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Cold-Blooded Kindness: Neuroquirks of a Codependent Killer, or Just Give Me a Shot at Loving You, Dear, and Other Reflections on Helping That Hurts Hardcover – Apr 26 2011
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"Riveting and disturbing…."
-Joyce Carol Oates
-Dr. Helen Smith
"… [A] terrific book."
About the Author
Barbara A. Oakley, PhD (Rochester, MI), is the acclaimed author of Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend. She has been dubbed a female Indiana Jones—her writing combines worldwide adventure with solid research expertise. Among other adventures, she has worked as a Russian translator on Soviet trawlers in the Bering Sea, served as radio operator at the South Pole Station in Antarctica, and risen from Private to Regular Army Captain in the US Army. Currently an associate professor of engineering at Oakland University in Michigan, Oakley is a recent vice president of the world's largest bioengineering society and holds a doctorate in the integrative discipline of systems engineering.
Top Customer Reviews
If you've read Oakley's previous book, Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend, you'll know what to expect: engaging narrative interspersed with the latest in cognitive research and neuroscience, with quotes from many of the leading authorities on all the topics involved. So you don't just get a true-crime story, but insights into animal hoarding, brain hemisphere functions, personality disorders, parent/child role reversal, altruism, and more.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If you've read Oakley's previous book, Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed, and My Sister Stole My Mother's Boyfriend, you'll know what to expect: engaging narrative interspersed with the latest in cognitive research and neuroscience, with quotes from many of the leading authorities on all the topics involved. So you don't just get a true-crime story, but insights into animal hoarding, brain hemisphere functions, personality disorders, parent/child role reversal, altruism, and more. While there were several portions of Evil Genes I thought were seriously flawed, Oakley has more focus in this volume, and it makes for a more cogent presentation. And I think the study of fake 'victims' has a lot of potential to expand to the macrosocial level (just as she extended psychopathy to that level in EG). We have no shortage of nations 'playing the victim', all the while engaging in deceit, impression management, oppression, and violence of unimaginable depths. The dynamic between Carole and Marty can be seen globally. Just think about the War on Terror, with Martha Stout's excellent book, The Paranoia Switch: How Terror Rewires Our Brains and Reshapes Our Behavior--and How We Can Reclaim Our Courage, in mind.
Unfortunately, as Oakley points out in the final chapter of her book in reference to her own subject matter, this may be just 'too far' for many people to go. Victimhood, like altruism, is sanctified in our minds, and to imagine the depth of evil required for a person or nation to exploit it is a bitter pill to swallow. That's where the very brain mechanisms Oakley discusses come into play, and, like a "stroke patient's left hemisphere deliberately hiding his hand, the better to insist it isn't there", we refuse to acknowledge what is staring us right in the face. In this sense, I think Cold-Blooded Kindness is an important book, because it puts events in our everyday lives, both socially and interpersonally, in perspective. It provides a new way of looking at things that we didn't have before. So, check it out.
I don't know what to think of Carole Alden. Is she a liar? Is she odd? Is she a calculated and manipulative killer? I don't know but hopefully assume that the authorities got it right when they convicted her. This book didn't give me much to go on except some vague theory of pathological altruism. The author was unwilling to label Carole Alden as a pathological altruist, however. So why am I reading a book with the theory and the subject entertwined? I got the feeling in the end that the author was more excited to present a trendy new psych label than to deeply investigate and concisely present her ideas.