(Book Review) The Wisdom of Psychopaths
and before i could argue him
out of his philosophy
he went and immolated himself
on a patent cigar lighter
i do not agree with him
myself i would rather have
half the happiness and twice
but at the same time i wish
there was something i wanted
as badly as he wanted to fry himself
-The Lesson of the Moth, Don Marquis
Written by Kevin Dutton, a research psychologist at the University of Cambridge, The Widsom of Psychopaths sports an interesting premise.
For the most part, we tend to think of psychopaths as ruthless killers from whom we will do better to abstain engaging with; however, Kevin proposes a different perspective, perhaps there are some keys characteristics described as 'psychopathic tendencies' that, went present in the right amounts in someone's personality, can actually prove beneficial to their success in society.
The book doesn't shy away from citing plenty of studies, and at times getting technical in order to make its arguments. It delves into topis such as how Psychopaths detect weakness in others, how they process emotions and how they might affect or not their decision making, how the react under extreme pressure circumstances.
Comparing psychopaths to Saints, or monks, is not something that I had thought about before, seeing how they fare in terms of similarities is amusing to say the least, as the book argues that a Saint is more along the lines of a functional psychopath rather than the complete opposite of one. The Stoic philosophy also makes a short appearance when discussing this topic.
Dutton likes to make us of moral dilemmas, and many fascinating anecdotes to point out how the reasoning of psychopath might differ from the one of a regular person (You can find an example of the kind of dilemmas used in the subscriber section).
That being said, some paragraphs feel longer than they should be, and I found myself losing track of the reading at times, the book definitely could have made use of further editing before being released. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if some readers find the book a bit too gruesome, specially in regards to the descriptions of crimes committed by infamous psychopaths which, although included sparingly, do need to come up when discussing psychopathy.
Overall, The Wisdom of Psychopaths does a good job of presenting interesting facts about psychopathy and highlighting how some psychopathic qualities could be be useful if present in controlled amounts. If you would like to read more books on this subject, I suggest you give The Psychopath Inside by James Fallon a check.
You can find the rest of my reviews here. Coil subscribers can continue reading for some noteworthy quotes from the book.
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