The Wisdom of Psychopaths

The Wisdom of Psychopaths

What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success

Book - 2012
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Psychopath. The word conjurs up images of serial killers, rapists, suicide bombers, gangsters. But think again: you could probably benefit from being a little more psychopathic yourself.

Psychologist Kevin Dutton has made a speciality of psychopathy, and is on first-name terms with many notorious killers. But unlike those incarcerated psychopaths, and all those depicted in movies and crime fiction, most are not violent, he explains. In fact, says Prof Dutton, they have a lot of good things going for them. Psychopaths are fearless, confident, charismatic and focused--qualities tailor-made for success in today's society.

The Wisdom of Psychopaths is an intellectual rollercoaster ride that combines lightning-hot science with unprecedented access to secret monasteries, Special Forces training camps, and high-security hospitals. In it, you will meet serial killers, war heroes, financiers, movie stars and attorneys--and discover that beneath the hype and popular characterization, psychopaths have something to teach us.

Like the knobs on a mixing deck, psychopathy is graded. And finding the right combination of psychopathic traits, sampled and mixed at carefully calibrated volumes, can put us ahead of the game.

Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, c2012.
ISBN: 9780385677189
Characteristics: xix, 261 p. :,ill. ;,24 cm.

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s
smichal
Mar 30, 2014

This book didn't keep my attention compared to others about psychopaths, due to the writing style. Also I think a heavy smoker borrowed it last, because it burned my eyes to read it and it really smelled.

b
BlueHippo
Mar 29, 2014

This is a very interesting book-and written in a very conversational style. One work of warning-you will need a dictionary close at hand - do you have any idea what "coruscating" or 'cacophonous' means? Maybe you do know the latter word if you are a symphony or music lover. Anyway, my point is that I think he could have used more down-to-earth language, but I enjoyed the book anyway! Lots of information about some of the latest research in this field - always fun to read about-as well as personal stories from the author and others. Loved the section on St. Paul!

h
hypocracy
May 16, 2013

What was amazingly strange that Dr Dutton used his own father as an example of a psychopath (not enough convincing signs & symptoms); perhaps to prove how close they could be to us. What he doesn’t know is that he could have been taken in by a common trick among care givers (of psychopath types) in adult nursing homes. The Wisdom of Psychopaths is not only a marvelous read but also a rollicking account of the lives of successful psychopaths (the role of functional psychopathic behaviors in success if you believe that) around us and their extraordinary talent of manipulation for takeover of our daily living surroundings. Such as presidents like John F Kennedy & William Jefferson Clinton as he mentions in the book as high on the list of the successful functional psychopaths , CEOs, military intelligence operatives & agents of all kinds including the local police persons, surgeons, politicians, sales persons and priests just to mention few. By looking at our own lives and our daily encounters with the successful functional psychopaths we should realize that we are in deeper trouble than we knew. When our soldiers in uniform on combat duties defecate & urinate on the body of dead enemies; captured insurgents tortured to death while in custody; soldier on drug going on rampage and killing children and burning their bodies; while the president attends a gala eating and drinking knowing that the seals and drones are on kill missions. When a graduate student goes on killing spree in Movie Theater, or a 20 year old rich kid with psychopaths mother and rich estranged father (connected to high level security agencies) uses semiautomatic gun to slaughter 20 little kids (almost babies) and six adults; or two brothers who are perfectly fitted into our society decide to make homemade bombs to kill innocent bystanders; or this so-called psychopathic term of “war against terror” which is a war without end because terrorism is not a nation or a well-defined group but a technique used by all mentioned above. Creating whole new world and front with psychopathic behaviors, thoughts and culture by the psychopaths to fight the psychopaths among us; world where normal is abnormal and abnormal is normal; a world where psychopaths with their wisdom and serial killers (state & non-state sponsored) can teach us about success. In his book Dr Kevin Dutton brings psychopaths to life as vividly and with as much depth, brain & MRI, heart, and understanding as Kevin himself put into this his dad’s life. This is a story about psychopaths of all ages.

