Social Media Icons

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

#allthebookreviews: The Anatomy of Evil by Michael H. Stone @prometheusbks #michaelhstone

The Anatomy of Evil
by Michael H. Stone
Prometheus Books


In this groundbreaking book, renowned psychiatrist Michael H. Stone explores the concept and reality of evil from a new perspective. In an in-depth discussion of the personality traits and behaviors that constitute evil across a wide spectrum, Dr. Stone takes a clarifying scientific approach to a topic that for centuries has been inadequately explained by religious doctrines. 

Basing his analysis on the detailed biographies of more than 600 violent criminals, Stone has created a 22-level hierarchy of evil behavior, which loosely reflects the structure of Dante's Inferno. He traces two salient personality traits that run the gamut from those who commit crimes of passion to perpetrators of sadistic torture and murder. One trait is narcissism, as exhibited in people who are so self-centered that they have little or no ability to care about their victims. The other is aggression, the use of power over another person to inflict humiliation, suffering, and death. 

What do psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience tell us about the minds of those whose actions could be described as evil? And what will that mean for the rest of us? Stone discusses how an increased understanding of the causes of evil will affect the justice system. He predicts a day when certain persons can safely be declared salvageable and restored to society and when early signs of violence in children may be corrected before potentially dangerous patterns become entrenched.

My Thoughts:

I have always been fascinated with how the human mind works - especially in the cases of abnormal psychology and what actually causes a person to be "evil" or how they can justify the actions they've taken - rape, murder, manipulation, etc.  Nature vs. Nurture has been a debate that's been going on for ages.  Can a human being be born evil?  There are cases of kids growing up in perfectly normal houses, with a normal social atmosphere that kill.  Are they crazy?  Were they born that way? Or what, if anything, triggered them?  

Michael Stone doesn't believe in the inherent "bad seed"... that people are born evil.  While there are cases that can be seen that way, if you look further, there seems to be a base of where their behavior came from and the author's theories are hard to argue with.  

I have done hours upon hours of studying serial killers/true crime.  I make no apologies for my morbid curiosity.  Stone not only references the big names that we know such as Manson, but also recounts up to 600 different cases - not just regurgitating them for our morbid brain food, but also providing theories about them as well. FASCINATING.  Simply. Fascinating.

I may not read much nonfiction, but when I do... it's almost always in this type of genre.  What do you believe?  Can people just be evil?  What's your definition of this word?  As society changes, what becomes more "acceptable" and how can we justify people's actions.  If any of this intrigues you, I highly recommend picking up this book and seeing how the author brings cases, logic and his 22-level hierarchy of evil behavior into the mix.  I surely will be side-eyeing and being even more skeptical of the human race.   So thank you, Mr. Stone... all jokes aside, you've certainly re-opened my interest into the psychology/psychiatry/neuroscience of human behavior. 

5/5 Stars

Jessica's Thoughts:

What makes a person evil? How does that differ from our perception of evil in today's society? Michael Stone outlines his research of some of the most high-profile killers within the pages of THE ANATOMY OF EVIL. I know that I've frequently wondered what went wrong or what happened to these high-profile serial killers (watching a lot of documentaries and reading about the killers will do that). Is there one specific thing that makes someone evil?

Michael Stone is a renowned psychologist, and former host of the Most Evil series on Discovery Channel, and has analyzed over 600 biographies on violent criminals. He has definitely done his fair share of research and has developed a hierarchy of 22 levels. There are specific personality traits that lead to crimes of passion, sadistic torture, and murder. The two common traits are narcissism and aggression. Some contributing factors - on their own or a number of them combined - can push people over the edge and lead to them committing these awful and unspeakable crimes. Heredity, adverse environments, mental illness, brain injury, drug abuse, and many others are considered to be the root causes of evil behavior. 

This book is one that really immerses the reader. If you're a fan of true crime or serial killers fascinate you, then you definitely need to pick this one up. Even if it's just skimming through to see the profiles on some of the killers he researched (these will not be the high-profile ones like Manson, Bundy, or Dahmer) The hierarchy was very interesting to read and see how all of his research came to these conclusions. This doesn't read like a textbook would - so it's not just a regurgitation of facts.

Overall, if you like nonfiction and true crime, then this is one I'd highly recommend. If you liked Most Evil, then this will be right up your alley. I found it truly fascinating and eye-opening to see what can contribute to evil and how the public perceives evil. 

I give this 5/5 stars!

No comments

Leave a Comment