The wisdom of psychopaths: is it worth learning from them?


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The wisdom of psychopaths: is it worth learning from them?

Psychopaths have a reputation for unpredictable and dangerous types. But most of them are ordinary people. And often they achieve success and recognition precisely because of their unique personality traits.

What do you imagine when you hear the word “psychopath”? The imagination draws images inspired by the cinema: the sinister manipulator Hannibal Lector from Silence of the Lambs or the criminal killer Dexter from the eponymous series. Most likely, people from the familiar environment are not like them. But this does not mean that there are no psychopaths near us. A colleague or even a boss may also have traits characteristic of the psychopathic type.

According to the studies of psychologist Kevin Dutton, people with psychopathic tendencies are most often found among surgeons, lawyers, police officers or, even more surprisingly, clergymen.

Jim Coury, vice president of the American Police Association, goes even further: “The characteristics common to all serial killers – exaggeration, persuasion, superficial charm, coolness, lack of remorse and a penchant for manipulation – are also found in many police officers and world leaders. ”

Not only maniacs

“Some traits related to mental disabilities can be practically useful at the right time,” says Kevin Dutton. – Of course, this does not mean that for the sake of success you need to “go over the head.”

He compares psychopathy to the sun: a long stay under it can cause skin cancer, but walking on a sunny day with all the precautions can have a positive effect on health and well-being. There is a difference between maniac criminals and “civilized” psychopaths: the former do not care about the social, moral or legal consequences of what they are doing, while the latter are aware of the possible damage from their actions and keep their dark side under control.

Such people can be pleasant in communication, but it is you who make them so. And it gives you tremendous power over them

As Dutton notes, psychopaths are distinguished not only by ruthlessness and neglect of the feelings of others, but also by charisma, ability to concentrate, powerful mind, fearlessness, full awareness of their actions and energy in achieving the goal: “These qualities, if properly developed and applied with moderation , allow you to achieve goals; for example, to act, instead of enduring the blows of fate, to be the master of the situation, and not his victim. “

The secret of magnetism

The paradox of psychopaths is that they can be widely recognized in their surroundings. “Such people can be pleasant in communication, but it is you who make them so. And that gives you tremendous power over them, ”the psychopath interviewed by Kevin Dutton definitely states.

Even as cold-blooded killers, in ordinary life they can give the impression of absolutely normal people. Kevin Dutton cites John Wayne Gacy, the ruthless killer of children … who loved to dress up as a clown. The author quotes another criminal, Ted Bundy. This brutal serial killer, however, lived the life of a “perfect American.”

Their hypnotic manners are bewitching, confusing. This ability to mingle with the crowd also explains why there are many psychopaths among spies, while the ability to seduce works wonders in the business world. Some even suggest that the character of James Bond has traits of a psychopath. He just does not realize them on the dark side.

One way or another, there are no traits that would unambiguously determine what the course of life will be. “The fate of a psychopath is determined by a number of factors: genes, family background, level of education, level of intelligence, capabilities and one’s own choice,” Kevin Dutton explains.

The wisdom of psychopaths: is it worth learning from them?

No pain, no interference

Pain, anxiety, sadness are feelings that most people experience at certain times in their lives, but not psychopaths. They are immune to pain, insensitive to suffering. Tests have shown that their heart rate even slows down in moments of danger, as they have an incredible sense of self-confidence. That is why they can often be found in professions that require self-mastery. In addition, their desire for a reward is so strong that they forget about the pain. Neuroscientists have discovered that they have disorders in the dopamine system, which is responsible for a sense of reward.

This explains why psychopaths plan their actions so carefully and never miss a convenient moment. Subject to a positive development bias, “they belong to those rare daredevils who rush to save you from the fire.” In other words, these people have such a valuable quality as the ability to live in the present, even more valuable if we recall that 99% of the things that people are afraid of never happen to them.

The art of cold empathy

One of the claims to psychopaths is the inability to empathy. In a way, this is true. Here is what a prominent surgeon with psychopathic features says: “I do not feel any compassion for those I operate on. This is a luxury that I simply can not afford … Feelings bring with them a mess that can disrupt the operation. ” These words can become creepy, but think about it: this is said by a professional who has counted hundreds of successfully cured patients. “The psychopath may say,“ I love you, ”but the phrase makes as much sense to him as the phrase“ I have some coffee, ”says Kevin Dutton.

In addition to reduced anxiety, their ability to concentrate and analyze is above average

Nevertheless, a psychopath, like a good hunter, must be able to put himself in the place of prey. Kevin Dutton talks about a serial killer who claimed to be able to identify a “good victim” by one walk. The psychopath reveals the emotions of another (and first of all, microexpressions), without taking them over. This ability is called cold empathy. “He knows where the coveted“ buttons ”are, and does not hesitate to put pressure on them, so he has every chance to hit the jackpot,” Kevin Dutton suggests.

Buddhist calm

The mention of Kevin Dutton about the jackpot is not accidental. Psychopaths can be great poker players. In addition to reduced anxiety, their ability to concentrate and analyze is above average. They are endowed with a strong will and think with tremendous clarity. We can say that they are constantly in the state of “awareness” that we are striving for.

According to Kevin Dutton, the frequency of brain waves, which normally corresponds to the state of meditation, is observed in psychopaths during wakefulness and even during periods of excitement. Therefore, Dutton compares them to Tibetan monks who practice mindfulness meditation daily. The advantage of psychopaths is that they are able to make quick decisions in difficult situations.

Of course, this reasoning is not an attempt to convince you how good it is to be a psychopath, explains Kevin Dutton. “Rather, it is about learning how to see behind a sinister picture in our imagination a real source of effectiveness for people with psychopathic inclinations,” the expert says. – If in certain situations the feelings reduce concentration, we need to learn how to cool them. And of course, this book can reassure those who feel psychopathic in themselves. ”

About the Author: Kevin Dutton is a writer, psychologist at the Anthropogenesis Research Center at Oxford University. The author of the book “The Wisdom of Psychopaths.”
Text: Prepared by Anton Soldatov
Photo Source: Getty images

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