Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream: A Forensic Psychiatrist Illuminates the Darker Side of Human Behavior.


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SIMON, ROBERT I. Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream: A Forensic Psychiatrist Illuminates the Darker Side of Human Behavior. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, 1996. xi + 362 pp. $22.95.Psychopaths, stalkers, rapists, and serial killers are among the many topics covered by Robert Simon in this book designed for a general audience. Simon has set out to make complex clinical subjects understandable to the nonclinician and has well succeeded; his style is lucid and concise, and the subject material fascinating. This is a book about assorted psychopathologies, and there are accounts of various cults and descriptions of multiple personalities and the current thinking about recovered memories. In some instances, Dr. Simon's accounts are historical and become merged with his own clinical experience, making it difficult for a reader to understand what the author has seen or heard first hand and what represents research and journalism; thus some chapters have case examples of famous criminals, some of whom Simon has seen and others not. Other chapters contain advice for readers; for example, that on stalking is accompanied by a prevention checklist. An excellent chapter is on boundary violations, the subject of Simon's own professional interest and scholarly writings. In a way, the book has a free-association flavoring, as if the author spun out his forensic stories from the vantage point of personal reflection and media research. To Simon's credit, a good bibliography accompanies the various topics.One thing puzzled me, and that is the book's title. Simon's obvious thesis that cruel and criminal thoughts reside in all of us seems oversimplistic. Although we all may think about not reporting income to the IRS, the fantasies that fuel the sexually sadistic murderer are not in the conscious repertoire of those who refrain from such acts. Hitler's concentration camp murderers may have been “ordinary” folks who liked home-cooked meals (p. 12), but they lacked the requisite consciences (social and individual) to prevent themselves from committing atrocities. Some men lack inhibitions, while others are saddled with an excess of rage. But not everyone is evil.John R. Lion, M.D.

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