James Gilligan lays the foundation for a complete re-thinking of the nature and meaning of violence in society. He reveals the motives of men who commit horrifying crimes, men who not only kill other people, but also destroy themselves rather than suffer shame and loss of self-respect.He focuses on how feelings of shame cause violent and vengeful behaviour, and argues that conventional punitive legal and penal systems which are based on notions of justice and retribution perpetuate violent behaviour. He was called in to the Massachusetts prison system because of the high rates of suicides and murders within state prisons there; when he left these rates had dropped almost to zero. This keenly argued and ground-breaking book is essential reading for everyone touched by violence, and all those who are working to prevent it and its consequences