We explore 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, and a clarifying scientific approach to a topic that for centuries has been inadequately explained by religious doctrines.
Dr. Michael Stone is a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia. His specialty is personality disorders – most especially “borderline personality disorder.” But in recent years he has concentrated as well on the extremes of personality, as shown by persons who show antisocial, psychopathic, and sadistic traits. This led to an interest in the kinds of people committing murder – spanning the spectrum from jealousy murders to serial killers and torturers. Recently he served as the host of the Discovery Channel show, “Most Evil,” for which he was sent around the country interviewing serial killers and murderers of other types. This experience, plus his research over the past twenty years, led to his writing The Anatomy of Evil (appearing in July of 2009). The book explores the “why” factor: what are the inborn and environmental factors that cause certain people to commit murder and, at the extreme end, to behave with uncommon cruelty toward their fellow man. Modeled after Dante’s Inferno, the book progresses from the least to the most “evil” crimes, and contains a chapter devoted to recent contributions from neuroscience toward understanding the mind of the psychopath.
Dr. Gary Brucato is a clinical psychologist and researcher whose areas of expertise include psychosis, violence and other serious psychopathology. He is the Assistant Director of the Center of Prevention and Evaluation at the New York State Psychiatric Center/Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. He is a regular contributor to the academic literature, whose work aims to elucidate the potential role of early psychotic symptoms in violent behavior. He is widely consulted by professionals and patients throughout the country. His research group has recently acquired a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to study the relationship between early psychotic symptoms, and violent thoughts and behavior. The New Evil, which he co-wrote with Dr. Stone, is his first book.