Essential Reading on Psychopaths and Sociopaths
These books are the definitive go to resources on spotting, understanding and recovering from psychopathic abuse, from both the lay person and clinical perspectives.
NB. Book and course links on this page are affiliate links.
Jackson MacKenzie’s Psychopath Free is the undisputed lay person’s resource for recovering from psychopathic abuse in their lives. People often describe reading this book as an eerie experience as it so accurately describes the day to day tactics psychopaths use to manipulate their victims. This book will especially help victims of psychopaths in intimate/romantic relationships.
Jackson MacKenzie’s Whole Again is a follow up book to Psychopath Free and details how to fully heal from the abuse psychopaths cause and address the numbness and emptiness that victims can often feel for months and even years after the psychopath exits their lives. If Psychopath Free brilliantly describes the problem, this sequel describes the solution to the damage psychopaths cause in the lives of others.
Tim and Jane McGregor’s The Empathy Trap is another excellent resource on psychopaths and sociopaths and the damage they cause. In particular this book is brilliant at describing how sociopaths systematically manipulate others to try and turn them against their chosen target, and how many weak people unfortunately often go along with this game they play. Their description of the Sociopath-Empath-Apath Triad will be especially useful to victims of psychopathic abuse.
Without Conscience is a superb resource written by lifelong psychopathy researcher Dr Robert Hare on the psychopaths that live amongst us. This book is brilliant at dispelling the myth that the only psychopaths are the serial killers we see in the news and portrayed in movies. Without Conscience goes into the the more subtle ways psychopaths blend into society and use their superficial charm to manipulate others. Essential reading from the world’s foremost expert on psychopathy.
Snakes in Suits – Psychopathy expert Robert Hare and organizational expert Paul Babiak team together in this excellent book on psychopaths in the workplace. In it they do into detail on the common behaviour patterns of psychopaths in a work environment and how to spot and defend against psychopaths in this setting. There is an ongoing bitesize chronological story at the end of each chapter that perfectly describes how a psychopath manipulates in the workplace. Highly recommended reading.
The Mask of Sanity is a classic text on psychopathy by former psychiatrist Hervey Cleckley, where he goes into great detail about the “mask” that toxic psychopaths wear. Cleckley details how this mask conceals a chaotic inner world devoid of real emotion and empathy and chronically destructive towards the self and others. A “mask” of superficial charm is needed to conceal these traits from others, though eventually and with enough time they will eventually leak out and be spotted.
New (and crucial) for 2022 – The Gaslighting Recovery Workbook by Amy Marlow MaCoy is a crucial resource for identifying and recovering from the toxic effects of gaslighting (insecurity, self doubt, low self esteem, boundary issues etc). If these issues are not resolved after a toxic relationship, then you are primed to keep repeating the same pattern over and over again in the future, so this is an essential recovery resource.
New for 2023 – Richard Grannon’s A Cult Of One – Recovery From Narcissistic Abuse is an excellent new addition to the recovery literature, weaving his own personal account of abuse into a strong forward-focused plan for recovering from toxic abuse and focusing more on the future and one’s own growth than on the past. I’ve listened to the audiobook and highly recommend it.
Richard Grannon Knowledge Base & Recovery Courses
Richard Grannon is a crucial recovery resource for lots of people after narcissistic/psychopathic abuse, because he’s got great knowledge on Cluster B abuse, but is also recovery and forward focused and has a positive attitude and mindset that rubs off on viewers and can help with recovery and moving on. Check out his YouTube channel for some great free resources, and here’s some more in depth courses he’s done as well:
- Remove The Narcissistic Malware – great knowledge base course from 2015 examining the narcissistic personality in detail, plus some great seminars on recovery from the people pleaser syndrome that often attracts these abusers into people’s live. A great overview course to understand in the aftermath of a toxic relationship; I often watch it as a refresher myself.
