"The Anatomy of Violence" by Adrian Raine (2013)
"I do believe that in tomorrow's world we can rise above our feelings of retribution, reach out for rehabilitation, and engage in a more humane discourse on the causes of violence."
Adrian Raine is a professor of Criminology, Psychiatry, and Psychology. Aside from this book he has written two others, all concerned with the psychopathology of violence.
At the outset I should say that if I'd known he was a psychologist I wouldn't have bothered with this book. I have long harbored a dislike for psychology and psychological methods, stemming primarily from (what I perceive to be) a lack of empiricism.
Let me put it this way: a mechanic, a doctor, and a psychologist observe a man drive a car down the street.
You ask the mechanic: "Why did the car move down the street?" and he'll tell you about the gas pedal, the fuel lines, the fuel injectors, the pistons, and other contrivances. Sure - he'll start with the gas pedal, but eventually he'll work his way back to the man driving the car.
Then you ask the doctor. "Why did the car move down the street?" He'll tell you about the driver's brain, his lungs, his heart, his circulatory and nervous systems, and other bits of anatomy. Sure - he'll start with the brain, but eventually he'll work his way back to the engine.
But the psychologist? Well, 9 out of 10 will argue that the man's brain wasn't a factor, and that the workings of the car aren't worth discussing. And if they does acknowledge the car, any discussion of the vehicle will be restricted to emotional states and predispositions!
I hope you'll forgive me for sounding crotchety. Let's just say that as a teacher I've had a long acquaintance with Psychology, and I wasn't eager to renew that acquaintance through this book. In my opinion psychologists - those fence-sitters of the academic profession - do little good and far more harm.
As for the book? Well, it presents itself as a study of the biological causes of violence, but there's a generous helping of bullshit to go with all the hard science. The author talks about brain imaging, genetic predispositions, nutritional factors, and resting heart rates, but in the midst of all that there are a host of dubious studies, and still more dubious conclusions.
To sum up, color me unconvinced by The Anatomy of Violence, even though some of the material on serial killers was interesting. It was this material, in fact, that got me through the book, and had it not been present I doubt I would have finished it.
"The Nature of Sex" by Dr. Carin Bondar (2015)
"NeuroLogic" by Eliezer J. Steinberg, M.D. (2015)
"Make Way for the Super Humans" by Michael Bess (2015)
"Homo Deus" by Yuval Noah Harari (2015)