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The Wisdom of Psychopaths
Cover of The Wisdom of Psychopaths
The Wisdom of Psychopaths

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.

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.

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About the Author-
  • KEVIN DUTTON was born in London in 1967. He has a Ph.D in psychology, and is an expert on the science of social influence. He is a research fellow at the Faraday Institute, St. Edmund's College, University of Cambridge, and at the University of Western Australia, in Perth. In Split-Second Persuasion, his first book, Dr. Dutton documents time spent with some of the world's top con artists, in his quest to find out whether these evil black-belts of mind control know more about persuasion than he does. Kevin is a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, and also of the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy. The author lives in Cambridge, UK.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 20, 2012
    Many of us harbor an inner psychopath—and perhaps those who don't, should, says Dutton (Split-Second Persuasion), a Cambridge University research psychologist. Through a series of studies and anecdotes, he demonstrates how for every psychopathic stigma there is a comparably compelling virtue: psychopaths often have a greater capacity for focusing, creativity, and even empathy and altruism. All of this information challenges the idea that psychopaths dwell exclusively at society's outskirts; indeed, Dutton finds psychopathic tendencies in everyone from saints to Secret Service agents to the fictional hero James Bond. Dutton is admirably capable of rendering complicated research into readable and engaging prose. Yet there are times when his repeated use of studies—most conducted in a university or laboratory setting—detracts from his broader analysis of psychopaths within our society. And Dutton's definition of "psychopath" is a little too malleable, often used to refer to a collection of personality traits as opposed to a devastating disorder. We may all possess the potential for the pathology, but our psychopathic paths to success—however fascinating—are still unclear. B&W illus.

  • Michael C. Hall, actor, producer, Dexter

    "The Wisdom of Psychopaths is captivating. Dr. Dutton's book invigorated my consideration of not just a certain television character, but slow-pulsed overachievers everywhere."

  • Kirkus Reviews "An enjoyable, breezy treatment of a provocative subject."
  • Fortune "Dutton spins a solid yarn, turning what could easily have been a dry survey of psych research into entertainment."
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