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Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children

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This thought-provoking and timely book from a #1 New York Times bestselling novelist and noted child psychologist reveals the factors that often lead to explosive and shocking juvenile violence. “Ethically and morally, kids are works in progress. Throw in psychopathy and you’ve got a soul that will never be complete.” In this powerful, disturbing book, bestselling author and This thought-provoking and timely book from a #1 New York Times bestselling novelist and noted child psychologist reveals the factors that often lead to explosive and shocking juvenile violence. “Ethically and morally, kids are works in progress. Throw in psychopathy and you’ve got a soul that will never be complete.” In this powerful, disturbing book, bestselling author and noted child psychologist Jonathan Kellerman shines a penetrating light on antisocial youth—kids who kill without remorse—asserting that “psychopathic tendencies begin very early in life, as young as three, and they endure.” Criticizing our quick impulse to blame violent movies or a “morally bankrupt” society, Kellerman convinces us that it is the kids themselves who need to be examined. Carefully. How do children become cold-blooded killers? Kellerman warns that today’s aggressive bully is tomorrow’s Mafia don, cult leader, or genocidal dictator. Violently psychopathic youths possess an overriding need for power, control, and stimulation, and all display a complete lack of regard for the humanity of others. He examines the origins of psychopathy and the ever-shifting debate between nurture and nature, offering some controversial solutions to dealing with homicidal tendencies in children. As timely as today’s headlines, more gripping than fiction, Savage Spawn is a provocative look at the links between society and biology, children and violence. Kellerman’s sobering message will remain with you long after the last page is turned.


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This thought-provoking and timely book from a #1 New York Times bestselling novelist and noted child psychologist reveals the factors that often lead to explosive and shocking juvenile violence. “Ethically and morally, kids are works in progress. Throw in psychopathy and you’ve got a soul that will never be complete.” In this powerful, disturbing book, bestselling author and This thought-provoking and timely book from a #1 New York Times bestselling novelist and noted child psychologist reveals the factors that often lead to explosive and shocking juvenile violence. “Ethically and morally, kids are works in progress. Throw in psychopathy and you’ve got a soul that will never be complete.” In this powerful, disturbing book, bestselling author and noted child psychologist Jonathan Kellerman shines a penetrating light on antisocial youth—kids who kill without remorse—asserting that “psychopathic tendencies begin very early in life, as young as three, and they endure.” Criticizing our quick impulse to blame violent movies or a “morally bankrupt” society, Kellerman convinces us that it is the kids themselves who need to be examined. Carefully. How do children become cold-blooded killers? Kellerman warns that today’s aggressive bully is tomorrow’s Mafia don, cult leader, or genocidal dictator. Violently psychopathic youths possess an overriding need for power, control, and stimulation, and all display a complete lack of regard for the humanity of others. He examines the origins of psychopathy and the ever-shifting debate between nurture and nature, offering some controversial solutions to dealing with homicidal tendencies in children. As timely as today’s headlines, more gripping than fiction, Savage Spawn is a provocative look at the links between society and biology, children and violence. Kellerman’s sobering message will remain with you long after the last page is turned.

