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The Wisdom of Psychopaths Hardcover – Oct 16 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Canada (Oct. 16 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385677189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385677189
  • Product Dimensions: 15.8 x 2.5 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 476 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #113,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

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.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Dutton spins a solid yarn, turning what could easily have been a dry survey of psych research into entertainment.”
Fortune

"Kevin Dutton is simply a genius. I now tell his stories as if they were my own."
—Andy McNab

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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Dutton is a leading researching in psychopathy. It is a chilling clinical look into the world of psychopaths. It can be difficult to absorb some of the heady concepts for a non-professional such as myself but overall a very well written book.
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Format: Hardcover
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"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.
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Format: Hardcover
I very much enjoyed this book, Kevin Dutton is a very engaging and compelling writer.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
It is absolutely no secret I have one of those mild fascinations with psychopaths - not the kind where I have books and books and books on the topic, and spend my life trying to understand the mindset, but the kind where I legitimately find the idea of having on/off switches that control how and what we define as our personalities - I don't get it, so I'm fascinated by it. This book makes the claim there are times when a "me" focused philosophy is beneficial to your well being, and to that I say obviously. It's no secret that for years people have been saying top executives have a climb their way to the top no matter what mentality and it works. Personally, I found the author's use of the game of chicken as a time when being a psychopath is a good thing - the person who keeps going straight wins over the person who swerves. .... .... ... yes. In theory. That's a great example. In terms of real world applications, I'm pretty sure when there are millions of lives at stake we don't really want this to be something that's a thing. One reviewer said "One Cuban Missile Crisis is enough" and yeah, that.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Brilliant book. Professor Dutton tells an engaging tale and brilliantly links it to the ongoing human evolution. Highly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author is a professor, and I appreciate the way he has presented this book in a most interesting and easy to read style. I was pleased to find much of the material from my own university classes, but I also appreciated his thoughtful assessment of the material presented. I agree that we can learn from psychopaths, but I hope individuals reading this book will emulate only the positive traits.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Learned a lot on how to spot and deal with psychopaths. There are more of them in our midst than I previously thought!
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