Whether called black sheep, sociopaths, felons, conmen, or misfits, some men break all the rules. They shirk everyday responsibilities, abuse drugs and alcohol, take up criminal careers, and lash out at family members. In the worst cases, they commit rape, murder, and other acts of extreme violence as though they lack a conscience. What makes these men - men we all know, whether as faces from crime reports or as people close to us - behave the way they do? Bad Boys, Bad Men examines the mysterious mental condition that underlies this lifelong penchant for bad behaviour. Psychiatrist and researcher Donald W. Black, M.D., draws on case studies, scientific data, and current events to explore antisocial behaviour and to chart the history, nature, and treatment of a misunderstood disorder that effects up to seven million Americans. Black shows that the condition psychiatrists call antisocial personality disorder, or ASP, is not a myth but a very real problem that causes more pain to individuals and society than many commonly recognized psychiatric illnesses.
New evidence from genetics and neuroscience supports the long-held notion that extreme cases of antisocial behaviour are tied to biologic causes and that some people are simply born bad. Bad Boys, Bad Men summarizes recent advances in genetics, brain imaging and psychophysiologic research that shed light on ASP. The disorder's impact spans every society and is linked to a host of social problems, including crime, domestic violence, drug abuse, and neglected children. Black argues that any attempt to counter these problems requires confronting ASP and that some of today's high-profile crimincal cases may be rooted in this perplexing disorder. In Bad Boys, Bad Men Black describes the warning signs that predict which troubled children are more likely to become dangerous adults. The books details the slow progress towards treatment for ASP, discusses the role of the criminal justice system in dealing with the disorder, and offers advice for individuals and families affected by it.
Drawing on the author's research into the progression of ASP, Bad Boys, Bad Men introduces people like Ernie, the quintessential juvenile delinquent who had an incestuous relationship with his mother and descended into crime and alcoholism; Ed, the charming con man whoe wealthy parents tried to bail him out at every turn; Paul, an exhibitionist who sex offenses were only the beginning of his problems; and John Wayne Gacy, the notorious serial killer whose lifelong pattern of misbehaviour escalated to the rape and murder of more than 30 young men and boys. These compelling cases read like medical detective stories, as Black tries to separate the lies these men tell from the facts of their lives. For people with ASP, life becomes an opportunity to grab what they can without remorse or concern for the consequences of their actions. In depicting the antisocial personality, Bad Boys, Bad Men underscores the fundamental human need for conscience and social order. Though Bad Boys, Bad Men is written for general audience, its summary of the psychiatric literature makes it suitable for readers already familiar with the topic.
It will be of interest to psychiatrists, psychologists, criminologists, social workers, victims of crime and domestic abuse, and anyone else interested in understanding social behaviour.