30 review for Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    “The noblest of all studies,” said Plato, “is the study of what man is and of what life he should live.” But what do we do when, long before boy becomes man, life turns dark and thoroughly wrong? Psychiatrist and mystery writer Kellerman wrote this brief work for a general audience in response to the Jonesboro Massacre, in which two boys in Arkansas—ages eleven and thirteen—killed five people at their middle school in a deliberate, calculated ambush. Almost exactly a year later, the Columbine H “The noblest of all studies,” said Plato, “is the study of what man is and of what life he should live.” But what do we do when, long before boy becomes man, life turns dark and thoroughly wrong? Psychiatrist and mystery writer Kellerman wrote this brief work for a general audience in response to the Jonesboro Massacre, in which two boys in Arkansas—ages eleven and thirteen—killed five people at their middle school in a deliberate, calculated ambush. Almost exactly a year later, the Columbine High School Massacre occurred. It is unfair, I know, but the fact that it is pre-Columbine often makes it appear ancient, like a text on military strategy that refers to WW I as “the Great War.” Certainly, we as a nation are now much better informed about juvenile psychopathy than we were then, and Kellerman often spends his time on matters that are self evident to the sadder but wiser Americans of 2015: that “psychotic” and “psychopathic” are not the same, that it is neither all “nature” or all “nurture,” that psychopaths are rarely rehabilitated and never respond well to psychotherapy, and that the influence of computer and video games is definitely not a major problem. The book is still powerful, though, when Kellerman calls the balls and strikes with no regard for the political leanings of the batter. He condemns conservatives for their rigid rejection of efforts to keep guns out of the hands of children, and he condemns liberals for their eager embrace of every rehabilitative and managerial solution (including strict gun control policy), while continually refusing to look into the cold eyes of the psychopath and accept the irremediable darkness of his unregenerate heart. Kellerman reserves his harshest words, though, for his fellow psychiatrists who continually manipulate the official psychological and pharmacological classifications in order to increase their draw on tax payer money for therapy and prescriptions, regardless of the effects this may have on their patients or the consequences for the greater world. His solutions? First the short term fixes. Pass laws banning all juvenile access to fire arms, and reinforce those laws with strict sentences and stiff fines. If a young person threatens murder or serious mayhem, lock him up, and if he commits murder, lock him up until he dies. For the long term? Do a better job detecting and stopping child abuse, and understand that a good orphanage—although far from the best environnment—is much better than a bad home. Then take the children who exhibit the most violent and anti-social behaviors and place them in “structured, loving environments, free of abuse, where punishment is non-corporal and used at a minuscule level,” places where rewards are given for instances of valuable social behaviors, such as “courtesy, empathy, and kindness.” “A School for Morality,” Kellerman calls it. I think Plato would have approved.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I'm not really sure how to rate a book like this. I gave it a 4 as it's not difficult to read and it stays on target pretty well. Like other books I've read on psychopathy there are really more questions than answers. Kellerman uses some examples of scary kids he is aware of (first person and otherwise) and it does what it's supposed to. It makes you aware of the fact that we have don't really know what causes psychopathy and it's more common than "we" like to believe. You will get some of the aut I'm not really sure how to rate a book like this. I gave it a 4 as it's not difficult to read and it stays on target pretty well. Like other books I've read on psychopathy there are really more questions than answers. Kellerman uses some examples of scary kids he is aware of (first person and otherwise) and it does what it's supposed to. It makes you aware of the fact that we have don't really know what causes psychopathy and it's more common than "we" like to believe. You will get some of the author's own "feelings' about the subject (including the requisite diatribe about guns. He has the "youths should be kept away from guns" view. The problem is that gun safety needs to be taught beginning young if people are going to be around guns. I learned guns weren't toys when I was 4 years old and [shock] never murdered anyone.) Anyway, interesting book (I read several books on psychopathy some time ago) I'd say if you're interested read the book. Children who are psychopaths are in many ways scarier than adult psychopaths... I mean kids. The book will by turns make you shiver and then slow everything down to discuss causes and reasons. Not great but interesting reading.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Valare Beauchamp

    This is the book I wanted written and everyone should read. My ex was a "savage spawn" and eerily similar to 'Tim' when he was a teenager. He did whatever he wanted. Bars on his windows, parents buying him cigarettes at 14, they weren't able to make him go to the emergency room after a car accident at age nine. After an incident with a pet they took him to a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with sociopathic tendencies. I found out what he was after 10 years of being used, conned, and manipulated b This is the book I wanted written and everyone should read. My ex was a "savage spawn" and eerily similar to 'Tim' when he was a teenager. He did whatever he wanted. Bars on his windows, parents buying him cigarettes at 14, they weren't able to make him go to the emergency room after a car accident at age nine. After an incident with a pet they took him to a psychiatrist who diagnosed him with sociopathic tendencies. I found out what he was after 10 years of being used, conned, and manipulated by the malignant soulless adult he became. Often I would be completely bewildered by his behavior and each time he played upon my empathy and made me feel guilty at not trusting him. I didn't see what he really was because I had no idea such a creature existed outside the walls of state prisons. Rest assured they are out there and the only thing they can change are their masks and their targets.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Abbie

    I don't know if I needed more pessimism. But maybe the perspective that "some are not fixable" is necessary. It scared me, the work that shows that those who are sociopaths at age 11 show no signs of recovery. It scared me, the potential that some poeople have for sustainable evil. People should have to apply to be parents.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jennn

