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Be Nice To Psychopaths

by John on 03/08/2013


Three reasons to be nice to psychopaths: 1.) some are your friends; 2.) you probably are one; 3.) I seem to be one.

That’s just the tip of the temporal lobe in this fascinating new book, Wisdom of Psychopaths by Kevin Dutton.  I highly recommend it.

In this posting, I give you:

  • My confession of my serial exploits in Vegas
  • Some questions I am trying to get answered from the author

But first, some highlights in the book:

  • Not all psychopaths are serial killers like John Wayne Gacy and Ted Bundy.  Psychopaths can and do function in society – and make it better.
  • If you’re on the receiving end of a violent crime, you will want a psychopath on your side.
  • The professions with higher amounts of psychopaths: CEOs, clergy, TV personalities, journalist, stock traders, surgeons, professional athletes, cops, Navy Seals.  Apparently saints and killers share many tendencies.
  • Psychopaths teach us mental toughness and ruthlessness; how to be singularly focused on one thing without emotion to get the job done.  That’s great when you want to save the world, but scary if you want to kill someone.
  • Dutton himself goes through a brain manipulation process that gives him psychopathic tendencies for less than an hour.  It’s quite riveting.

A good book also raises more questions and ideas for the reader.  Here are my questions that I am also trying to get to Dutton.

  1. Has the consolidation of corporations created CEOs into uber-psychopaths?  After all, if our boardrooms have a higher number of psychopaths and we keep squeezing them out with mergers and acquisitions, doesn’t it make sense that only the most ruthless of the CEO’s survives?
  2. And can’t we attribute some of the financial crisis to this type behavior?
  3. Should we create laws that will hinder or punish psychopaths while similarly rewarding them for successes?
  4. Does our entertainment fare create more psychopaths?  It seems most of our best fictional characters could be psychoanalyzed that way.  No one is interested in boring, nice people.
  5. Does Dexter follow a true psychopathic personality?  I think Dutton would say yes.  Psychopaths have some conscience.
  6. How about the new Fox show “The Following”?  Does the main character Joe, a brilliant and chilling serial killer, share the personality traits?  And does the main character played by Kevin Bacon also share similar tendencies?

Once you read the book, you will realize that you have friends who are psychopaths.  (Yes, I mean you.)  Hey, I have worked around people in news, TV, military, religion, and major business.

Just the other day, I realized I am actually someone who sides with psychopaths.  My friend Sal was coming off shoulder surgery.  He complained about his surgeon’s demeanor a few months after the surgery when there was a possible problem with the shoulder’s rehab.  He just maneuvered Sal’s shoulder and said very little, except “it’s fine” – and then he moved on.  Sal was livid.  But I said to him, “Who cares what his bedside manner is as long as he is brilliant at operating on your shoulder?”  Clearly, Sal’s surgeon was a psychopath.  Note to my health insurer:  I don’t really want a Chatty Cathy as my surgeon.

But we all have psychopathic traits.  Like Shakespeare’s Macbeth (greatest drama ever written), we see that all of us have within us good and evil.  It’s Free Will that determines how we use it.

I have those tendencies.  For example, I would love for this site to be a place where everyone comes and partakes in (genuflects to?) my wisdom of renouncing and understanding media bias – with me as the high priest.

Does admitting that mean I am not as psychopathic as I think or am I just trying to charm you with my psychopathic talents?  You will have to decide.

But Dutton also describes professional athletes who “get into the zone” as psychopathic.  You are so focused on that one thing that nothing else matters.  I remember that feeling as a news anchor and a TV Host where the words and the content flowed like water out of me.  (Of course, there were times when a lot of verbal sewage spewed too.)

Probably my most psychopathic adventures happened in Las Vegas.  I have never told this.  I was a serial convention crasher.

Actually, I crashed cocktail parties connected to conventions.  Many times these parties did not require a badge from the convention.  So, I would stroll in as an attendee.  I would mingle with the other convention-goers making small talk.  If they asked me my connection to the convention, I would tell them I was in video production and I was waiting for a potential client who was attending the convention.  It worked every time.

And then, I would pounce on my prey. I gorged on their hors d’oeuvres and gulped their wine like it was “Chianti and fava beans.”

And to this day, I have no remorse.

In your face, Dexter.

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