In this “unmissable book” (The Guardian), an internationally renowned forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist demonstrates the remarkable human capacity for radical empathy, change, and redemption.
What drives someone to commit an act of terrible violence? Drawing from her thirty years of experience in providing therapy to people in prisons and secure hospitals who have committed serious offenses, Dr. Gwen Adshead provides fresh and surprising insights into violence and the mind. Through a collaboration with coauthor Eileen Horne, Dr. Adshead brings her extraordinary career to life in a series of unflinching portraits.
Alongside doctor and patient, we discover what human cruelty, ranging from serial homicide to stalking, arson or sexual offending, means to perpetrators, experiencing firsthand how minds can change when the people some might label as “evil” are able to take responsibility for their life stories and get to know their own minds. With outcomes ranging from hope to despair, from denial to recovery, these men and women are revealed in all their complexity and shared humanity. In this era of mass incarceration, deep cuts in mental health care and extreme social schisms, this book offers a persuasive argument for compassion over condemnation.
About the Authors
Dr. Gwen Adshead is one of the UK’s leading forensic psychiatrists and psychotherapists. She has spent thirty years working in Broadmoor, England’s largest secure psychiatric hospital, with groups and individual patients convicted of serious violent offences, as well as with people in prisons and in the community. Gwen has a Master’s degree in medical law and ethics and has published several academic books and over one hundred papers and commissioned articles on forensic psychotherapy, moral reasoning and ethics, and attachment theory. She is a founder member of the International Association for Forensic Psychotherapy and has been a visiting professor at Yale University and Gresham College in the UK.
Eileen Horne is an American author and dramatist currently based in California, with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of London. Following a long career in the UK as an independent TV drama producer, over the last decade, she has written an eclectic mix of historical nonfiction, journalism, Italian translation, as well as several original dramas and literary adaptations—including contributing to a BBC radio drama series about an entirely fictional female forensic psychiatrist.