    The book is way shorter than I thought it would be. Right off the bat I could tell it was more for the "general public" (i.e. diluting and adding buzz words). It irked me a little since I thought such an important topic shouldn't be dumbed down, but maybe that's just me. For the most part the author sounds embittered, pretentious ("scientists are seldom knowledgeable -or as effective- as they claim to be" and journalists are "scientifically unsophisticated" and they are often "gullible conduits" The book is way shorter than I thought it would be. Right off the bat I could tell it was more for the "general public" (i.e. diluting and adding buzz words). It irked me a little since I thought such an important topic shouldn't be dumbed down, but maybe that's just me. For the most part the author sounds embittered, pretentious ("scientists are seldom knowledgeable -or as effective- as they claim to be" and journalists are "scientifically unsophisticated" and they are often "gullible conduits" for the "supposed sages in white coats"), and tries far too hard to appear to be witty and worth the reader's praise. He even plugs his wife, "and my wife, Faye Kellerman (check out her novel Justice" in the middle of the book, which made me a little queasy. The book itself was mostly a refresher in things I already know with a few new things mixed in (like low heart rate vs. high heart rate and how criminals -in adolescence- have low heart rates). To me it didn't really focus on the subject as closely as I thought it was going to. The examples were few and far between, as well as the experiments (I would have like to have seen the experiment with the children wearing masks vs not wearing masks and how the level of violence and aggressiveness increased and more experiments like that). Bottomline: It was ok. For as short as it was, it was only ok. I thought the content was watered down and meant for the "general public", which is more an insult to the American public than an aid. I don't think I'll be buying this or reading it again.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    This book suffers from its own identity crisis: is it pop psychology? A serious, scholarly take on the subject? Or is it a stream-of-consciousness account of the author's private musings? Written by a clinical psychologist who just happens to be a prolific crime fiction author (or is it the other way around?), the book juxtaposes scholarly-style citations with punchy, buzzword-laden staccato sentences and exactly two case studies. For all the shade the author throws at scientists (who aren't as This book suffers from its own identity crisis: is it pop psychology? A serious, scholarly take on the subject? Or is it a stream-of-consciousness account of the author's private musings? Written by a clinical psychologist who just happens to be a prolific crime fiction author (or is it the other way around?), the book juxtaposes scholarly-style citations with punchy, buzzword-laden staccato sentences and exactly two case studies. For all the shade the author throws at scientists (who aren't as smart as they think they are, ZING!), there is an awful lot of personal anecdote and uncited, speculative psychological theorization. Basically, this dude took a break from his obsessive crime-novel-writing (self-confessed) to pen a small volume for the general public about a subject with which he has no genuine personal experience, but has plenty of polemic opinions about. Call me a cynic, but I can't think of an audience that would actually benefit from the wild speculation and vehement rhetoric to be found in this book. That is all.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    Savage Spawn started out strong but ended with a fizz. The author- striking me as one from the world of Academia is clueless in regards to human nature, and lives in a fantastical reality where 99.9%- if not ALL violent criminal children can be stopped by Government intervention. His ideas on preventing school shootings: Preventing access to fire arms to ALL children by mandating heavy-duty jail and monetary sentences on the parents that disobey. He also believes that children should be taken ou Savage Spawn started out strong but ended with a fizz. The author- striking me as one from the world of Academia is clueless in regards to human nature, and lives in a fantastical reality where 99.9%- if not ALL violent criminal children can be stopped by Government intervention. His ideas on preventing school shootings: Preventing access to fire arms to ALL children by mandating heavy-duty jail and monetary sentences on the parents that disobey. He also believes that children should be taken out of violent- or "rotten households" and placed in orphanages, group homes, and "warm, loving foster care". Once again, another dimwitt solving the problems of 21st Century America by stripping citizens of their constitutional rights to benefit the whole. Not only would this not solve the ROOT of the problem- but it doesn't even make sense to anyone with a basic knowledge of humanity throughout history. There have always been evil people- and they will never cease to exist. However, if you are to look throughout past civilizations, and to third world countries, you'll notice that as a civilization caves to depravity- more and more "nuts" come out of the wood work. The solution to school shootings is not psychological pussy-footing- it's common sense solutions. Solutions like complete, healthy, loving families that teach their children the value of human life. Solutions like giving all teachers a license to carry a loaded firearm(what- you don't trust them? You trust them to teach your kids 8 hours a day, but not with a gun?). Finally, the root of the problem: America needs to regain it's moral backbone and common sense. When this happens- then you will see violent crime drop. Not disappear, but drop. -Ryan

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mike (the Paladin)

