Summary of The Wisdom of Psychopaths

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“Functional psychopaths” surround you. They’re steely, cool under pressure and devoid of empathy, but these “saints, spies and serial killers” excite the imagination. Sadly, though, it’s the semi-psychotic politicians, lawyers or law enforcement agents who disproportionately hold positions of power and who prove to be masters at taking advantage of others’ weaknesses. University of Oxford research psychologist Kevin Dutton backs up his provocative theories with hair-raising research references. You’ll learn why psychopaths in suits can control their tendencies, why those wielding chain saws cannot and why that renders the former more dangerous than the latter. Dutton could have made his prose a bit tighter, and you have to be a big fan of metaphors to appreciate his style, but if you’re on the rise in your career and want to understand your extra edge – or if you would like to avoid being on the receiving end of someone else’s edge – getAbstract recommends Dutton’s innovative, entertaining, well-documented treatise.

About the Author

Social influence expert Kevin Dutton, PhD, is a research psychologist with the Center for Evolution and Human Sciences at Magdalen College, University of Oxford. He also wrote Split-Second Persuasion.



Are You a Psychopath?

Carefully consider this riddle. Your solution might give you some indication of whether you’re a psychopath. A young lady attends her mother’s funeral. She encounters a strange man – her true soul mate – with whom she falls immediately in love. He leaves before she can learn his name. She spends days trying to find out who he is, but all anyone can tell her is that her lost love is a friend of the family. Soon after, she kills her sister. Why?

While you might imagine any number of hypotheses, a psychopath might shrug and say: “Because the man attended the mother’s funeral, it stands to reason he might attend the sister’s funeral.” If this was your hypothesis, well, congratulations. You may or may not be a psychopath, but you certainly can reason like one.

Are you cool under extreme pressure? Are you extraordinarily persuasive? Are you a risk taker? Do you possess laser-like focus to the extent that you can ignore emotion, even pain, while performing tasks? Would you kill one innocent person to save several? Do you feel other people’s pain but also take pleasure in inflicting it? The degree to which you answer yes to these and similar questions...

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    J. M. 7 years ago
    great read. Very thought provoking. This made me think about where I fit in on the psychopath scale!