The best books about psychopaths

Who am I?

I’m a family therapist and author with a lot of experience in psychopathic behavior. Psychopathy falls on a spectrum – from a few traits to the extreme (serial killer) and everything in-between. Studies have shown that strong psychopathic behavior is common in our leaders – political, religious, business, and cultural. There’s also the psychopath “next door” – people we work, play, and live with. As an author, therapist, and researcher, I’m passionate about the subject – constantly examining psychopathic behaviors. I hope you enjoy my Broken Books Series which features different types of psychopaths in both the present and past, and my booklist that explores this fascinating subject.


I wrote...

Broken by Evil

By Jeri Fink, Donna Paltrowitz,

Book cover of Broken by Evil

What is my book about?

Haunted family trees, chilling photo insights, and twisted psychopaths fill the pages of my bone-chilling thriller. Spanning generations, the story follows the people (and psychopaths) surrounding young Joshua. Everyone is terrified of Joshua. No one understands his mind as he drowns cats, dissects squirrels, and burn dogs instead of playing with Legos. His mother struggles to cover it up. The Senator watches with amusement.

Where does this innocent-looking child come from and how does he control so many people? Where is he headed? Partially based on a true story, young Joshua is the ultimate evil.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man

Jeri Fink Why did I love this book?

We all know a psychopath – whether he or she lives next door, works with you, or is your spouse. No one says it better than psychologist Dr. Mary Trump. She describes her cousin, former President Trump, as a textbook psychopath with all of the behavioral, genetic, and environmental traits. His corruption, lack of empathy and conscience, shallow emotions, sexual promiscuity, and ruthlessness clearly shows his psychopathy. Former President Trump just doesn’t care. He’s not the only President that has psychopathic features but he’s the worst, aiming to destroy democracy and the Constitution for his own purpose. It’s a story we all know. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to see a psychopath in action, bolstered by money, power, and fame.

By Mary L. Trump,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Too Much and Never Enough as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

* THE INTERNATIONAL AND SUNDAY TIMES NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER *
In this revelatory, authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him, Mary L. Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and Donald's only niece, shines a bright light on the dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who threatened the world's health, economic security and social fabric.

Mary Trump spent much of her childhood in her grandparents' large, imposing house in New York, where Donald and his four siblings grew up. She describes a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships…


Book cover of The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us about Success

Jeri Fink Why did I love this book?

I believe that mental health lies on a spectrum – a range of symptoms. Dr. Dutton explores the psychopathic spectrum – from serial killers to “functional” ones who live, work, and play among us. He maintains that we all have psychopathic tendencies in different amounts. He bases his ideas on the Psychopathic Checklist and the Psychopathic Personality Inventory as well as the latest research. This comes at a time when society, politics, and culture increasingly reward psychopathic behaviors by giving them what they crave – power, fame, and money. It helps readers fully understand the range and muscle of psychopaths.

By Kevin Dutton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wisdom of Psychopaths as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A surprising, absorbing and perceptive book. I found it altogether fascinating' PHILIP PULLMAN
______________________________________________________

Psychopath. No sooner is the word out than images of murderers, rapists, suicide bombers and gangsters flash across our minds.

But unlike their film and television counterparts, not all psychopaths are violent, or even criminal. Far from it. In fact, they have a lot of good things going for them. Psychopaths are fearless, confident, charismatic, ruthless and focused - qualities tailor-made for success in twenty-first-century society.

In this groundbreaking adventure into the world of psychopaths, renowned psychologist Kevin Dutton reveals a shocking truth: beneath the hype…


Book cover of A Father's Story

Jeri Fink Why did I love this book?

This is a true story that pulls you into a strange, painful reality. What is it like to be the father of one of America’s most notorious serial killers? Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 males. He lured them to his home, gave his victims drugs and alcohol, and strangled them to death. After he killed, Dahmer had sex with the corpses, dismembered them, and threw the remains away. Sometimes he kept souvenirs, skulls, or took photos. This gruesome story by Jeffrey’s father, Lionel, exposes Dad’s shock as he unravels the truth. It talks about the horror, grief, desperation, and struggle to embrace the reality of the child he still loves. Would you be able to forgive if it was your child?