    I'm not really sure how to rate a book like this. I gave it a 4 as it's not difficult ti read and it stays on target pretty well. Like other books I've read on psychopathy there are really more questions than answers. He uses some examples of scary kids he is aware of (first person and otherwise) and it does what it's supposed to. It makes you aware of the fact that we have don't really know what causes psychopathy and it's more common than "we" like to believe. You will get some of the author's o I'm not really sure how to rate a book like this. I gave it a 4 as it's not difficult ti read and it stays on target pretty well. Like other books I've read on psychopathy there are really more questions than answers. He uses some examples of scary kids he is aware of (first person and otherwise) and it does what it's supposed to. It makes you aware of the fact that we have don't really know what causes psychopathy and it's more common than "we" like to believe. You will get some of the author's own "feelings' about the subject (including the requisite diatribe about guns. He has the "youths should be kept away from guns" view. The problem is that gun safety needs to be taught beginning young if people are going to be around guns. I learned guns weren't toys when I was 4 years old and [shock] never murdered anyone.) Anyway, interesting book (I read several books on psychopathy some time ago) I'd say if you're interested read the book. Children who are psychopaths are in many ways scarier than adult psychopaths... I mean kids. The book will by turns make you shiver and then slow everything down to discuss causes and reasons. Not mgreat but interesting reading.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Neal

    Very thought provoking, research-based volume on the possible causes and treatment of violent children. Speaks of children are mentally ill and who are psychopaths. It differentiates from those who are "crazy" and those who are calm, cold killers. Jonathan Kellerman's training and work as a child psychologist give weight to his assessments and make me want to re-think the stance we, as voters, make on the penalties for crimes committed by these children and later adults. Tough to read emotionall Very thought provoking, research-based volume on the possible causes and treatment of violent children. Speaks of children are mentally ill and who are psychopaths. It differentiates from those who are "crazy" and those who are calm, cold killers. Jonathan Kellerman's training and work as a child psychologist give weight to his assessments and make me want to re-think the stance we, as voters, make on the penalties for crimes committed by these children and later adults. Tough to read emotionally but important. This book is a volume of the Library of Contemporary Thought series.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cara

    One of my New Year's Resolutions was to put down crappy books instead of finishing them, so...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Kempster

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The author is very big on being punitive and using punishment to deter crime. He also speaks to psychopathy as if it’s a majority of criminals. It is proven that paying for more welfare and education reduces crime and poverty. He spoke of imprisoning people over preventative or rehabilitation methods. Whatever your beliefs are about what we should do in terms of psychopathy the notion that preventative measures other than a harsh punitive system work and work better than our current system anywa The author is very big on being punitive and using punishment to deter crime. He also speaks to psychopathy as if it’s a majority of criminals. It is proven that paying for more welfare and education reduces crime and poverty. He spoke of imprisoning people over preventative or rehabilitation methods. Whatever your beliefs are about what we should do in terms of psychopathy the notion that preventative measures other than a harsh punitive system work and work better than our current system anyway.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    I don't think that this book is for your average Joe reader. I would definitely put this one in the psychology category and only for those who are looking to find out more about ODD, CD, and even psychopathic youth. Kellerman paints a vivid and eerie picture of what it is like to interact with a child psychopath. The way they interact in a dominating way even with individuals whom they should have some respect towards. What I'm still debating is the whole nature vs. nurture philosophy on this one I don't think that this book is for your average Joe reader. I would definitely put this one in the psychology category and only for those who are looking to find out more about ODD, CD, and even psychopathic youth. Kellerman paints a vivid and eerie picture of what it is like to interact with a child psychopath. The way they interact in a dominating way even with individuals whom they should have some respect towards. What I'm still debating is the whole nature vs. nurture philosophy on this one. It is strange because in the beginning of the book, Kellerman discusses how he was unsuccessful along with other psychologists to create change in many of the possible psychopathic children they encountered. Yet at the end of the book he discusses how behavior modification, planned ignoring, and positive attention can all create a change within the child. I would like to read more, or discuss this with anyone who has some knowledge on the topic. I still do not know what camp I'm in.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brian Newberry

    I LOVE this book. This is a NON-fiction study of "conduct disorder" (juvenile psychopaths.) Holding a PhD in psychology, Kellerman knows of what he writes. SAVAGE SPAWN is excellent! Kellerman recounts his own clinical experiences, as well as his own commentary on kids whose cold lifestyles make grim headlines (e.g. Colorado school shootings). SAVAGE SPAWN gives vivid insight to lay readers. MOST of Jonathan Kellerman's books are murder mysteries, featuring recurring characters LCSW Alex Delaware I LOVE this book. This is a NON-fiction study of "conduct disorder" (juvenile psychopaths.) Holding a PhD in psychology, Kellerman knows of what he writes. SAVAGE SPAWN is excellent! Kellerman recounts his own clinical experiences, as well as his own commentary on kids whose cold lifestyles make grim headlines (e.g. Colorado school shootings). SAVAGE SPAWN gives vivid insight to lay readers. MOST of Jonathan Kellerman's books are murder mysteries, featuring recurring characters LCSW Alex Delaware who consults with his best friend LAPD Detective Milo Sturgis.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tgordon

