local library, rather than purchase (Sorry the store)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
joel nelson
I am not a psychiatrist but am in a clinical health field. I read the book and then passed it on to a friend, a science "civilian" tp read. We both found Fallon's book to be most compelling, and for many reasons. First, the science and medicine presented is eminently readable and illuminating. He has captured the essence of modern medicine, psychiatry, and genetics both from a practical and theoretical viewpoint, and has beuatifully folded in important aspects of the law, criminology and public policy to provide an absorbing synthesis of what it means to be a human in the 21st century and beyond.

Above and beyond the social and scientific gems in his book, Fallon details some of the most intimate secrets of a life that on the outside is one of a stellar scientist, teacher and stable family man, but in a deeper view he affords of his mind and behavior, a truly dark set of forces in him. He surgically dissects his whole being for the reader, and then explains how he now is trying to piece it all back together, and in a most unusual way. This book will undoubtedly threaten the self security of some, their own mask on sanity, and perhaps professional and personal complacence. But for most, this book will be a joined spiritual journey, one shared by someone who claims to be so un-spiritual
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
harrietspecter
This malady is of interest to me as there are lots around. If you really want to know about psychopaths try find The Mask of Sanity by Herve Cleckley. It's out of print I think, but tells you all you want to know. Most writers about them, don't even know of him, but he's the one who knows it all.
Inside the Relationships of inevitable Harm With Psychopaths :: Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson (2011-06-01) :: The Men Who Stare At Goats by Ronson - Jon (2012) Paperback :: The Men Who Stare at Goats :: So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (2015-03-09)
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
obladi oblada
i read half of the book, but i already know i LOVE it!! this is very honest and real portrait of a personal traits of psychopathy, and there is just a lot to learn, the thing is i came to many of those conclusions from my own experence, and reading other books, and getting the confirmation form a scientist , a psychopath is great reward, and i must say i think he is beeing very honest there, and who can blame him ? I am fascinated how people 2000 years ago associated snake to evil, just like this book proves! In order to be fully functioning emotional creature you need to have "organ" for emotions, if you lack it you will be a psychopath or something else, this is what its called beauty inside! And its not written on anyones forehead, i just absolutely loved the book!!! its fascinating read, and really wonder why so many negative comments??......the author was really beeing honest there, and many of the people would not be able to be so honest.....this is irony of life, some psychopats actually say things honestly when they want it
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
daniel mongeluzi
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in psychology, particularly psychopathy. The author is quite intelligent and explains the neuroscience in a way that I could understand. However, there is something missing in this book. The author brings the reader to the edge of their seat with repeated promises of incredible stories to come to prove his psychopathy, but they never really emerge. Still, definitely worth a read.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
dani grillo
Now I understand why my husband acts the way he does... j/k. Actually this book explains in detail the different brain functions and what areas do what, I'd go into detail, but sadly that information was thrown out of my head to make more room for work crap. Anyway, it did make me feel extremely intelligent while I was reading it, because during that time I could understand it. Oh, and it also talks about some guy who found out he was a psychopath by accident.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
jenny scherer
Plenty of detail, without getting too bogged down in the science behind it all. The fact that the story was very personal bought the book to life and made it interesting throughout. A great book for anybody interested in garden variety psychopaths and the world that they inhabit.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
elnaz seyedi
this is definitely not for your average reader. this is definitely a textbook, probably around year 3-4. It's highly complex, it comes with statistical analysis, what would produce it. As a primer for an upper class man, yes, for the average lay reader, no. At ti mes I found him hard to follow and the subject, I felt his use of verbiage could've been more assessable.

If you can wade through the mounds of compressed material, this book is for you. If you don't have the time or the command of advanced English language, start somewhere else. this book is worth its weight in terms of information. I question if the average reader can claim the material as presented as readily accessible.

having said that, the information contained here in is invaluable.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
nicole draeger
I bought this because I read an interview with the author and thought it sounded like some family members, and was curious.

In the end, I don't know anyone like this. The way he writes about himself reminds me of Donald Trump. I read this entire book and have no idea how his wife put up with him.

The most interesting thing I got out of it, though, was that the types of behaviors he talks about are much more common than we tend to think. We like to assume everyone is pretty decent and will avoid harming us, but a good number of people really don't care much whether the things they do are harmful to others.

I'd end with a warning that he's included a lot of very unsubtle and baseless dog whistle theories about the genetics in inner cities. His theory, that inner cities have higher percentages of genes that increase violence, has severe racial overtones, and he offers zero evidence that it's even plausible (I believe it is not, I don't think any of his assumptions are correct. He's never lived in the inner city, being a middle class east coast boy, and has never studied it). Based on the rest of his political leanings (he's a libertarian who doesn't care if people die of hunger, because they were inferior anyway), I suspect that this was not an accident.

Anyway, it was an interesting premise, but ultimately turned out to be a combination of dry neuroscience and onanistic self-reflection. Unless you're really interested in the subject matter, there isn't much here.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jessica gilmore
to manipulate us at the end haha. Having studied neuroscience, I find this book quite entertaining and amusing. it's different in its own way. I'd recommend it for a fun read in a plane. Overall pleasing.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
tracey dorst
Writer was so self absorbed, it was irritating. Also he could have said the same in much less time, there was too much fluff and repetition. A lot of what he uses as examples of psychopathy are normal variants of emotion and behavior. I believe he is trying to fit his actions to match his theories, why not just say his theories are not hard science?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bella
Dr Fallon is a skilled communicator. I knew this first hand because I was once one of his medical students. Our class voted him our favorite professor due to his uncanny ability to make the complex simple. It is a delight to find he is providing his insights and novel perspectives to the general public with this effort.

This examination of how brain anatomy and genes may influence personality is built upon disquieting discoveries the author made about himself in the course of his research into the brain. Jim Fallon's willingness to make personal observations is fearless and that humanizing narrative pulls the reader into the examination of how we become who we are.

The difference between turning out as a distinguished academic (vs axe murderer) is possibly a finer line than medical science had appreciated. The reader is sure to gain useful insights into people they know, and maybe even him- or herself. I am pleased to see my former professor continuing to educate in his entertaining way. Read this book.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
jake rigby
Just what we need, another human who uses a mental illness to justify their actions. People who have gone to the lengths this guy has to understand himself has no excuse for awful behaviour. In fact, people like this have a duty and responsibility to go out of there way to act right and not be dicks. I cannot believe I finished reading this garbage, it is literally a man saying, "Look how unique I am, everyone, come see." Nothing about this was fascinating or interesting, I am bored to tears. You are not unique, you're an untreated narcissist, untreated alcoholic, spoiled brat man-child and I pray your wife has had many affairs if not left you. But thank you for not being a murderer, so cliche.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
natalie westgate
Full disclosure: I am a colleague and friend of Jim Fallon, which means I got a double benefit from reading The Psychopath Inside. I learned much about the brain of a psychopath, but just as important, I learned something about why Jim feels compelled to live life as fully as humanly possible. As the reviewers note, his book is different. In his attempt to reveal the mind (or is it the "brain"?) of a high functioning socio-psychopath, Jim confesses to personal behaviors and attitudes that few others would. Contrary to what other readers presumed, this book is not an attempt to undertake "science." Rather, the book is a memoir of the life of a scientist who discovered that he has the problem that he has studied for many years as a neuroscientist, which means he offers two sources of insight.