By Lionel Dahmer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Father's Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Raising a Serial Killer

Father's Search for Answers

In July of 1991 the country was shocked by the unfathomable crimes of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. But no one was more shocked than his parents. In A Father's Story, the reader is witness to the incremental unraveling of a parent's image of their child, and the "thousand different reactions" that follow. In his attempt to understand the nature of his son's psychosis, Lionel Dahmer methodically scrutinizes every possible contributing factor to his son's madness. His desperation is palpable as he searches for clues in the emotional, psychological, and genetic landscape of…


Book cover of The Bad Seed: A Vintage Movie Classic

Jeri Fink Why did I love this book?

I read this novel written well before the present focus on psychopathy. It’s simple but bone-chilling. The book came out in 1954 and became an instant best-seller, leading to more books, stage shows, and films. Rhoda Penmark is eight years old with braids and the image of sweet young innocence. Yet strange things follow her – bad events, terrible accidents in the neighborhood, and frightened people. March shows the true nature of a psychopath in childhood, giving the reader a peek into what and how these “monster” children grow up. 

By William March,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Bad Seed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The bestselling novel that inspired Mervyn LeRoy’s classic horror film about the little girl who can get away with anything—even murder.
 
There’s something special about eight-year-old Rhoda Penmark. With her carefully plaited hair and her sweet cotton dresses, she’s the very picture of old-fashioned innocence. But when their neighborhood suffers a series of terrible accidents, her mother begins to wonder: Why do bad things seem to happen when little Rhoda is around?
 
Originally published in 1954, William March’s final novel was an instant bestseller and National Book Award finalist before it was adapted for the stage and made into a…


Book cover of The Psychopath Inside: A Neuroscientist's Personal Journey Into the Dark Side of the Brain

Jeri Fink Why did I love this book?

Can you imagine being a neuroscientist who specializes in identifying psychiatric disorders from brain scans, finds a scan of a psychopath, and it’s his? That’s what happened to Dr. James Fallon, leading to this book that discusses the inner workings – psychological and physiological – of a psychopath. Merging genetic, structural, and environmental factors, Fallon brings you “into the dark side of the brain,” explaining the science and his personal experience as a non-violent psychopath. He examines psychopathy at all levels, helping you understand the true nature from “functional” to criminal. I could not put this down – it’s a story not to be missed!

By James Fallon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Psychopath Inside as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Compelling, essential reading for understanding the underpinnings of psychopathy.” — M. E. Thomas, author of Confessions of a Sociopath

For his first fifty-eight years, James Fallon was by all appearances a normal guy. A successful neuroscientist and professor, he’d been raised in a loving family, married his high school sweetheart, and had three kids and lots of friends. Then he learned a shocking truth that would not only disrupt his personal and professional life, but would lead him to question the very nature of his own identity.


While researching serial killers, he uncovered a pattern in their brain scans that…


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Bottled Secrets of Rosewood

By Mary Kendall,

Book cover of Bottled Secrets of Rosewood

Mary Kendall Author Of Campbell's Boy

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Storyteller Historian Walking enthusiast Yogi

Mary's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Miranda falls in love with her dream house but soon discovers it's an affair with complications. A lot of them. Rosewood is a centuries old, tumble-down, gambrel roofed charmer located in an isolated, coastal corner of Virginia referred to as "strange". Known for long-standing and antiquated customs, an almost indecipherable brogue and possible witchcraft connections, Miranda shrugs all locational concerns aside to pursue her new love.

When an archeological dig is undertaken at the property, a series of incidents commences that goes beyond just "bumps in the night". Awakened one night by the eerie glow from a ring of fire around her house, Miranda must decide. Should she leave Rosewood or stay---and potentially pay the ultimate price?

Bottled Secrets of Rosewood

By Mary Kendall,

What is this book about?

After a logics professor buys the house of her dreams, she must contend with unexplainable happenings. An ancient blue bottle appears to be at the root of the mysterious incidents, but is it?

Miranda falls in love with her dream house but soon discovers it's an affair with complications. A lot of them. Rosewood is a centuries old, tumble-down, gambrel roofed charmer located in an isolated, coastal corner of Virginia referred to as ""strange"". Known for long-standing and antiquated customs, an almost indecipherable brogue and possible witchcraft connections, Miranda shrugs all locational concerns aside to pursue her new love.

When…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in psychopathy, serial killers, and neuroscience?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about psychopathy, serial killers, and neuroscience.

Psychopathy Explore 60 books about psychopathy
Serial Killers Explore 272 books about serial killers
Neuroscience Explore 133 books about neuroscience