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The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us About Success Paperback – September 3, 2013
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“The Wisdom of Psychopaths is captivating. Dr. Dutton's book invigorated my consideration not just of a certain television character, but of slow-pulsed overachievers everywhere.” ―Michael C. Hall, actor, producer, Dexter
“A terrifically entertaining and chilling book.” ―William Georgiades, Slate
“The Wisdom of Psychopaths is an engaging and enlightening look at both the positive and negative sides of the personality characteristics that make up the diagnosis of psychopathy.” ―Michael Shermer, The Wall Street Journal
“[A] high-octane charge across the psychopathy continuum.” ―Kaja Perina, Psychology Today
“There's no denying it: we love our psychopaths….[and] in his entertaining new book…Dutton sheds some light on the stunning magnetism of the ethically challenged” ―The Daily Beast
“It's hard not to like Dutton's book . . . Dutton, like [Norman] Mailer, is waging war against the bien-pensant. And I'm with him. Life would be more fun if more people cultivated their inner psychopath.” ―Ann Marlowe, Tablet
“Dutton deftly navigates through some disturbing subject matter, but his message is ultimately upbeat: Scientists may be able to learn a lot from the darker side of human nature.” ―Allison Bohac, Science News
“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)
“Dutton spins a solid yarn, turning what could easily have been a dry survey of psych research into entertainment” ―Scott Olster, Fortune (CNN Money)
“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 bestselling The Tell-Tale Brain
“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, Professor of Psychology at Emory University, President 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, author of Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?
About the Author
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.
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Top customer reviews
But I could not stand the breathless, pop-psychology writing style of the author. There were too many rhymes, puns, and silly witticisms. It was distracting. I would have liked this book more if it did not talk down to its audience, assuming that the reader needs all this "entertainment" to keep reading. It should have been written in a more sober and scholarly way, given the serious subject matter.
There is depth to The Wisdom of Psychopaths. It gets past the cliché that psychopaths don't feel empathy it turns out they are acute observers of others, it just doesn't motivate their behavior. The review of the research on identifying the characteristics of a psychopath and their behavioral characteristics is thorough and insightful. For example: it is an over simplification to say psychopaths are risk takers; they are more motivated by rewards, but their risk assessment is normal.
The main point is there are characteristics of psychopaths that, in certain contexts, are beneficial. Psychopaths are cool under pressure. The calm a psychopath feels during stressful situation is similar to the way an expert responds. Society may be stronger with psychopaths; they are leaders and can be effective against outsiders.
After reading the book, I didn't feel like I could emulate psychopaths and start personally reaping the benefits. I am more trusting of my psychopath spidy-sense - it turns out that chill is fairly accurate. I am now suspicious of charmers.
The thing that ruins the book for me (and seemed to create the repetition) was the way the author used his quest for knowledge as the narrative for the book. Academic research is dry, the trend is to spice it use using the "story" of how the research was conducted. This doesn't work. Either find a compelling story or stick to very tight analysis.