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The Devil You Know – now on BBC Radio 4

After receiving a tremendous response to the online course based on Dr Gwen Adshead’s new book The Devil You Know: Stories of Human Cruelty and Compassion (Gwen Adshead and Eileen Horne), we ( are pleased to share that Dr Gwen Adshead book has now been serialised and is currently being read on BBC Radio 4.

Dr Gwen has spent 30 years inside secure hospitals and prisons providing therapy to offenders we would flinch from – stalkers, arsonists, murderers and child abusers. Here she views them not just as perpetrators of crimes but also as humans. She tries to look inside their minds and questions whether recovery is possible for individuals who have gone so far on the ‘road to hell’.

What is evil and what is our understanding of it? More importantly, how do we understand evil and work with it? Are there any slivers of hope and a possibility of recovery for these people? Case by case, story by story, we ‘see’ these people as their life stories unfold, leading up to the path to hell and then towards the road to recovery.

In this online course based on the book, which is now available as a recording, ( Dr Adshead, in conversation with Dr Jan McGregor Hepburn, explores:

  • How do we react when we come face to face with psychopathy or ‘evil’ in our therapeutic interactions?
  • How do psychotherapeutic conversations help men and women explore aspects of themselves that are frightening or difficult to think about?
  • Why is it especially challenging to engage people who find it hard to talk about themselves, their lives and their actions?
  • Is it possible and indeed desirable for us to maintain compassion in the face of cruelty?
  • Can the usual boundaries apply when we are faced with ‘evil’ – how do we look after ourselves as well as clients / patients?
  • As a society, have we become less tolerant of crime over the years? What impact does this have on how we approach therapy?

Praise for Dr Adshead’s book:

A mythbuster of a book -crammed with compelling, candid, constructive and compassionate insights into the criminal mind’. – Val McDermid

Shocking, sad and absolutely fascinating’. – Sebastian Faulks

‘Fascinating, erudite and beautifully written… Christie Watson

The video recording is available at:

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