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Listening to Killers

Lessons Learned from My Twenty Years as a Psychological Expert Witness in Murder Cases

James Garbarino (Author)


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Listening to Killers offers an inside look at twenty years' worth of murder files from Dr. James Garbarino, a leading expert psychological witness who listens to killers so that he can testify in court. The author offers detailed accounts of how killers travel a path that leads from childhood innocence to lethal violence in adolescence or adulthood. He places the emotional and moral damage of each individual killer within a larger scientific framework of social, psychological, anthropological, and biological research on human development. By linking individual cases to broad social and cultural issues and illustrating the social toxicity and unresolved trauma that drive some people to kill, Dr. Garbarino highlights the humanity we share with killers and the role of understanding and empathy in breaking the cycle of violence.
Introduction: Becoming an Expert Witness

Part I Getting Close to Killers
1 The Concept of Choice in the Criminal Justice System
2 Keeping Killers inside Our Circle of Caring
3 Moral Damage: Growing Up with a War Zone Mentality
4 Emotional Damage: The Consequences of Unresolved Trauma

Part II The American Way of Killing
5 “If You’re Old Enough to Do the Crime, You’re Old Enough to Do the Time”
6 Tales of Rehabilitation, Transformation, and Redemption
7 Guns Don’t Kill People—People with Guns Kill People
8 Making Sense of the Senseless: Understanding and Preventing Killing in America

Appendix: Zagar’s Model
Dr. James Garbarino holds the Maude C. Clarke Chair in Humanistic Psychology and was Founding Director of the Center for the Human Rights of Children at Loyola University Chicago. He was formerly Professor of Human Development at Cornell University, and he is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. He has served as an adviser to the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, the National Institute for Mental Health, the American Medical Association, the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, and the FBI. He is the author of Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them.
"This book should become the definitive text on the subject." - STARRED REVIEW—Library Journal
"Garbarino's knowledge, compassion, insight, and unmatched experience provide us with an amazing opportunity to learn the path that lead children to violence. . . . Please – buy this book for yourself and for every single person you know. I did."—Josh Eudowe eA Risk Management Group
"Garbarino is a master storyteller and a graceful, elegant writer who brings the complex science to life in dramatically rendered personal histories. It is a narrative style that makes for clear science and riveting reading.  Be prepared to change your mind. I did."—Dan Clayton St. Lawrence University Alumni Magazine
"Jim is a master storyteller and a graceful, elegant writer who brings complex science to life in dramatically rendered personal histories. It is a narrative style that makes for clear science and riveting reading. Be prepared to change your mind. I did."—Daniel Clayton St. Lawrence University Alumni Magazine
“An invaluable resource for how to transform and rehabilitate killers and how to prevent others from emulating their behaviors.”—Kathleen M. Heide, PhD, Professor of Criminology, University of South Florida, author of Understanding Parricide: When Sons and Daughters Kill Parents

“Fascinating and riveting . . . a masterful integration of research and appreciation of the influences that facilitate the homicidal mind.”—David A. Crenshaw, Clinical Director of the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie

“An eloquent and compelling argument for how to view and understand young killers, drawing upon dozens of case studies from [Garbarino’s] practice as well as cutting-edge research. His command of the relevant data from all of these fields is extraordinary, if not unparalleled.”—Charles Patrick Ewing, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor, Past President, American Board of Forensic Psychology

“As one of developmental psychology’s most insightful thinkers and most articulate voices, Dr. Garbarino tells stories that are guaranteed to provoke readers’ searching thought about their own nature and our society’s collective responsibilities.”—Gary Melton, Associate Director for Community Development and Social Policy, Kempe Center for Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect

“As violence escalates in our society, we often question why: What drives people to commit murder? Listening to Killers speaks of the tragedies and trauma we so often see in the lives of those facing capital charges, the significance of these traumas in the development of moral and emotional decision-making, and the identification of at-risk juveniles and effective protective factors. A compelling read—I could not put this book down.”—Louise Luck, Director of Court Consultation Services

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