Books

Zero Degree of Empathy

Zero Degrees of Empathy: A new theory of human cruelty

Simon Baron-Cohen, expert in autism and developmental psychopathology, has always wanted to isolate and understand the factors that cause people to treat others as if they were mere objects. In this book he proposes a radical shift, turning the focus away from evil and on to the central factor, empathy. Unlike the concept of evil, he argues, empathy has real explanatory power.

Putting empathy under the microscope he explores four new ideas: firstly, that we all lie somewhere on an empathy spectrum, from high to low, from six degrees to zero degrees. Secondly that, deep within the brain lies the ‘empathy circuit’. How this circuit functions determines where we lie on the empathy spectrum. Thirdly, that empathy is not only something we learn but that there are also genes associated with empathy. And fourthly, while a lack of empathy leads to mostly negative results, is it always negative?

Full of original research, Zero Degrees of Empathy presents a new way of understanding what it is that leads individuals down negative paths, and challenges all of us to consider replacing the idea of evil with the idea of empathy-erosion.

Simon Baron-Cohen
Allen Lane 2011
ISBN: 978-0713997910   Order a copy


Autism and Asperger Syndrome: the facts Autism and Asperger Syndrome: the facts

In this new book Simon Baron-Cohen summarizes the current understanding of autism and Asperger Syndrome. He explains the process of diagnosis, as well as the options for education and intervention for those with these conditions. Taking a lifespan approach, Professor Baron-Cohen considers how the conditions affect very young children through to adulthood. He also outlines his new Empathizing-Systemizing (ES) theory, which aims to explain all of the psychological features of autism spectrum condtions.

This book is designed firstly for people with these conditions and their families. It will be useful to clinicians, teachers, and other professionals involved in the care and support of people on the autistic spectrum. The book will also provide an invaluable introduction to the topic for students in the social and biological sciences.

Simon Baron-Cohen
Oxford University Press, 2008, Paperback: 160 pages
ISBN: 978-0-19-850490-0    Order a copy


Prenatal Testosterone in Mind: Amniotic Fluid Studies Prenatal Testosterone in Mind: Amniotic Fluid Studies

This pioneering study looks at the effects of prenatal testosterone on postnatal development and behaviour. Hormonal effects on behaviour have long been studied in animals; the unique contribution of this book is to suggest a connection between human foetal hormones and later behaviour. It details for the first time testosterone's effect on social and language development, opening a new avenue of research for cognitive neuroscience.

The authors look at samples of amniotic fluid taken during amniocentesis at 16 weeks' gestation, and relate the foetal level of testosterone (which is present in foetuses of both sexes, although in different quantities) to behaviour at ages 1, 2 and 4 years. They argue that the amniotic fluid provides a window into the child's past - a chemical record of that child's time in the womb - that allows informed prediction about the child's future brain, mind, and behaviour.

Simon Baron-Cohen, Svetlana Lutchmaya, Rebecca Knickmeyer
Bradford Book, 2004. Paperback: 144 pages
ISBN: 0262025639    Order a copy


The Essential Difference: Men, Women and the Extreme Male Brain The Essential Difference: Men, Women and the Extreme Male Brain

Filled with surprising and illuminating case studies, many from Baron-Cohen's own clinical practice, The Essential Difference moves beyond the stereotypes to elucidate over twenty years of groundbreaking research. From gossip to aggression, Baron-Cohen dissects each brain type and even presents a new theory that autism (as well as its close relative, Asperger's syndrome) can be understood as an extreme form of the male brain. Smart and engaging, this is the thinking person's guide to gender difference, a book that promises to change the conversation about-and between-men and women.

S. Baron-Cohen
Penguin Books, 2004. Paperback: 263 pages
ISBN: 0141011017    Order a copy


An Exact MindAn Exact Mind

Peter Myers's intricate and ornately patterned drawings are brought together for the first time in this volume, which is the fascinating result of the collaboration of an artist and two scientists. The beautiful, complex images (included in full-page colour as well as black and white reproductions) serve as a rare window into the precision and creativity of the Asperger mind at work.

Peter Myers was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 1996 and his work reflects his stunning ability to plan and to organize visual information, and to embed illusions within his pictures. In explanatory text alongside the pictures, psychologists Simon Baron-Cohen and Sally Wheelright discuss the work's deep psychological significance, demonstrating in accessible language their ground-breaking systemizing theory of how the autistic mind processes information.

