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Are you a psychopath and does it have to be a bad thing?

A new book now claims that psychopathic traits can lead to success in life, work and love.

Image: American Psycho trailer via YouTube

WHAT DO YOU think of when you hear the word psychopath?

Hannibal Lector, Ted Bundy, Norman Bates…

What type of personality traits come to mind? Maybe people who are ruthless, focused, confident and lack empathy.

One book is claiming that these traits are tailor made for success in twenty-first century society and that not all psychopaths are bad.

Kevin Dutton is an Oxford psychology professor who wrote the book with ‘good psychopath’ Andy McNab.

The good psychopaths guide to success‘ claims that psychopathic traits can lead to success in life. Dutton says that he wants to debunk the myth that all psychopaths are bad:

I’d done research with the special forces, with surgeons, with top hedge fund managers and barristers. Almost all of them had psychopathic traits, but they’d harnessed them in ways to make them better at what they do.

The book explores the ways in which a good psychopath thinks differently and how this could help people get what they really want from life by using qualities such as charm, coolness under pressure, self-confidence and courage.

Former British Special Air Service soldier Andy McNab says that “without a doubt, there’s certain elements of being a psychopath that is an asset to CEOs around the world.”

Good Psychopath 

Professor Dutton said ”When we talk about a good psychopath what we mean is somebody that is using psychopathic personality characteristics for the general good of society”.

Speaking to RTÉ he said, ”When people say that psychopaths are evil, it’s a stigmatisation of a mental illness but we do so out of fear and ignorance.

“I think that unscrupulous tabloid editors must take a fair share of the blame here, I mean the word psycho has become the defamatory catch all of choice for the mad and the bad of society.

Would we dream of talking about other people with other mental disorders such as depression or PTSD in such a way? No I don’t think we would.

“We have to overcome this ancestral way of thinking…every time we use the good and bad/black and white approach, we’re doing a great disservice to those who use these traits for the good of society”.

Life Skills 

The book explains how certain traits can help in different areas of our lives. For example focus, fearlessness and lack of empathy can be useful in business.

McNab explains how if you’re in a business where you have to let people go, it’s important to remember why you are doing this which is probably to keep the business alive rather than getting emotional for the individual.

In relationships fearlessness, self-confidence and ruthlessness are deemed to be strong traits. Ruthlessness may seem like an unusual one but McNab says that “A lot of the problems in relationships come from the fact that people stick in them when they’d be better off out.”

McNab has been married five times but has been with his current wife for 14 years.

Professor Dutton says that there’s no one thing that makes you a psychopath.

“You want to think of those traits being like the dials on a studio mixing desk, that you can turn up and down in different situations … if they’re all turned up to maximum, then you’re a dysfunctional psychopath.”

Yet it’s the ability of psychopaths to turn down their empathy and block out other concerns that make them the best operators in high-pressure environments.

Andy McNab said “If I’m in a hostage situation I’d rather have a psychopath coming through the door than anyone else because I know he’s going to be completely focussed on the job in hand.”

Read: ‘Budding psychopaths’ can be identified ‘by how they react to people in pain’>

Read: Can Twitter identify psychopaths?>

Read: Ten questions that could tell whether you’re a sociopath…>

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