Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass

Life at the Bottom

by Theodore Dalrymple

This book was alternatively hilarious and disturbing. Life for the poor and criminal in England.

They think,”I’m not responsible.”

(Others excuse them: You didn’t do that.)

From amazon’s reviews section:

This devastating account and analysis of underclass life—and the elite ideas which support it—is a classic for our times. (Thomas Sowell )

It is a truism that ideas have consequences, but a truism is rarely illustrated as implacably as in this book. (George F. Will )


Theodore Dalrymple, a British psychiatrist who treats the poor in a slum hospital and a prison in England, has seemingly seen it all. Yet in listening to and observing his patients, he is continually astonished by the latest twist of depravity that exceeds even his own considerable experience. Dalrymple’s key insight in Life at the Bottom is that long-term poverty is caused not by economics but by a dysfunctional set of values, one that is continually reinforced by an elite culture searching for victims. This culture persuades those at the bottom that they have no responsibility for their actions and are not the molders of their own lives.