The book raised a bunch of puzzles for me, one of which is this: How can Jim Fallon reconcile his self-professed libertarian political views with determinism (under which people's behavior is 100 percent determined by genetic and environmental forces outside of their control). Might not their political propensities also be determined? Maybe he can't help himself? Will have to raise the issue with Jim.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
darlynn
Fairly technical but readable view into the brain, I found this an interesting read. In the aftermath of yet another school shooting, yesterday at Arapahoe High in Colorado where I live, where I could see the emergency vehicles at Columbine years ago, and where my daughter knew one of the boys killed at the Aurora theatre, I hope there is something useful that comes out of this. Perhaps Dr Fallon can apply his techniques to members of the NRA and we can lock them up before they do more harm.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jtabz
While this was in some ways an interesting read, I don't think I'd recommend it strongly.

First of all, about half the book was filler, in the sense that it was incomprehensible "science" and theories on physical brain structure, which were illustrated badly and full of convoluted prose- and this comes from someone who got a science degree and aimed at vet school. Given the self-serving nature of the rest of the book, I suspect intentional obfustication, but the prose and illustrations were in no way clear enough for anyone who is not an expert to figure it out. Thus, filler.

I was more interested in his analysis/justifications of his own lifestyle and behaviors. I guess I am clearly NOT a psychopath, since his accounts of intentionally putting family members into possibly fatal danger because he thought it was fun or funny appalled me. Really? Risking someone who trusts you's life for sh*ts and giggles is a hoot???

It did give me some perspective on my abusive father, though. Both he and Fallon, in the end, DO NOT CARE.

Fallon did try earnestly to cast himself as the "good" psychopath: He says he's never murdered anyone (because violence doesn't strike him as fun)! and only damages people by his deeds because he doesn't care! Etcetera, ad nauseum.

Now, his account of his brainscape growing up was interesting; there was clearly brain miswiring that took several forms before it resolved into psychopathy.

I would only recommend this book- apart from the tedious brain-anatomy parts- to someone who has been hurt by a psychopathic individual, and is curious about what the inside of their head looks like- especially when they are trying to put a positive face on it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
larry linguist
The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain by James Fallon was an interesting pick for this project. The Psychopath Inside was published in 2013 by Penguin publishing company. James Fallon is an award-winning neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine. He is also a professor at that same university and teaches medical students, graduate students, clinicians in psychiatry and neurology and has been doing so for 35 years. Aside from teaching, he has a biotech company named NeuroRepair which has been successful in adult stem cell research. Throughout the book, Fallon describes his journey in studying the mind of various individuals with mental abnormalities; especially individuals with psychopathic characteristics. He later discovers that he fits the criteria and begins his investigation on whether or not he is an exception to psychopathy. Throughout my reading, I made various observations as to how Fallon possesses most of the characteristics needed to be categorized as a psychopath. I believe he is unaware of the damage he is capable of causing and he is, to a certain extent, bias towards his situation.
In the beginning of the book, Fallon begins by explaining that there is not a universal definition of what psychopathy is; there are only methods on determining the condition. He explains that psychopathy is linked to an antisocial personality disorder. This disorder appears roughly at the age of 15 and it is the persuasive pattern of disregard for and the violation of the rights of others. There are seven characteristics and an individual must have 3 out of 7 to fit the criteria. Fallon mentions a series of tests that involve the PET (position emission tomography) test, fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), genetic testing, behavioral/psychometric testing, and the Psychopathy Checklist Revise/Hare’s Checklist.
Once Fallon has established a sense of how and what makes an individual a psychopath, he continues his story by mentioning that a couple of his collogues asked him to study brain scans of people who were on trial for murder, had Alzheimer’s, PTSD, or ADHD. Through his research, Fallon decided to have his immediate family undergo one of the tests to use their scans as well as his own. Coincidently, he had mistaken one of the scans as being one of the psychopathic scans he had previously studied. To his surprise, that scan was his own. Once he had this information, he began doing research of his paternal lineage. He discovered that he comes from a family with a history of domestic violence and even murder. Fallon proceeds by making connections between his own experiences and the ones of psychopathic killers. As he continues his studies, he had developed further theories as to what a psychopath is and how they are formed.
Continuing his research on psychopathy, through his collogues, he had the ability to acquire various brain scans of diagnosed psychopaths. He compared them to the scans of individuals with ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease and realized that the scans presented the same pattern. He observed a loss of activity that extended to four different regions of the brain. The areas affected made up the limbic cortex which is responsible for regulating emotion. Similarly, the insula, which is the strip in-between the temporal cortex showed signs of damage. Fallon identified the areas as being related to anxiety and empathy. Furthermore, he took his findings and computed an explanation as to why psychopaths can remain calm and collected making them appear emotionless.
As he continued his investigations, he discovered that psychopaths have poor function of the ventral system but a normal or above normal function of the dorsal system. Which explains why psychopaths are good at planning and executing morbid and predatory behaviors while being manipulative. Having normal or above normal function of the dorsal system allows psychopaths to learn to appear that they care or feel guilt over their wrongs.
Fallon developed a theory that the pattern of decreased function across the prefrontal and temporal cortices were due to either prenatal development, prenatal maternal stress, substance abuse, or direct trauma. Most of these occur during child development, which is when children are more malleable. Fallon immediately began to make connections on whether or not he had experienced trauma as a child that could possibly explain his brain scans. His childhood and early adolescence seemed to be pretty normal, although he did develop OCD, there was not any outside trauma during his childhood.
The complexity of the book begins when Fallon mentions that DNA is a major component to identifying a psychopath and then stating that nature and the environment creates a psychopath. In chapter 5, Fallon first argues that being a psychopath is linked to genetics (possession of warrior gene). Later, he argues that the warrior gene does not dictate whether or not someone is more aggressive, he says that levels of aggressiveness vary depending on environment. Levels of aggressiveness is an overserved characteristic in psychopaths, which has the ability to affect predatory behavior. As the story continues, Fallon is constantly changing his perception as to what makes a psychopath. As a reader, this makes it slightly difficult to develop a universal definition of a psychopath. As previously stated, Fallon changes his criteria often and it appears to change as soon as he realizes he fits that criteria.
In the beginning, Fallon started by stating different factors that led to an individual being a psychopath. Some of the factors mentioned were, prenatal maternal stress, substance abuse, or direct trauma along with antisocial personality disorder; which are all characteristics he did not meet. After various brain scans, DNA tests, and other studies, Fallon concluded that he could not be a psychopath. Although his brain scans and DNA tests portrayed him as a psychopath, he believed there had to be other factors as to why he was different, “…although the specific type of brain damage or functional loss might be necessary to cause psychopathy, it may not be sufficient…” (Fallon, pg. 90). He predicted that euthenics had a major role in distinguishing a psychopath from a psychopathic killer. The more information Fallon came across, the more his theories changed to better suit him. For instance, when he realized that he possessed two major components that made him a psychopath, he continued digging to assure that he was not one. He did so by changing his personal definition of psychopathy. He would insist that he had not hurt anyone or killed anyone, therefore, there was no possibility of him being a psychopath.
Although he may not be a killer, he does fit the criteria he developed. Fallon is narcissistic and manipulative, which he confesses in chapter 7. He mentions that he has difficulty realizing when he has hurt someone and he makes it evident that he is a manipulator, “…I like to hear what people are about…but I often do this because I’m trying to find a way into them…” Fallon manipulates people he meets by listening to what they have to say to later get them to say what he wants them to say, “…how can I get this girl to say, ‘I want to have sex with you right now.’…”(Fallon, pg. 106). He proceeds by stating that he uses cognitive empathy or “theory of mind” to, essentially, get what he wants. As previously stated, Fallon believed that although he had the brain damage to be classified as a psychopath, he was not one. However, earlier in the book, Fallon mentioned that the scans of diagnosed psychopath’s revealed damage to the temporal cortex, specifically the insula, which is related to anxiety and empathy. Therefore, making it evident that the damage to his temporal cortex affects his social persona. Similarly, an above normal function of the ventral system would explain why he is manipulative.
Through chapters 5 and 10, Fallon makes it clear that he has psychopathic tendencies, the only difference is that he is not a killer. Having met every criterion, Fallon is a psychopath. He introduces his audience to what a psychopath is, how they are created, and later demonstrates how, unconsciously, he portrays the characteristics through his book. I believe Fallon provided a good base to further define a psychopath. Brain damage, DNA, and environmental/nature are definitely important factors that help build a psychopath. Although Fallon denies he is a psychopath because he is not a “bad person” his book states otherwise. I believe there are different aspects that makes a person “bad” or “good”. It is quite evident that he uses his qualities in bad ways, for instance, manipulation.
The way Fallon describes psychopaths, made it easy for me to believe that there are different stages during the process of diagnosis. Fallon insists he is not a psychopath because he does not kill, this provides a space to believe that one cannot be a diagnosed as a psychopath without having a history or killing(s). However, if Fallon meets the characteristics, does that mean he is not a psychopath? Or does that mean there is a spectrum regarding different forms of psychopathy?
Although this book made me develop many questions, The Psychopath Inside is a very interesting book. It provides enough information of the different factors that essentially create psychopaths. I strongly believe Fallon has the tools necessary to see that he fits his own definition and criteria. This book was written by a psychopath and that is evident in every page from start to finish. Fallon is aware of what he is capable of (hurting feelings, being manipulative, and appearing to be empathetic) but he is not aware of the damage he is actually causing to the people around him. It was quite interesting to see how he reacted to each of his discoveries as well as admitting to having various psychopathic characteristics and still managing to deny them.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
nimish batra
This book sounded like it might be worthwhile, but it turns out to be shallow and self-serving. Kind of like a...narcissist? This is really about how Fallon thought he might be a psychopath, but isn't. He has bi-polar disorder and is shallow and self-serving. That just isn't that interesting, although the diagnosis does seem to fit, based on this book.

