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The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us about Successby Kevin Dutton
Synopses & Reviews
In this engrossing journey into the lives of psychopaths and their infamously crafty behaviors, the renowned psychologist Kevin Dutton reveals that there is a scale of “madness” along which we all sit. Incorporating the latest advances in brain scanning and neuroscience, Dutton demonstrates that the brilliant neurosurgeon who lacks empathy has more in common with a Ted Bundy who kills for pleasure than we may wish to admit, and that a mugger in a dimly lit parking lot may well, in fact, have the same nerveless poise as a titan of industry.
Dutton argues that there are indeed “functional psychopaths” among us — different from their murderous counterparts — who use their detached, unflinching, and charismatic personalities to succeed in mainstream society, and that shockingly, in some fields, the more “psychopathic” people are, the more likely they are to succeed. Dutton deconstructs this often misunderstood diagnosis through bold on-the-ground reporting and original scientific research as he mingles with the criminally insane in a high-security ward, shares a drink with one of the worlds most successful con artists, and undergoes transcranial magnetic stimulation to discover firsthand exactly how it feels to see through the eyes of a psychopath.
As Dutton develops his theory that we all possess psychopathic tendencies, he puts forward the argument that society as a whole is more psychopathic than ever: after all, psychopaths tend to be fearless, confident, charming, ruthless, and focused — qualities that are tailor-made for success in the twenty-first century. Provocative at every turn, The Wisdom of Psychopaths is a riveting adventure that reveals that its our much-maligned dark side that often conceals the trump cards of success.
"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. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"There's no denying it: we love our psychopaths. Whether its stoic protagonists or ice-blooded villains, we can't get enough...in his entertaining new book The Wisdom of Psychopaths, University of Cambridge research psychologist Kevin Dutton sheds some light on the stunning magnetism of the ethically challenged." The Daily Beast
"A convincing study....The admirable quality of this book is Dutton's refusal to accept easy answers in one of the more sensational fields of popular psychology." Tim Adams, The Observer (UK)
"The Wisdom of Psychopaths is a surprising, absorbing, and perceptive book. Kevin Dutton has amassed a great deal of knowledge about these charming, cold, fearless, emotionally indifferent people, who are so attractive in some ways and so appalling in others, and set it out in a briskly readable prose studded with gripping anecdotes. I found it altogether fascinating." Philip Pullman, author of the bestselling His Dark Materials trilogy
"Dutton tackles an elusive, important, and much neglected aspect of the mind: our personality. He presents some highly original insights and does so in a provocative and humorous style — offering practical tips along the way for both 'normals' and 'sociopaths.'" V. S. Ramachandran, Ph.D., author of The Tell-Tale Brain and BBC Reith lecturer
"Dutton has written a masterful, readable, and entertaining treatise on psychopathy and its manifestations in everyday life. Some of his ideas will generate debate and controversy, but he clearly has provided a thought-provoking book for those seeking to understand the 'psychopathic' world in which they live." Robert D. Hare, Ph.D., author of Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us and developer of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist
"The irrepressible Kevin Dutton has done it again! This time he has produced an irreverent romp through the bright side and dark side of the mysterious psychopath, and does a great job of mixing the scientific with the personal, offering readers an insider's glimpse into the workings of fascinating persons — and fascinating personalities. Readers will come away both enlightened and entertained." Scott O. Lilienfeld, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Emory University, President-Elect of the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy, and coauthor of 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology
"If you've been keeping your inner psychopath locked up in the maximum-security unit of your mind, Kevin Dutton explains why giving him some fresh air from time to time may actually do you — and, more important, the rest of us — a world of good. Just give him this book to read and make sure he's a literate, functional psychopath." Jesse Bering, Ph.D., author of Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? and The Belief Instinct
In this groundbreaking adventure into the worlds of psychopaths, the renowned psychologist Kevin Dutton argues that there is a fine line between a brilliant surgeon who lacks empathy and a Hannibal Lecter who kills for pleasure.Incorporating the latest advances in brain scanning and neuroscience, Dutton reveals that there is a scale of “madness” along which we all sit. Dutton deconstructs this misunderstood diagnosis through bold on-the-ground reporting and original scientific research, and as he mingles with psychopathic criminals in a top security hospital, undergoes a “make me a psychopath” experiment, and visits monks to track their eye movements and microexpressions, he shows us that a mugger in a dimly lit parking lot tonight may very well be the Special Forces hero of tomorrow.
Dutton also puts forth the controversial argument that our society as a whole is more psychopathic than ever: psychopaths tend to be fearless, confident, charismatic, ruthless, and focused — qualities tailor-made for success in the twenty-first century. Provocative and surprising at every turn, The Wisdom of Psychopaths is a riveting journey into the lives of the insane that will spark debate for years to come.
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