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Publisher's Summary

In this engrossing journey into the lives of psychopaths and their infamously crafty behaviors, the renowned psychologist Kevin Dutton reveals that there is a scale of “madness” along which we all sit. Incorporating the latest advances in brain scanning and neuroscience, Dutton demonstrates that the brilliant neurosurgeon who lacks empathy has more in common with a Ted Bundy who kills for pleasure than we may wish to admit, and that a mugger in a dimly lit parking lot may well, in fact, have the same nerveless poise as a titan of industry.

Dutton argues that there are indeed “functional psychopaths” among us different from their murderous counterparts - who use their detached, unflinching, and charismatic personalities to succeed in mainstream society, and that shockingly, in some fields, the more “psychopathic” people are, the more likely they are to succeed. Dutton deconstructs this often misunderstood diagnosis through bold on-the-ground reporting and original scientific research as he mingles with the criminally insane in a high-security ward, shares a drink with one of the world’s most successful con artists, and undergoes transcranial magnetic stimulation to discover firsthand exactly how it feels to see through the eyes of a psychopath. As Dutton develops his theory that we all possess psychopathic tendencies, he puts forward the argument that society as a whole is more psychopathic than ever: after all, psychopaths tend to be fearless, confident, charming, ruthless, and focused - qualities that are tailor-made for success in the 21st century. Provocative at every turn, The Wisdom of Psychopaths is a riveting adventure that reveals that it’s our much-maligned dark side that often conceals the trump cards of success.

©2012 Kevin Dutton (P)2012 Macmillan Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Interesting Study

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would and have because it is a very interesting topic and gave me a different perspective on psychopaths.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

The individual stories of various psychopaths was intriguing.

Did Erik Bergmann do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

There really wasn't much cause to differentiate since it was a non fiction book. He fell flat while trying one accent though...he should just have read it straight.

Could you see The Wisdom of Psychopaths being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

No. It is a non-fiction and scientific type book. It would not make a good movie.

Any additional comments?

You'll be talking about this book a lot to your friends and colleagues after you read it. It is very interesting.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Kevin
  • SPRING, TX, United States
  • 04-03-13

Excellent Read!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Absolutely - as the title suggests, there are traits found within a serial killer's psyche that suggests we all have something to learn from the way their brains are wired.

What did you like best about this story?

The examples and cases provided by Sutton.

What about Erik Bergmann’s performance did you like?

It was clean and easy to follow.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No extreme reaction - just really enjoyed it.

Any additional comments?

Excellent read! This book was a quick and easy read for anyone interested in the fine line that separates psychopaths from heroes. Dutton does a great job outlining the traits that people attribute to psychopaths in an attempt to correlate those qualities with everyday, successful folks.<br/><br/>Dutton also does a good job keeping the topics concise and clear, rather than cluttering each topic with terms and theories that require a few psychology classes to understand. Aside from the format, the subject matter is really interesting to me and I appreciate the length and depth that was taken in this book.<br/><br/>I'll probably read this book a second and third time. <br/><br/>Pros: Great length and fascinating topics.<br/>Cons: Could have used more insight to altruists; however I understand that altruism rests on the opposite side of the spectrum to psychopathy. The overlap that Dutton provided served as a great opportunity to go a little more into altruism to really appreciate the entire scope.<br/>Bottom line: Highly recommended to anyone interested the dynamic between heroes and villains.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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The Monk or Serial Killer Next Door

Kevin Dutton (Split-Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds; Why the Science and Religion Dialogue Matters) has just published a very informative volume titled The Wisdom of Psychopaths: What Saints, Spies, and Serial Killers Can Teach Us about Success. In this very interesting book, Dutton provides a more contemporary, nuanced view of psychopathy. He reveals it as a continuum of context driven behaviors (Ruthlessness, Charm, Focus, Mental Toughness, Fearlessness, Mindfulness, and Action) that can be turned up and down at will. He shows how psychopathic behaviors are characteristic of the saint and sinner, monks and serial killers alike. This book helped me to better understand why psychopaths are able to function ably in the work environment and find success. Certainly, it has brought psychopathic behavior into clearer focus for me. A wonderfully absorbing, engaging approachable work of prose, Dutton’s most recent book is well worth reading.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Raleigh
  • greensboro, NC, United States
  • 01-25-13

