When you hear the word “psychopath” you think of serial murderers. But a new book is debunking the myth that all psychopaths are bad.
In their book, The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success, Andy McNab and Oxford psychology professor Kevin Dutton says possessing certain psychopathic traits can put you on the road to success.
McNab and Dutton say most rich, powerful, successful men posses certain psychopathic traits that give them an advantage.
“I wanted to debunk the myth that all psychopaths are bad,” says Dutton. “I’d done research with the special forces, with surgeons, with top hedge fund managers and barristers. Almost all of them had psychopathic traits, but they’d harnessed them in ways to make them better at what they do.”
McNab and Dutton said they met successful men who who in tests exhibited many of these psychopathic traits, including ruthlessness, fearlessness, impulsivity, reduced empathy, developed self-confidence and lack of remorse.
One dysfunctional psychopath – who was serving a life sentence for multiple murders – explained to Dutton: “It’s not that we’re bad, it’s that we’ve got too much of a good thing.”
That “good thing”, according to McNab, is the psychopath’s ability to turn down their empathy and other concerns in order to focus on the task at hand.
“If I’m in a hostage situation I’d rather have a psychopath coming through the door than anyone else because I know he’s going to be completely focussed on the job in hand,” says McNab.
McNab added: “If I was on trial, I’d want a psychopath [to represent me] too. I want someone who’d be able to rip people apart in the witness box, go back to their family and not think anything more about it, because it’s just a job for them.”
McNab says fear is one of the emotions that psychopaths lack. “Functioning psychopaths have a natural advantage in that they can turn this fear down.”
Dutton said being a psychopath can be beneficial when deciding who to befriend.
“Your friends might be smoking and drinking all the time while you’ve decided to get fit. You have to be prepared to stand apart sometimes. It doesn’t mean ditching them, it’s just healthy to be your own person once in a while.”
“We are absolutely not aiming to turn people into psychopaths, says Dutton. “It’s for people who have those mixing dials turned down too low and need to get them up.”