There are a lot of personal details that he finds interesting ("I was Catholic School Boy of the Year!") but this ends up being a grandiose and boring autobiography. He never tells us what his score on the Hare checklist really is (then the book would be too short!), but he does tell us that he did many things that endangered other people, doesn't really care about people, and "almost" cheated on his wife many times. Oddly, his wife did not blurb this book. I wonder what this guy thinks "almost" means? He tells us that many, many, people find him incredibly charming. Really?

Since he turns out not to be a psychopath, but he thought his PET scan indicated he was, you would think he would revisit the issue of just exactly what a PET scan can really tell us about psychopaths. However, since he isn't really interested in that, you never get the follow up. What IS he interested in? Getting attention, making himself looking good, and money.

Diagnosis: self-aggrandizing jerk who wrote a mediocre, over-hyped book.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
drury
One cannot overstate the degree of self-absorption author Jim Fallon has for himself as principal subject in "The Psychopath Inside." In short, Jim Fallon is really hooked on Jim Fallon.

Nevertheless, this is a worthwhile and compelling read. Fallon is a thoughtful and serious neuroscientist who knows much about the human brain and human behavior. His narrative of the brain and its regions is done in an artful way that makes it understandable to a general reader. He offers up enough neurology and brain chemistry for readers to learn essential facts without overwhelming his audience. Real neuroscientists as well will gain from reading "The Psychopath Inside." This is not pop psychology.

Many of the behavioral characteristics of people who could legitimately be labeled as "psychopaths" will be recognized by general readers. Fallon identifies these characteristics in general. He then gets personal and specific by pointing them out in himself, matching his brain scans to show how he himself rather strikingly fits the pattern. It is a both a journey of self-discovery and a confessional. Along the way, Fallon learns a lot about himself that in his role as a scientist, he had not previously detected.

"The Psychopath Inside" gives readers a lot to think about.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cybersandee
Can't really review this as it was purchased for a gift. Package arrived timely and in excellent shape. It is a Christmas gift for my grand daughter and she researches what she reads quite well (she has a degree in Psychology) so I would assume it is a book worth reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
sarah jones
Fallon describes himself as a “borderline psychopath” (p. 5), and I’ll take his word for it although I am not entirely convinced even though I read the entire book. It’s a fascinating read for sure. He’s the kind of guy, psychopath or not, who when young broke the law, behaved recklessly, drank too much, dissed his friends, etc. And when older cheated others including his wife while always and foremost looking out for number one amidst a façade of charm, wit, and playfulness, masking a Machiavellian intelligence.

He confesses to this and more actually, but there is something so likable about him that allowed him to overcome his often unsocial behaviors and become a success by almost anybody’s standards. He is (or was) a research neuroscientist at the University of California, Irvine. He has been married to the same woman for 46 years and they have three children and five grandchildren.

Here’s a sample of how he sees himself (from page 153):

“Fortunately for those around me, my intentions are rarely malicious. In other words, I don’t get my jollies from doing harm to other people; I simply don’t feel that bad if I happen to hurt someone while in the pursuit of my own goals or even amusement…I know when I’ve unintentionally hurt somebody’s feelings or embarrassed them. But I haven’t much cared…”

Just a sample…

There’s a lot of information in the book about psychopathology in general. He talks about Robert Hare’s twenty question test for psychopathology. From my point of view the problem with the Psychopathy Checklist, Revised (PCL-R) test for psychopathy is that anyone taking the test can fake it. (You can find it on the Web and take it yourself.) In most cases it’s easy to know which answers are psychopathic and which are not. To be valid the answers would have to be candid. Hare says for the test to be valid it must be administered by a professional. However I don’t think that would be sufficient in many cases. A professional who has intimate knowledge of the person taking the test would give the most accurate results.

