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Summary

A BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week.

A perspective-shattering work into the minds of violent criminals that reveals profound consequences for human nature and society at large.

Serial homicide. Stalking. Arson. Gang crime. Who are the people behind these acts of terrible violence? What are their stories? And what is it like to sit opposite them?

Dr Gwen Adshead is one of Britain's leading forensic psychiatrists, and she has spent 30 years providing therapy inside secure hospitals and prisons. Whatever her patient's crime, she aims to help them to better know their minds by helping them to articulate their life experience.

Through a collaboration with co-author Eileen Horne, Adshead brings her work to life in these fascinating, unflinching portraits of individuals who newspaper headlines, TV dramas and crime fiction label 'monsters'.

Case by case, Adshead takes us into the treatment room and reveals these men and women in all their complexity and vulnerability. She sheds new light on the unpredictable nature of the therapeutic process as doctor and patient try to find words for the unspeakable. These are stories of cruelty and despair, but also of change and recovery.

In a time of increasing polarisation, in the face of overcrowded prisons and devastating cuts to mental health care, Adshead speaks to our shared humanity and makes the case for compassion over condemnation, empathy over fear. The Devil You Know challenges what we think we know about evil. It is a rare book that has the power to change minds.

©2021 Gwen Adshead and Eileen Horne (P)2021 Audible, Ltd

What listeners say about The Devil You Know

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Loved this book.

Fascinating and thought-provoking. I only hope that lots of people can learn from this book.

9 people found this helpful

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Enjoyable, revealing, insightful

-There’s no such thing as a bad seed, just bad soil. -

This is a concept that will stick with me after reading this book.

It’s an interesting and insightful read, and certainly helps to give a different perspective on the “monsters” who commit violent crime. Looking behind the newspaper headlines and into the psyche of those imprisoned in secure hospitals, to see the person rather than the perpetrator.

I found the narration far too slow, so played it at 1.3x otherwise I think I’d have given up before the end of the first chapter, but I did enjoy that it was narrated by Dr Adshead herself, as the inflections and intonations were genuine and natural.

I work in mental health, so maybe I had a ‘special interest’ here. I don’t think that needs to be a prerequisite to enjoy the book though; anyone with an interest in others, in human behaviour, will find enjoyment in this book and hopefully will take a moment to pause the next time the tabloids blaze another family’s misfortune in sensationalised block print on their front page.

There is more than one victim in most crimes, and I think this book helps to demonstrate that the victims are not always just who you think.

And the perpetrators are people too.

6 people found this helpful

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fascinating insight into the wotld of forensic psy

i couldn't "put this down" this really interesting audio book! presented very well and leaves you with a feeling of compassion for both victims and perpetrators

5 people found this helpful

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Excellent

written and read with great insight, compassion and humanity. a must-listen if you are curious about what makes us human

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An excellent book.

I found this an engaging, informative and compassionate account of therapeutic interactions. Thank you to all involved.

4 people found this helpful

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On a par with The Body Keeps Score

One of the earliest references the author states is that 'we judge, because it's easier than thinking. The whole book is a series of case studies where the author becomes aware of her potential judgement and challenges them. The constant reflection on herself allows her to be more clinical, but emphatic. It's a hard read in places, but I felt rewarded at the end of the book.

3 people found this helpful

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Fascinating

I really found this book thought provoking. In fact, I have been harping on about it to anyone who stands still long enough.
I will always think of the quote “ there are no bad seeds, just bad soil"

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excellent book. very insightful and informative.

brilliant and informative 👏 really enjoyed and found the writer compassionate and interesting . a real eye opener into the world of forensic psychotherapy.

3 people found this helpful

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Open your ears and your mind

Absolutely beautifully written and narrated. I’ve always had a passion to learn more about mental health in the remit of my work as a speech and manage therapist in the adult population. This is far from what I experience in my line of work, but it has certainly given me food for thought in my attitude towards those I encounter.
Not only that but my personal enjoyment of watching and reading about “evil monsters” is greatly changed from listening to these stories/experiences. Would highly recommend!

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Awful - really dreadfully boring

The worst audiobook I have bought. Gwen Adshead pontificating. I was very disappointed and bored. My review is - don't waste your money.

2 people found this helpful