RSS Feed

The Devil You Know: Stories of Human Cruelty and Compassion by Gwen Adshead & Eileen Horne




About The Devil You Know:

In eleven vivid narratives based on decades of providing therapy to people in prisons and secure hospitals, an internationally renowned forensic psychiatrist and psychotherapist demonstrates the remarkable human capacity for radical empathy, change, and redemption.

What drives someone to commit an act of terrible violence? Drawing from her thirty years’ experience in working with people who have committed serious offenses, Dr. Gwen Adshead provides fresh and surprising insights into violence and the mind. Through a collaboration with coauthor Eileen Horne, Dr. Adshead brings her extraordinary career to life in a series of unflinching portraits.

Alongside doctor and patient, we discover what human cruelty, ranging from serial homicide to stalking, arson or sexual offending, means to perpetrators, experiencing first-hand how minds can change when the people some might label as “evil” are able to take responsibility for their life stories and get to know their own minds. With outcomes ranging from hope to despair, from denial to recovery, these men and women are revealed in all their complexity and shared humanity. In this era of mass incarceration, deep cuts in mental health care and extreme social schisms, this book offers a persuasive argument for compassion over condemnation.

Moving, thought-provoking, and brilliantly told, The Devil You Know is a rare and timely book with the power to transform our ideas about cruelty and violence, and to radically expand the limits of empathy.


Praise For The Devil You Know:

“A fascinating, erudite, and beautifully written deep dive into the nature of evil. The Devil You Know makes the case for radical empathy and reminds us that all human beings are capable of darkness, and of light.”
—Christie Watson, author of The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story

“An extraordinary book. Shocking, sad and absolutely fascinating.”
—Sebastian Faulks, author of Birdsong

“This is a myth buster of a book—crammed with compelling, constructive, candid and compassionate insights into the criminal mind.”
—Val McDermid, author of Still Life