    So I’m not going to read this author again. This real life book has sealed my opinion. I’m allowed to my opinion so don’t judge. Do I think that killing is correct-oh no but do I think that some people are just evil-no I don’t. This author seems to feel that based on environmental issues that some people are just going to be killers. He further elaborates that poor people and people of a certain mental and specific issues will be killers. I cannot in good faith teach my children what he’s preach So I’m not going to read this author again. This real life book has sealed my opinion. I’m allowed to my opinion so don’t judge. Do I think that killing is correct-oh no but do I think that some people are just evil-no I don’t. This author seems to feel that based on environmental issues that some people are just going to be killers. He further elaborates that poor people and people of a certain mental and specific issues will be killers. I cannot in good faith teach my children what he’s preaching. Sorry. I just don’t believe.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    As sensational as the title of this book is, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Recommended by a child psychologist friend, it was a great intellectual study of violent children (and adults). I especially enjoyed the topic of media violence. I was surprised that Columbine was not included, although other school-related shootings were used as case studies, albeit not in depth. Very interesting and topical. Different from what I normally read, but I'm glad I did.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    2 1/2 stars Gets pretty technical which is okay when I'm in a brainy mood. The author was attempting to establish his grounds with extensive research but I wanted more focus on stories of kids not the symptoms of future adult violent offenders. I guess I should have read the description better. Not a bad book if that's what you're looking for.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Frank Spencer

    This book presents a point of view about aggressive children. The suggestions are to get children out of environments in which they are not nurtured, keep them away from guns, intervene as early as possible, and change maladaptive patterns of behavior.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leashia Hoehn

    This was an excellent book by someone who has dealt with disturbed children and could see the writting on the wall. i thought it was very insightful and a bit scary!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Black

    I read this as part of my research into juvenile detention facilities for my WIP, and found it fascinating. In fact I listened (audiobook) to it twice.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Yuly

    Terrible book. The author posits that murderers who are minors should be imprisoned for life with no possibility for parole. Constantly talks about violent minors in despairing and dehumanizing ways. Claims a client of his was a psychopath after only meeting with the kid twice, and tells the kids pediatrician to beware (unprofessional much? Breach of confidentiality much?) Repeatedly contridicts himself, saying that violent media is not the culprit, but then states that society needs to stop glo Terrible book. The author posits that murderers who are minors should be imprisoned for life with no possibility for parole. Constantly talks about violent minors in despairing and dehumanizing ways. Claims a client of his was a psychopath after only meeting with the kid twice, and tells the kids pediatrician to beware (unprofessional much? Breach of confidentiality much?) Repeatedly contridicts himself, saying that violent media is not the culprit, but then states that society needs to stop glorifying violence. Rejects the idea that societies problems creates psychopaths, and instead posits that we need to look purely at the individual (but also contradicts himself on this repeatedly). Seems to suggest that some people are born evil, and that once violent kids hit a certain age, they are a lost cause. Claims that violent murderous children are of a "different" nature than us and the best thing to do is to keep them away from society as long as possible and, quote "lock them up until they die". Just to be clear, this is children we are talking about. The middle portion of the book has some interesting statistics and empirical analysis, but his conclusions for dealing with this population are a stretch and highly unethical. Even if his conclusions that said measure would be effective are correct does not make them ethical. Yes, imprisoning violent juveniles for life may reduce violent crime from that population, but is it right? I believe not. Everything this man writes in this book is done so in a highly unempathetic, dehumanizing, and arrogant manner, it almost blows my mind he has chosen to work as a therapist. As someone who works with aggressive children, I can guarantee this author is someone I would not want working along side me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Meyers

