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The Wisdom of Psychopaths

by Kevin Dutton (Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux)



The Wisdom of Psychopaths is an intriguing non-fiction book that promises to reveal “what saints, spies and serial killers can teach us about success.” The scientific content was well-researched and detailed, as Dutton, a research psychologist at the University of Oxford, delves into both contemporary and historical studies. His search for psychopaths isn’t limited to behind bars---Dutton finds them doing neurosurgery and in courtrooms. He also draws some interesting conclusions about the benefits of some aspects of psychopathy, and the value that those traits can have, especially in certain fields. Ultimately, despite its catchy title, The Wisdom of Psychopaths fails to actually offer guidance in how to implement, or better mimic, the psychopathic traits we find desirable, such as confidence, fearlessness and focus. However, Dutton does manage to dispel many common myths about psychopaths and provide a comprehensive and easy-to-read introduction to the topic.

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