s
StarGladiator
Apr 10, 2013

Both the book and the author are complete farces. Posturing and suggesting that there are "positive" psychopathic traits is reprehensible. Yes, well known private equity/leveraged buyout thieves are most certainly psychopaths, as are many of the corporate super-crooks and thieves one reads about constantly in the news - - they do appear to be in too, too much control of our lives. This is yet another commercial act to induce ever more "values free" and criminal "get over" attitudes and mindset into our lives. A complete sham and travesty of the overclass. (Falsely claiming that President Kennedy [read Donald Gibson's "Battling Wall Street: the Kennedy Presidency" for non-revisionisnist facts, etc.] rates high in the psychopathic index is sheer lunatic ranting, it was Kennedy who suspended foreign aid to at least 7 countries run by dictators who weren't moving towards democracy, the only president to have done so, while neocon Clinton aided and abetted Wall Street at every opportunity!)

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GailRoger
Jan 30, 2013

Last autumn, I came across an article in the Globe and Mail which includes an interview with author Kevin Dutton and an overview of his book The Wisdom of Psychopaths. I felt a dropping in my stomach as I read it, because at the end of the article were two lists: one denoting leadership traits, the other the corresponding psychopathic traits. The first list came fairly close to describing a relative. The second list pretty much nailed him. I sat in a mild state of shock for a few minutes, then logged into my local library's web site and put a hold on the book.

Dr Kevin Dutton begins The Wisdom of Psychopaths with tales of his own father and his father's audacity. Neither Dutton's dad nor my relative was a serial killer (so far as I know). This is the point. We use the term "psychopath" as a synonym for "serial killer". This isn't so, and Dutton is by no means the first person to make this point. Most of us probably personally know people living with autism, Parkinson's Disease or schizophrenia. (I certainly do.) Why wouldn't we also know functional psychopaths?

Dutton describes how the very qualities that help politicians, surgeons, military intelligence operatives, CEOs and sales people rise in their professions and succeed in what they need to do are similar to the traits shared by some of the most dangerous people in our society. He calls these "The Seven Deadly Wins": ruthlessness, charm, focus, mental toughness, fearlessness, mindfulness (as in living in the here and now), and action ("Psychopaths," Dutton declares, "never procrastinate.").

As I read, I thought of the possible psychopaths I'd encountered in my own life: a boy at school who could turn friendliness on and off when it suited him, a teaching partner whose relationships with the students we shared made me uneasy, at least two of my husband's bosses, and yes, that family member.

I admit, though, I'm nothing but an armchair psychologist and this book, written in a glib, popular-science style, is nothing more than food for thought. An interesting read, but not something on which to base your life philosophy. Unless, like a psychopath, you have little in the way of a conscience.

y
Yuhu
Dec 09, 2012

The author seems to be in process of reinventing himself as a psychologic specialist, diving into the "pop-psych" of psychopathy with virtually no academic credentials and no published work in the field. Check his current website (kevindutton dot co dot uk, accessed Dec 2012), and you'll see a young man pandering to the public image of a psychopath as promotion for his book. This is reprehensible from an academic standpoint, and certainly erodes his credibility.

Mr. Dutton's academic background in no way supports his claim to be an expert in this field; he did doctoral work at the University of Essex in the UK, appearing as secondary author on a handful of undistinguished papers on aspects of perception, and for several years he was connected with the Faraday Institute, a Cambridge University-based religious "think tank" whose mission seems to be combatting the atheists of the world like Chris Hutchens (RIP) and Daniel Dennett.

There is nothing in Dutton's academic record that would reflect clinical work in this realm of psychology or psychiatric practice, and (as is the case with a number of current works purporting to describe the 'psychopathic personality') this book mostly consists of anecdotes--interviews and case descriptions of alleged psychopaths. There is very little concerning the significant and central issues of nomenclature, taxonomy, and diagnosis.

As a popular work, this may be entertaining, but based on the author's slender qualifications, it cannot be recommended as a sound and reliable scientific account.

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EthanMaHC
Nov 05, 2016

EthanMaHC thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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