I consider the test (and similar ones) more accurate in diagnosing the Anti-Social Personality Disorder as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) than in identifying psychopaths. As Fallon points out there is no diagnostic disorder of psychopathy in the DSM, and there are plenty of very learned and experienced people who doubt that psychopathy exists. For those who believe psychopaths walk among us there is disagreement about whether a psychopath is a different kind of person or that it’s just a matter of degree. My feeling is that at some point a preponderance of psychopathic traits and behaviors, like a phase transition in physics, will identify a different animal altogether, someone like Saddam Hussein, Bashar Assad, Stalin, Hitler, et al. without the power. My further belief is that there are people born with the kind of psychopathic neurology that Fallon recognized in his own brain scan who with perhaps only a little help from the environment are natural born psychopaths. There may be other people with quite a bit of the DNA coding for psychopathic behavior who never become people we would recognize as psychopaths.

Furthermore there are non-violent, almost benign psychopaths who are very hard to identify unless you have a personal relationship with them. They will be at best a drag on your life and at worst they will do you grievous economic or psychological harm. I’ve known a couple of non-violent psychopaths. They can be identified through their entirely selfish behavior and through a certain inability to understand what normal human feelings are about certain behaviors. They sometimes tell off-color jokes that are actually cruel and horrific, and they don’t realize it. They may or may not be charming but they are manipulative and backstabbing. They will reveal eventually that they care nothing for anyone but themselves and those who are valuable to them.

One thing that needs to be emphasized is that Fallon is not your typical psychopath. It cannot be said often enough: stay away from psychopaths. At best they will do you no good and at worst they will kill you.

Even though Fallon wrote this for his own amusement and financial gain, this is a valuable book for the reader interested in psychopathology and its alternative moniker, sociopathology.

--Dennis Littrell, author of “Dennis Littrell’s True Crime Companion”
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
katie murray
The Psychopath Inside is a one of a kind memoir published in 2014 by James Fallon. The author, a recognized neuroscientist of 40 years, shares his expertise in brain science, specifically of psychopathy. Happily married with 2 kids, James Fallon devotes his time and energy conducting research and teaching at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. Analyzing the brain scans of psychopaths as they compare to “normal” individuals, James Fallon makes a remarkable discovery that his own brain scan resembles the brain of a psychopath. From start to finish, the course of this text follows the steps Fallon took to understanding what makes a psychopath and what does that mean for him? Is he what the brain scan suggests?

James Fallon begins by stating his reasons for publishing The Psychopath Inside and by reflecting on his initial understanding of what constitutes human behavior. Fallon claims his purpose for The Psychopath Inside was to shed knowledge on psychopathy and straighten out common misunderstandings of it. Fallon wanted to share his knowledge and make use of his research and theories. This, he says, compelled him to write the book. Before discovering that his brain resembled that of a psychopath’s, Fallon was convinced that humans were unable to control their behaviors and the individuals they would become. He compared humans to machines about which little is known, but all of which, he believed, was predetermined. Throughout the course of his research, Fallon’s conviction transforms. He learns that external factors, specifically one’s environment plays a critical role in development. In his own words, a “nurturing environment can overcome a lousy deck of cards dealt at birth.” For this reason, Fallon believes he did not become a psychopath. His loving and supportive upbringing saved him from a dark fate.
Before coming to this conclusion however, Fallon proposes a definition for a psychopath, forms his own theory of psychopathy, and reveals personal experiences that saved him from what he believes he was predisposed to becoming, a psychopath. According to Fallon, psychopaths are violent, unstable individuals who lack empathy and thrive on manipulation. They present with a poor-functioning orbital prefrontal cortex and anterior temporal lobe. In his “three-legged stool theory,” Fallon describes 3 factors he believes are responsible for psychopathy; the brain’s physiology, genes, specifically the warrior gene, and early childhood abuse. Together, these factors essentially guarantee a psychopath will develop. Considering Fallon’s brain scan, which revealed an underactive orbital prefrontal cortex and anterior temporal lobe as well as Fallon’s aggression-linked genes, Fallon was only one factor away from becoming a psychopath. As a result, Fallon concludes he is a “prosocial psychopath” who is of benefit to society. Furthermore he credits individuals like himself for keeping “humanity vibrant and adaptable – and alive.”

The Psychopath Inside was an interesting read and related to my introductory neuroscience course without a doubt. However, I would probably never have finished had it not been required. James Fallon is an intriguing and highly intelligent man, but his inflated self-perception, lack of empathy for those closest to him, and impulsive behavior make James Fallon very irritating and hard to tolerate. Fallon explains “I don’t get jollies from doing harm to other people; I simply don’t feel bad if I happen to hurt someone while in pursuit of my own goals or even amusement.” He goes on to say, “I’m always in search of a thrill or good time, and I’ve been known to put other people in compromising positions all for the sake of a little rush.” When Fallon’s wife was diagnosed with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, Fallon “engaged in a series of flirtations” with other women. How could anyone even think of flirting when your wife is sick with cancer? What’s worse, Fallon justifies his actions with his borderline psychopathy. The man has guts. Fallon also enjoys boasting about his importance and success. For example he delights in recalling his family’s remarks of him as “a beautiful toddler,” “Catholic Boy of the Year for the diocese of Albany, New York,” and a “five-sport high school and college athlete.” Throughout the book, Fallon tries to establish that he is just a regular guy who makes an unbelievable discovery, yet he does the opposite by blowing air up his ass and making himself sound extraordinary.