Simon Baron-Cohen (Editor), Peter Myers (Editor), Sally Wheelwright (Editor)
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2004. Paperback: 79 pages
ISBN: 1843100320    Order a copy


The Essential DifferenceThe Essential Difference: Men, Women and the Extreme Male Brain

We all appreciate that there are differences in the typical psychology of men and women. Yet underlying these subtle differences, Simon Baron-Cohen believes, there is one essential difference, and it affects everything we do: Men have a tendency to analyse and construct systems while women are inclined to empathise. With fresh evidence for these claims, Baron-Cohen explores how these sex differences arise more from biological than cultural causes and shows us how each brain type contributes in various ways to what we think of as "intelligence." Emphasising that not all men have the typically "male" brain, which he calls Type "S," and not all women have the typically female brain (Type "E"), Baron-Cohen explores the cutting-edge research that illuminates our individual differences and explains why a truly "balanced" brain is so rare.

Filled with surprising and illuminating case studies, many from Baron-Cohen's own clinical practice, The Essential Difference moves beyond the stereotypes to elucidate over twenty years of groundbreaking research. From gossip to aggression, Baron-Cohen dissects each brain type and even presents a new theory that autism (as well as its close relative, Asperger's syndrome) can be understood as an extreme form of the male brain. Smart and engaging, this is the thinking person's guide to gender difference, a book that promises to change the conversation about-and between-men and women.

S. Baron-Cohen
Allen Lane The Penguin Press, 2003. Hardcover: 288 pages
ISBN: 0713996714    Order a copy


Understanding Other Minds: Perspectives from Autism

This volume collects the evidence and counter-evidence for a new psychological theory of autism which questions whether children with autism can think about the mind. It should be of interest to child psychiatrists, developmental psychologists and educationalists.

S. Baron-Cohen (Editor), H. Tager-Flusberg (Editor) and D.J. Cohen (Editor)
Oxford University Press 1993. Hardcover: 528 pages
ISBN: 026252225X    Order a copy


Mindblindness: an essay on autism and theory of mind

This text presents a model of the evolution and development of "mindreading". It argues that we mindread all the time, automatically and, for the most part, unconsciously. It is the natural way in which we interpret, predict and participate in social behaviour and communication. People ascribe mental states to other people, states such as thoughts, desires, knowledge and intentions.

Building on many years of research, the author concludes that children with autism suffer from "mindblindness" as a result of a selective impairment in mindreading. For these children the world is essentially devoid of mental things. Baron-Cohen develops a theory that draws on data from comparative, developmental and neuropsychology. He argues that specific neurocognitive mechanisms have evolved that allow us to mindread, to make sense of actions, to interpret gazes as meaningful and to decode "the language of the eyes.

S. Baron-Cohen, L. Cosmides, J. Tooby
MIT Press, 1997. Hardcover; 192 pages
ISBN: 026252225X    Order a copy


Teaching Children with Autism to Mind-read

Theory of Mind in the ability to infer other people's mental states and to use this information to interpret speech and predict action. This practical book applies these mind-reading principles to children with autism, focusing chiefly on treating their social and communicative abnormalties. Guiding readers through the underlying experimental and clinical principles of this experimental theory, the authors provide practitioners with an adaptable and unique program for tackling behavioral problems in autistic children.

S. Baron-Cohen, P. Howlin, J. Hadwin and J. Swettenham
Wiley 1999. Paperback: 302 pages
ISBN: 0471976237    Order a copy


Understanding Other Minds: Perspectives from developmental cognitive neuroscience

How do children come to understand other minds? Why do children with autism have such trouble developing normal social understanding of other people's feelings? This new edition of the highly successful Understanding other Minds updates the field by linking autism research to the newest methods for studying the brain.

S. Baron-Cohen (Editor), H. Tager-Flusberg (Editor) and D. Cohen (Editor)
Oxford University Press, 1999. Paperback; 550 pages
ISBN: 0198524455    Order a copy


The Maladapted Mind: essays in evolutionary psychopathology

This text brings together classic and contemporary readings illustrating the subdiscipline of evolutionary psychology. The book highlights how mechanisms in the brain which normally enable us to be well-adapted to survival in our environment can occasionally malfunction, leading individuals to develop what is recognized as psychiatric disorder. Each paper demonstrates how evolutionary arguments are being brought to bear on the study of a different psychiatric condition, including anxiety, depression, psychopathic personality, autism and rape. The framework presented in the book should lead to new insights into the aetiology of psychiatric conditions and, at the same time, illustrate how the study of such mental abnormalities can reveal the existence of basic neurocognitive mechanisms in the "normal" mind that have been overlooked.

S. Baron-Cohen
Erlbaum, Taylor-Francis UK 1999. Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN: 086377461X    Order a copy


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