cobras don't get anxious or depressed

? is our world just full of anxious depressed people
? are there some among us who avoid these pitfalls
? what would it be like to be hard wired against those problems

dr. kevin dutton has written a snappy book to look into that
in chapter after chapter he jets off to speak with "world experts"
he's on a very public mission to redefine the term psychopath

as you might expect he sees it as "a spectrum disorder"
( i suspect he's borrowing a tool from the autism/asperger's people )
he then demonstrates possible positive aspects of the condition

the most interesting of the "experts" are the ones that disagree with him
robert hare and steven pinker may be more insightful than the author
they seem to have a thoughtful wisdom that dr. dutton has yet to acquire

in one chapter they talk about the character of men that abuse women
they are carefully divided into cobras (psychopath) and pit bulls (anti-social)
it is a very insightful and perceptive way to look at the problem

psychopaths,as defined by dr. dutton, have been with us forever
education and IQ and family support separate the murderers from the CEOs
if you work with successful driven people you've met them many times

dr. dutton now has several videos all over you tube these days
his haircut and verbal cadence betray a subtle psychopathic style
? well could it be that it takes one to know one / perhaps


10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • Maryville, TN, United States
  • 12-30-13

Fascinating intellectual and empathetic exercise.

What did you love best about The Wisdom of Psychopaths?

I won't labor too terribly much on how fascinating a topic it was. The author really does a fantastic job of making the people he talks about come to life in a way that I rarely see even in fiction.<br/><br/>What really made me smile was that it helps to de-stigmatize a personality type that is not nearly as bad as media would have us believe. (And I'm not saying that as someone who hates the media. I work in media.) When we hear the word "psychopath" we not only bundle it with the term "sociopath" but then bundle it in turn with "serial killer" or "sadist." This would be akin to saying that all people with ADD are always bouncing off the walls, or that no person with depression can experience happiness.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Wisdom of Psychopaths?

The quote at the end of the book was particularly poignant. I won't give it here as it will be far more effective if you've read the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • J. C.
  • Thailand
  • 12-05-13

Shocking!

This was an excellent book, held my interest, revealed shocking things! The author takes you inside a mental institution, way to the very far reaches and he talks with psychopaths. He takes you inside elite military training. He talks with scientists who study psychopaths. This is all just so amazing and revealing. I never could have imagined that the traits of psychopaths could be positive such as "live in the moment" and not caring what others think. I read several books lately that changed my world view and this is one of them. Another one is The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. The narration is excellent. Thanks to the author Kevin Dutton for getting these ideas out there, and to all the scientists who did the studies, and even to the psychopaths in this book! Some of it reads like science fiction yet it is true. It is just mind blowing.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating and practical.

One of the best audiobooks I've ever heard. Build your charisma and power with this

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great information

I gained insight into the area and enjoyed it. the narration along with the information was a great pairing

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  • Phil O.
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 12-20-16

Has a few quite interesting ideas, some filler

I think the author tries too hard to stretch the idea/diagnosis of "psychopath" to too many people. This results in him gushing like a fanboy over certain risk-takers who are meticulous and socially productive people, eliciting from them what seem to be half-sincere admission they might sort of fit the authors "psycho" mold. The author is good about recruiting some other expert/authors who do not all simplistically agree with this characterization. I really don't need to spend time drooling over mercenaries who love hot cars and so forth. Yes, these are interesting people, I suppose, but I feel there was a bait-and-switch here. These (like the neurosurgeon types admired here) are extremely disciplined people, who just happen to have a different sort of risk appetite than others, in my non-expert opinion. Calling them "psychopath" seems a confusion of categories. I can spend time far better than listening to this fellow drool over and flatter these people with this sort of back-handed glorification. I like the book best when the author muses on natural selection, and how different personality types would sensibly be distributed to encounter various life risks.

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One of the best books I've listened to in a while

Where does The Wisdom of Psychopaths rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Super entertaining. Tons of interesting lessons. Inspiring (re: Tibetan monks). ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING. Highly recommended for anybody who likes business, wants to grow, or likes interesting facts and stories.

Which scene was your favorite?

Everything