All in all, there is still much to be researched and learned about psychopathy. What is understood is in part thanks to James Fallon who re-emphasized the significant influence of brain physiology, genes, and the environment have on who you become. Above all, Fallon discovers nurture is essential to development.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
yasmine selim
I thought this book would be interesting and insightful. After reading to the halfway mark I realized the author is the type of person that speaks solely for the purpose of listening to himself speak. This is one of the dullest books I have ever read. I found absolutely zero pay off for reading it. The only possible upside is I did expand my vocabulary as the author is very articulate in his dribble of self worship which is this book. The entire book is just the author droning on and on and on about himself and all his many "accomplishments". Seriously, somebody validate this guy already so he doesn't feel the need to write again. The only reason I picked this book up is because they really talked it up on an interview he was on one of those news channels. He must have paid for the interview.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
chris eisenlauer
A masturbatory exercise in self aggrandizement.
Not interested, not interesting.
I'm shocked this was written by a doctor...it was so boring to hear about this narcissistic man's life without nearly enough about his diagnosis.
Skip this one.
Read The Sociopath Next Door instead.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mikes
Two Thumbs Up: Exploring the Brain of a Killer
James Fallon is an honored neuroscientist and professor. He was raised in a loving family who supported him academically, socially, and emotionally throughout his life. Fallon’s relatives and friends identify him as a lovable, straightforward, friendly prankster throughout his childhood and adolescence. As an adult, he continues to attain all these characteristics and share them with his wife and three kids. Be as it may, how can a successful, law-abiding research scientist and family man, have brain functions similar to those of psychopathic criminals? James Fallon shares this shocking discovery in his memoir The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain. He highlights what it means to share similar traits with those of a dangerous killer, and the circumstances that contribute to actually becoming a dangerous killer. Throughout the narrative he clearly communicates his discovery and analysis, and also explains his personal idea about what factors influence psychopathic behaviors. In addition, he gives the reader an understanding of psycho-diagnostic concepts and tools to better follow his life story.
Fallon shares the uncomfortable story of how he came to acknowledge and accept certain characteristics within himself that did not result in criminal or immoral behavior, but that were still distressing to his friends and family. Fallon takes the reader through an informative and personal journey as he explains: neurological features, genetic causes, environmental and developmental influences of psychopathy, with recollections of his personal and familial past. He begins by taking the audience back to when he was a young teen. In junior high, he developed obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) that depicted itself through an obsession with religion, which then became an obsession with symmetry, and also with hand washing. Unfortunately his troubles did not stop there. Fallon takes the audience to his first year of college and during this time he was afflicted by other odd disorders. Although his obsessive behavior decreased, he began to experience shaky hands and panic attacks. So when does Fallon transition from having sensibilities to a lack of empathy and self-control that is associated with psychopathy?
As Fallon describes his first two years in college, he clearly illustrates his loss of social awareness and empathy. Fallon built and blew up pipe bombs, stole things such as cars, had constant interactions with alcohol and drugs, and even admits to breaking into houses. He also describes a rough relationship with a priest who would call him “evil” during class. It becomes obvious to the reader that being involved in such activities does not correlate with being a lovable and friendly prankster but instead a delinquent. However Fallon makes a clear connection to the PCL-R (Psychopathy Checklist, Revised), also known as the Psychopath Test or Hare’s Checklist. Fallon does a great job of introducing this concept to the reader and explaining how this scale relays to his behavior during the beginning of his collegiate career. This psycho-diagnostic tool consists of twenty items, each of which is scored 0, 1, or 2. These scores designate whether the psychopathic trait is not present (0 points), partially present (1 point), or definitely present (2 points). A person with a score of 40 is an absolute, definite psychopath. Fallon explains that blowing up pipe bombs, stealing things, and breaking into houses was at the time the cultural norm. He was solely considered a prankster. Because of this, Fallon receives a score of 20, instead of 25. Based on Fallon’s justifications, I don’t find the PCL-R a reliable tool to classify an individual as psychopathic. I am left with unanswered questions such as, what is the underlying factor that changes a score of 1 to a score of 2, or vice versa. It is no longer a cultural norm to break into houses, blow up bombs and steal cars, so what would be the score given to the individuals who do take part in these activities? If these individuals are categorized as psychopaths, are underlying third variables such as age, gender, race, income, etc., taken into consideration? Despite my curiosities, it became more apparent to me why Fallon described himself as a “prosocial” psychopath.
Fallon considered himself to be prosocial because most of the things he did were positive to other people. He supports this claim by telling the reader about his involvement in charity, and leadership roles. But what triggered him to reach out as an aid to other people? A predominant agent of socialization, family. Towards the middle of Fallon’s story, he reveals an idea that supports the development of a healthy adult. He establishes his three-legged stool theory where three components are necessary in creating a psychopath. The first leg is the typical brain activity pattern of a psychopath; the second leg is attaining specific genes such as the MAOA “warrior gene” which triggers the individual to easily become aggressive. Lastly, the third leg is childhood abuse. It then becomes clear to the reader that although there is a nature and nurture relationship, Fallon has never experienced abuse as a child. Instead he learned positive behaviors from his family. Fallon’s insights led me to relate these learned behaviors to neuroplasticity, the brains ability to learn and adapt. Isn’t that exactly what Fallon’s brain did? Regardless of his genetic make-up, his brain learned the values and morals of his family. Through Fallon’s explanations, I was able to get a better understanding of how his neurological features, genetic causes, environmental and developmental influences made him a “prosocial psychopath”.
The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist’s Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain, is engaging throughout the chapters, and I truly enjoyed it. This memoir gave me a new perspective to what contributes to being a psychopath. It would’ve been difficult to obtain this new point of view if Fallon did not clearly explain his analysis, experiences, and ideas. I am amazed by how much influence your environment has on the ability to trigger certain behaviors. It’s informative, engaging, and it kept me interested. This is definitely a book I would recommend.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
daisie
Terrifying tale of life seen by a self-described Psychopath Lite from the inside out. Filled with justifications for criminal, social and psychological crimes against his own family, colleagues, and people unfortunate enough to cross his path.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jennifer evans
That is, I don't care much about the author, and I wouldn't give him a science writing of the year award. The way he goes on about himself gets tedious. The parts about the brain and various conditions are the most interesting but lack enough examples for the lay reader. The book promises to be his personal journey, and it lives up to that promise. His personal journey, though, just isn't all that compelling.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nini
Every profession has its unique perks: you work at Disney Land and your family and friends get in for free; you work at Best Buy and your otherwise lower middle class apartment is furnished with a home theater/arcade setup that is so sweet you could probably charge nerdy teenagers admission; and if you're a charming and intriguing well-known neuroscientist, you get to have your brain and genome studied and interpreted by top doctors and scientists around the globe.

Perhaps one day we will all have the opportunity to have our own brains scanned and picked apart to unearth the fascinating neuroanatomy that would help explain and enlighten our life's experiences. (Of course, only when such technology is so widely available could the interesting musings of this book graduate from the realm of the anecdotal.)

An entertaining book! I recommend it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
fara sub7i
Welcome to the club. The bad news and the good news.

We are in a very strange period of human evolution. We are beginning to understand how our brain functions as humans never have before. We are living longer and longer, we are solving problems that have tormented humanity for millennia, yet as fast as we solve problems, we create new ones.

We are the only animals on our planet with full self-awareness and knowledge of our own mortality. We are the only animals with a sense of “right and wrong,” which we refer to as ethics or morality. Nature has no sense of morality. My wife and I live in the woods on an island in Puget Sound. Occasionally I see an eagle or hawk or owl snatch a bunny or squirrel and consume it. The eagle swoops; the bunny hides and runs; neither thinks this is right or wrong. It's just nature. Only human beings say “Don't murder, torture, rape; help out people less fortunate.” (sometimes as they performing these very “sinful” actions they ostensibly oppose). I am a life long atheist; if you consider yourself a good person (and probably you are, most of the time) because of Jesus or whatever, “good on you,”

As far as I can tell, the reason most of us behave reasonably well most of the time is that we possess a feature in our nervous system called “empathy.” I have felt pain; I am reluctant to inflict pain. If I see someone in pain, I am impelled to relieve their suffering if I can.

