The Wisdom of Psychopaths by Kevin Dutton
What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success

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There is an issue with Dutton's overly matey style, which can make the book seem like Top Gear hooked up to electrodes, but Andy McNab cameos aside, this book knows how to get under the skin, no chainsaw required.
-Guardian

Synopsis

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.

 

About Kevin Dutton

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Dr. Kevin Dutton is a research psychologist at the Calleva Research Centre for Evolution and Human Science, Magdalen College, University of Oxford. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy. Dutton is the author of Split-Second Persuasion. His writing and research have been featured in Scientific American Mind, New Scientist, The Guardian, Psychology Today, and USA Today. He lives in Oxford, England.
 
Published October 16, 2012 by Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 288 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Self Help, Science & Math, Professional & Technical, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Wisdom of Psychopaths
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Victoria Segal on Sep 06 2013

There is an issue with Dutton's overly matey style, which can make the book seem like Top Gear hooked up to electrodes, but Andy McNab cameos aside, this book knows how to get under the skin, no chainsaw required.

Read Full Review of The Wisdom of Psychopaths: Wh... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Tim Adams on Oct 06 2012

The admirable quality of this book is Dutton's refusal to accept easy answers in one of the more sensational fields of popular psychology.

Read Full Review of The Wisdom of Psychopaths: Wh... | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Tim Adams on Oct 06 2012

Dutton's book at any rate supports the idea that to thrive a society needs its share of psychopaths – about 10%. It not only shows the value of the emotionally detached mind in bomb disposal but also the uses of the psychopath's ability...

Read Full Review of The Wisdom of Psychopaths: Wh... | See more reviews from Guardian

WSJ online

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Shermer on Nov 06 2012

...what Mr. Dutton really brings to the table is a self-reflective look at what it means to be fully human, with both good and evil capacities.

Read Full Review of The Wisdom of Psychopaths: Wh... | See more reviews from WSJ online

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