The Wisdom of Psychopaths Hardcover – Oct 16 2012
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“The Wisdom of Psychopaths is captivating. Dr. Dutton’s book invigorated my consideration of not just a certain television character, but slow-pulsed overachievers everywhere.”
—Michael C. Hall, actor, producer, Dexter
“An enjoyable, breezy treatment of a provocative subject.”
“Dutton spins a solid yarn, turning what could easily have been a dry survey of psych research into entertainment.”
"Kevin Dutton is simply a genius. I now tell his stories as if they were my own."
About the Author
KEVIN DUTTON was born in London in 1967. He has a Ph.D in psychology, and is an expert on the science of social influence. He is a research fellow at the Faraday Institute, St. Edmund's College, University of Cambridge, and at the University of Western Australia, in Perth. In Split-Second Persuasion, his first book, Dr. Dutton documents time spent with some of the world's top con artists, in his quest to find out whether these evil black-belts of mind control know more about persuasion than he does. Kevin is a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, and also of the Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy. The author lives in Cambridge, UK.
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Top Customer Reviews
"Psychopathy is like sunlight. Overexposure can hasten one's demise in grotesque, carcinogenic fashion. But regulated exposure at controlled and optimal levels can have significant positive impact on well-being and life."
The above extract is actually the thesis of this book by Kevin Dutton. He is a research psychologist at the University of Oxford and teaches social psychology at the University of Cambridge.
For a psychology book, I found it incredibly easy to read. It includes elegant metaphors, many extremely well-written personal stories, and many allusions to intriguing psychological and neuropsychological studies.
However, I found it intriguing and odd that in a book on psychopathy, no modern definition of it is provided. Psychopathy is a disorder of brain and behaviour, the central characteristic of which is the complete absence of conscience. All of its other pathological features (such as ruthlessness, habitual lying, callousness) stem from this absence of conscience.
Thus, I also found it interesting that Dutton does not discuss conscience. In the entire book, he mentions this word only four times and then, only in passing. I found this to be the major fallacy of his entire argument.
I found that the author attempted to alter the definitions of key words. For example, Dutton plays fast-and-loose with the definition of empathy. He blurs the distinction between cognitive empathy (knowing that someone is experiencing a feeling) and emotional empathy (the ability to experience the feeling oneself). Having created this fuzziness, he declares that psychopaths are emotionally empathetic. This goes contrary to the mountains of scientific data that state the contrary.Read more ›
I had a few issues with citation and interpretation of some studies and this is certainly not your usual dry academic read but it's not pop psychology either.
I would recommend this book to anyone who's curious about human nature and would like an accessible read on the subject of psychopathy.
More than anything I enjoyed Kevin's positive psychology attitude to psychopathy and it made me re-think a lot of what I know (or rather how it was taught in my CogSci undergrad-as a pathology only) and I certainly picked up a few tricks.
That being said, I genuinely really really really liked this book. It was fascinating. I loved the comparison between psychopaths and Tibetan monks in their mutual ability to detect deep emotions that are invisible to others - the sense of isolation and self-focus making people more adept at being aware of others is an enticing thought to base something out of. Tibetan monks spend lifetimes learning to be in a relaxed state of mind, and the fact that psychopaths are in this state without any sort of practiced state of mind, but rather a state of mind naturally aimed at being observant specifically of other peoples weakness' is just plain interesting.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
some good concepts, but very clinical, not written for the average person, although it purports to be. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Dr. Dutton is a leading researching in psychopathy. It is a chilling clinical look into the world of psychopaths. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Gary W.
Another very enlightening book on psychopaths. If you're curious it is well worth reading. May change your idea of what a psychopath really is.Published 8 months ago by MonsieurCanon
Makes a cogent argument for psychopathy not necessarily being all bad. Shows how many professionals benefit society by having a liberal dash of psychopathy in their personality mixPublished 9 months ago by Happy Dragon
Very very interesting book, there are a lot of interesting experiments discussed in this book and some ideas I've never even thought of. Definitely would recommendPublished 12 months ago by Daniel Birrell
Very interesting read and cross references to Buddhist meditation training was very perspective engaging in the question of emotional or empathetic potential (or the lack there of)... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Damien Bennett