About 1% of human beings lack empathy. We call these people psychopaths/sociopaths. Some of them are very bad people, who kill other human beings because it satisfies desires or because it is amusing and entertaining to do so. The vast majority of “paths” are not killers; they just steal, seduce, and torment for similar reasons. Some people do bad things for other reasons. Sometimes people do them out of desperation. My family had a car stolen from right in front of our house once; when we recovered the vehicle we learned that the thieves were a desperate homeless couple. I have also had at least three serious run-ins with non-violent psychopaths during my life time. Two were bosses (one a high administrator of a large, much admired public library system); #3 was a long-time ecological cult leader and career swindler, whom my wife and I defeated in an immense civil trial – proxy for a criminal trial – that went to the Oregon Supreme Court.. All three of these “paths” fooled me (and many others) completely. “Paths” can be very, very dangerous people.

I found this book fascinating, well written, and to the extent I could evaluate the rather technical scientific information included, accurate and persuasive. I have a personal reason for liking the book rather similar to the author's for writing it. He recognizes that he is a psychopath by a “blind test” of his brain scan. That's the “bad news.” The “good news” is that because of fortunate events in his childhood and upbringing he learned how to avoid his “genetic doom” (the murderous trail of psychopathic murders in his genealogical record going back to King John (the psychopathic king of England who unwillingly signed the Magna Carta). There is bad stuff in my psychopath make up as well. I doubt that I am a “full out” psychopath (I have some empathy) but I am a relatively “cool and unemotional” person whose psyche vibrates with some resonance with psychopath harmonies. Your mileage may vary.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
rhonda
a self confession book about author's background and his possible relationship with psychopath..but psychopath are more violent inclined than sociopath..what he described himself as potential psychopath is of his neuroscan similarity with the real psychopath. James spent 70% of his book explaining how the brain works and the characteristics of psychopath's neuro pattern...frankly speaking and from behavioral aspects: I myself qualified as psychopath (mild) and surely a sociopath. A good book to read..
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
wendy harrison
The Psychopath Inside revolves around a single event. It began in 2004, when the author, a retired professor of anatomy and neurobiology, was asked by controversial psychiatrist Daniel Amen to analyze PET brain scans of about 50 killers. Amen had characterized some of his subjects as impulsive killers; others, as psychopaths. When Fallon did a blind analysis, he was able to distinguish between the two groups based on the psychopaths' pattern of brain activation. Primarily, they showed a diminished level of activity in the limbic cortex, which regulates emotion. (While not giving precise data on his accuracy, the never-modest author assures us that he "nailed it.") The following year, he discovered by happenstance that he himself shared that same abnormal pattern of brain activity.

Unfortunately, this hook is far too thin to sustain an entire book. So we end up with a convoluted mishmash: Lengthy expositions on brain anatomy and genetics, alternating with superficial musings on his own personal history. We learn that he is a cad: He partied too hard in college, he flirts with other women, he disappoints friends and colleagues, he puts family members in dangerous situations. Worst of all, he confesses, he just doesn't care. All this, he conveniently blames on his defective brain.

But, as every student of science knows, an "N of 1" does not a convincing case make. We don't know the base rate of this type of brain functioning among the normal population, or among academics or researchers such as Fallon. All we know is that his brain was similar to some unspecified proportion of 50 brain scans of killers. He attempts to bolster his case by dredging up the murderous proclivities of some far distant ancestors, saying they likely carried the "warrior gene" that programs for violence. But who among us, at least those of us of Anglo-Saxon heritage, couldn't find murderous ancestors if we searched hard enough? Again, we aren't privy to the base rates of violence among males in the times and places that his ancestors inhabited.

The current cultural obsession with psychopathy has allowed Fallon to make a second career out of his accidental discovery. With his superficially compelling first-person account, he has become a self-anointed expert on the psychopathic brain, appearing on TV shows including an episode of the CBS crime series Criminal Minds. His rigid genetic determinism fits well with the dark and fatalistic vision of humanity that dominates in this era of mass incarceration. By rooting criminality in biology, the iconic psychopath foregrounds intrinsic evil, thereby marginalizing social problems and excusing institutional failures at rehabilitation. (For more on the debate over the nature of psychopathy, see NPR's "Expert Panel: Weighing the Value of a Test for Psychopaths.")

Ultimately, The Psychopath Inside demonstrates Fallon's intimate familiarity with brain circuitry and functioning. But it also exposes his startling ignorance of the larger historical and cultural forces that influence human behavior.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
bodhi
The Psychopath inside starts out with a neurologist who is doing research on what makes criminals commit crimes. He has done several hundred scans and when he finally does on his family he notices something strange. Dr. Fallon takes us through his life journeys starting from his childhood and explains his opinion and research on nature vrs nurture. Dr. Fallon is not perfect and has his ups and downs and compares his psychopath nature with the murders in jail and explains in his book how he is different. There are a lot of medical terms and some I had to reread to understand but in all I was satisfied with this book.
I do believe this book is also used to help explain why he acts the way he does with his family a form of apology and going on about how he loves his wife even though he indicates a lot of infidelity.
It is a book about himself and how his brain functions.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
louise knoverek
The author concludes that psychopaths are needed to push forward progress in civilization. Fallon implies that psychopaths are the reason why social progress towards a civilization happens.

In my opinion the world would be a better place to live if there were no psychopaths. Psychopaths are not needed for any occupation that civilizations have. The reason why psychopaths dominate over people who can feel emotion is because most psychopaths are greedy aggressive people who are incapable of feeling shame or embarrassment. Psychopaths can easily out compete the people who feel emotions for high status jobs but that does not mean that people who feel emotions lack intellect.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
becky lee
I actually purchased the Audible version. I think ol James did us a favor in letting us into the mind of a bona-fide psychopath. Face it, there's a lot of them out there, and I am thrilled that some of them manage to keep things cool. I would probably really like the guy (already do). It is important to understand that there are different brains out there. If we can understand that, maybe one day, people who to change will be more able to. I mean, how much better would life be if you could understand that some of your odd thoughts are just from the way your brain functions and that you don't have to take them so seriously... I appreciate the way he described his detachment and I appreciate the way he described the dream about his wife. I am considering purchasing the Kindle version just because there is some hi-lightable stuff in there, in my opinion. But you know whose book I really want to read? His wife's. Thought this was good stuff, some of the best out there on psychopathy with an insider's point of view. Would like to see more from Mr. Fallon.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
stephanie schumey
I got the book from the library and don't know if I am going to buy it.