- Summoning The Self: Overcoming Co-dependency – Another excellent recovery focused course from 2020, with detailed exercises to help viewers understand their own manifestations of the co-dependency/people pleaser syndrome that’s very common with victims, and how to act more from their authentic self (letting go of the false/protective self, setting proper boundaries, being willing to be visible and seen and say no, taking up more space psychologically, improving one’s standard for how the world treats you, and so on).
- Break The Trauma Bond – An essential course if you’re stuck obsessing about one person and can’t seem to let them go or break free. Brilliantly structured course aimed at integrating reality and breaking denial to finally let go of the person and move on.
- Unplug From The Matrix of Narcissistic Abuse – His most recent 2022/23 course, which is really in depth and requires a lot of work, but very effective and powerful. Contains detailed exercises to help identify and de-construct the “shared fantasy” with your narcissist/psychopath ex. This course is expensive, but very useful if you feel you’ve cleared out some of your ex psychologically, but there’s still a part of them stubbornly “stuck” inside you that you can’t quite get rid of despite your best efforts. Powerful course, but requires diligent work over several months at least.
- Managing Contact With Narcissist/Psychopath – A great course for recovering people who cannot go 100% no contact with a Cluster B disordered ex because of parental or other commitments. Contains actionable tips on how to best manage unavoidable contact with them and preserve your own emotional state when dealing with them. Helps you drop the naivety and understand better what you’re dealing with, and how to manage them.
Other Books on Psychopathy and Evil
- People of the Lie by M Scott Peck
- The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout
- The Psychopath Whisperer: Inside the Mind of Those Without a Conscience by Kent Kiehl
- The Survivor’s Quest: Recovery After Encountering Evil
Books on Narcissism, Toxic Parenting and Trauma in the Body
- Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving by Pete Walker (crucial for Cluster B abuse survivors).
- Homesteading: In the Calm Eye of the Storm by Pete Walker (biographical acccount of overcoming Complex PTSD from childhood abuse).
- A Cult Of One – How To Deprogram Yourself From Narcissistic Abuse by Richard Grannon
- Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists and Their Struggle For Self by Elan Golomb (highly recommended reading).
- Children of the Self Absorbed by Nina Brown (audiobook free with Audible trial)
- The Search For The Real Self by James F Masterson
- Should I Stay or Should I Go: Surviving a Relationship With a Narcissist by Ramani Durvasula (audiobook free with Audible trial)
- Toxic Parents : Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward.
- The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller
- The Body Never Lies by Alice Miller
- For Your Own Good by Alice Miller
- The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk
- Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents by Lindsay Gibson (audiobook free with Audible trial).
Books on Setting Boundaries
- Course – Summoning The Self – Overcoming Co-dependency from Richard Grannon
- Boundaries and Relationships – Knowing, Protecting and Enjoying the Self by Charles Whitfield
- Boundaries After a Pathological Relationship by Adelyn Birch
- The Disease to Please by Harriet Braiker (Audiobook also available here with free Audible trial)
- Who’s Pulling Your Strings? by Harriet Braiker (Audiobook also available here with free Audible trial)
- No More Mr Nice Guy by Robert Glover ( Audiobook available here with free Audible trial)
- Boundaries – How to Draw the Line in Your Head, Heart & Home by Jennie Miller
Psychopathy, The Crowd & Politics
- Political Ponerology – The Science of Evil, Psychopathy, and the Origins of Totalitarianism by Andrew Lobaczewski
- Obedience To Authority – An Experimental View by Stanley Milgram
Videos on Psychopathy, Sociopathy and Personality Disorders
Ramani Durvasula 1
Ramani Durvasula 2
Stefan Verstappen on Psychopaths (Gnostic Media)
Fish Head Documentary on Psychopaths – see also our review
British Documentary on Psychopaths
Am I a Psychopath? Featuring Narcissism Expert Sam Vaknin
Hatman Strikes Back on Psychopathy – very informative even if you are not into boxing
Dr Tim McGregor on his book The Empathy Trap