    Parts of this book was good (the fact based parts). However, the author writes A LOT about his own opinion on how to handle criminals, which greatly opposes my opinion as a forensic psychologist. Such as, “kids who kill should be locked up until they die.” He seems to think in good and evil terms, whereas I feel it’s more complex than that. Though I felt like this author knows a lot about child psychology, he is very uneducated about the flaws of the criminal justice system. (Such as the 3 strik Parts of this book was good (the fact based parts). However, the author writes A LOT about his own opinion on how to handle criminals, which greatly opposes my opinion as a forensic psychologist. Such as, “kids who kill should be locked up until they die.” He seems to think in good and evil terms, whereas I feel it’s more complex than that. Though I felt like this author knows a lot about child psychology, he is very uneducated about the flaws of the criminal justice system. (Such as the 3 strikes law, which sends more people to prison for life due to drug charges than they do violent crimes). Also, the author seems to think all murderers are psychopaths. This annoys me to no end. He does give good facts about studies done on psychopaths, but applies those facts to pretty much all killers, gang leaders and kids who kill. I couldn’t get over this. As a forensic psychologist who has explored psychopathy exhaustively, and who works as a mitigation investigator for the defense team regarding death penalty cases, I know first hand this is not the case! Again, I think the author knows a lot about child psychology, but needs some more education regarding forensic psychology and the criminal justice system.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Spinster

    I guess I was expecting something... more. Like, a bit more science and a bit fewer personal opinions and anecdotes. Although my opinion on the book might have been set quite early in the book when Kellerman seemed to state that all psychopaths should be executed or at least locked up for life. I realize it's a fairly dated book by now and studies in psychopathy have come a long way but the complete lack of willingness to treat psychopaths as people is appalling - especially coming from a psycho I guess I was expecting something... more. Like, a bit more science and a bit fewer personal opinions and anecdotes. Although my opinion on the book might have been set quite early in the book when Kellerman seemed to state that all psychopaths should be executed or at least locked up for life. I realize it's a fairly dated book by now and studies in psychopathy have come a long way but the complete lack of willingness to treat psychopaths as people is appalling - especially coming from a psychologist! I can't say I'm much the wiser after reading this book. I now know how one author feels about "evil" children personally, but I'm afraid I can't trust his expertise enough to form opinions based on Savage Spawn. Mostly I felt like Kellerman was there to just cash in on the devastation and shock at the right time, without actually supplying us with facts or studies.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Judy Frey

    Jonathan Kellerman is one of my very favorite novelists. But he is also a child clinical psychologist. He is a clinical professor of pediatrics at the USC School of Medicine and has also taught psychology at USC. I’ve had this book a long time before I read it. It’s amazing how he describes his work with antisocial, violent boys; kids who kill without remorse. Psychopathic kids have an incredible need for control, power, and intense stimulation, as well as a complete lack of regard for the human Jonathan Kellerman is one of my very favorite novelists. But he is also a child clinical psychologist. He is a clinical professor of pediatrics at the USC School of Medicine and has also taught psychology at USC. I’ve had this book a long time before I read it. It’s amazing how he describes his work with antisocial, violent boys; kids who kill without remorse. Psychopathic kids have an incredible need for control, power, and intense stimulation, as well as a complete lack of regard for the humanity of others. He describes these types of kids, the kinds of treatment that do and don’t work. It seems very pertinent at this time when we witness so many mass killings at the hands of children.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    This was an intriguing take on the "Nature vs. Nurture" debate that was refreshing in the fact that it argues both. Genetics most definitely have an influence on behavior. However, environment is just as responsible as DNA. I agreed with quite a bit of what he said, but not 100%. If you're seeking someone who thinks that people are able to be rehabilitated to functioning members of society no matter what their age or background is, this book isn't for you.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    What to do with teens who commit unspeakable crimes? Kellerman makes the case that they cannot be rehabilitated into society without taking unjustifiable risks. Rather, they should be identified early in life and incredible steps should be taken to socialise them. One of the main clues that a child may become criminally minded as an adult is a lack of response or emotion to childhood events.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Francisco J.

    The arrogance and extremely judgemental tone that the book takes are not productive at all, but rather a hindrance to the positive progression of viewing behavioral issues not as "evils" but products of deeper societal issues. It is a shame as a future social worker to see that someone with a Ph.D. in psychology ever wrote such tripe." Avoid this book at all costs.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I really thought this was going to be an interesting read. In my opinion, the author threw together unrelated and irrelevant facts, then made some very wrong (illogical) assumptions. The second star is solely for good grammar.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sophie Rayton

    Lots of thoughts and research on psychopathy in general then a bit (maybe a quarter?) about children in particular. It's an old book and I'm sure there's more research on the subject now, but this was still interested and informative.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    Very practical suggestions, not too difficult to attempt. Just a shame that nearly 20 yrs and countless tragedies have occurred since this writing and we are still debating the wrong issues.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Vincent

    Picked this up on a whim and I disagree with many of the conclusions that the author presents. Was hoping for something more scientific.

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