The book has its flaws--it's a little loose, a bit fluffy--but it provides something I have never seen before, a statement from the inside of the viewpoint of a psychopath. Fallon is unlikeable because he's totally self centered, and people like that cannot like others so they are not very enjoyable to be with. I grew up in the care of a person who was sick like Fallon, and I caught important gleams and insights in his self-reporting of his feelings, or lack of them. Most interesting to me is the combination he reports--without any apparent distress--of not really caring about other people but hugely enjoying getting even with them secretly, years after the "offense" for which he is retaliating. This deeply concealed sadism rings true to me.

This is a report from an alien world. Valuable for that reason.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
fahimeh
The book reads like a run-on sentence. It's part memoir, part neuroscience text, and totally boring. I found myself skipping through large portions of the book and I finally gave up half-way through.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
britt
Reading this book is an extraordinary experience. As the author, a brain researcher of international stature, unpeels his own life and psyche, going deeper and deeper as the memoir proceeds, something happens to the reader. As he admits to us some of the most self incriminating thoughts and experiences ever written by a professional or family man, especially one with such impeccable credentials and credibility, I found myself examining my own life in a similar way. He subtly coaxes you into reflecting on your own own motivations. It is a revealing and for me even freeing read. His personal story is weaved with sophisticated but remarkably accessible scientific descriptions on the brain, psychiatry, genetics, and medicine as a whole. I felt like I received the wealth of a year of advanced science education in just a thoroughly enjoyable three hours it took me to read it. This guy is a fantastic teacher, and one who may challenge what you think and feel about your own life.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
susanne clower
I could use a few less self-congratulations within this writing. The author would do well to get out of his own way a little bit more and communicate the general message. I couldn't finish. I only would finish this book if I wanted something to negatively vlog about.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
laura a
Subtitled "A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey Into the Dark Side of the Brain", this book resonates between technical explanations of brain function and personal recollections.
The keystone here came when Dr.James Fallon, Professor of Neuroscience at USC, Irvine, was asked to review brain scans of psychopathic killers during which project he discovered certain consistent abnormalities belonging to killers. Subsequently he reviewed a series of scans from his own family in conjunction with a different project and found one that fit the psychopathic profile. It happened to be his.
Some years ago James Ellroy wrote "My Dark Places", a startling frank memoir, seemingly sparing the reader nothing about his criminal, sexual or creative life. Here, Fallon is also brutally frank about some of his life experiences and his journey into self discovery, or rather, perhaps, self recognition. Unlike Ellroy's frenetic prose, Fallon writes clearly and wears the guise of a guy on the next bar stool.
We have had books by cardiac surgeons who underwent the surgery themselves, books by alcohol and drug therapists who themselves succumbed to addiction: books that told about experiences from the point of view of experts in the field. This is much the same, and it is a fascinating and heartening journey.
Frequently one feels a major breakthrough is about to be made, a startling connection joined, and yet this never really comes to pass. If Dr. Fallon continues on the path he has set for himself, we may see Volume II which will provide answers to vital questions. Until that time, this effort illuminates the inner world of psychopathy in addition to alerting readers about those strangers who walk among us.
Highly Recommended
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
chandan dey
As the product description says, 'A Neuroscientists Personal Journey....' and that's exactly what you get. I did this, I did that, this happened to me, me me me me and I know all about this and that! A very personal journey that I could just not stick with. I soon found myself skimming through the text looking for interesting bits which were few and far between. Very disappointing!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
dagny
So I actually really enjoyed reading this book. I'd say the guy is clearly NOT a psychopath. So if you're trying to learn about psychopathy, then this book is very misleading. I'd actually say that the developmental pathway that ultimately led to this guy's perceived lack of empathy is OCD or something like OCD (marked by hypomania). This book really feels like a culmination of a lifetime of having OCD/hypomania - this is like his last hurrah with OCD, trying to finally anchor who he is in some sort of clearer diagnostic framework. for instance, he mentions on occasion that he has struggled with the reality of uncertainty (i.e. death and religion and such), and when he was younger, he wrestled with good-versus-evil stuff - it feels like landing on the diagnosis of "psychopathy" (or "prosocial psychopathy") is a manifestation of finally accepting that he is just "bad", and that his badness is attributed to his neurological wiring; this explanation thus dampens the threat of dealing with the uncertainty of why he is the way he is (i.e. if he recognizes the fact that, yes, he might be capable of empathy, then he is thrown out into the world of uncertainty again... and then he also would be held accountable for his behaviors - if he just says "nope, I'm genetically and neurologically wired for "psychopathy," then it is what it is)
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
kristen avey
At first was a lot of the brain biology - why spend pages explaining the 9 "Rubik's cube" sections instead of 3 diagrams? Then was about the author's realization that there are several criminals and killers in his family tree and that he himself has some symptoms of psychopathy. I don't get why his family sticks with him. He sounds like a real creep.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tony latham
Thanks James. While not a Psychopath myself, I'm definitely hypomanic. Your book made me feel better about the way I am. After reading it and another called the Hypomanic Edge, I'm more determined than ever to achieve me professional goals and dreams.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
raquel fernandez
This book in all its intensity is pure perfection in the dynamics of psychopathy. It is in the view of a Scientific mind and the mind of a psychopath. Rather than taking the view of violent behavior, he explains the mind and how there are variants. A must-read for anyone who understands there is a beautiful complexity to the psychopath. -Carrie-
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
barry ozeroff
By TW

