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review 2014-02-02 00:13
The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success by Kevin Dutton
The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success - Kevin Dutton

bookshelves: published-2012, sciences, winter-20132014, fraudio, nonfiction, tbr-busting-2014, psychology, philosophy, cambridgeshire, casual-violence, doo-lally

Read from January 05 to February 02, 2014




Runs 8hrs 19mins

From the description: 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 world’s 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 it’s our much-maligned dark side that often conceals the trump cards of success.


KEVIN DUTTON is a research psychologist at the University of Cambridge. His writing and research have been featured in Scientific American Mind, New Scientist, The Guardian, Psychology Today, USA Today, and more. He lives in Cambridge, England.

"A little psychopathy is like personality with a tan"

John Wayne Gacy. Nothing abnormal found in his brain BUT a dead brain is very different to a live one.

The Museum of Serial Killers, Florence, Italy

Ted Bundy

Robert Maudsley

When asked how they singled out victims, the answer made by a significantly high number of killers was that they could tell by the walk, or other subtle body language who was 'bad'. Dutton then took some students to the airport to study people coming through luggage/body check.

The reverse side of that coin was when asked by ordinary people which, in a line up, was a killer they said things like 'my skin crawled'.

Intuition, then, and there are two types of empathy.

Robert D. Hare received his Ph.D. in experimental psychology at University of Western Ontario (1963). He is professor emeritus of the University of British Columbia where his studies center on psychopathology and psychophysiology.

"A personality disorder is not just for Christmas, although, admittedly, it does bring out the best in them."

So we are not talking about tantrums or people who generally piss you off here.

Phil Spectre before the 'incident': "Better to have a gun and not need it, than to need it and not have it."

Gary Mark Gilmore



St Paul - manipulator!

Most of the Wham Bam Bang is front-loaded, however there are some magnificent show-stoppers throughout, the St Paul was quite the justification to my personal viewpoint, YAY. Overall, my ears were as if the eyes of the bunny in the headlights in this short (but long for an essay: 8hr 19 mins) work.

3.5* upped.

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quote 2013-09-02 13:06
Personality disorders are characterized by deeply ingrained, inflexible patterns of thinking, feeling, or relating to others, or by the inability to control or regulate impulses that cause distress or impaired functioning. They may not be exclusive to those who piss you off. But if someone’s got one, they will.
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quote 2013-08-31 23:01
You talk about 'doing the right thing'. But what's worse, from a moral perspective? Beating someone up who deserves it? Or beating yourself up who doesn't? If you're a boxer, you do everything in your power to put the other guy away as soon as possible, right? So why are people prepared to tolerate ruthlessness in sport but not in everyday life?
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review 2013-07-27 00:00
The Wisdom of Psychopaths
The Wisdom of Psychopaths - Kevin Dutton In the preface, Dutton remembers with pride and admiration his father, the amazing salesman who once sold a whole load of datebooks that only had eleven months instead of twelve: "Unique opportunity to get your hands on an eleven-month diary, folks ... sign up for a special two-for-one offer and get an extra month thrown in next year for free"..
But this is nothing compared to what Kevin Dutton is doing: selling an useless book, by suggesting that it can make readers more successful. "What saints, spies and serial killers can TEACH US about SUCCESS". "You could probably benefit from being a little more psychopathic yourself"... Yeah, right.
As if someone could deliberately chose to become a bit more psychopathic in order to become more successful.
At this point, the writer has already lost all credibility.
I started asking myself: is this guy writing out of passion, or maybe because he genuinely believes he is writing something useful, or just because he wants to make money and become famous?
After reading the preface, the purpose of the writer seemed already obvious to me.

"Psychopaths are fearless, confident, charismatic, ruthless, and focused." then "there are times when it’s actually a good thing when, by being a psychopath, you in fact have an advantage over other people".
Indeed, "a number of psychopathic traits were more prevalent among business leaders than among diagnosed criminal psychopaths".
This is the main idea, and it is repeated over and over in the book, in case readers did not get it by reading the book cover.

"The wisdom of psychopaths" is actually mildly entertaining, but also very repetitive, verbose, pretentious, and biased as it is promoting the writers point of view and his work ("I know, because I’ve tested them"). Sometimes it looks like the writer is just showing off ("I have cradled John Wayne Gacy’s brain in my hands") - the guy seems quite full of himself.

What this book really teaches us is that anyone can sell anything by using some shameless marketing techniques. How?
1) find a title that sounds brilliant, witty, eye-catching, odd, contrary to popular belief and distant from what we know from common sense (something like: "the wisdom of psychopats" or maybe "the joy of suicide" or why not, "the pleasure of depression"). People will think "oh really? I never thought of it, how can it be? I'm curious to know more". The subject will be perfect for small talk during coffee break in offices: "did you know that psychopats have a unique set of skills?" "let's find our if our boss is a psychopath". Someone might even buy the book (I'm so glad I didn't).

2) suggest the idea that readers will be able to become more successful after reading the book.
It's not true, but it does not matter, since most readers will find out after buying the book, not before.

3) include some interviews to top managers, top lawyers, top movie stars, top secret agents, top serial killers, basically anyone who is TOP, VIP, glamourous and trendy. If you don't have much time, just make up the interviews, pretending they wanted to stay anonymous: it's a lot faster and nobody will ever know.

4) search the scientific literature, you can always find a few studies that seem to support your bizarre theory. Like the study about collecting sweat from the armpits of first-time skydivers and waving it under the noses of a second bunch of volunteers, to see if they can smell fear in the sweat. A bit bizarre indeed. But it must be true and reliable because the writer says so.

5) work with top marketing experts to advertise the book on the media

Then you should become a top writer and maybe someday someone will interview you as an example to prove his bizarre theories about successful writers.
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review 2013-06-03 16:50
The wisdom of psychopaths review
The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success - Kevin Dutton

A nice concise introduction to the topic of psychopaths with a lot of references to other authors and research.

The language is very easy, not heavy on psychology lingo and what is used is explained in footnotes. Some very famous and basic research in psychology are presented and linked to the topic of psychopaths.

Reading this is like watching a documentary where the presenter is himself a scientist, but he mostly goes around and talks to other scientist about a certain topic, in this case psychopaths.

All in all it's a good introduction and an informative read.

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