This is a fascinating book which combines a detailed analysis of the workings of the brain with an account of the authors examination of his own brain. He is brutally frank about his own behaviour which he attributes to the particular way his brain functions which is that of a psychopath. To those,such as myself,who have no more than a cursory understanding of the structure and functioning of the brain,the explanations are clear and thought provoking.
It will be fascinating to see if some of the conclusions he draws in respect of the development of aggressive behaviour are verified by further research. Jim Fallon has courageously written a thought provoking book which can be read with profit by both layman and specialist alike. Those responsible for penal affairs would do well to read this book. Indirectly,this book is also a great tribute to his wife of many years and to his family.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
mark bondurant
I don't agree with all of Fallon's theories, but I enjoyed his perspective. Who would someone could make brain science entertaining? I totally disagree with testing genetics at birth. The way that people parent has a lot more to do with who they are than what their child needs. Telling g someone their child may grow up to be violent or lack empathy would likely too often lead to the child being treated in a way that makes the prediction true.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cattivo91
Rare peek into the mind of a psychopath who is also an expert witness into the origin, nature, psychological impact, and physiology of his own lack of empathy. I found it a fascinating and VERY illuminating read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mridula
I generally read fiction and enjoy authors like Kathy Reichs, James Patterson and Sue Grafton. I like to throw in something different every few books. After seeing Dr. Fallon interviewed on 2 television shows, watching a TED talk online and reading the mostly positive reviews here, I decided to read this book for myself. Very pleased with this choice. Not only did I learn a few interesting things about the brain, but Dr. Fallon writes like he speaks, in a way that makes you want to keep reading. He makes the science easy to understand and adds just the right amount of humor. They say we all have a story to tell, and I thought his was fascinating to read. I will pass it along to my friends.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
tristan olson
Over the past 12 months I've come across a number of articles and books written where authors claiming successful medical employment status amongst other occupations, in conjunction with deficits they inherit, the suffering of the mind so to speak, good 'ol psychopathy. Well I say suffering and that's what one would understand this condition to be
as we understand it today being a biological deficit to the brain, when in actual fact most claim that it's an emotional strength serving to their benefit as a personal tool they can use against society as they please for personal gain or get to where they would like to get without feelings of guilt, nor remorse, and how they accomplish that. What disturbs me is that I have also noticed many reviewers admiring such claims, some wishing they could be just like them. A form of envy if you like, nothing other a psychopath would get pleasure out of most, the envy of others towards him. I'm kind of confused, why would one even bother reading a book like this? Is it the belief they"l gain a better understanding of this destructive condition. What makes them tick, how they feel while destroying the lives of others and gaining financial gain and admiration by the stupidity of their memoirs? I've studied psychopathy since 1995 and I find all these self proclaimed psychos, just that. Another step to please their inflated egos and narcissistic personalities. Sorry folks I just don't see what purpose this serves other than another trend currently floating around. Hey I'm a psychopath, check out my book and my deeds. Exciting indeed!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mishael
I found this read to be quite on point with a totally self absorbed personality that may be a psychopath. I had the misfortune of unknowingly dating a man who is ill. I personally applaud anyone who has the courage to not only face but to share their dis-ease.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
geecee
James Fallon tries to make a case for why having no capacity for feeling guilt, empathy and real love is a good thing. He gloats over the intoxicating charm of psychopaths, "Maybe an old maid who's been good all her life wants to have that one super-wild fling so she can feel she's lived her life fully." Yeah, that's right Jim, risky behavior with a psychopath can be a real fun time. This is a most disgusting, self-serving work cloaked in the guise of scientific and self discovery.

I will write a longer review later, when I can stomach it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
minna cohen
I picked this book up after recognizing the author's name from a TED talk and BBC special on evil I had seen.
He seems to know exactly how far to go into detail, but without losing the essence of the science.
Fallon in a well known neurobiologist of international stature and to say that he is eclectic doesn't really
capture how far and wide he has delved into the human condition. The conclusions may rattle
the cages of some quarters, including those clinicians who have not kept up with modern genetics
and neuroscience. There are those in big pharma and the legal profession who will
feel uncomfortable about what Fallon says. But to me, he's probably right. My one query is how did
his wife let him publish this book???
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
susannah goldstein
Professor Fallon has written a charming, if self-indulgent, autobiographical case study. This self-described “silverback neuroscientist” shares his extensive knowledge of neuroanatomy, neurochemistry and genetics in a series of clear, succinct, accessible tales describing his own journey through a number of psychiatric challenges. His reflections on parenting, friendship and, yes, world-peace are intriguing and compelling. Read it, at least twice, to expand your understanding of how our complex brains function.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nichola lynch
Dr. Fallon spoke to our women's group about 15 years on his breakthrough work on adult stem cells. He was coming to my area to give a talk at the medical university. He had been a recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship and Sloan Scholarship, as well as numerous teaching awards, so I felt confident he wouldn't disappoint our group. And, he didn't. I had the opportunity to read the book manuscript a year ago. He has an unusual knack for taking a difficult and complicated subject and breaking it down so nonscientific people like myself can understand.

How incredible it must have been for Dr. Fallon to see that his brain ( frontal lobe region ) is exactly like that of the serial killers he has studied. Most people would have kept that a secret, especially a eminent scientist such as Dr. Fallon, but after years of investigation and introspection, he decided to share his findings and kept it brief. Way too many authors go on and on, just to fill pages.

Dr. Fallon gives hope to those who worry that either they or loved ones are psychopaths, by showing that while they may have the biology of a psychopath, good nurturing early on will most likely counter that biology. He points out that only 1 percent of women and 2 percent of men are true psychopaths. Three things must line up - brain connections, genetics and a loving upbringing - to create a psychopath. The perfect storm as it were.

Cathy Marino, retired principal
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
tryphena
The perfect combination of a fascinating story and the science behind it all. Fallon takes an honest look at his life and relationships in light of his recent discovery that his brain scan resembles the scans of psychopaths.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kpow
Professor James H Fallon has written a rarity: a serious science book that's fun to read, in the tradition of Stephen Jay Gould , who always was careful to link his essays to his own experience and to write as to a friend.There are no pious mailmen with ropes in the trunk or axe-wielding mutants here: just a smart, accomplished man who accidentally but significantly found a way to look at his work through the prism of his life, and vice-versa. The neuroscience and neuropsychiatry, big words for big subjects, are presented with precision and clarity, and by the end an attentive reader will know a lot about how our brains work and a lot more about the ways in which we are all shaped by genes, environment and the people around us, as well as our own actions. And she'll have read a family story well told by an author with a pulse. Fallon does not find the line between what we view as ordinary human behavior and the pathological, but he has done an excellent job of showing us where and how to look, assembling information from a variety of sources, by no means limited to his own work. At the same time he reminds us, in a concise and thoughtful way, that we aren't islands, and shouldn't want to be.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
musicalla
The book became boorish quickly. How long can one stomach the author touting his inappropriate behavior, carousing, probably being unfaithful to his wife, drinking and drug use? I am glad that I got this from the library and did not buy. Is sounded quite interesting, hearing the review, but turned out to not be even close.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
karlen
Too often, the media enjoys sensationalizing "opathy" as psychopathy sounds very intriguing. Unfortunately, all too often, the use of the clinical word psychopathy is often confused with sociopathy, as the author here too confuses. Psychopaths lack the objects relations that sociopaths lack (warms, empathy, etc), but also have an underlying psychotic process (ie hearing or seeing things that are not there). In the TV show Dexter, the main character is a true psychopath. Dr. Fallon, from his personal account, is a sociopath or possible antisocial, unless there is an underlying psychotic process. A caution to would be authors, in the realm of psychiatry and psychodynamics, please use the correct terms when attempting to sell to the public. For a better understanding of correct diagnosing, read Dr. Blackman's "Get The Diagnosis Right."
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
dudley
I realize this is not a scientific term or description but the one word that comes to mind after reading, "The Psychopath Inside..." is "icky". My second reaction, about half-way through the book, was that I've been had. Given what has recently taken place in New Jersey and the Fort Lee lane closures coupled with Mr. Fallon's disclosure of his 50 inch waist line I struggled with a cognitive blending of Messrs Christie and Fallon.

I will probably donate this book to the local library after inserting a cautionary note.
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yomna el khateeb
That is, I don't care much about the author, and I wouldn't give him a science writing of the year award. The way he goes on about himself gets tedious. The parts about the brain and various conditions are the most interesting but lack enough examples for the lay reader. The book promises to be his personal journey, and it lives up to that promise. His personal journey, though, just isn't all that compelling.
Please Rate A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey into the Dark Side of the Brain
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